Just be careful not to overspend for the sake of getting rewards.
Are there certain retailers you frequent more often than you’d like to admit? Many retailers have loyalty programs that can be pretty rewarding, especially for those who shop on a regular basis.
First, a quick explainer on loyalty programs vs. store credit cards. There are retailer-specific rewards credit cards that can help shoppers earn bonuses for brand loyalty as well, but they may carry higher interest rates than the average credit card and they’ll likely require a credit check. Loyalty programs are mostly free (though some on our list do charge a fee) and they’re not a line of credit, even though they will reward you for shopping at the store.
A word of caution, though: While it’s good to get discounts and perks for what you do spend, be careful not to overspend for the sake of getting rewards. If you get into debt, what you end up paying in finance charges may outweigh the goodies you get for being such a good customer.
That said, membership does have its rewards. Here are eight awesome loyalty programs that can really pay.
My Starbucks Rewards
How it works: Coffee addicts earn Stars by paying with their registered Starbucks, Teavana, or La Boulange Card or by using the mobile app. Select Starbucks products sold at grocery stores can also earn Stars.
What you get: Free drinks, free food, custom offers on items and early peeks at new products.
Bonus: App users receive a free featured iTunes song weekly.
2. Regal Entertainment Group
Regal Crown Club
How it works: Film buffs earn credits for tickets and concession purchases.
What you get: Free popcorn, free drinks and, of course, movie tickets.
Bonus: Members-only sneak previews of upcoming films.
How it works: Members earn points for every dollar they spend, be it online, in-store or at outlets. Cosmetics and fragrances earn double points.
What you get: Free shipping every day—no minimum purchase required.
Bonus: A $25 gift card every time you reach 5,000 points.
Sephora Beauty Insider
How it works: Every dollar spent is a point toward rewards.
What you get: Beauty swag worth 100 and 500 points, seasonal promotions and free beauty classes. Spend $350 to unlock VIB status, and $1,000 for VIB Rouge.
Bonus: Free birthday gifts that you’ll actually love, such as Satin Lip Pencils from Nars.
REI Member Benefits
How it works: Pay a one-time fee of $20 to enroll.
What you get: A bevy of deals, in-store discounts, and 10% back on full-price items, thanks to REI’s member dividend.
Bonus: Discounts on ski lift tickets at select resorts, plus bike and ski shop services.
Walgreens Balance Rewards
How it works: Members rack up 10 points for every dollar they spend on most items.
What you get: $5 for 5,000 points, $10 for 10,000 points, and so on – to redeem on your next purchase.
Bonus: AARP members can link their cards for more rewards, namely, 100 points for prescription refills and 50 points per dollar spent on Walgreens brand health and wellness products.
7. Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Membership
How it works: Pay an annual fee of $25.
What you get: Free one- to three-day shipping; 10% off most items, 40% off Barnes & Noble Store Bestsellers.
Bonus: 10% off Starbucks café purchases.
How it works: Scan the free card with every purchase.
What you get: Automatic savings online or in-store. Forgot your card? Just enter your phone number.
Bonus: Save on Safeway gasoline at participating stores.
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