Saving and Earning With Frequent Shopper Cards
Frequent shopper cards have always been a hassle. You have to give your information out countless times and carry around a bunch of cards just to save a few dollars here and there. It may not seem like much, but they can actually be useful if you know how to use them. Many not only offer member discounts on products, but you can occasionally earn gift certificates for future purchases. While it may add some extra weight to your wallet or keychain, using them often can help cut down costs and save you some money for when you really need it. There are of course a few guidlines to follow when using them:
1. Don't purchase excess things just to get points or savings. Sure you may get some rewards or discounts out of it, but then you're defeating their primary purpose: saving money.
2. If you need to buy household necessities, check to see if there is a store closer to your house than the one you have a membership with. With gas back on the rise, you'll lose a lot more than you'll save if you keep driving back and forth all over town to find the best deal.
3. This one is more or less an extension of #1. Some cards offer points that need to be accumulated and cashed out for rewards within the given amount of time. Don't go spending extra just so you can achieve a point total before the end of the period, because that again would be a waste of money.
4. Keep track of your accounts. Many memberships require or only reach their full potential through online accounts. This could save a lot of headaches.
5. Only sign up at stores you shop at often. If you're only going to use it once for a small purchase, it was probably worth more trouble signing up than it saved. It also protects you from recklessly giving personal information that can be stolen or abused, which is a neverending occurence in this day and age.
Here are just a few of the many rewards cards that are out there:
Best Buy Rewards Program- For every $250 spent on most Best Buy merchandise, card members will earn a $5 gift certificate. This doesn't seem like much, but it's pretty hard to shop for a few things at Best Buy without spending at least $40 or $50 in a single transaction. They add up pretty darn quick. In addition, gamers (i.e. people who play video games) can upgrade their memberships for free to include the Reward Zone Gamers Club. For every $150 spent on qualifying video game merchandise, members automatically earn 500 free Reward Zone points, which is the equivelant of a $10 gift certificate.
Starbucks Gold Card- This one, unfortunately, isn't free. It costs $25 to purchase a 1 year membership, but for caffeine addicts, the savings will definitely outweigh the cost. Gold Card members recieve 10% most coffee, food and products in the establishment. In addition, they automatically get a free coffee upon purchase and several 10% off coupons for their friends. They can also go online to register their card for protection and to unlock additional members benefits.
R Us Rewards- This card, which was recently released a few months ago, allows members to earn a $5 gift certificate for every $150 spent in a two month period. That adds up real fast for expecting parents or grandparents. In addition, members are entitled to special members only shopping nights, prompt information on recalled items, and a free value box of diapers for every 9 previously bought. This card is good at both Toys and Babies R Us stores.
Borders Rewards- Like the previously mentioned card, this one can earn its members $5 in Borders Bucks whenever the members balance reaches or exceeds $150 in a year. Members also get discounts on qualifying purchases and coupons for future purchases.
There are many other companies that offer frequent shopper cards or paid memberships, such as Safeway, Barnes and Noble, Petco, CVS, etc. Knowing how to use them effectively will cut down on the cost of nececities and luxury items in the long run, enabling you to conserve your unused cash for retirement, large purchases, or just for mad money for a rainy day.