Membership Rewards Programs (and why I love them)

Grocery stores, clothing stores, restaurants, coffee houses, large Swedish furniture stores…you name it; they’ve got a little card that entitles you to super savings for being a member, and the power lies in a little plastic card that you can hang on your keychain (or a full-sized card that adds to the many you already have in your wallet).

The programs have their detractors, but I am a fan. I think that a penny saved is a penny earned, and even if I save 5 cents, I have triumphed! Granted, most often a person saves a little more than that because most rewards programs are truly worth it and offer nice discounts and rewards.

I admit though, it’s an obsession of mine. If I walk into a store, and the cashier offers me a discount or reward program, I sign up and hurriedly add the keychain card to my ring. Ironically enough, I forget about them all until the cashier prompts me for them, despite the obvious weight on my keychain.

Now, there is even an app that allows to you register all your card numbers to your phone. What a fantastic idea. The person who came up with that must have had a keychain that weighed enough to pull out the ignition in their car! You input the card information into your phone (after you download the scanner app) and then just pull up the appropriate card at the store. The cashier scans the barcode, and voila! your savings are assured, without the weighty keychain. Now, you just use the space on your phone storage, with no chance of damaging your car’s ignition.

Now, internet shopping sites are offering rewards programs, which again, is pure genius. There’s no card to keep track of, the rewards are usually more comprehensive, and easier to keep track of. I never know where I stand on my gas reward card. I’m sure my Winn Dixie/Shell gas rewards has a website I can check the balance of the reward, but its not clear on where to go to do that, so its like a guessing game to figure out how much I’ll save on my next fill-up.

On a shopping website, you can create an account, and log in whenever you want to check whether or not you’re now eligible for free shipping or a certain dollar amount off your next purchase. You can also earn points for sharing on social networking sites, emailing a friend, posting a review…the options for earning are many and diverse. And then there’s the feeling of actually having the points come to fruition and earn you something!

The first marketing genius who came up with the rewards program should have a plaque placed at every shopping mecca in every state.  It’s appealing, handy, and it makes you feel a little smug when the cashier asks if you have a member card. I can almost hear it in people’s voices as they imperiously hand over their card or keychain (or smartphone) and say, “Why yes, yes I am a member.” You feel a little special, even though logically you know that you and every other Tom, Dick, and Harry have a card.

It solidifies our place as consumers, give us back something to justify all those dollars that we’re spending, and saves us a few pennies at the gas tank or garners us points for money off our next purchases. What can be better than being rewarded for spending money?

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