Category Archives: Rewards programs

Best Buy changes its rewards program

There’s good news for those of you who shop frequently at Best Buy. The company announced this week that your Reward Zone points will no longer expire at the end of each calendar year.

In a previous post, I pointed out that Best Buy’s expiration policy could mean that your points would expire a few days after you earned them. Now, the company says as long as you have activity in your account once every 12 months, your points will never expire.

Kudos to Best Buy for making this positive change! The company also announced that:

  • Purchases made on your Reward Zone credit card with a promotional financing offer will no longer qualify for Reward Zone points.
  • Purchases made with promotional financing will continue to count toward the program’s Premier Silver status level.

To learn more about Best Buy Reward Zone, visit this Web page.

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Quadruple fuel points at Kroger through June 22

Now’s the time to stock up on gift cards for summer birthdays, Father’s Day and yourself. Through June 22, Kroger is offering quadruple fuel points on gift card purchases when you use your Kroger Plus card.

Your total points earned will be four times the card’s value. So, a $25 gift card earns you 100 fuel points, and those 100 points entitle you to 10 cents off each gallon of gas you purchase in a single fill-up at a Kroger fuel center. A $100 gift card would net you a 40-cent fuel discount.

There are some important exclusions to keep in mind. You’ll find details in this previous post, along with the reason I stock up on gift cards for myself during these types of promotions.

Available cards at my local Kroger store include Target, Home Depot, Barnes & Noble, Subway, Best Buy, Petsmart and many more. Check out the full list online.

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Filed under Rewards programs, Sales and promo codes, Saving money, Shopping tips

Get 14 percent cash back on purchases from big-name stores

Ebates is celebrating its birthday by supersizing the savings it offers you when shopping at many large retailers. Ebates always gives you cash back on purchases when you start your online shopping at its website (for details, see my previous post), but now the percentage you get back has more than doubled for many stores as part of this promotion.

Currently, you can get 14 percent cash back at these stores:

  • Macy’s
  • Nordstrom
  • Under Armour
  • Gap
  • Old Navy
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Banana Republic
  • Colorful Images
  • eBags
  • Elizabeth Arden
  • Godiva
  • Hanes
  • Vistaprint
  • Vanity Fair
  • Reebok

There are many more stores offering 14 cash back. A full list is available at Ebates.com. Look for the “Celebrate our birthday” link in the top right corner of the page to find it.

Plus, you can get 42 percent cash back on an Angie’s List membership — check out my previous post on whether Angie’s list is worth the money. 42 percent is also available at Magazines.com.

The Ebates website doesn’t make it clear how long this promotion will last, so if you’ve got some shopping to do, get started now and cash in on the savings!

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Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy rewards programs need improvement

Rewards are a way for companies to show they care about customers. Acknowledging your patrons’ loyalty with the lure of a bonus can prompt them to choose your store over a competitor’s. Many companies offer bonus points you collect each time you make a purchase, then allow you to pool those points for discounts on a future purchase.

I try to save money everywhere possible, so I gladly enrolled in the free rewards programs offered by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Best Buy. I was surprised by a recent email indicating I had no points in my Dick’s “Scorecard” account, because I know I purchased more than one item at Dick’s last year. When I asked a sales representative at the local store if points expire, she said “no” and advised me to log into my account at mydickssportinggoods.com. I did just that when I returned home but found no record of my 2012 purchases. I went to the site’s FAQ page and found the following:

  • Will my points ever expire?

    Yes, all points balances will be reset to 0 on the Sunday closest to January 31st of each year.”

So, it turns out the sales rep was incorrect. Not only that, but the way I read this policy, your points could expire within a few days of your purchase if you buy something in the month of January.

Another company I make occasional purchase from is Best Buy, which offers a program called “Reward Zone.” The program’s website indicates a practice similar to the Scorecard program:

  • “At the beginning of every calendar year, the points in your account (except Premier Silver members and Reward Zone Gamers Club Unlocked members) will be issued as reward certificates down to the $5 level, and any remaining points will be forfeited. You will begin getting points for the new calendar year on January 1. For example, if you have 300 points, you will receive a $5 reward certificate (250 points) and you will forfeit 50 points.”

If these and other companies want to show customers they truly value them, they should not apply 12-month expiration policies to their rewards programs. I can see the wisdom of expiring points every 3-5 years to save the company the expense of recordkeeping on inactive customers. But every 12 months (or less, in the case of Dick’s Sporting Goods)?

