How to score?using your loyalty?rewards programmes

2015-04-22 08:00

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Too much month at the end of your money? It might be time to start really paying attention to your loyalty rewards programmes so that you can get the best value for your money. Neesa Moodley and Maya Fisher-French have a look

This week, FNB announced that eBucks members had earned R5?billion in eBucks since the inception of the programme 15 years ago. Of this, R4.2?billion had been redeemed – a spend-to-earn ratio of more than 80%, which even by developed-market standards is considered exceptional.

“In developed markets, a spend-to-earn ratio of 70% is considered good,” says Jolandé Duvenage, CEO of eBucks Rewards.

She says this R5?billion milestone was achieved just 13 months after eBucks Rewards reached R4?billion. In other words, it took eBucks 13 years to reach R4?billion, but little more than a year to grow by a further 25%. This indicates not only the demand for eBucks, but also the rising popularity of loyalty programmes in general.

Loyalty programmes have developed so significantly in the past few years that consumers are starting to plan their monthly budget around their reward programmes.

City Press reader Lindiwe Mshibe maximises her eBucks by doing her grocery shopping at Shoprite and fills up with petrol at Engen – because she earns eBucks for using these partners.

“I normally use my eBucks to buy airtime and play Lotto. I also book my travel online with kulula.com, and that helps boost my eBucks,” she says.

Nodumo Mthiyane gets the whole family involved when it comes to using loyalty rewards programmes. “Items at Clicks go on special in the sense that you can earn double or triple points on your ClubCard, and we wait for those specials to earn more points.

“However, we save our points to buy school stationery and groceries in January, when cash is usually tight. This January, we had accumulated R2?050 on our Pick n Pay Smart Shopper card alone,” Mthiyane says.

Nelly Hlatshwayo uses her loyalty cards with Clicks, Pick n Pay, Pep and Edcon to get discounts on already discounted items. “I usually keep my points until they get to a certain value or for when times are really tough. I will go to Pick n Pay, redeem my points and buy whatever I need without having to pay a cent. I do the same with my Clicks points.”

As times have become tougher, many service providers have recognised the need to partner their programmes with retailers and petrol stations.

In 2013, FNB’s eBucks included Shoprite/Checkers as a reward partner, and Momentum’s Multiply rewards programme recently signed up as a partner to the Pick n Pay Smart Shopper programme.

Lianne Williams, head of marketing at Multiply, says: “Increased petrol prices, raised personal taxes, rising food prices and an economy under pressure all mean consumers’ pockets are considerably stretched.”

Rewards programmes are the new “emergency fund” and a way for people to manage their finances, especially at month end, when the real money has run out – when school uniforms need to be bought or emergencies occur.

How to choose your programme

People handle loyalty rewards programmes differently. You might be one of those diligent shoppers who has a loyalty card for every shop you go to, or you might choose to focus on a handful of loyalty rewards programmes and maximise the benefits you receive. For example, you might choose to have just one loyalty card that rewards you for grocery spend, one that rewards you for your petrol spend and another that rewards you with travel miles when you fly.

However you choose to do it, you need to do your research beforehand to ensure you are receiving the maximum benefits.

Get the best out of your programme

.?Find out who the rewards partners are for each loyalty programme you use. For example, you earn more eBucks if you do your grocery shopping at Shoprite. Then make a point of using those partners as often as possible.

.?Be aware of any limits on your earning period. For example, you might find that you have to earn a certain number of points each quarter to reach a certain rewards level.

Find out which level you are currently on, how many points you need to earn to reach the next level and then work out how much you need to spend to achieve that. Then set up a reminder on your phone so that you can keep track of what you spend.

FNB eBucks has introduced a calculator on its website – ebucks.com – to help you calculate your reward levels.

.?If your loyalty-programme points expire, set up a second reminder for expiry dates on points that you can redeem.

.?People often lose out on their rewards simply because they forget their loyalty cards at home. There is no way that all your cards will fit in your wallet, so carry a small purse in your handbag with all your loyalty cards in it. You can transfer the purse when you change handbags so that you always have your loyalty cards with you.

.?Check the loyalty programme’s website regularly for special offers.

Trying to keep track of which store is partnered with which loyalty programme can make you feel like you need a personal assistant.

