Consumer Alert: Store Loyalty Programs. Which ones are worth it?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Loyalty programs can provide a great bang for your buck, but they come with a cost. They allow the retailer to track what you’re buying, how often you’re buying and how much you’re buying.  So if you’re paying that much in the currency of privacy, you’d better be getting something in return. So I’ve done some digging at US News, Newsweek and consumer blogs.  These are the most consumer-friendly loyalty programs on nearly everyone’s lists.

Kohl’s — You get a dollar for every point, and a $5 coupon for every 100 points or $100 dollars.  That’s equivalent of 5 percent cash back.

JCPenney – It’s the equivalent of 2.5 percent cash back.  You get a $10 coupon for $400 spent.

Amazon’s Prime  – It costs $139 annually  You get free shipping on everything as well as streaming services.

Walmart Plus – It’s Walmart’s answer to Amazon.  It costs $98 and offers Paramount streaming services.

Combine the rewards programs with these early sales and save. 

These programs are great if you have their store card:

Target Circle The Krazy Coupon Lady, a great consumer website, loves Target Circle.   I don’t.  You only earn one percent on “eligible” products.  But with the red card you earn five percent on everything.

Nordstrom — Newsweek gives its loyalty program top scores, but with the free loyalty program you need to spend 500 bucks to get a $5 coupon.  But with the Nordstrom card you get s 3 points per dollar spent and access to lots of perks.

Macy’s —  With the exception of special days, you get one point for every dollar and it takes a thousand points to earn a $10 coupon.  But with the credit card you get two points per dollar plus perks. 

I have to point out you should never get a store credit card just for the perks.  Too many can hurt your credit score. But if it’s some place you shop often, it has great sales, and you can pay it off in full each month, it may be worth it.

But you may be worried about shopping too early.  I get it.  It’s a punch in the gut if the item goes on deep discount later.  If that happens, take it back to the retailer for a price match. Here are some of the big name retailers that have a pretty decent price match policy:

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Home Depot
  • Lowes
  • Kohl’s
  • Dick’s
  • Macy’s
  • Michaels
  • Staples
  • Bed Bath and Beyond.

Bed Bath and Beyond as well as Kohl’s will price match almost any competitor up to 14 days after purchase.  But most retailers have a list of competitors they’ll match. For example, Target and Walmart have a list of about 30 retailers that they will price match.  The Krazy Coupon lady has compiled a list of the price match policies at a number of retailers.  Click here for the full list.