In the mail the other day, I got a letter from Wells Fargo which is where I have my checking account. That's not unusual. They try to sell me stuff pretty frequently. This one seemed pretty good on the surface, prizes just for using my check card, even up to $250,000. Wow!
Then there's the fine print. "PIN-based purchases are not eligible", it says. Think about that for a second. When you use your PIN, the transaction is handled just like with an ATM. The card issuer doesn't take a cut. But when you use the Visa network (or its peers), the merchant (the person who sells you goods) pays a percentage for the privilege of working with Visa, usually about 3% of the total cost.
So it makes complete sense that Visa and card issuers like Wells Fargo would want you to make more Visa transactions. It make them more money. But considering the low probability of me winning one of these awards, I'd rather use my PIN and save a couple bucks for my local vendor.