Save More with Loyalty Cards

Don't miss out on savings! Learn how to cut costs and earn the most rewards with these simple tips

A loyalty card is a customer incentive program that offers members coupons, discounts, points that can be redeemed for free gifts and other types of rewards. Supermarkets, drug stores, restaurants, clothing retailers and more offer loyalty cards. Use these tips to make the most of your loyalty card and cash in on big savings!

1) Uncover the possibilities: When you sign up for a new card, find out exactly what benefits are available by checking perkler.com—an online resource that helps you stay up-to-date on card perks—or simply seek out the store manager. And remember to regularly ask store employees for the latest information on ways to save when you shop, whether it’s a new minimum purchase required to get 5 cents off a gallon of gas or when the diapers you pick up weekly are buy-one, get-one free.

2) Get customized Catalina rewards: If you shop and swipe your card at a store that offers Catalinas (rewards that print at checkout from a dedicated machine), you can get high-value coupons tailored to your buying history, dollars off your next total purchase and notices about upcoming sales and offers.

3) Be a frequent shopper: Many loyalty-card programs dole out rewards based on what you buy and how often you shop at a specific location, so it’s usually worth your while to stick to one store for your everyday shopping. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sign up for multiple programs (especially if you can shop at competing stores or one with a price-match policy). But if you consistently buy the same products in one place (say, ice cream, deli meats and toilet paper), you will be able to rack up faster, heftier rewards.

4) Sign up for high-value coupons: Shoppers often register for a rewards card without filling out the form that’s attached (or inputting their information online). If the store doesn’t have your mailing or e-mail address, you'll miss extras, like coupon booklets for items you buy most often. If you’re worried about privacy, use a separate e-mail account just for coupons and other deals.

5) Load e-Coupons on your card: Using an online service to digitally load coupons onto your loyalty cards is one of the easiest (no more digging for stray coupons) and greenest (no printing) ways to save. Some popular sites include shortcuts.com, cellfire.com and pgesaver.com. Also check if your supermarket’s website offers a similar service (as Kroger does at kroger.com).

6) Cash in on Groupon deals: If you have avoided the daily deal giant thus far, jump on the savings bandwagon now. This year, New England’s Big Y stores became the first supermarket chain to partner with Groupon, delivering an exclusive deal (for instance, a pack of seafood at 40 percent off) onto customers’ loyalty cards for 24 hours. To stay on top of similar offerings, visit group savings aggregator sites such as yipit.com.

7) Use it, even if you lose it: You don’t have to forgo the savings if you’ve mislaid your card or left it at home—or you just can’t find it in your purse. Ask the cashier to pull up your account via your e-mail address or phone number. If you want to lighten your wallet, smartphone apps such as CardStar store all your loyalty-card numbers in one place. Or, consolidate six loyalty cards onto one new card for $6 at keyringthing.com.

BONUS: DISCOVER HIDDEN REWARDS

Cards might offer more benefits than you think. Make sure to ask the store manager whether your card…

  • Gives you free services: Does the card entitle you to blood-pressure tests or flu shots? Special in-store tastings or free trials?
  • Saves you money on gas: Every $50 you spend at Price Chopper with an AdvantEdge card earns you 10 cents off per gallon at participating Sunoco stations. Similarly, Stop and Shop cardholders earn gas rewards at Shell stations.
  • Celebrates your birthday: Don’t be shy about revealing your age. Like many restaurants and ice cream shops, your supermarket might offer a free treat on your birthday.
  • Alerts you to recalls: If you swipe your Shoppers Club card at Wegmans for an item that is later recalled, the store will contact you. Other stores print a prompt on your receipt.
  • Offers holiday bonuses: If you spend a certain amount around Thanksgiving or Christmas, check to see if you are eligible for a free turkey or ham. Likewise, look for complimentary chocolate around Easter and Valentine’s Day.
  • Returns lost keys: If you find a set of keys with a Kroger loyalty card attached, drop it in a mailbox. Postal carriers will deliver it to a Kroger store manager, who will contact the owner.

For another way to save, visit Grocery Circular Roundup to find the best deals in your area!