When shopping watch out for the little “hooks” retailers are putting in their loyalty programs. In our day to day shopping, it appears the best thing to do is to join every shopper loyalty program out there… or is it?
As retailers get more efficient in tracking buyers spending habits a recent study finds that loyalty programs may cost a company more than they hoped to gain. I have personally noticed that some companies are phasing out old programs and charging the consumer to be loyal? I witnessed this recently when I went to a theater chain and presented my frequent movie watcher card and was informed that it was no longer accepted and for only $12.95 I can have the same benefits that I once had for Free.
The deal was that I would get $10 back for every $100 I spent. Since I am frugal it would take me purchasing 25 movie tickets to rack up $100 and I normally watch about 4 or 5 movies a year in theaters. Let’s assume the dollar counter rolls over from year to year. In 4 years I would have spent $52 and gotten $10 back. Now for some families, this program may be a bargain if they go to the movies a lot. However, Dave Ramsey Certified Financial Coach Deanna Ooley will tell you it’s probably just better you think just a little ahead of the game.
Another example that I’ve noticed is that a grocery store that offers 10 cents off per gallon purchased at their gas pump for every $100 spent on groceries. Ok, I was shopping there anyway and the gas was the same price or lower than other gas stations in the area. Then they offered 15 cents instead of the 10 cents if you had their credit card tied to your shopper card. You did not have to use the card at all to get the 15 cent discount. Then about a year ago they started saying you HAD to charge it to their card to get the 15 cent discount. So any discount you would receive they would get back through interest.
Just when saving for a house and shopping for a home loan it is always wise to examine the little things. In the end, those little things add up to dollars and cents and if you get to the end of your money before the end of the month you may want to look at how you are shopping if it’s costing you more to belong to a loyalty program than you are saving.
There is more to this story and many more examples. I’d love to hear yours.
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