Do you presently participate in any customer rewards programs? These programs reward you for shopping with a particular company or business. A very simple example of a customer reward program is a punch card for a coffee shop. Every time you buy a cup of coffee you get a punch. After ten punches you receive a free cup of coffee. It doesn’t cost you anything and all you have to do is remember your card. I have rewards cards for CVS, ToysRUs, Gymboree and for a local sporting goods store. I haven’t calculated how much money these actually have saved me, but I do know that every little bit counts and it all adds up over time. Here are a few tips to help you take advantage of rewards programs:
1. Carry the rewards cards with you at all times
It’s not going to help you save if you don’t have the card at the moment you make a purchase. If you do find yourself without your card, ask the cashier if they can look up your rewards card based on your name or phone number. I’ve been successful with this method at Toys R Us and Gymboree. Punch type cards are a little more difficult because you actually have to present the card (like the system the local sporting goods store uses).
2. Avoid “Credit Card” rewards cards
Higher interest rates and annual fees may negate the savings on these types of cards. Be a savvy consumer and read the fine print. Pay attention to any restrictions on the use of rewards. If you do use credit card rewards programs, like credit cards that offer travel miles, make sure you pay them off at the end of each month. Don’t carry a balance – that costs you money!
3. Only participate in rewards programs that you will use
It’s so easy to sign up for rewards programs. Yet each time you do, you’re giving your personal information to another company. In the case of rewards credit cards, you’re authorizing a credit check. Too many credit checks can lower your credit score (as can too much credit.)
4. When using a rewards card, don’t assume you’re automatically getting the best price
It still pays to shop around. For example, you may be using your gas card rewards card but still paying more for gas than if you’d gone to the gas station one block away. Reward programs don’t always translate into the least expensive option.
Rewards programs can be a great way to save you money. However, they must be used wisely. Compare prices. Don’t carry a balance on credit cards and carry your cards with you at all times.
1. Do you participate in any rewards programs?
2. Which programs have you had success with?
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