Purpose The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of reward structure on the customer's value perception of the program, loyalty to the program and loyalty to the firm. Design/methodology/approach A 2 (type of reward) x 2 (timing of redemption) between subjects experimental design was conducted. In addition, the indirect effect of the customer's value perception of the program on loyalty to the firm via loyalty to the program is tested with Hayes and Preacher's mediation procedure. Findings Study results indicated that type of reward has a positive impact on the perceived value of a loyalty program. Program loyalty mediates the relationship between the perceived value of the loyalty program and customer loyalty, as well as the relationship between type of reward and customer loyalty. Originality/value The findings of this study demonstrate the importance of the type and timing of loyalty program rewards on customer perceptions of the value of the loyalty program. In addition, this study is a step forward in providing a deep understanding of the impact of such perceptions on loyalty. These findings fill a number of research gaps and provide tangible guidance for practitioners.