How many store loyalty cards do you carry around in your wallet or purse at any given time?
According to the 2016 Bond Loyalty Report, the average number per person is 13.4. But, only half of them are actively being used.
Personally, I too carry a few different store loyalty cards in my wallet. Over the years, however, I have learned to use them in moderation in order to keep my budget in line and expenses down.
Although it seems like store loyalty cards can be a good way to save money and earn special perks, they do have some cons too. Here are the pros and cons of using store loyalty cards.
1. Save Money
Many people believe that store loyalty cards save them a lot of money. I think that can be true in some cases.
For example, if a product you are going to buy anyway from a certain store will be cheaper if you start using their loyalty program, by all means sign up. In addition, if you have the room to store extra non-perishable items and can buy them at a significant discount through the use of a store loyalty card it might be worth it for you.
Of course, there may be rewards other than just savings offered through a store’s loyalty program. Some offer cash back while others give you a chance to be included in special sales that could save you money in the future. These types of loyalty programs can be utilized to give you extra savings in your budget as long as you are careful to avoid sales gimmicks.
3. Easy and Free Sign-up
The loyalty programs for any given store or retail chain are usually offered free of charge. Many of them can be signed up for easily right on their websites. Plus, cashier’s may ask you when you check out at a store too. Some do require a certain amount of personal information you must provide in order to sign up, but it isn’t hard to complete the information and become a member.
1. Can Increase Spending
Sometimes signing up for loyal program can have the reverse effect. It may end up costing you more than you save. For instance, if you have to work to find enough items to hit a minimum so you can gain points or extra savings it may not be worth it. Most likely you will end up spending more than you would have if you had skipped buying the extra items. Of course, it is possible to save money by using store loyalty cards if you shop wisely.
2. Spending Habits Tracked
Most of the loyalty card programs offered by retailers are used to track your data, preferences, and spending habits. Your information can be used by those companies in order to raise and lower prices, offer more sales, or make product changes. Additionally, some of the companies sell the information they have gathered to other companies. With privacy being one of the issues at the forefront of consumers today, many people do not want their information shared in this way. If this is a concern for you, read all of the wording of such loyalty programs carefully before signing up for anything even if it is “free”.
3. Annual Membership Fees
Not all companies allow you to sign up for their store loyalty cards and programs for free. Some companies can and do charge for you to be a member of their special savings clubs. Consider the annual membership dues for retail chains such as Sam’s Club or Costco. Just to enter a Sam’s will cost you a $45 membership fee and raise that to $55 for Costco.
If you are a frequent shopper at these establishments it may be possible for you to recoup the membership fee in a short amount of time. I would advise caution, though. When I was in Sam’s Club not long ago I looked at the price of an item and compared it to what I recently spent at Walmart for the same exact item. Surprisingly, it was priced higher at Sam’s.
Although you can save money using some loyalty cards, I advise you to carefully compare prices to gain the most value.
Do you use store loyalty cards? What pros and cons have you seen?