We compiled this handy list of grocery and fuel partners for loyalty programmes to help you maximise your rewards

uCount

1 Standard Bank’s partners are Shoprite, Checkers, Checkers Hyper, Food Lovers Market, Fruit & Veg City, Pick n Pay, Makro, Spar and Woolworths. This loyalty programme seems to have covered all the bases.

However, make sure you read the fine print. For example, you do not earn points for liquor or in-store pharmacy purchases. You can earn points and use them to buy fuel at Caltex garages.

eBucks

2 Partners are Shoprite, Checkers, Checkers Hyper and Makro. You can earn eBucks by filling up at any petrol station, but if you want to spend eBucks on fuel, you have to fill up at Engen. Check the eBucks website for a list of participating Engen garages.

https://www.ebucks.com/web/eBucks/partners/engen.jsp

Absa

3 This programme does not appear to have a grocery store partner – instead, it focuses on lifestyle.

Partners include furniture stores such as Hirsch’s, Bradlows and Morkels, as well as online shopping partners such as NetFlorist. You earn Absa rewards at a rate of 5% cash back for buying fuel at Sasol garages. Note that you also earn rewards for purchases made at Sasol garage convenience stores. Absa does not use a points system, but pays out cash, which allows you to spend the money however you choose.

Greenbacks

4 There is no specific appointed grocery store partner for this programme. But you earn Greenbacks whenever you swipe your Nedbank credit or cheque card or American Express credit or cheque card. You can redeem or spend your greenbacks at Makro.

Nedbank also does not reward you for buying fuel, but you can load your Greenbacks on to a prepaid card and use it to pay for fuel at any service station – or simply draw your Greenbacks as cash.

Discovery Vitality

5 You earn 25% cash back on purchases made at Pick n Pay and Woolworths. Note that this is limited to healthy food purchases, which are clearly marked on the products. If you have a Discovery credit card, however, you earn 25% cash back on your total spend at these partners.

Momentum Multiply

6 If you belong to Momentum’s Multiply rewards programme, you can literally multiply your smart shopper points at Pick n Pay. Your smart shopper points are multiplied depending on your Multiply status. Bronze members multiply their smart shopper points by two, Silver members by four, Gold members by six, Platinum members by eight and Private Club members by 10.

Clicks is GOING digital

One of the first loyalty programmes to hit the South African market in 1995, the Clicks ClubCard, recently went digital in a bid to keep up with changing technology. Instead of having your vouchers posted to you as coupons, you are now informed of any vouchers available to you in store before you pay for your purchases.

You have the option of using your discount vouchers or keeping them for use at a later date. Your points and rewards will be visible on your till slips, so you are constantly kept informed of the rewards available to you or the points you have earned. This removes the hassle of keeping vouchers in your wallet and also ensures that you receive your rewards.

David Hazell, Clicks’ customer marketing executive, says the move was spurred by customer insights. As part of a nationwide launch recently, Clicks loaded R150?million in cashback rewards on to existing ClubCard members’ cards.

Make the most

How different programmes reward you

Almost everyone has a bank account, so it makes sense to use the loyalty programmes offered by your bank. However, each bank has a slightly different way of structuring your rewards.

1 FNB rewards you for the product you use

FNB offers double eBucks points for using a credit card – you can work the system without taking on credit by transferring funds, for example for groceries, to your credit card and then using your credit card to pay for your monthly grocery shopping trip at Shoprite.

2 Absa rewards the number of products you have

Absa’s rewards programme is based on the number of products you have. The percentage of rewards you earn per rand spent is the same irrespective of which card you have. It does, however, increase based on the number of products you have with Absa.

Rewards start at 0.25% cash rewards per rand spent on the card up to 1% for tier-three members, who need one transaction and three products from any of the other six product categories to qualify.

To further reduce hurdles in earning rewards, all Absa rewards are paid as cash and not points. This means you can easily understand your rewards and redeem them.

3 Nedbank rewards using American Express

Nedbank incentivises the use of American Express cards by offering double Greenbacks points for every R5 spent on American Express cards – and no limit applies.

4 Standard Bank rewards banking behaviour

Standard Bank’s uCount rewards programme sees you earn tiered points for specific behaviours, such as a minimum monthly deposit amount, using the Standard Bank app or internet banking, consenting to receive marketing material as well as having additional products at the bank.

R560m

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