Reward Card Ruminations

My reward card collection

My reward card collection

How many store or other rewards cards do you have sitting around in your purse or wallet?  Go count.  I’ll wait.  Listed in random order, I have cards for CVS, Walgreens, K-Mart, Toys R Us, Hy-Vee, Price Chopper, Blockbuster, Michaels, Hallmark, Payless, U.S. Toy, Lego VIP card, and Office Depot.   I’m sure I probably forgot a few as I was just counting the ones I have either attached to my key chain or buried in my purse.  I also recently registered a Starbucks gift card to get rewards, could probably resister a couple of other gift cards I found floating around in my purse that have minimal amounts left on them (don’t you hate that when you end up having something like $1.85 left on a gift card?).  I also have a couple of  “loyalty” cards for Cherry Berry (actually I have THREE half-punched cards which should be enough to get a free yogurt!) and a DiLusso card (I probably have more of those floating around with 2 or 3 stamps each as well). 

Most of these cards except the ones attached to my keychain…are randomly thrown in a pocket in my purse.  Thank goodness most stores can simply look up your card by phone number!  My question for those of you with reward card collections such as mine is do you have any idea how the rewards cards actually reward you?  I must admit for some of them I have absolutely no idea! 

Here are the ones that I know give “rewards” that I do actually understand and use:

CVS:  I love CVS!  I find the Extra Care Bucks easy to get (they print off with my register receipt) and use.  They send me coupons in my e-mail that I can send to my card instead of wasting ink and paper printing them out.  I cannot express how much I LOVE that and how that actually buys them a small bit more of my loyalty as a customer.  I was also told in store that they accept expired Extra Care Bucks unless it’s been say 2 or 3 years.  I imagine this policy varies among CVS stores though. 

My Hallmark Reward Certificate that allows me to breathe before rushing back to the store to use.

My Hallmark Reward Certificate that allows me to breathe before rushing back to the store to use.

Hallmark:  I honestly do not shop in their store that much.  However, I do find that even a small amount of shopping will get me a Reward Certificate for an amount that will at least cover the cost of a couple of cards.  I do have to stick to Hallmark branded products but that usually gives me plenty of choice.  They also can be combined and do not expire right away.  My current Reward certificate does not expire until May 2013.

U.S. Toy:  This is a local company that is actually a bit of a drive for me but I do go there a few times a year.  While the card doesn’t really pay me back, I do like that when I go to the store I can generally get a decent discount on select items with my card.  They also sometimes send me catalogs with coupons that have a nice 2 month window of use.

Here are the ones I use that I somewhat understand but find slightly annoying to try to redeem their rewards:

K-Mart:  Honestly, I’m not a huge K-Mart shopper even though it is the closest store of its kind to me.  A shopping trip there often reminds me that Target is worth the drive of a couple extra miles and that I could have driven the extra miles, completed my trip, and been home in the amount of time it takes me to simply check out at K-Mart.  However, I do go there enough that I signed up for their rewards card.  They are my go-to place for hard to find items during the Christmas rush.  Evidently with their card, I earn points that then translate into dollars off my next purchase when I achieve the magic number of said points.  I have no idea what the magic number might be but I know that I earn about $5 here and there.  Sometimes the cashier will offer up that I have cash points that are expiring and would I like to use them?  Other times I have to ask them to please look it up and apply them.  I find this a bit frustrating.  Especially if I happen to have known (they do send e-mails once in a while) that I have the points. 

Hy-Vee and Price Chopper:  These are simply grocery store loyalty cards which if I spend a certain amount of money in the stores, I get a discount on gas.  Hy-Vee’s card is new and I’m not thrilled to have an extra card in my pocket.  One of the reasons I loved them was I didn’t have to worry about yet another card!   Price Chopper’s minimum price point is $50 to get  five cents off a gallon and I simply don’t shop  there often enough to make use of this.  They used to have my loyalty until a couple cashiers ruined it (customer service DOES matter to me) and Hy-Vee is simply such a nice store that they won me over.  I’ve yet to use their card to get a gas discount as it is fairly new.  I never minded having to walk into their attached gas station with my register receipt but I must have been in the minority.  I also know the Price Chopper discount only works when paying by credit or debit card and since I often pay cash, I find this frustrating.

