Which Loyalty Programs Are Worth It?

I love that loyalty programs are usually tied to my phone number, because it means I don’t have to stuff my wallet full of plastic. Stores can just look me up by my number instead.

If we actually carried around all of those cards, we’d probably need more than one wallet to do it. “A recent survey found that Americans average about 22 loyalty program memberships per household,” Consumer Reports says. It’s referring to a survey from Colloquy, which notes that only 9.5 of those memberships are currently active.

That’s close to the number of national programs Consumer Reports suggests are most rewarding — nine. However, several of those require customers to sign up for a debit or credit card. Here are the ones that don’t, along with why Consumer Reports says they’re good:

  • JCP Rewards. Spend $100 within a calendar month at J.C. Penney, either in stores or online, and you get a $10 reward certificate. Members also get tipped off about exclusive sales.
  • Gilt InsiderSimple activities such as checking the site daily rack up points, which can be used to gain early access to sales, free shipping and discounts.
  • Best Buy Reward Zone. Points earned on purchases — especially combined with Best Buy’s policy of price-matching online retailers such as Amazon — can garner some nice perks including reward certificates, exclusive offers, free access to tech support and faster shipping.
  • DSW Rewards. Points accumulate based on the number of items you purchase, not the amount you spend. The perks here include early sale notifications, $10 reward certificates for each 1,500 points, and free shipping on orders costing at least $35.

As always — and especially if you check out the programs that require a store debit or credit card — check out the fine print to avoid getting burned. What do you consider the most useful rewards program? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

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