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MoneyMindedMoms: Do “Loyalty Cards” Really Pay Off?

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Do “Loyalty Cards” Really Pay Off?
Jan 12 2011 08:00 PM | Doreen Kukral  in Coupons & Discounts -----
One word answer: Absolutely!

It seems more and more retailers, grocery stores, and even boutiques are offering loyalty cards to their customers. In exchange for signing-up, you are awarded special offers, discounts, members-only sales and a host of other rewards.

For the longest time, I rejected the idea because I was concerned about being added to mailing lists and overburdened by “junk mail”. I even worried they might cause me to overspend. Admittedly, I was wrong.

Case in point: I signed-up for the loyalty card at my grocery store and in the last 12-months, I have saved $1,127. You read correctly… over one THOUSAND dollars! The savings came from sale prices for members only, accumulated percentage discounts on my entire purchase and reciprocal discounts on gasoline for my car.

The reality? If you are a frequent shopper of a particular store offering the card, what do you have to lose (besides extra money for NOT signing up!)? They’re all things I would have purchased regardless of the discounts, so why not take advantage of the opportunity to save?

However, there IS one simple word of warning. Don’t think of loyalty cards as a license to spend. Don’t buy just because your purchase is discounted. Don’t impulse buy. Buy only what you need and nothing more, otherwise you’re likely to spend-away what would have been your savings.

Loyalty card programs are set-up to keep you returning to a store again and again. But truly, if it’s a store of choice and you will return anyhow, you’ll be the one getting the best part of the deal.

Doreen Kukral is creator of MomGoesGreen.com, a popular weblog that offers a glimpse into her family’s journey to "going green". With her contributions to Money Minded Moms she hopes to inspire others by sharing realistic ideas and information necessary to make wise choices where family health, wellness and environmental conservation are concerned and dispel the myth that going green is a costly commitment.
www.MomGoesGreen.com
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6 Comments

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Vicky Collins 

12 January 2011 - 07:50 PM
Grocery loyalty cards are totally worth it, no clipping coupons, but savings every week!

What do you think of loyalty programs like Amex, where you get points that you can convert to miles or buy giftcards, etc?
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Doreen Kukral 

13 January 2011 - 04:14 PM
Vicky - Yes, for the grocery store, especially, it's well worth signing up!

I can't say that I (personally) have ever converted credit card points into anything substantial. We tend to use our debit card much more than credit, so as not to accidentally overspend.

However, my in-laws buy everything on their credit card. They don't like to carry cash, so they mainly use their credit card and pay it off each month. The majority of their purchases are on a General Motors Visa (my father-in-law's former employer) and would you believe, when they purchased their car 18-months ago, they had accrued $5000 credit! Imagine having $5K instantly paid on the price of a new car! I guess that is quite a testament that there is some (serious) value in earning and cashing in points!
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Doreen Kukral 

14 January 2011 - 12:05 AM
...oops! I meant to type TESTIMONY... !!!! :P
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cindyandsons 

17 January 2011 - 10:04 AM
We charge everything possible on our Wells Fargo Credit Card. A credit Card offers more consumer protection than a debit card should you have to cancel a transaction, fraud, etc. We save all our extra points through the year, then I cash them in during summer break when I'm not working (I'm a teacher). We can them simply "cash out" the points into our savings or checking account. We usually get between $900-$1100.
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cindyandsons 

17 January 2011 - 10:06 AM
Trick is, you MUST pay off your credit card each and every month. I don't want for the statement, I made an on-line payment on the 1st and 15th of every month. That way you don't get charged interest.
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Doreen Kukral 

17 January 2011 - 11:58 AM
cindyandsons - that's fantastic! Earning money while spending wisely is exactly how to go about it. And paying off credit cards each month IS key! Congratulations on finding a way to make it work for you and putting yourself on a set plan. Thank you for sharing a great tip!
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