Do you collect frequent flyer miles? Have an MVP card for Food Lion, or a VIC Card for Harris Teeter? Maybe you collect Air Miles with the good ole Air Miles Card. When gassing up do you have both an Esso-Extra and Petro-Points card so you can collect at different stations? Starwood Preferred guest member for your slumbers away from home? If the above sounds like you (and the collection of cards in your wallet), then I’ve got a great rewards program tip for you!
When we started out with our home-owning escapades we needed stuff (or so we thought). I needed tools and our home needed furniture. We needed furniture, we needed to spruce our place up (this part is actually true). So we bought stuff. LOTS of stuff. We bought paint and brushes and rollers. I bought tools, we bought stuff at places like Pier One and IKEA, we consumed. But behind that consumption was something else…POINTS!
We were actually quite clueless to the rewards points game at first. We collected one set of points at a specific hardware store, and another set of points at another. When it came to gas stations we had a few different points options, and the same was true for grocery stores.
A few years into our multi-program memberships we read an article about loyalty programs. The article re-iterated something we already knew—that these companies were basically putting your name on a list and selling it…err…”marketing” it to other companies. But the gold nugget in the article had nothing to do with those shenanigans, it was something we’d actually never thought of doing for some reason. And just what was that rewards program tip of the day?
Ditch those numerous loyalty programs!
But wait, what about my Canadian Tire money? Or my Esso Extra points? And all those Starwood points for the twice a decade I stay at a qualifying room rate? If I don’t shop there I won’t collect any points and then I won’t get any more free stuff?!?!
First of all, you can shop wherever you want (although we’re big fans of the Salvation Army for many reasons). The trick with loyalty programs is to stick with just one program. If you get points for using your credit card (and you’re diligent enough about paying off the balance each month) then collect only using that method. Don’t be signing up for new cards because you get offered 10% off to join, that’s just a trap!
For us, we collect Air Miles…it’s a Canadian thing. We have our Air Miles points card, and our credit card is tied to it as well, so every time we spend $20 we get a point. If I shop at a place that offers other “miles” or “points” I don’t bother. I just use the card I collect points with, moreover, I try to shop at the places where I can collect those Air Miles (this is not an ad for Air Miles by the way, and we’re not being paid in any way to endorse them, in fact if you want to use another points program, go for it. Wow, that was a long parenthetic rant).
Over the decade we’ve been going solo on the points program we’ve been able to fly to Miami and Orlando (from Toronto) multiple times, with one of those being a hop to Panama to live there a while (which was pointless. Wait, it was pointless in that we couldn’t collect points).
We also cashed in some points for a GoPro (then sold the GoPro for cash about a year later). We’ve gone to shows, ball games, and stayed at hotels, in addition to a car rental in Hawaii (the flights and hotel for Hawaii were points accumulated via work). And we’re not even mass consumers!
I do have to stress something about our rewards program tip; If you’re not the type of person who can pay off a credit card balance every month, this method is NOT for you. Rather than use a debit card we use a credit card, we collect points, but we ALWAYS pay that balance off every month. ALWAYS! Credit card companies have a love/hate for people like us. They don’t make any money off of us on interest charges, but they do make some coin off merchant transaction fees.
Now, small town shop owners aren’t big fans of big credit card companies—it costs them more money per transaction, so that kind of sucks, and I wish there was a better option for them. But people like their points, and by offering those payment methods they increase client potential, because points = free stuff, and everybody wants free stuff. And by free stuff I mean you sell your soul to the Marketing Devils.
Now go sell all your stuff and collect some Devilish points!