How Much is Your Loyalty Worth?

People like loyalty. In family, friends, partners and pets, loyalty is always rewarded.

And the good news for us is that companies like loyalty too.

Companies of all shapes and sizes implement loyalty and rewards programs to woo and keep their customers in today’s competitive marketplace.

I’m a great believer in joining these programs; all it takes is a few minutes, your email address and a discerning attitude when it comes to where you shop.

Yes, the number of plastic cards in my wallet is heading toward a George Costanza-like explosion situation, but the benefits are worth it.

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Store Cards

The most basic of rewards systems, individual store loyalty cards are low on the benefits scale but are handy to have.

For example, like any normal Gen Y girl, I spend a lot of money at Priceline.

They have a great range and they are freaking everywhere so convenience is high. Given I buy almost of all of my beauty and health products there I accumulate a fair few points each time I shop which turns into a gift voucher every few months to use in-store.

This is the same story for a whole host of fashion, electronics and grocery stores all over the country. If you’re going to do a company the privilege of spending your hard earned money with them, why shouldn’t you get something back every now and then?

Frequent Flyer

We all know how frequent flyer programs work, you fly with them and they give you points to use on future flights.

That’s great, and you should definitely have at least one card per airline group (One World and Star Alliance being the main ones), but what about the extras you can use them for? I tell so many people about the wonders of my Virgin frequent flyer card and their e-store.

Few people realise that when you log on to your Velocity account, and select a retailer through their e-store – and I’m not talking shabby ones, but the likes ofApple, ASOS, Samsung and Uniqlo – cookies track your purchase and you earn 2 frequent flyer points for every $1 spent.

Once my washing machine broke and I needed a new one, stat. So I logged on to Velocity, clicked through to Appliances Online and bought my new $600 washing machine (with free next day delivery and installation thanks very much) and got 1,200 points back. You’d earn less points on a flight to Fiji.

It’s a good idea to take a tour around your frequent flyer online account to see what you can use your card for, like at the petrol station, with Virgin’s new deal with BP to earn a point for every litre you fill up with. Every little point adds up for that dream holiday!

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Awards Credit Cards

While it’s always best to be very wary of credit cards, if you can trust yourself to have the plastic without wielding it, it might pay to look into awards cards.

There are some, like bank issued ones, that accumulate points for you to use in their e-store on goods that take a zillion points to be able to buy (so don’t use earning points as an excuse to use the card more).

There are others who align with a partner to provide you a specific benefit.

Using Virgin as another example and one that I can personally attest to, they linked up with Amex for the Velocity Platinum Card whereby you receive 50,000 frequent flyer points upon signing up for the card.

Card holders also receive a free domestic flight each calendar year they are a customer and receive up to 3 points per dollar spend. Given it has an annual fee of $349 the benefits have already outweighed the cost of the flights you receive in return. But this only works if you don’t let yourself get sucked down the incomplete repayment, high interest rabbit hole, which they are no doubt hoping you will.

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Apps

These days so many people walk around with just their phones and a few cards, so it becomes a hassle to be physical card carrying member of anywhere.

Luckily businesses have kept up with the times and gone digital, introducing loyalty apps for everything from coffee and pizza to haircuts and petrol.

You go and get coffee everyday anyway, why not taking the extra 3.5 seconds to get out your phone and get a digital stamp. In most cases every tenth coffee is free, which means you’ll end up saving 10%.

If you get two coffees a day, that’s one free coffee every week which at an average of $4 a coffee is a savings of $192 over one working year. Nothing to turn your nose up at my friends.

Main image: Danielle Henry