Customer Loyalty Cards are Great!

Do you use customer loyalty cards at places where you shop or eat?

At one time, I would shy away from doing so.  My reasoning was that the loyalty cards would be more of a burden than a benefit.  For example, one would have to carry the card around in order to accrue any benefits.  For example, back when these were punch cards, it would require carrying the card with you on the specific instances you visited someplace.  Spontaneous visits wouldn’t gain benefits, and it would be cumbersome to carry cards with you at all times.

Also, there is the concept of being lured into visiting someplace just because of the loyalty card.  That was something I might have been influenced by when younger, but not so much anymore.  Such programs don’t cause me to behave any differently in terms of my purchasing habits, at least I believe that to be the case.

These days, however, we don’t need to be burdened by too much at all when signing up for a loyalty program.  If they ask for an email address – which is normal – I’ll give it to them.  You can always set up a separate email for such programs, so they don’t clog up the inbox of your primary address.  Thus, promotional-type emails aren’t annoying.

Additionally, if you visit a place, you don’t have to actually have your card with you.  Since the days of the punch card are gone with most bigger businesses, you can usually circumvent hassles by simply telling the cashier you don’t have your card with you but you can provide your phone number (or email address, if that’s the identifier they ask for).

Through last year, I estimate I probably got about $50 worth of discounts just by signing up for such programs.  There were a few free meals involved, and a few times when I got discounts when ordering.  All without any extra work, other than simply spending a few moments signing up for a program and then pretty much not doing another thing after that – except checking email a few times.  And I literally mean just a few times, as in around my birthday to get a few free meals.  Otherwise, it’s sign up and forget about it  – just take the discount or freebie when they tell you that you have it, when paying.

I suppose a bigger way to save is to never eat out (or do much shopping), and I would agree to that.  However, if you’re going to periodically grab food outside or on the go, sign up for the loyalty program where you think you’ll go multiple times.  Why give away money?

Readers, do you ever sign up for loyalty programs? Have you scored good freebies this way? Are you able to do so while making sure that such programs don’t cause you to spend more?

10 thoughts on “Customer Loyalty Cards are Great!

  1. The First Million is the Hardest

    The only loyalty program I belong to is with my grocery store. It gets me a small discount on most products in the store and is easy because I just have to enter my phone number into the credit card reader at checkout to receive the bonus, no card necessary.

    1. Post author

      First Million – yes, it’s nice to just give a phone number! Simple, no hassle, and you capture the discounts.

  2. Edward Antrobus

    I have several loyalty cards. The most used ones stay in my wallet (2) or on my keychain (3). All the rest, I don’t bother keeping on me, as I can always give my phone number or email address for them to look it up. I do unsubscribe from the emails. RedRobin is the only place I’ve encountered that doesn’t let you do that without resigning from the loyalty program. So for them, I just have a gmail filter sending them right to the trash.

    1. Post author

      Edward – I know what you mean about just offering up my number instead. I did that earlier today:) As for the emails, it might be a good idea to give them a chance at first, and then decide on unsubscribing to each individually later. A few places might actually have decent emails, though I know most probably don’t. But I’ve gotten notice of free meals before via email!

  3. [email protected]

    We have some loyalty cards. Our Co-operative card builds points towards a dividend which we commit to charity. The others are commercial.

    Of course the reason is so the store can know what your purchase are and better design their store to persuade customers to spend more. The points are about repeated visits. Tesco is launching a free streaming TV/film service to Clubcard holders – well that is a potential benefit as it saves shelling out to Amazon for Lovefilm. So there are points but you need to recognise that the stores are not giving anything away – they are buying your purchasing details from you (it is illegal in the UK to use credit cards for this and anyway people January sometimes pay cash.).

    Enjoy them whiile you can!

    1. Post author

      John – yes, there is a lot of shopper intelligence that can be gleaned from this data. Purchasing patterns, which offers work better than others, etc. Plus, they provide an incentive to tie someone into a particular store. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and both parties can benefit – not just the shopper!

  4. Steven J Fromm

    I am not sure they are worth the bother. I had one at a electronic store and I guess I would shop there to get the loyalty points. But the last time I did it the points expired anyway.

  5. Funny about Money

    They’re grand if you don’t mind giving up your privacy. To my mind, “my privacy for your discount of a few cents” is not a fair trade. I don’t enjoy carrying pieces of plastic around, nor do I like being denied a fair price on products unless I agree to let the merchandiser track my behavior. And I get enough telephone solicitation and junkmail without revealing my phone number and address to retailers.

    These stores aren’t giving you a discount of XX cents. They’re raising the price by XX cents and then selling the products at the normal retail price to people who agree to an invasion of their privacy. I avoid shopping in stores that do this. Unfortunately, in my parts the nearest decent grocery store is a Safeway; its management thinks I go by my dog’s name and that my phone number rings at the local Safeway business offices.

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