Featured Image Caption: Loyalty schemes can be found just about everywhere
It’s almost certain that you will have come across loyalty schemes, and probably just as likely that you are a member of at least one. Their history goes back to the 1800s, where stamps affixed to a booklet were used in place of the modern plastic card.
They have developed a lot over the years, with modern systems designed to offer personalised offers based on aggregated sales data, building on the basic premise of “points mean prizes” from the original loyalty schemes.
Loyalty schemes exist in almost every sector you can imagine, from coffee shops like Cafe Nero, to supermarkets like Tesco, and even online poker sites, which regularly offer both sign up and loyalty bonuses. This can often mean you have more rewards cards than you can carry with you at any one time.
Thankfully, there are mobile apps like Stocard that let you enter the details of all your cards and give you a barcode to scan at the checkout from your phone.
Some loyalty schemes offer very poor value to their users, whilst others can be used to extract sizeable savings (or profits) if used correctly. Here are some tips to help you make the most of loyalty schemes and save money.
Don’t Be Loyal
The whole premise of loyalty schemes is that they are designed to make you loyal to a particular shop or group of shops. The schemes work by offering points for every purchase that you make in store. However, in some cases, the reality is that shops just factor in the cost of the points in the price you pay.
In most circumstances, you should shop around for the best prices rather than remaining loyal to one particular brand. This is because the points you’ll get from the higher priced store are usually worth less than the savings found elsewhere.
If the shop you do choose has a loyalty scheme, then, by all means, collect the points as this adds to your total saving, but don’t let points be why you choose a particular shop.
Take Advantage of Special Offers & Double-Ups
Shops often run extra promotions to encourage you to purchase a particular product, or just to get you into the store. It is possible to maximise these offers to make more from them than you spend on the products.
For example, UK beauty retailer and pharmacy chain, Boots, recently ran a promotion for holders of its “Advantage Card” where customers received 200 points (equivalent to £2) just for buying something in store, even if the item was less than £2. This meant that it was possible to purchase a cheap item for £0.30 and make £1.70 in profit.
Some larger companies also run credit cards attached to their loyalty scheme, providing additional points for shopping in store and elsewhere. Provided that you pay off your credit card in full so that you don’t get charged interest, this can be a great way to earn a small percentage back on all of your shopping, in addition to your usual loyalty points.
Loyalty schemes can be great tools for both the users and the companies that run them. To truly maximise your savings you need to fight against the loyalty aspect of the loyalty programme, shop at the stores that offer the best prices first, and be on the lookout for opportunities to double up points and to use special offers.
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