Retail Rewards Programs: Beware!
Rewards programs can help consumers save money if they’re used right. The best rewards programs are cash back, but they don’t all work that way. Retailers sometimes give rewards in the form of free product with restrictions that consumers have to beware of before using. Sometimes the best choice may actually be to not use the reward at all. Consumers need to beware of retail rewards programs.
Below are two of the most common reward formats from retailers:
Many well known retailers have sales in which you can earn a special reward coupon based on how much you spend. For example, for every $50 spent you get $25 store dollars you can use in the future. It’s not free money, but usually a coupon. That $25 you “earned” would be saved on the next $50 spent. One such retailer that utilizes this format is Kohl’s. They have frequent sales, allowing customers to earn store dollars called Kohl’s cash. The thing to keep in mind about offers like this is that you should never, ever buy anything at regular price. The original price is jacked up to allow for what seems like deep discounts from sales and rewards certificates.
Point Based Reward
Some retailers give rewards on a point system. The more you spend on their store credit card, the more points you earn. Once your point value exceeds a threshold, you get a reward redeemable at that retailer for a certain amount. The problem here is the reward amount is typically small, requiring you to still spend money to use the reward. Which is fine as long as you are going to buy something anyway, but beware of expiration dates. If the reward certificate has an expiration date, you may feel like you have to use it or you’re throwing free money away. But if a sale (or rewards certificate) makes you by something you wouldn’t have purchased anyway, then it’s no good.
My wife had earned a $25 reward dollar certificate from a clothing retailer, and it was about to expire. She went into the store and found nothing she really wanted. She then scoured their website and still found nothing that caught her eye. She let the reward expire unused instead of purchasing something she didn’t really want.
Consumers need to beware of retail rewards programs. They can save you money, but are structured to get you to spend. By being aware of the structure of the programs, you can make sure the rewards are only used to your advantage.
How about you, Clever Friends, have you ever let a rewards expire because it just wasn’t worth using?
Check out these related articles from CleverDude:
- Not All Store Rewards Programs Are Created Equally
- What You Need To Know About Costco Cash Back Rewards
- Earn Hundreds Of Dollars in Cash Back Rewards In Just 60 Seconds a Week