Explain to me what level of customer service that you have experienced elsewhere where hundreds of thousands of people that were given something so awesome that it set your standard to where a month's worth of CC coins being free is not enough..
And apparently it bears repeating to you, since I've already given you examples of how other providers in this exact same industry do it far better. Let's look at one specifically. I'll use the City of Heroes veteran rewards program, because I'm most familiar with that one. As an 18 month subscriber (which you would be in this game), here's what I would have received:
6 Badges (titles)
5 Costume change tokes (make as many changes as you like, no cost)
10 Costume pieces (some of these are sets, so it's actually far more than that)
2 Powers (1 a new ability, 1 an aesthetically modified version of a travel power)
1 Character Slot
12 Decorative base items
Now, these are also account wide, so if you have 5 characters, multiply all those numbers by 5 (except the character slot, of course). And all of the costume pieces are only available through this program. In fact, they put their top two most requested (at the time) additions into this program as rewards. Now, given that the character slot alone would be worth more than 500 CC here, given that the ability to make whatever character changes you want could easily add up to more than that, and given how that list above would just keep growing, tell me how 500 CC is on the same level.
And I also have to laugh that you think a punch card is showing appreciation. It's exactly what you said later, a marketing tool to get you to spend money. Appreciation is the gyro place down the street from my house where they know I don't like tomatoes on mine, where the owner once gave me a small bag of scraps for my dog. I've never actually told him I have a dog, but he's seen me walking her around town. A place where the owner once apologized to me for having to wait about 10 minutes for my order at 6pm on a Friday, when they had a line of cars out the drive and down the street for the drive-through, where I've ordered a pint of custard and they've come out with a quart, where the owners ask my roommate how his band is doing. And I don't eat out much, so I only go in there maybe once every month or two. I'm far from their most regular customer.
Yeah, there are plenty of businesses that can show you the difference between a gift and appreciation.