Wednesday, April 3, 2013, AM | Leave Comment
Everyone loves to get something for free! That is what makes shopping reward programs so popular. The idea of being rewarded just for shopping is an attractive one. However, rewards are only worth it if you are not spending more than you would normally just to earn them.
However, it is possible to make use of shopping rewards without overspending.
Never Add To Your Shopping List To Earn More Rewards
One of the ways in which reward programs can lead to over spending is if you are prompted to buy something you do not really need simply because it offers ‘double reward points this weekend’ or similar.
It might seem like a good way to boost your rewards, but if you will end up throwing the item away after several weeks languishing at the back of a cupboard, then it is simply a waste of money.
In order for rewards to be free, you must earn them without sending more than you normally would.
Let’s look at an example to illustrate this point:
Your shopping list consists of bread, sugar, milk and cereal, which would usually cost around $10. This equates to 10 reward points. However, once in the store, you see an offer for triple points on apples. This pushes your bill to $12 and your rewards points to 16. However, as you did not need the apples, they eventually spoil and you just wasted $2!
Now let’s look at a similar example showing how to use your rewards points without wasting money:
Once again your shopping list features bread, sugar, milk and cereal with an estimated cost of $10 giving 10 reward points. The offer in store is that a brand of cereal you do not usually buy is offering triple reward points. You decide to give this brand a try. You have now boosted your shopping rewards to 16 points without increasing your spend and without purchasing something you do not need.
Credit Card Reward Points
A similar logic can be applied to credit cards which offer reward points. This can be a useful way to earn rewards, but again only if it does not mean spending more.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to ask yourself ‘would I buy this if there was no reward program?’ – if the answer is yes then go ahead and buy it, but if you say no then leave it on the shelf!
One of the advantages of a credit card which offers shopping rewards is that you will often find certain purchase categories earn rewards at a higher rate. Groceries and fuel are two of the most common, so look out for reward cards which offer this feature.
Advantages of Shopping Rewards
It’s not all bad! When used appropriately, shopping rewards programs are a nice way to earn gift cards and other rewards.
If you stick to your budget and are not swayed easily by bonus promotions then you will find that the points do begin to mount up.
I know many people who will not use their rewards points until the holiday season when they will cash in a whole year’s worth of points for gift cards to cover the cost of gifts.
Just be sure to check out the terms and conditions of your program as sometimes points expire after a certain length of time.
When it comes to shopping rewards, it is true that they often prompt overspending. However, if you manage your budget and your shopping list with care they can provide a nice bonus by rewarding you for spending what you would have anyway.
Tim Baker is an avid blogger and writer. When he is not writing for various blogs and online publications he loves travelling around the world spending as little as possible by taking advantage of shopping rewards and other reward programs.