I love loyalty programs. While it may take a little time and effort to keep up all of these programs, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. According to Factbrowser, "the average household has memberships to 12 loyalty card programs." As a loyalty program member, each year I save money and earn rewards for being part of free programs. Last year, I figured I saved about $500 using loyalty card programs.
Big Savings on Sale Items
I purchase most of my groceries at natural food stores that don't have loyalty cards. However, I sometimes go to regular chain stores for diapers, frozen foods, beverages and things like toilet paper. I pretty much won't buy anything unless it is on sale when I use my loyalty card. After all, the "normal" prices are usually astronomical. At the bottom of the receipt, it will tell me how much I saved with my loyalty card. Usually, it is about 25% off my bill. In a given year, I save $400 this way.
By signing up for loyalty programs, I often receive free items. I'm part of the Starbucks loyalty program. Now that I'm at the gold level, I receive a free food or drink item every 12 stars. As a My Panera Member, I sometimes get free bakery items or money-saving coupons. Some stores, like Sephora, offer points for purchases. When I accumulate 100 points, I can redeem a small gift. For 500 points, I can receive a makeup or body care set. Furthermore, as a result of being part of so many loyalty programs, the amount of items I am given for my birthday is bordering on excess. Each year, I get about $75 worth of free food, makeup and apparel.
Coupons and Cash Back
Some loyalty programs send out coupons through email or mail. On a regular basis, I get 20% off coupons to a chain drugstore near my house. Every few months, I receive a percentage back in coupon form. Typically, it is between $1 and $2. For every $100 spent at a local sporting goods store, I receive a $10 gift card. Since my husband and I buy running shoes and camping equipment, we usually get one $10 reward a year. In addition, I receive a $5 coupon about every three months from Babies R' Us. By using these card program coupons, I save about $40 a year.
Those Cards are Annoying
One of my biggest pet peeves about loyalty programs is carrying around all of those cards in my wallet or on my keychain. However, many stores will allow you to use your phone number to look up your loyalty card account. In addition, there are also apps like My Echain that allow users to "upload, store, organize and manage your loyalty and membership cards." Thus, don't let loyalty card "build up" prevent you from saving money.
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