Every single business these days seems to be offering a loyalty program. Any time you approach a cash register, it’s likely you’ll be pitched on the store card. Some of these programs are good, and some of them are just a waste of time and a source of junk mail. Here are just a few of my favorite programs for stores, gas stations, and restaurants that are actually going to save you money – and earn you free stuff!
Mperks (Meijer) – How many times do you get to the check-out and completely forget that you had coupons? If you desire to be like TLC’s extreme couponers, this is the program for you. Now you can be just like those super shoppers, minus the unwieldy binder. Here’s how it works: simply go to Meijer’s website and create an account. Enter all the digital coupons you want. When you enter your mobile phone number and pin number at check-out, your coupons will be miraculously applied to your purchase. It even has a smartphone app so you can track coupons while you shop. Are you as amazed as I am? Thought so.
Speedy Rewards Card (Speedway) – Gas is a life necessity, and since you’re always filling up your tank, why not earn free stuff in the process? This rewards card allows you to earn points by purchasing gas, food, drinks, or other merchandise. You can redeem points on snacks, car washes, gas savings, gift cards and other cool stuff. Speedway has frequent specials where you can rack up points quickly by buying certain items. I use my points on speedy freezes (yum!) because I buy them all the time during the summer, and with the card I get a free one every so often.
BabiesRUs V.I.B. Card – This “Very Important Baby” Card is a great alternative to gift cards because it actually pays to use it. When you register at BabiesRUs, you will automatically receive one of these cards. Family and friends can load money onto the card for you to spend on diapers, wipes, formula and baby food. For every dollar added to the card, BabiesRUs will contribute 10% more, up to $200 a year. For example, if someone gives you $50, it will turn into $55! When you’re a new parent, every little bit helps!
MyPanera Card (Panera Bread) – This loyalty program is awesome because it’s easy and you get tons of free stuff. If you frequently eat at Panera and use your card every time, you can expect rewards like complimentary bakery-café items, free drinks and more that will automatically be loaded onto your card. It’s always nice to be surprised with free stuff at the checkout counter.
My DSW Rewards – Shoe lovers, rejoice! I’m obsessed with DSW rewards because it’s a wonderful excuse for me to spend money on my wardrobe. For every $150 you spend, you get a $10 rewards certificate toward your next purchase. Members also get rewards like free shipping, and a $5 rewards certificate on your birthday.
Starbucks – For some people, coffee is not just a daily beverage, it’s a lifestyle. If that sounds like you, you have to have one of these cards. Based on how many “stars” you earn (each card use = one star), you will become either a green or gold member. Green members get things like free refills, free beverages with a purchase of coffee beans, and free syrup or soy milk added to your beverage. Gold members get all that plus a free drink every 15 stars. Every Starbucks Rewards member gets a free drink every year on their birthday.
Best Buy Reward Zone – For the electronics junkie in your life, there’s the Best Buy Reward Zone Card. You earn one point for every dollar spent, and every time you rack up 250 points you get a $5 reward certificate. There are two versions of this card: one is just a loyalty program, the other is an actual store credit card. While store credit cards aren’t always a good deal, this one is worth looking into if you are making a major electronics purchase. With the credit card, you’ll earn twice the points per dollar spent, as well as get zero-interest financing on large purchases. The financing deals change from time to time, but they sometimes offer up to 24 or even 36 months of zero-interest financing for certain large purchases.
If you like getting free stuff and saving money, then you should consider joining some store loyalty programs. Hopefully this has inspired you to be more open-minded about store cards. Not all programs are as awesome as these, but if you’re a frequent shopper, these programs could really save you some money. Now go forth, and save!