Toys R Us:  Oh how I was loathing them yesterday although it did give me inspiration for this post.  Their reward dollars expire in such a short amount of time that it is somewhat appalling.  I did not want to be out in a toy store in January in the middle of flu season yesterday and yet that is exactly where I found myself with reward dollars that were going to expire.  We must have been in that store a bit too often in December!  My boys needed nothing and the coupon excludes anything remotely video game or electronic related.  Outside of my husband next month, the next child birthday in our extended family isn’t until March.  I was at a loss but finally came up with a couple of gifts to put away for next Christmas (a serious case of I’m supposed to be a last-minute shopper amnesia came over me I suppose) or an unexpected birthday party invitation.  I was excited to get rid of all my “dollars” before they disappeared except one coupon which expires January 31st wasn’t “valid” until today.  I know they want consumers continually in their store or to perhaps let their reward dollars expire so they aren’t out anything while they have data on all my shopping habits.  This does not exactly leave me excited  in regard to this program or store.  However, I do intend to use my reward dollars and my reward dollars only before they expire.  I almost managed yesterday but had to fork over $2 to make my purchase work.

Here are the rewards cards I own but have no idea how their programs work: 

Walgreens (we were a test market before this card program went nationwide and I didn’t understand it then either), Blockbuster, Michaels (they sure like to send e-mails though!), Payless, Lego, and Office Depot (again they love to e-mail me!).  My husband also has a Game Stop card and it turns out he doesn’t know what it does either. 

What store rewards/loyalty cards do you carry and more importantly do you actually understand how they work?  Do you have a system for keeping them organized or are you more like me and just have the cashier look it up by phone number each time instead of rummaging for each card.  Do you have a system for getting the most of out of all the rewards?  Please let me know.

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10 thoughts on “Reward Card Ruminations

  1. Christine

    You are so insightful Miss Jean! I am a faithful Michael’s card user, mainly for all the coupons I get to use, and Kroger. Plus my Petco card also gives us great coupons on our kitty supplies! Those are the main cards I use. I had to downsize a lot cause I kept growing out of my wallet!!

    Reply
    1. Jean Post author

      We need a system for all these cards! I should look into Petco as there is one nearby us and I always forget it is there.

      Reply
    1. Jean Post author

      I know that Toys R Us sends my stuff to my e-mail but I think you can log in somewhere and check out what rewards you have as well. I still don’t completely understand how it all works though.

      Reply
  2. Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    Oh my goodness! My head was spinning!! This is so not me. I actually have as few of those cards as necessary. And what’s with K-mart…they spit out miles of register tape everytime I go there. I might need to stop going there to save a tree. Hahahaha!! All that to say…I applaud you Jean! {hugs}
    Diane | An Extraordinary Day recently posted..SunsetMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jean Post author

      Oh, that Kmart receipt thing bugs me as well. I did figure out that if you can catch them in time and request an “ereceipt” then it won’t do that and all those “coupons” will be sent to your e-mail instead. I was a little leery of the e-receipt idea at first but I do use it in there especially to avoid all that extra paper!

      Reply
    1. Jean Post author

      Wait…Panera Bread has a rewards program? I think I need another card 😉 I keep thinking I’m going to take a day and look all these cards up and see exactly what I get but other things keep sounding a lot more exciting than that.

      Reply
  3. Deanna

    I have a super cool flip out card holder – imagine your hand holding playing cards with them attached at the bottom. That’s mine, except it’s got those little photo holders. Works great. Yep, another thing in my purse. My frequently used cards I put in my actual wallet in this little compartment that spans the length of the dollars section (don’t carry those 😉 )

    Mostly I use my phone number.

    I’m actually not appreciating the ‘rewards’ systems that these places are using. The companies are collecting data about us, and frankly the rewards are not high enough for that. So later, in my 80’s, and my heart is all clogged up and I’m at the doctor’s office they’ll look me up and say “Hey, I see you were at Cherry Berry quite a bit, in addition to look at all the clearance chocolate you bought at Walgreen’s” 😉 Tee hee.

    Deanna

    Reply
    1. Jean Post author

      Ha! You’re funny and probably right. I really would like to compare all the rewards and see if any are actually worth it and drop the ones that aren’t worth my wasting my breath to give out my phone number.

      Reply

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