At this time where phones have virtually replaced coupons and almost everyone is on Amazon Prime, do you even think about other companies’ loyalty programs?
Well, you should.
Though not as popular as they once were, companies still offer quality loyalty programs to keep their customers shopping. When implemented the right way, a loyalty, or rewards program can be crucial to the success of a business. They are mutually beneficial for both stores and customers to keep inventory moving and provide you with the best savings all year round.
It’s easy to overlook an email or answer with an immediate ‘no’ to the cashier asking you to join their program. Most of the time it seems like a hassle to carry a card or input your telephone number, especially if you are unsure of the rewards offered on the other side.
Before signing up for any program, it is essential to understand what you are getting into. Is there an annual fee? Do you have to open a new credit card? Do you shop there enough to use the rewards? These are all questions you should answer first.
To make it a little easier on you, we’ve dissected three types of programs – points per dollar, % back and annual fee – by using examples of popular loyalty programs to show the differences. After reading through the descriptions you’ll be able to answer the questions above, so there will only be one more thing to ask yourself - which loyalty program is best for me?
Members acquire savings through a percent back program, based on how much you spend.
The CVS loyalty program takes a more traditional route by providing membership cards which is fun if you, like me, miss swiping them. For as good as the benefits are, I will say that the program guidelines are a bit complicated. There are a lot of words with “Extra” in front of them and separate cards for pharmacy and beauty. Fortunately, I think it’s only the names that are excessive. When you get past those, it is a pretty straightforward rewards program.
Benefits: ExtraCare members will receive 2% back in rewards (called ExtraBucks rewards) with every purchase. You must present your ExtraCare card so that they can swipe it during the transaction. Members will also receive emails with special offers and will always be able to qualify for the sales price offered online (if they are different then the price listed in store) and vice versa. CVS also offers separate rewards with ExtraCare Pharmacy and ExtraCare Beauty Club depending on which department you spend the most time in.
Fine Print: You must create a CVS account to sign up for an ExtraCare card. Some exclusions for 2% back apply (alcohol, lottery, stamps, prepaid cards, milk, magazines, etc). ExtraBucks rewards accumulate and are paid out in January, April, July and October. You can redeem your rewards by presenting your ExtraBucks rewards coupon/receipt to a cashier along with your card. You must spend at least $50 during the rewards period.
Office Depot has made it easy to sign up for their loyalty program. It is about as basic as you can get, it is literally just called “Office Depot Rewards,” with a solid 2% back perk.
Benefits: Earn 2% back in rewards on purchases when you sign up for their loyalty program. Members can also access members-only savings and pricing, get $2 back in rewards for recycled ink and toner cartridges and qualify for dedicated support. Rewards are paid out monthly online via a “rewards certificate” once you reach a minimum of $3 back. Rewards may be redeemed at checkout when you shop and can be used on future purchases.
Fine Print: To receive rewards you must create an online account and there can only be one account per household. Also, there are some exclusions on items like stamps, prepaid cards, in-store services and delivery fees. There is a $10 minimum monthly purchase required to qualify for the recycling reward program.
Members receive a calculated number of points per dollar spent which translate into rewards later.
Whether you’re an occasional beauty buyer or you’re, let’s just say, enthusiastic about makeup, the Sephora Beauty Insider program satisfies. Though it is based on tiers, the entry level membership is free. They are implementing changes at the end of May, but it’s all for the better. Plus, they give you a birthday present!
Benefits: This is a free rewards program for the basic tier (insider) but you can access other tiers depending on how much you spend each year. Insiders earn 1 point per $1 spent, get their choice of birthday gift, and receive discounts and offers throughout the year.
Fee: None; minimum spending limit required for VIB and Rouge tiers.
Fine print: To access secondary tiers and more savings you must spend $350 annually for VIB and $1000 annually for Rouge membership. The VIB tier adds on benefits like earning 1.25 points per every dollar spent and additional savings. Rouge tier members earn 1.5 points for every dollar, get free shipping, have early access to products and may be invited to exclusive events.
Ulta boasts another basic beauty plan. You have to spend a dollar to earn one point, however, one reward point doesn’t equal a dollar back to you. They have a breakdown of points where 100 = $3 and so on, requiring you to spend quite a bit of dough there to acquire any real savings. But, members can receive bonus points via email so that makes up for some of it.
Benefits: Shop and earn points for every dollar spent online, in-store and for beauty services by signing up for Ultamate rewards. Receive bonus points from promotions via email, a free birthday gift and 2x points during your birthday month.
Fee: None; minimum spending limit required for Platinum and Diamond membership
Fine Print: Points must be redeemed within the calendar year. They can be applied to discounted products. The points breakdown is as follows:
There are different tiers based on how much you spend. The Platinum tier requires you to spend $500 during the calendar year. Platinum members receive all benefits listed plus 1.25 points for every dollar spent. Members are given a $10 birthday coupon and the points never expire. When you spend $1200 during the calendar year, you reach Diamond membership. Diamond members receive all benefits of Platinum plus free shipping on orders $25 or more and an annual beauty service reward card. Diamond member points accumulate at 1.5 points per dollar spent.
Members pay a yearly fee to receive on-going rewards.
I will say it is almost impossible to not get 20% your purchase at Bed, Bath & Beyond (their coupons are everywhere), but in times where you misplaced your mail or phone, their membership program comes in handy. There is an annual fee but it’s quite low. With 20% off every time you shop you’ll make up that $29 within two transactions.
Benefits: Beyond+ members quality for 20% off of purchases every time they shop (no coupons required), free shipping, 50% off design services and exclusive offers and member shopping events.
Fee: $29 annual fee
Fine Print: Beyond+ 20% off rewards are not eligible to use at their participating stores (World Market, BuyBuy Baby, etc). Your membership will automatically renew unless you cancel it in your account. The membership fee is also non-refundable. You must create an account on their site or download the app to view your offers.
Rewards are everywhere. You don’t have to spend your Saturdays cutting coupons to enjoy savings on your favorite products. Memberships, rebates and loyalty programs all make it simple to save at the places you already shop. Plus, they help you find new deals on products without any extra effort.
Our best advice is to avoid signing up for everything at once and take a moment to learn about the rules and rewards. You’ll be able to find the best loyalty program for you in no time.
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