Store rewards cards are a win-win for customers and stores, alike. They permit stores to track important purchasing data that they can use to serve customers better, they build customer loyalty and, of course, customers can get savings, free merchandise, and more.
Many stores revamped their rewards programs in recent years to serve customers better. We’re seeing a trend away from paying for rewards cards, and innovative programs like Panera’s MyPanera card, which doesn’t have any points to track. The store just rewards you with “surprises” at regular intervals.
Here at CreditShout.com, we’ve been reviewing some of the most popular rewards programs available to help our customers earn more rewards and save more money. What are the best store rewards cards available now?
This fun and innovative rewards card doesn’t track points at all. You just sign up for a card, register it online, and have the clerk scan it at the register when you make a purchase at Panera. As soon as Panera has enough information to find out your preferences for food, beverages and bakery items, you’ll start getting “surprise” rewards. These include complimentary bakery-cafe items; cooking, baking and entertaining tips, and even exclusive invitations to special events.
We like how simple this card is to use and the fact that it’s free.
We like this card for its simplicity and ease-of-use. Every dollar you spend equals 10 points, and 1,000 points equals one dollar. You can redeem your rewards as a discount at the register with absolutely no minimums. (During a Sears shopping spree at Christmas time, I redeemed 37 cents worth of rewards on a purchase, just so I wouldn’t have a points balance on my card when I left the store.)
You can also get bonus points when you shop online. When you shop at Kmart and use your Shop Your Way Rewards Card, you’ll also be entered into the K’Ching Surprises sweepstakes, where you could win a number of prizes, including a $3,000 “home appliance makeover.”
There is no membership fee and points never expire.
The only card on our list of top three store rewards cards with an annual fee, the Borders Rewards Gold Card costs $20 for the year to join. But the savings really add up. You get 10% off nearly every purchase, every day, (including hardcover bestsellers, for a total of 40% off these books), 20% off select hardcover books, and a free cafe beverage after the purchase of 5 cafe beverages. You also earn $10 off right away, just for joining, and you’ll receive a coupon book with all sorts of useful discounts. If you’re an avid reader, this card is worth the price.
A store rewards card, of course, is only good if you shop at a store frequently. (Contrary to some reports, you don’t have to spend thousands in a store every year to start saving a lot of money.) The best store rewards card for you is any card that offers you discounts and/or free merchandise at a place that you love to shop. Look for cards with no annual fees, but if your favorite card has an annual fee, make sure you do the math to see how much you’re really spending — and saving!