Reward programs — for restaurants, retails and entertainment venues — are gaining popularity. But are they really beneficial for the consumer? I think so.
There are different types of loyalty programs that offer incentives if you purchase a certain item or if you purchase a number of items. Does this mean that they are making you purchase something you don't want? Only if you fall for their catch. Use the programs to your advantage.
If a store asks you to leave an email or sign up for a rewards program, do it. You might be surprised what the store is willing to give you. Here's an example: I signed up for Helzberg Jewelers reward program many years ago and for my birthday and on the anniversary of signing up they give me a beautiful piece of jewelry for free.
Why would stores do this? To win you over. And it worked. When I needed to purchase a piece of jewelry for a gift, Helzberg Jewelers was the first place I visited.
Here are some other rewards programs I like and use.
■ Kellogg's Family: It's a new program from Kellogg's that allows you to redeem points for high value coupons, free products, toys, magazine subscriptions and more. Sign up, and when you purchase Kellogg's products enter the code inside the box. Right now just enter code EVERYONESAWINNER to score 25 free points. Kelloggsfamilyrewards.com/en_US/home.html
■ Disney movie rewards: Purchase digital movies on Disney Movies Anywhere, Disney Blu-rays, DVDs, CDs or go see a Disney movie at the theater to earn points and unlock offers when you enter the Magic Code inside purchases or theatre tickets. Log into your account, enter code ALEXANDER to score 13 free points. Disneymovierewards.com
■ Pampers Gift to Grow: The Pampers Rewards Program rewards you every time you purchase Pampers diapers, training pants and wipes. Once you've become a member you can start collecting points. Find the rewards code inside each package and enter the code online to accumulate points, and then redeem your points for rewards. You will receive 100 points just for joining.
■ Godiva Rewards: Rewards club members enjoy a free piece of chocolate every month in participating GODIVA boutiques. Spend $20 and receive a free gift the following month and free standard shipping for one online order. Godiva.com/register
■ My Starbucks: To earn free drink and food rewards, you will need to earn stars. You get one star when you register your Starbucks card online then pay with your card. You will receive special offers when you opt in to receive for My Starbucks Rewards emails plus you'll get early access to new products. Head to your local Starbucks on February 13 for Starbucks' World's Largest #StarbucksDate to celebrate Valentine's Day. You'll be able to get a $5 special coffee plus a treat from the following options: French press Caffé Verona and a chocolate brownie; raspberry or white chocolate mocha and a heart cookie or flat white and chocolate croissant. Offer is from 2 p.m. to close at participating stores only.
■ Shop Your Way: This program is associated with Kmart, Sears, Lands End and Craftsman. You receive at least 1 percent back in points, but most times you have the opportunity to gain bonus points (up to 30 percent) and generally you don't have to wait for a specific date to shop. The best part is you can use your points on the next transaction. The program offers surprise points and you don't have to wait for a minimum point balance to use what you have accumulated. Shopyourway.com
■ Best Buy Reward Zone: Members can earn one point for every dollar spent, and receive a $5 gift card for every 250 points spent. If a customer spends more than $1,500 a year in the program, they are bumped up to the Reward Zone Elite level, which offers free standard shipping and 30 days for return and exchanges. If you spend $3,500 per calendar year you become an Elite Plus member allowing you to receive free expedited shipping and 45 days for return and exchanges. Bestbuy.com
■ Sephora Beauty Insider: The program offers members points for purchases. Members earn one point per one dollar spent, and those points can be redeemed for products that are only available to members. Program members are also rewarded with free birthday gifts and seasonal promotions. Sephora.com
■ Staples: Sign up and earn up to 5 percent in rewards back on everything you purchase. Get free shipping every day (oversize and add-on items excluded) plus earn $2 back per recycled ink cartridges. Staples.com
■ My Coke Rewards: Get points by entering the codes found on the packaging of your favorite Coca-Cola brands. Codes are located under caps, inside the tear-off on 12-packs and multi-pack wraps. When you join you receive a free code for one free point. Check out all the rewards available from gift certificates, magazine subscriptions, and T-shirts. Mycokerewards.com
Other ways to save
■ The Lexington Fayette County Health Department is providing free short-term radon test kits to Fayette County residents. To request a kit, visit their Environmental Health Office at 650 Newtown Pike.
■ Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide are offering free coffee during the month of February. Choose 12-ounce hot coffee or 16-ounce iced coffee. No coupon or purchase necessary.
■ Qdoba is offering one free smothered burrito on February 14 when you purchase one smothered burrito and share a kiss with someone special. At participating stores.
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