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Loyalty Programs Worth Joining

Sabrina Meffe - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

According to statistics provided by COLLOQUY, approximately 90% of Canadians participate in some types of rewards program, so chances are high that you probably have two or three loyalty cards in your wallet right now.


However, not all loyalty programs are worth the investment.  While you could potentially save hundreds of dollars each year with some loyalty programs, other programs may strap you in and make you pay additional fees for services you don’t need or use.


So which programs are worth joining and which ones should you pass by? Here’s a quick peek at a few promising services:


Food


According to the Government of Canada, the average adult spent nearly $7,739 in food in 2012.  Shopping-savvy customers can cut their grocery expenses by participating in loyalty programs for restaurants and grocery stores they frequently visit as well as buying in bulk.


Starbucks, for example, allows customers to earn “stars” when they pay with their registered cars. These stars can then be redeemed for drinks, food, and more.  Similarly, Costco enables customers who join their loyalty program to purchase bulk items and food for much lower prices than many local grocery stores.


Clothing


Loyalty programs are common among clothing and retail stores. The best programs offer consumers a steady 5%-15% discount, while higher-end retailers may offer loyal customers a sneak peek into new collections.


Neiman Marcus is a high-end store which offers points on every dollar spent in the store. For every 10,000 points earned, customers can receive a $100 gift card. The more members earn, the wider the variety of prizes are available, including free shipping and sweepstakes entries.


Similarly, Nordstrom provides a Fashion Rewards program which rewards a $20 gift card for every 2,000 points earned. If a purchase is made on their Nordstrom Visa card, they can receive additional points both in store and out.


Macy’s traditional Star Rewards program offers discounts and in-store coupons which can earn points on top of savings. These points can also be redeemed for gift cards.  


Gas


According to CBC News, average gas prices per litre reached record highs in Ontario, Toronto, and Edmonton. Because gas prices aren’t expected to drop any time soon, gas may be the reason you take the bus or your bike to work instead of your car.


Fortunately, many gas stations offer loyalty programs that could take pennies off the gallon. While it might not seem like a lot at first, a few cents every time you fill up your tank can add up.


For example, Shell and BP offer 5% rebates, or 20 cents off gas at $4 per gallon. Similarly, Safeway offers up to 10 cents off the gallon.


Hotels


If you’re a frequent traveler, then a hotel loyalty rewards program is a must. Some generous programs offer free nights, discount vouchers, and credit that can be used on room service and other items.


For example, Monte Carlo inn offers a Diamond rewards program that gives 20 points on every $100 spent. These points can count toward a free night, complimentary upgrades, and early check-ins. Best Western’s program enables families and business travelers to redeem their points for airline miles while Marriott rewards can accumulate to go toward guaranteed priority check-in and dining cards.


Banking


It might surprise you, but many banks are now offering consumers cash-back for debit card use. Essentially, the more you spend on your card, the more you save.


Online banker PerkStreet Financial offers 2% cash back for debit-card purchases to clients who have a $5,000 minimum balance in a 0% interest account. In lieu of cash, Charles Schwab and Fidelity reimburse customers for fees charged by ATMS.


Airlines


Airline loyalty memberships have been around a long time, and they’re some of the most popular loyalty programs worth having. Perks include upgrades to first class, VIP airport lounges, and the occasional free ticket. Additionally, some programs enable members to redeem points at car rentals, hotels, and cruises.


For example, Air Canada enables you to earn Aeroplan Miles which you can use to redeem at hotel bookings, car rentals, and charities.


Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?


Whether you’re looking for a free coffee or a frequent flyer needing a cheaper ticket, these loyalty rewards programs can save you money if you use them wisely.


But don’t feel limited to the programs listed above! Loyalty programs may be available in your area for other things you love, including movies, music, games, and sports. So, be on the lookout for a loyalty program that fits your needs.


Just remember to be cautious about other programs that require lengthy contracts or charge hidden fees. Before joining any loyalty program read the fine print and clarify any points with the company to make sure you understand the program.


Additionally, don't feel obligated to participate in programs you don't use regularly. Most programs are only worth the investment if they save you money, and an unused card won't rack up any points.

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