Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rewards Cards

As inflation nears a 17-year high, the high cost of everything we buy is forcing shoppers to find ways to cut their bottom line. One method I've seen touted is those "rewards cards" offered by stores as a way to offer discounts to their most loyal customers. Anybody have these out there?

I have a "Speedy" rewards card for the Speedy gas station chain. Makes sense as it's the station closest to my home. In the three years that I've had the card I've earned $30 in free gas. I would estimate I've bought $3,000 in gas at that station in three years, figuring $20 spent a week (we probably spend as much or more buying gas elsewhere, since it's often cheaper). So a one per cent reward. Sounds about right.

Now I should add that you get MORE reward points by purchasing snacks and other non-fuel products. You don't get that many points for buying gas at Speedy. It's a gimmick to get you to buy junk food which you usually can get cheaper at the grocer down the road.

Recently, they sent a mailer offering 7,000 bonus points on my rewards card. All I had to do was shop there ten times during the month of August. That sounds like a lot of points but I think you need close to 20,000 points to get $20 in free gas. I thought about buying a gallon a gas a day for ten days. But there's probably something in the fine print that disallows stuff like that.

That's one of my reward cards. I just got another recently--a Border's Bookstore Rewards card. They were offering a big one-time discount on any one item for new rewards customers. I'll take that discount, even if I never use their card again. But getting the card was just the first part, I had to sign up on-line to get the discount.

Tricky. I had to set up an account and give them my e-mail address. I made a big mistake. Gave them my work e-mail address. Then I saw a check mark next to "receive e-mail announcements of sales, special events, new products . . ." No way. I unchecked that box REAL quick. Has anyone noticed an increase in spam lately? I have. Don't need any more.

When I clicked 'finished', an error page popped up. I had to change or add something. That was highlighted in red. The rest of what I filled in was okay. Then I noticed something. That checkmark was BACK, next to "receive e-mail announcements . . . " Those dirty dogs. They thought they could change it back and I wouldn't notice. Can't pull the wool over Big Dave's eyes. I unchecked that box again. Made the other changes and clicked 'finished.'

Still, something else was wrong. And AGAIN they re-checked the box that would send spam to my e-mail account. I unchecked it, made the other corrections, and clicked 'finished.' Success! And I got my discount coupon.

And . . . yes, I get regular e-mail announcements from Borders on their specials of the week, discounts, sales, special events, new products, etc.

Rewards cards. The reward is more trouble than it's worth.


Blogger Carine said...

dave, would you count my rewards charge cards? if so, the only reason hubby and I go on those Caribbean cruises is b/c we use free airfare and the rewards points also winds up paying for our tours and my spa treatment! Also, we always use "free" coffee cards at the Mobil on the Runs, 7/11 and the Corner Bakery

7:38 PM  
Blogger Nankin said...

We bought a TV at Best Buy about two monts ago and got a reward card. Only problem is you have to spend money to get the bonus. This is not the type of store we shop at often.

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Kayaker said...

Ha Ha, I have an email account devoted to those sign up forms. The worst part is a lot of those companies sell your email address to other companies. For instance, I signed up for a Cabelas newsletter and now I recieve newsletters from 10 other outdoor type stores. Hey Big Dave I thought you might be interested in this:

8:12 AM  
Blogger jan said...

I also have a special email account to sign up for what I suspect might be incoming spam.

But I like the Borders email with specials and coupons coming in.

9:55 AM  
Blogger MSU gal said...

I have a walletful! Including Best Buy, Starbucks, Borders, Cold Stone, etc.!

5:31 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

CARINE--I didn't count credit card rewards cards. I have one myself. But they keep offering special dates when I can use my credit card and get 15 percent off. I've got to learn to resist the temptation to overbuy.

NANKIN--I searched through Yahoo images and was amazed at the number of different rewards cards. I just picked Best Buy by chance.

KAYAKER--Thanks. I just got a Cabela's e-mail asking me to subscribe to their newsletter. Now I know better.

I'll visit that site.

JAN--Boycott Borders!! Just kidding, just kidding. I like Borders since I can burn my personal CDs there. I just don't like sneaky business practices.

MSU GAL--Good thing MSU doesn't offered their own rewards card, eh. (I checked; they don't)

6:18 PM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Dave, I save more money from my entertainment book than I do my reward cards. I do get some pretty good coupons in the mail because I am no their mailing list. Last Wednesday, I saved $ 10.00 on a $20.00 sale at Office Max. I bought sale specials and got some computer ink and was happy as a lark.

Good luck getting "off" of someones email list, it's almost impossible.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Lucy has a great point. The Missus gave up on reward cards for everything but the supermarket. She feels it actually works there.

My trick as far as email lists is to use an email address that I set up specifically for internet registrations. I don't use that address for any personal communications. I do have my email address posted on my blog, but Google catches most, if not all, of my spam.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LUCY--We buy the local discount coupon books sold by the high school football team. I think we eventually break even for the $20 cost versus the discounts we get.

FRED--I do have a Yahoo e-mail address for internet/commercial stuff and why I didn't use that instead of my work e-mail I don't know. Yahoo is pretty good too at filtering out spam.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous cassie-b said...

We have the Borders Reward Card. The only thing is that everything I buy at Borders (except the occasional gift) is something I don't really need.

We're big library users. And their rewards are even better.

9:20 AM  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

He who controls the check box controls your life. Bastidds.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Lynilu said...

I have one rewards-type card that drives me crazy. I get the rewards, little cards that you hand in for $XX off of a purchase; however, I always forget to use them before they expire! Duh.

I used a discount-at-time-of-purchase card at Petco a few days ago, and zoweeeee! I was buying 3 items at $21+change each, and at the register, it was $3 off *each* of them! I likes that kinda savings!!!

8:33 AM  
Blogger Betty said...

The 2 major grocery chains in this city require customers to use these cards! Well, you can get by without one, but then you have to pay full price for each item, including those on sale! I despise stores like this.

I'm sure that much of my spam and junk snail mail can be traced back to those rewards cards. Arrrrgh!


9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had that same trouble with Borders the other day. Glad to know I wasn't the only one.


11:24 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

CASSIE--My library card disappeared out of my wallet this week. Turns out my son was messing around. Hopefully my library card was the only thing missing.

HOSS--Certainly true where the internet is concerned.

LYNILU--The Borders coupons I get are good only for a few days.

BETTY--I got into a big fight with a checkout lady at Kroger's once because she said I needed a Kroger rewards card to get a special price and I said I didn't. The argument was settled when the customer in line behind me let me borrow her Kroger rewards card.

DEB--I have a feeling more than a few Borders customers have grown frustrated at their business tactics.

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:28 PM  

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