I read an article this week that compared collecting reward points to using heroin. The author said that his addiction to collecting points made him dig through the trash at work and beg his friends for their bottle caps; all in the name of a few free t-shirts. Since I fail to see the problem, I guess I must be an addict too.
I see nothing wrong with (most) loyalty programs. Nor do I see any shame in taking advantage of other people’s discarded benefits. My mom used to drink enough Diet Coke to fill a small pool every year. Back when MyCokeRewards was around, we’d have been a fool not to cash in on those points. In fact, collecting points is How We Found $250 in the Garbage.
The way I see it, rewards points are cash currency. We use them to buy things we would normally buy anyway (like cat food). We use them to get gifts for special occasions. We use them to give ourselves experiences that we’re “too cheap” to pay full price for (like going to the movies).
Every dollar that we don’t have to spend out of our pockets is a dollar saved.
Our favorite loyalty rewards programs are:
Panera Rewards: It’s a good thing we love bagels because I believe we’ve eaten at least 100 free bagels from Panera since signing up for their rewards program two years ago. You’re probably thinking that we must spend a lot of money there to get that many freebies. Nope. We rarely eat there. It just happens that each of us has received a “free month of bagels” twice and since we live across the street from Panera, we make it our mission to go get them all. We’ve also scored free pastries, free coffee, and a couple of free meals – all for just having the app on our phones.
Purina My Cat Perks: We buy the same brand of cat food monthly; the only brand that our picky cat will eat – Purina Cat Naturals. Angie manages our points for this program, which she can only enter once a month. Though they only occasionally offer free bags of food now, they do offer coupons and other rewards.
Kellogg’s Family Rewards: We eat some sort of cereal every week. It’s not always Kellogg’s. In fact, we rarely buy Kellogg’s without a sale and a coupon. But when we do, I make sure we get points for the purchase. What I like best about this loyalty program isn’t necessarily what we can get for ourselves, but what we can use it to give. From time to time, Kellogg’s runs a promo where one code equals one Scholastic book that can be donated to the school of your choice. Angie and I alternate between sending them to the elementary schools we attended as children. We have also used points for free RedBox movies and Starbucks gift cards (which come in handy when we travel).
Kroger: Nearly every grocery store loyalty program has some sort of added benefit – from cents off on gas to special coupons throughout the year. We do a lot of our regular shopping at Kroger and use our loyalty card to get 3-20 cents off on gas (Kroger gas is consistently the cheapest gas in our town each week anyway). We also get the weekly Friday Freebie (when it’s offered). We’ve gotten everything from yogurt to wild rice to an organic chocolate bar. It’s a fun way to try new foods or pick up free snacks for the times when our niece or nephew visit.
Speedway Speedy Rewards: We discovered Speedway while RVing in 2015. The gas is cheap and their sub sandwiches are phenomenal! We often pick up a couple of subs when we go for a picnic and definitely when we travel. It’s cheaper than Subway. A 12″ veggie sub is only $4. Speedy Rewards has several “clubs” too. Buy 6 bags of chips, get one free. Buy 6 beverages, get one free. Rewards points can be redeemed for a lot of different items. We use ours for free subs (of course).
Though not in our top 5, an honorable mention goes to:
Coke Offers: Though not quite the same as the old MyCokeRewards, you can still redeem codes on specially marked Coke products for freebies. Most recently we cashed in Coke points for an AMC Movie Experience (2 tickets, 2 large drinks, and a large popcorn), a free Coke product, and a $5 Amazon gift card.
Do you use loyalty rewards programs? What are some of your favorites?