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Verdict: Panera’s unique concept for a rewards card — no points to track, just “surprise” rewards whenever Panera decides to award them — makes it a hard card to evaluate. The more you buy, the more you’ll be rewarded, with rewards that match your tastes and buying habits. The card is free, so if you’re a frequent Panera visitor, it pays to get one.
Overview: The MyPanera rewards card is a new program introduced by the bakery-cafe in late 2010. It’s free to sign up. Members who have the Panera card report that membership really pays — they get frequent free rewards (like complimentary bakery items or beverages) and coupons that really match their buying habits.
How This Card Works: Sign up at your local Panera bakery-cafe and then register online to start earning rewards. The MyPanera rewards card is a unique concept in customer rewards — there are no spending minimums, no points, nothing to track.
Just have a Panera associate scan your card every time you make a purchase, and you never know when you’ll be rewarded with a complimentary item or a discount. You don’t have to track points or clip coupons. When you have a reward available, the associate will let you know, and you can choose to redeem it on that visit, or wait until another time. Rewards do expire 60 days after they are issued, so it pays to use them when you have them.
You can also go online to see what rewards you have available before you visit a Panera bakery-cafe. If you ever forget your card during a visit, a Panera associate can look it up by your phone number.
Rewards: Some of the rewards items advertised on the website include:
Invitations to exclusive previews and tastings
Free cooking,to baking and entertaining tips
Invitations to special events
You’ll also get a special surprise on your birthday.
If you’re not one of these people who likes to track everything and know exactly what you’re getting, this rewards program can be a lot of fun! It’s definitely a unique concept that fits with Panera’s overall marketing message of being a fun, easy going place to enjoy good food.
I’m the person who likes to know what I’m getting from a business before I commit, even if the commitment is as small as giving my name, phone number and birth date and carrying yet another card around in my wallet. But if I ate at Panera frequently, as I did when I worked in a magazine publishing company, I could see visiting Panera even more just to see what “surprise” rewards were in store.
Panera has definitely found a good way to build customer loyalty in an extremely simple way. Although I haven’t yet signed up for a card, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the MyPanera card from Panera enthusiasts.
Fun, surprise rewards
No points to track
No coupons to print or remember
Track your rewards online to know what you’re getting before you go to eat
No membership fee
You never know what you’re getting or when
Rewards expire if you don’t use them within 60 days
Credit Shout is a community of personal finance experts dedicated to helping you save money and make smart financial decisions. Learn how to master your credit card rewards, improve your credit score and start eliminating your debt.