Georgina Guedes

Are loyalty programmes worth it?

2013-03-28 08:00

Georgina Guedes

A teacher at my daughter’s nursery school recently announced her intention to move all her banking to First National Bank because she wanted to start buying things with eBucks. She has a third child on the way and is about to get serious about her expenses.

There are lots of ways to make money out of affiliation to a particular service or brand, if you’re serious about it, and if you do it very carefully. My daughter’s teacher’s migration to FNB, for example is probably a clever move (I haven’t researched the exact costs), since she’s already giving her money to another bank anyway.

I got myself a Woolies Black credit card to get 3% back on all the money I spend in their stores. This is a good deal if you have any idea how much I spend at Woolies every month. However, as I am sure happens to many credit card holders, one particularly rubbish month, I relied a little too heavily on their credit offering and am now in a debt hole that I have to dig my way out of, with all the associated expenses.

I am also a Fanatics member, so I get bonus points for every rand I spend at Exclusive Books – which is also a lot. Problem is (although, it’s not a problem I resent too much), as soon as the crisp white voucher arrives in my post box, I dash out to Exclusive Books and find something to spend it on, rather than waiting for my next book-buying need to arise. The voucher creates the need – which is the purpose, of course.

Some companies create loyalty programmes for all the touchy-freely associations, but actually make it so impossible to collect on the bonus that it benefits no one. I’ve been pleased to note that many companies are making it easier for you to cash in on your loyalty points – making your association with them worthwhile.

This morning, when I was buying Kulula tickets to Cape Town for my family, I saw that I only had to enter my Discovery number for the Vitality discount to click in. I am pretty sure that there was a way of doing this is the past, but now I am handheld through the process, with the result that I got the discount and think far more affectionately of Discovery and Kulula as a result.

I was also delighted when making a purchase in Exclusive Books last week, that they told me that I had a voucher live on the system and asked if I would like to use it. That’s the kind of loyalty programme I want to be a part of – one that spoonfeeds hurried, forgetful me with all the information I need to cash in on my points.

The secret, of course, is being the kind of spender who is not drawn in by all the sparkly associations of getting something for free, and to continue conducting your business as you would if you didn’t have the bonus points stacking up. That way you earn your money back incidentally, rather than spending to save – a vice of which I am extremely guilty.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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