Saving with Store-Loyalty Cards
When you’re a frequent shopper, more savings rewards are yours
-Susan Samtur, Select Coupon Program
Store-Loyalty or Frequent Shopper cards are issued by most major grocery stores, and now many other retail outlets as well.
These cards reward shoppers for return trips and repeat purchases–and ensure the store a repeat customer. I was surprised to hear, though, from a store checker just last week that less than 50 percent of her shoppers use cards. I was shocked that consumers would pass up these savings opportunities, so I wanted to be sure to pass along the information you need about these cards so you can start saving more now!
Generally the sign-up for store-loyalty cards is at the courtesy desk and requires no more than a minute or two. Initially, you can expect a 20% savings that can build up to 50% regularly on your grocery shopping bill.
In addition to keeping you coming back, stores often offer special prices (tagged on the shelves) only to those with a store-loyalty card. I have Frequent Shopper Cards for every supermarket in my neighborhood. That way I am assured of always getting the best price available on a specific product. For example, Pathmark had 4 boxes of General Mills Cereal on sale for $6 when using the store-loyalty card, an immediate savings of $18.
Loyalty cards also help earn free turkeys at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Generally for a total purchase of $250 or $300 over a 6- to 8-week period, you’re rewarded with one of these items free. The frequent shopper card keeps track of your purchases, and as soon as you purchase the required minimum, it’s noted on your register receipt.
There are other benefits as well. Recently I shopped at an Acme in Philadelphia (but I know that Price Chopper in upstate New York does this too): They offered a discount on gas based on your grocery purchases. For a purchase of $50, you got $.05 off a gallon of gas. Once again, the store’s computer keeps track of your purchases, and the tally is reflected on your receipt. I did the math, and you could actually earn up to 20 gallons of free gas.
But my savings don’t stop here. I have signed up for frequent shopper cards at my local discount drug chains such as CVS, Duane Reed, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. Rite Aid has one of the best loyalty programs I’ve ever seen. Each month they offer upward of $500 in rewards. No card is required, and you submit each purchase and register receipt online. At the end of the month after filing your request, you’ll receive your check in the mail. CVS has a different method: Various purchases earn Extra Care Bucks to use on any future purchase. I bought $15 worth of Energizer batteries and earned $10 in Extra Care Bucks. Their deals are outlined in their weekly sales flyer.
Petco, Staples, Borders, and TrueValue Hardware, to name a few, offer loyalty cards as well. With Staples, if you forget your card, just give them your phone number and they can look up your account. Staples credits your account $3 for the return of used ink cartridges, and at the end of each 3-month quarter, you’ll receive any credits earned in a mailed statement. I earned $18 this quarter and used it toward the purchase of paper. Rewards add up with other purchases too, so be sure to check your sale flyer.
Borders Books rewards program sends out weekly emails with 25 percent to 50 percent savings on various purchases. Sometimes it’s on a single item of your choice, other times on a DVD selection. For the holidays I bought one of my sons the 11th season of Southpark. Knowing the discounts vary, I waited for a 40 percent coupon, saving $20 on the full set. If you forget your card at Borders, just give them your zip code and you’re all set.
Tip for ease of organizing your store-loyalty cards: Most stores issue them in 2 sizes. I keep the small key-ring size in my wallet. That way, I always have the cards available for the savings. The larger loyalty cards fit well in my coupon organizer, so I’m always prepared.
I hope I’ve tempted you with the ease of acquiring and using store-loyalty cards and with the enormous savings they can offer.
Coupon Tip of the Day
Free Sample of Quaker True Delights Granola Bar
Susan J. Samtur is Editor and Chief and Publisher of Refundle Bundle Magazine started in 1973, and founder of Select Coupon Program, a grocery coupons site. Susan is nationally recognized as the “Coupon Queen” and has been featured on Live with Regis, Today, CNN, Fox & Friends, and Good Morning America. She is the author of the best-selling book, Cashing In at the Checkout – a million-copy seller, as well as two other books. She has contributed to Family Circle magazine for over twenty-five years and has been featured in hundreds of newspapers and magazines articles.