Loyalty Programs. Are They Worth Your Time?

We all have one, so is there any benefit?

Photo: Rebecca Aldama/Unsplash

I recently stumbled upon a Frequent Flyer card, mixed up with some of my old scripts and teaching material. Roughly 4 years old, this card looked like it had been through some rough neighbourhoods in its time. Surprisingly, the membership number was still legible, so I decided to see if it even worked. More to the point, I wanted to know if it had any points.

After a tedious 25 minutes of waiting and responding to 4 password-reset emails, I managed to get into my account balance.

28,574 points.

‘Woohoo, I’ve made it’, I remember telling myself. However, after a little further digging and a few calculations, the actual figure was worth substantially less.

$142.88

That was the value of the points. After four years and no interest accumulated, I had earned nearly $150. A nice find when you think about it, but what’s not nice is what you can do with it — absolutely nothing.

Further digging on the web and I still have nothing left in my pocket. The thing with the points is they can only be used for the company where they are collected. They can non-transferable, not withdrawable, and not available for redemption until I hit a particular milestone — 150.00 dollars.

Bugger.

The truth is loyalty programs are designed to send your consumer data to companies to market and produce products that will sell more.

The Benefit

Everybody loves receiving something for nothing. It is human nature. So, why not implement this when you are shopping?

I mean, it’s not going to get you a lot. Quite often, the benefit of using a loyalty card is simply to accumulate points to then spend back at the store, and it takes a long time to receive any actual benefit.

However, if your local store has certain offers or discounted items where you receive extra points, your balance will certainly increase.

More often than not, loyalty programs are connected. Instead of waiting to receive a measly 10 dollars off your next shop, transfer your points to a frequent flyer company to accumulate miles on your next flight. Even now as nobody is flying, this will be a great way to have an inexpensive trip in the future.

After all, investing is for the future and not for the present.

The Drawback

We are attracted to offers. So much so that if a sign has written sale or 50% off, your attention is immediately diverted.

Put simply, loyalty programs are designed to store your shopping data. Every time you scan your barcode, you are sending the store consumer information to only be sent an email with 24 hours with other offers for the same store.

Want to not receive so many emails? Stop signing up to loyalty programs.

The other downside is that rewards often seem so obtainable. However, more often than not, the benefit or discount that you are aiming to receive is a long way off.

My local store offers 10 dollars off for every 2000 points.

The downside? You receive 1 point for every dollar you spend, essentially, you would have to pay 2000 dollars, just to receive 10 dollars off.

That’s not very beneficial now, is it?

The Outcome

Having a loyalty card to your local department or grocery store has both good and bad features. It most certainly doesn’t hurt to have one in your wallet or on an app. With time you may receive some benefit in return for your loyalty, especially if you transfer them to flyer miles.

If you do have a card, make sure you have the latest app or account details. This is to ensure you stay up to date in case of any policy changes or member offers that may be available.

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Teacher • Writer • Actor

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