Thursday, August 16, 2012

Super Size Your Wallet with Reward Cards

"Do you have your Staples Rewards card?" the weary clerk asked when I bought a stash of school supplies.

"Umm...I think so," I fumble in my wallet for a moment, rifle through a stack of cards, put it back and pull out another. I finally find it somewhere in the middle of the second stack. "Here it is."

He's got all of my purchases rung up and bagged and is picking at a cuticle when I hand it over.

It seems you can't buy something at a store without being asked about a rewards card. If you don't have it, there's some spiel about why you need it, like you'll get money-saving coupons e-mailed to you. If it's a store I'm likely to visit again, I'll bite. If not, I decline because I don't need that many cards bursting the zipper on my wallet.

Some of my rewards cards!

But, now, I'm wondering what the perks are, exactly. I'm thinking the perks are for the store and not so much for me. Sure, there are a few obvious ones that really have a benefit, like the Price Chopper card that's needed to get the weekly sales. But, I don't think I've seen an actual perk from Staples yet. Or Dicks. Or any number of other cards stuffed in my wallet.

There's more of an anti-perk in the form of clutter in my wallet and clutter in my inbox.

I got an e-mail from Staples today asking me to review the filler graph paper I bought last week.
I know there are no Staples big wigs reading this, but just in case, I have a bit of advice. It's not a perk to be asked to write a review on something I bought for a penny. Since you know my buying habits, perhaps you also know I like to write, so you thought I'd enjoy this special "reward". Umm...sorry. I'm not going to spend my writing time waxing poetic about graph paper.

Likable rewards cards tend to have something tangible as a reward. I buy honey from a local bee keeper at the farmers' market. He hands out a punch card that gets punched with every honey purchase. 10 punches equals one free 8-ounce jar of honey. The perk: he didn't ask for my e-mail address.

I think Subway claims something similar, though they got my info before they let me have their plastic. I believe the Subway worker (Subologist?) mentioned something about a free sub after I'd purchased so many, though I can't seem to find confirmation on-line. 

Maybe it's time to save the cashiers of the world from my not-so-entertaining game of hide and seek with the plastic in my wallet. A little lightening  up certainly couldn't hurt it anyway.


  1. I have 11 (yes, I counted) rewards cards held together with a binder clip inside my wallet.
    These are the ones that have given rewards in the form of $ off coupons:
    Borders (RIP :-(

    Regal Cinemas and Panera have yielded free stuff.

    All the rest nada!

  2. Regal Cinemas has been good to me. I got a free movie ticket last year and usually get popcorn. I'll have to get a Panera card. Dicks has been a bust for me - maybe I don't shop there often enough. I spread my athletic gear shopping around and I have the cards to prove it - lol.

  3. My thing re the cards: if they won't use my phone number or name to track me, I won't sign up...the cards just don't work for me. I like my Safeway card (phone number) for the gas discounts.

  4. I have rewards cards for the two big grocery stores in town. It is the "only" way to get the sales, unless of course you simply ask for the sale price. One of them currently saves me when I buy gas from them up to $.60 per gallon. I'll keep those two. But what I love about the co-op that I primarily shop at is no card is required. Everyone gets the sale. As a shareholder I get extra sales, bonus the cashiers know me, and even if they didn't all I have to do is tell them my name and they enter it into the computer and viola shareholder savings. As for the others I decline I never get anything for my rewards. CVS - I had theirs for a while but I rarely (3 times a year) enter a CVS and nothing is ever on sale with my card and I don't spend enough to get rewards. My new rule is unless you are giving me a punch card for FREE when I fill it, I am not interested. You cannot have my email, mailing address or phone number. If you are really interested all except my email are public information go look them up.

  5. Sabrina - So you don't give out your e-mail address? That sounds like a good plan!

  6. Tree - I used to play the CVS game with their card and used it every week. But, frankly, it was exhausting! Too much work for me! I'll still do it if something really catches my eye in the circular, but otherwise, it's a pain in the rear.