Loyalty Programs

I write a lot about deals. Especially here in Denver, CO. (Although some of them are good for anywhere). So I thought I would take a few moments to talk about Loyalty Programs. The good, the bad and the Ugly.

You may be familiar with Loyalty programs of all sorts. Some allow you to accrue points towards deals or free items (especially on your birthday). Some may require you just give your name and some basic information like an email address or a phone number.

Some Perks: Depending on the program, several offer you freebies for your birthday (I have another post on all the birthday perks  you can get just for giving up your email. Tip: create another email for all your “junk” email). You can gain access to special sales or deals – which can amount to great discounts or in some cases even cash back).

Word of warning: I don’t personally like or endorse any loyalty program that costs money. I also am very cautious about ones that would require me to give any financial information (including those that want your credit card number). Those that give you or open a credit card for you are a giant red flag – they will constantly tempt you to spend, spend, spend (while they collect your feeds and interest) for the possibility of getting more points or perks.

Some of the best ones:

  • Bare Minerals – in addition to the free item on your birthday, you also get a discount day, VIP discounts and always a 15% discount.
  • Sephora – Beauty classes, free samples, points program, discounts, free birthday gift, and special event invites (some including discounts).
  • Kohl’s – Earn cash back when you purchase items at Kohl’s (it doesn’t matter how you pay – I don’t use their credit card and still get the cash). Get special discounts and occasionally a great coupon in the mail (get $5 off when you purchase something for $5 or more – essentially get a $5 item for free).
  • Safeway – Safeway has a metric to look at what you purchase most often. They then give you specialized coupons just for you with discounts on items you purchase most (or their competitor product). Plus, their gas station program allows you to get discounts on gas based on how much you spend in store.
  • Best Buy – Best Buy has a loyalty program where they give you cash to spend in the store in the form of reward certificates. You can get 1 point for every $1 you spend. 250 points = $5 reward certificate. To me, 250 sounds like a lot – it really isn’t as most of the time if you are buying electronics or household items there they will easily add up quickly.
  • Southwest Airlines – This is probably one of my most favorite rewards programs. You can gain points from shopping through their portal, gain points from going out to eat at a restaurant near you, (they also offer a credit card you can gain points through), and of course through flying. The rewards are easy to redeem for free flights. I think their best perk is the Companion Pass – which allows you to bring a guest with you when you purchase one (like a BOGO on flights). *I am almost there!

Let me know what great perks programs you know about. What makes it so great? Are discounts better? Free items? VIP events? What drives you to join a program (or not)?

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