AT&T kills Plenti loyalty program but touts ongoing Thanks campaign

AT&T is pulling the plug on Plenti, but it’s still offering customers its Thanks.

The carrier launched the loyalty rewards program in May 2015, partnering with major brands including ExxonMobil, Macy's, Nationwide Insurance, Rite Aid, Direct Energy, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Hulu. Plenti, which is powered by American Express, enabled users to earn and redeem points when they signed up for a new line of service or conducted transactions at partnering retailers. AT&T informed customers late last week that it is ending the program at the end of October, however.

“We want to let you know that AT&T will no longer participate in Plenti after October 31, 2017,” the carrier told subscribers via email. “After October 31, your Plenti membership will remain active and you will still be able to take advantage of great offers with other Plenti partners.”

Plenti users will be able to redeem points at Rite Aid, Exxon and Mobil, Macy’s, Chili’s and several other vendors past the end of the month, AT&T said. But customers will no longer be able to earn or use Plenti points with AT&T after October, according to the carrier’s website.

The carrier continued to tout its Thanks program, though, which launched in July 2016 and offers customers incentives such as buy-one, get-one-free movie tickets, presale ticket offers from Live Nation and special content for DirecTV subscribers.

The death of Plenti notwithstanding, loyalty programs are quietly gaining traction among U.S. carriers in a saturated market where churn levels have reached record lows. AT&T’s Thanks came online just weeks after T-Mobile launched its own loyalty campaign, dubbed T-Mobile Tuesdays, and Verizon recently launched Up, which provides similar perks.

Parks Associates reported last year that 60% of respondents in a survey valued a rewards program for being a loyal customers, third only to the ability to roll over unused data (66%) and free access to Wi-Fi hotspots (65%) as “very important” when considering a new service provider.

"The U.S. mobile service market has grown intensely competitive over the last three years as growth in new smartphone subscribers tapers off," Harry Wang, Parks' senior director of research, said last year. "U.S. operators have ramped up incentives to lure subscribers from competitors and encourage their own to stay longer—their game plans have switched gears from ARPU growth to churn management. The migration away from a two-year contract has made service switching easier for consumers, and consequently mobile service providers are facing more pressure on churn."