7 Tips on how to get the most out of local rewards programs

It seems like there is hardly a store left without some sort of loyalty or rewards program in place. But is it worth it? Does the consumer really gain anything by signing up for these programs? Or is it all just a plot to fill up your wallet with more plastic? We are going to have a look at how to get the most out of South African rewards programs

  1. Be Loyal

    One of the reasons why companies have rewards programs is to foster customer loyalty. There is a reason these programs are often called loyalty programs. One of the quickest ways to get some value out of a loyalty program, is by simply being loyal.

    Signing up to multiple programs at similar stores (like both Clicks and Dischem), you will be spreading your reward potential too wide to really notice the benefits. Choose one, and make sure you always do your shopping accordingly and you will realise the benefits much sooner.

  2. Fuel

    Millions of South-Africans drive to and from work almost every day. Fuel is one of the most predictable expenses in our budgets. With the price of fuel constantly increasing, and it generally becoming more difficult to save, the appeal of getting something back from a fuel rewards program is a no brainer.

    Absa has a 5% cash back reward from Sasol service stations, and FNB credit card holders can get up to 15% back in fuel rewards.

    Find out exactly which program you qualify for (it is always an agreement between petrol stations and banks) and make sure you use the right card at the right garage. Over the span of a year all those 5 – 15 percent schemes can add up to something quite substantial.

  3. Saving that Cash

    Some rewards programs, like ABSA’s system, pay their rewards in cash into a separate account. This is a great way of painlessly saving. With the cost of living always increasing, saving can become more and more difficult.

    Structure your shopping habits around the outlets where you get the highest rewards. Specifically, for larger expenses like fuel, electronics and tyres. The trick, however, is to try and put the reward money out of your head.

    Over time, the balance will develop into what could be the beginning of a healthy savings habit without you ever having to actually take money out of your budget for saving. Remember that the best kind of saving, is the daily, cumulative kind!

  4. Data

    Remember that nothing is for free.  Besides the loyalty that companies try to foster with these programs, they are also after information.  When you sign up for a loyalty or rewards program, you are essentially selling some of your personal information to the relevant company, and in return you get some or other reward.

    The rewards, however, are not limited to cash and discounts.  It is also about how they use the information.  With the information linked to your rewards account, the company has direct access to your consumer habits in their store(s).

    The ideal situation would be that the information is used to target you for relevant deals and offers that would improve your experience with them and help you to extract more value from your shopping experience.  If this is not the case and you feel like your information might be exploited for predatory marketing techniques, you should find a different rewards program to join.

  5. Be a Smart Shopper

    Pick n Pay’s Smart Shopper program is the biggest loyalty program in the country, and there is a reason for that.  With a chain as large and as widespread as Pick n Pay, it is very easy to get all of the benefits that loyalty programs offer without having to drastically change your behaviour as a consumer.

    The size of the store and the breadth of products that they sell means that so much of what you were going to buy anyway, can now be incorporated into a rewards scheme.  This makes the cumulative effect of your saving much stronger.  It also makes it much easier to get your shopping done in one place without having to agonise over different rewards structures for different types of products.

    The mobile app also allows you to access and track your rewards balance and other relevant information.  For those who would like to give more to charity, the program also allows you to donate the monetary value of your cumulative rewards to a select charity.

  6. eBucks

    eBucks is not cash, but if you play your cards right, it can definitely save you some!  Apart from the exceptional fuel benefits offered by the FNB eBucks system, you can also put some cash away by spending eBucks on items that you were going to spend money on, and then putting the money away.

    We spoke about using the ABSA rewards account as a type of savings system.  The eBucks scheme can be used in a similar way, but with a specific and necessary purchase in mind. The key is not to spend the eBucks just for the sake of spending it.

    Treat it as a savings account geared towards an important purchase that you will have to make in the medium term.  This is brilliant for things like planning to buy an iPad at the end of the year, or plane tickets for a holiday coming up.

  7. Save small with the things you were going to do anyway

    These schemes are not going to make you rich, but if there is a place where you shop frequently without any special incentive that has a rewards program, you should definitely join it.

    If you buy a coffee from the same place every day, start stamping the card and get your 10th for free!  If you buy lots of books for yourself and for gifts, get an Exclusive Books fanatics card and get some surprise discounts every now and then.

    It’s not much, but these types of rewards can make your day, and sometimes they can even add up to something substantial!