If you have points in a store’s rewards program, be sure to check the expiration policy so you can make an informed decision on the timing of your next purchase and not miss out on savings opportunities.

Do you participate in a rewards program that doesn’t allow points to expire? What retailer rewards programs do you find most valuable?

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A new way to get cash back while shopping on eBay

I was thrilled to receive a notification today that eBay is once again a part of Ebates. This means I now have two ways to earn cash back while shopping at the online auction site.

First, I earn eBay Bucks on each eBay purchase. These are credits that correspond to a percentage (currently 2 percent) of each purchase I make. The bucks accumulate for a quarter, then I can “spend” them on a future eBay purchase. I’ve found eBay is a source of many great deals — check out my previous post on the great finds eBay has on brand-name makeup.

Now, I can also earn cash back on eBay purchases through Ebates.com. If you’re not familiar with Ebates, check out this previous post for the details. It’s a free way to earn cash back on things you were going to buy anyway. Ebates cash comes to me quarterly in the form of a cash deposit into my Paypal account, so I can spend it any way I choose. Several months ago, eBay stopped participating in Ebates, so today’s notification that the arrangement has resumed was welcome news. Currently, you’ll earn 3 percent cash back for each eBay purchase made through Ebates.

In addition to makeup, I’ve found eBay is a good source for electronics accessories, such as iPod cases. I recommend using caution when purchasing electronics on eBay, though. I’ve had mixed results — screen sellers carefully before buying a phone or MP3 player on eBay. In addition to auction listings, eBay offers “Buy It Now” items that you can purchase immediately instead of competing with other buyers for an item. In some of these cases, you may end up paying more than you would have for an item if you’d participated in an auction.

Are you an eBay shopper? What types of items do you find the best deals on when shopping eBay?

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Filed under Cheap and free stuff, Rewards programs, Saving money, Shopping tips

Great fuel points bonus is back at Kroger

Now through September 8, get quadruple fuel points on each gift card you purchase at Kroger. Buy a $25 gift card, and you get 100 fuel points, which equals a 10-cent-per-gallon discount on gas purchased at a Kroger fuel station.

My strategy is to buy gift cards for myself for stores I shop at regularly. Learn how this can help you save big bucks on gas in this previous post. I stock up on cards for Target, Petsmart, Subway and other retailers during these special bonus promotions.

What’s the most you’ve ever saved on gas with Kroger fuel points?

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U.S. Bank offers gracious response to typo on credit card payment

I carry a U.S. Bank credit card because I like the rewards it offers. As with any credit card I use, I am careful to pay the balance in full every month and avoid finance charges. That’s why I was surprised when I discovered an interest charge on my current statement.

I called U.S. Bank’s customer service line for cardholders and pointed out that I’d paid my bill in full well before the due date. After reviewing my account, the customer service representative discovered what had triggered the interest charge on my account. Although I’d entered the dollar amount of my payment correctly, I made an error in the cents column: instead of paying the dollar amount plus 98 cents, I’d entered 68 cents when sending my payment electronically. So, I’d underpaid my bill by 30 cents.

Even though I missed the mark by a tiny amount, U.S. Bank was allowed to charge me interest on my average daily balance for the entire statement period. The total interest charge was more than a few dollars and a painful penalty for such a small mistake. Thankfully, U.S. Bank was gracious about my error. The representative could see that I always pay my bill in full each month, so it was clear to her the 30-cent shortage was the result of a typing error. She credited back the interest that had been charged to my account.

U.S. Bank’s decision to refund the interest charge is a mark of a company that cares about its customers. Instead of taking a hard line on its policies, the company gave its customer service representative the flexibility to erase my mistake. In doing so, it increased the likelihood it will keep me as a customer.

Please learn from my experience and triple-check your entries when paying bills online. While U.S. Bank was gracious to me this time, I don’t expect it to erase similar mistakes I might make in the future. In fact, I may just start rounding up my bill payment to the next dollar to minimize errors.

Have you experienced a gracious response from a creditor or other business who overlooked an honest mistake you made? Please leave a comment to share your experience.

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Get paid for taking surveys with Valued Opinions

Forget the old saying “a penny for your thoughts”—you can earn a lot more money than that by sharing your opinions with an online survey program called Valued Opinions. The concept is simple: take surveys, earn money.

