API Case Study: RewardExpert’s Integration of Rewards API

Case Study At a Glance:

Background

RewardExpert is a free online service that helps travelers earn discounted travel by maximizing airline miles and loyalty program points. The site allows users to track all of their reward program balances from different credit cards and frequent flyer programs to determine the best rewards combination for reaching their target destination. It also provides a customized strategy for quickly earning more points to help get users to reach their travel goals faster.

As the provider of a massive travel rewards program, Capital One was an optimal source for rewards data. The Capital One and RewardExpert partnership was cemented after RewardExpert reviewed the Rewards API and discovered three key features: speed, security, and stability. To provide users with the best reward travel strategy possible, RewardExpert needed the most up-to-date and accurate user data possible to feed their advanced algorithm. For the RewardExpert team, using the Rewards API was a “no brainer” because the API was strong in each of those three areas.

Vladyslav Tyschuk, Chief Product Officer and co-founder of RewardExpert, explains why his team is focused on features like speed, security, and stability: “The response time of the rewards API is fast — about two seconds fast. This is the top speed among all our other integrations. When it comes to security, we wanted this API to use all the available authentication and security features available in the Capital One environment so that users have more trust and more security.”

Implementation

RewardExpert received access to the Rewards API by registering an account on DevExchange, where they added their logo and created API Keys for four environments (test, staging, pre-production, and production). After receiving access, the real integration began: “For each environment, we connected the Rewards API product and filled in the redirect URI and privacy policy URI. After adding the client ID and client secret to the configuration files, we were good to go,” said Alexey Shepelev, Lead Back-end Developer on the RewardExpert team.

Alexey said the implementation was smooth for the most part, and when they did hit a snag with authentication, it was easily overcome.

API Wrapper - Ruby Gem

To speed up the implementation for Ruby developers, Alexey developed a Ruby Gem that encapsulates requests for the API methods and functions like a shell for the API.

The Gem was also released under MIT licensing so that everybody can use it for commercial and noncommercial projects.

As the API is public, the library itself does not contain any proprietary commercial information. Gems are easy to create, and this one offers many advantages for all involved:

  • Ruby developers: Since any other developer can use it, it could save them 8-40 hours of work.
  • Capital One: Integration with the service is easier for projects written in Ruby.
  • RewardExpert: If there are any changes in the third party API, it is easier to keep backwards compatibility with their existing codebase. Plus, publishing a gem under the RewardExpert name also increases their exposure to the development community.

User Experience

RewardExpert Experience: Step 1
Users can connect their Capital One account by selecting the program and clicking “Connect with Capital One” to launch the authorization process for auto-syncing their rewards balance.

RewardExpert Step 1

RewardExpert Experience: Step 2
Users are directed to Capital One’s secure hub to authenticate their account by providing their login credentials.

RewardExpert Step 2

RewardExpert Experience: Step 3
Users are asked to approve RewardExpert’s request for access to their reward account information.

RewardExpert Step 3

RewardExpert Experience: Step 4
After authorization, users receive confirmation that their rewards balance was successfully updated, and they can now automatically track their rewards balances with the Reward Wallet tool.

RewardExpert Step 4

Results and Summary

RewardExpert users have seen a huge improvement in how quickly and easily they can obtain information about their miles and points balances. As soon as they complete the authentication process and successfully connect their Capital One account to the RewardExpert wallet, one click of the button gets their updated balance. Before the API, the process of tracking rewards was manual. Users had to go to Capital One, get their miles balance, and manually type in that number in order to get a full picture of how they can use the miles.

The Rewards API helped RewardExpert solve several big issues:

  1. Security – Having all data (including users’ personal accounts and passwords) stored and secured by Capital One has greatly increased security for RewardExpert.
  2. Speed – Right now no third-party provider can beat a less-than-two-second reply, which has helped improve the UX for our users.
  3. Stability – Being able to work directly with the data and bypass any unnecessary layers or third-party providers has allowed RewardExpert to offer users better service.

When asked how they felt about the support they received, Vladyslav Tyschuk said: “From day one, the Capital One product team gave us personal support and helped us with more than just the integration process. They gave us valuable feedback and even tested our integration during pre-production.” He also explained that there was an ease-of-use aspect to the Reward API: “Many other companies have APIs that are too complex. One took us almost a month to just understand how it had to be integrated, and we decided not to work with it as it wasn’t worth the effort.”

The RewardExpert integration is a great example of the DevExchange mission to release easy-to-use, quality APIs that enable external developers to offer a better user experience for their users.

For more information about the Rewards API, check out the Product page. If you’re curious about how the Rewards API works, feel free to open up the Playground. And if you already have an account, test it out in the Sandbox.

Unless noted otherwise in this post, Capital One is not affiliated with, nor is it endorsed by, any of the companies mentioned. All trademarks and other intellectual property used or displayed are the ownership of their respective owners. This article is ©2016 Capital One.