To get started, you create an account at Valued Opinions and answer a series of profile questions. These questions help the company know which target groups you fit into. When it receives a survey from one of its clients that matches your profile, you’ll receive an email inviting you to take the survey. You can earn $1 to $5 for each survey you complete, and credits for each survey you take are deposited into your Valued Opinions account. When you reach an account balance of at least $20, you can redeem your earnings for gift cards. Reward options include online and offline cards from Visa, Macy’s, Marriott and other companies.

Each survey invitation you receive tells you how much you can earn for that particular survey and how long it will take you to complete the questionnaire. Surveys often contain some initial screening questions to verify that you match the profile the company conducting the survey is looking for. If you don’t, your survey will end early and you won’t earn any credit for the few minutes you spent answering those first few questions.

One downside of Valued Opinions for me is many surveys include income information as a mandatory question, and “prefer not to answer” is not an option in those surveys. I refuse to provide surveyors with my household income. I understand they want it for demographic research, but I feel it is private and will not share it. In these cases, I abandon the survey, knowing that I won’t earn any credit for the work I’ve put in answering all the questions preceding the financial one. This can be frustrating when surveys save the financial question until the end. I also declined to enter financial information into the profile for my Valued Opinions account.

Despite the frustrations of financial questions, if you have some time to spare and could use a few extra bucks, Valued Opinions offers a simple way to earn money online.

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Earn frequent flyer miles for movie rentals, insurance quotes and more

Today, I’m continuing my series of posts on how you can earn frequent flyer miles with both feet on the ground. Previous posts focused on earning miles for reading product ads and for doing your shopping through a portal website. You can also earn miles for signing up for home and financial services.

Like to watch movies? Both Delta Airlines and American Airlines reward you with 1,500 miles when you sign up for a new account with Netflix.

If you’re planning to buy a new home, check out the United Mileage Plus offerings available through Chase bank. You can earn 12,500 to 50,000 miles, depending on the value of your new mortgage.

Have some money to invest? You can receive 5,000 to 25,000 miles on US Airways, Delta, American or United for opening and funding a new account with TD Ameritrade.

Satellite television customers can earn frequent flyer miles, too. American offers 7,500 miles to those enrolling in new DirectTV service.

Those looking for homeowner’s or auto insurance can earn miles, too. Delta and US Airways frequent flyers earn 200 to 300 miles for getting a quote from 21st Century Auto Insurance and additional miles if they purchase a policy. Receive 500 miles in your American Airlines or Delta Account for getting a home or auto insurance quote from Liberty Mutual. Get a quote from Sentry Insurance, and you’ll earn 1,500 miles on Delta or US Airways.

If you’re starting your own blog or website, you can earn 1,000 miles when purchasing a domain name through Network Solutions. This offer is available to those enrolled in American, United and Delta frequent flyer programs.

Be sure to use the special link provided on your frequent flyer program’s webpage when taking advantages of these offers, and follow any instructions provided by the company. If you don’t, you may not be eligible to receive your bonus miles.

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Coke Rewards offers free merchandise, magazines and more for soda fans

In the world of soda, most consumers fall on one side of the fence or the other: Coke or Pepsi. Count me among those who prefer Coke products. My current favorite is Diet Cherry Coke, which to me is one of the least “diet-tasting” sodas out there.

As a true bargain hunter, I typically wait for sales to stock up on my soda of choice, but for a while, I didn’t realize I was missing out on another form of savings—the My Coke Rewards program. Although the Coke Rewards logo appears on my Diet Cherry Coke boxes, I didn’t pay much attention to it. One day, curiosity led me to check it out online, and I’ve been a loyal participant ever since.

The idea behind the Coke Rewards program is simple: Coca-Cola products you purchase contain a rewards code. You enter these codes into your online account, and the program keeps a running total of your accumulated rewards points. You can redeem these points for merchandise, magazines, free soda, discount coupons, gift cards or entries into contests. You can also donate points to support charities.

On Coca-Cola 12-packs, you’ll find the code under the flap you remove to convert the box into a “fridge pack.” On single and two-liter bottles of Coca-Cola products, the code is under the cap. In shrink-wrapped cases, it’s inside the shrink wrap. Any product bearing the Coke Rewards logo will have a rewards code. Participating brands include Sprite, Minute Maid, Powerade, Mello Yellow, Nestea and Barq’s.

Like most rewards programs, there are rules. For example, your points expire if your account does not have any activity for a 90-day period. You can only earn 120 points per week, but that would be a lot of soda! To learn more about program rules, bonuses for referring friends and more, check out the Coke Rewards frequently asked questions page.

Learn about special promotions and program updates by monitoring the Coke Rewards Facebook page.

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