loyalty programs http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8238/all en-US 12 Loyalty Rewards Programs You Didn't Know Existed http://www.wisebread.com/12-loyalty-rewards-programs-you-didnt-know-existed <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-loyalty-rewards-programs-you-didnt-know-existed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/credit-card-1390539-small.jpg" alt="credit card" title="credit card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We've all heard of reward or loyalty programs for things like airlines, hotels, retailers, and restaurants, but there are also some other lesser-known places where you can rack up points for cash or goods. Check out the programs below, so you don't miss out. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>1. Upromise</h2> <p><a href="http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-2822544-10426251?cm_mmc=CJ-_-2276508-_-2822544-_-Upromise_com">Upromise</a>, which is owned by Sallie Mae, allows you to earn money towards college on your everyday spending at more than 800 online stores and thousands of supermarkets, drug stores, and restaurants. Members simply register their credit card to a Upromise account to earn 1%-25% cash back on qualified purchases. You can choose to invest your earnings in a savings account or 529 plan, or use your funds to pay down a student loan or other college expenses. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/upromise-review-get-5-back-on-your-purchases?ref=seealso">Upromise Review</a>)</p> <h2>2. Health Insurance Rewards</h2> <p>Check to see if your health plan offers specific reward programs. Depending on your plan, you can earn anything from gift certificates to out-of-pocket credits just by taking health assessments, participating in healthy living programs, or going on routine preventative visits. <a href="https://www.humana.com/vitality/">HumanaVitality</a>, for example, even allows you to earn &quot;Vitality Bucks,&quot; which you can turn into movie tickets, hotel stays, or electronics at the HumanaVitality Mall.</p> <h2>3. Shopkick</h2> <p>Location based app <a href="https://www.shopkick.com/tour">Shopkick</a> allows you to accumulate points (&quot;kicks&quot;) just for visiting many of the nation's top retailers, like Macy's, Old Navy, and Best Buy. Scanning items on your smartphone and making purchases can earn you even more points. Points can be redeemed for gift cards at your favorite stores.</p> <h2>4. Bing</h2> <p>You can earn rewards just for using <a href="http://www.bing.com/explore/rewards">Bing</a> as your search engine. You can sign up using a Microsoft account that will automatically track your credits for each search. You can also earn by trying out new features, tips, and making Bing your homepage. Rewards include gift cards for popular brands like Starbucks, Amazon, and Xbox, as well as charities. You can even use rewards to get Skype credits.</p> <h2>5. Product Rewards</h2> <p>You may be familiar with <a href="http://www.mycokerewards.com/home.do">Coke</a> and <a href="https://points.pepsi.com/">Pepsi's</a> reward programs, but you may not realize there are other brands where you can earn points for your purchases. Baby care brands, such as <a href="http://www.huggies.com/en-US/rewards">Huggies</a>, <a href="https://en.pampersrewards.pampers.com/">Pampers</a>, and <a href="http://www.earthsbest.com/content/earths-best-loyalty-program">Earth's Best</a>, all allow you to earn points by entering product codes from your purchases to use towards things like free merchandise, gift cards, and other perks. Some other brand rewards programs include <a href="https://www.kelloggsfamilyrewards.com/en_US/home.html">Kellogg's</a>, <a href="https://deliciousrewards.leancuisine.com/common/about.pg">Lean Cuisine</a>, and <a href="http://rewards.lorealparisusa.com/">L'Oreal</a>. It's great to get rewarded for what you'd be buying anyway, but note that you need to take the time to manually enter your product codes in order to earn points.</p> <h2>6. Regal Cinemas</h2> <p>If you like going to the movies, don't forget to sign up for Regal Entertainment Group's theatre loyalty program, <a href="https://www.regmovies.com/Crown-Club/Alternate-Signin">Regal Crown Club</a>. This allows you to earn credits for box office and concession purchases, which you can redeem for free tickets, drinks, and popcorn at future visits. Considering Regal has the largest and most geographically diverse number of theaters in the U.S. (over 7,400 screens in 581 theatres), chances are there's a location near you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-watch-movies-in-the-theater-for-free?ref=seealso">Watch Movies in the Theater for Free</a>)</p> <h2>7. Rewards for Exercising</h2> <p>Most people don't realize they can actually earn rewards (other than fitness and weight loss) by exercising. Mobile apps, like <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/everymove-rewards-for-being/id563721483?mt=8&amp;uo=4&amp;at=10lpjh">Everymove</a> and <a href="http://earndit.com/">Earndit</a>, which connect to popular fitness trackers, like Fitbit, RunKeeper and My Fitness Pal, allow you to earn points for going to the gym, exercising, or participating in fitness events. Rewards generally include fitness products and donations to charities. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-top-5-strength-training-apps?ref=seealso">Top 5 Strength Training Apps</a>)</p> <h2>8. Amex Twitter Sync</h2> <p><a href="https://sync.americanexpress.com/twitter/Index">Amex Twitter Sync</a> is a twist from the traditional rewards approach. Apart from Amex Rewards, you can now sync your eligible Amex card with your Twitter account to earn savings rewards. The program requires members to Tweet special Amex deal hashtags, which then make them eligible for special savings upon purchase. Please note: Most Amex cards do come with annual fees.</p> <h2>9. StubHub</h2> <p>For those into sports, concerts, and events, <a href="http://www.stubhub.com/fan-rewards/">StubHub Fan Rewards</a> allows you to earn 2% in reward credits on every eligible StubHub ticket purchase. Reward credits are redeemed in $10 increments (called &quot;FanCodes&quot;) to be used on future StubHub purchases. Superstar status gets you 3% reward points, seat upgrades, and priority invitations.</p> <h2>10. Viggle</h2> <p><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/viggle/id487066871?mt=8&amp;uo=4&amp;at=10lpjh">Viggle</a> is an app for iOS and Android where you can earn points for watching TV shows. You can check in through the app to register the shows you are watching and earn points for the amount of viewing time. While it takes a good number of points to reach rewards, which include gift cards to popular retailers, it's easy enough to make a few cents watching your shows.</p> <h2>11. Amtrak</h2> <p>We all know that you can earn rewards for airline travel, but many people forget that <a href="https://amtrakguestrewards.com/info">Amtrak</a> also has a rewards program. All those business trips can easily earn you points if you sign up with the program. Amtrak even has an online shopping mall as an additional way to earn. Points can be redeemed for free Amtrak tickets, hotel stays, car rentals, and gift cards at popular retailers.</p> <h2>12. Recyclebank</h2> <p>With <a href="http://www.recyclebank.com">Recyclebank</a>, you can earn points on your weekly recycling pickup. The program works by teaming up with waste haulers to award points based on the weight of your recycling collection. You can also earn points by pledging green actions or taking tutorials on the site. Points can be used towards free magazines, grocery store credits, charities, and discounts at local stores, restaurants, and services.</p> <p><em>What are some of your preferred reward programs that others may not know about?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-loyalty-rewards-programs-you-didnt-know-existed" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Loyalty Rewards Programs You Didn&#039;t Know Existed" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kelly-medeiros">Kelly Medeiros</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Deals and Coupons Consumer Affairs discounts loyalty programs rewards Mon, 10 Mar 2014 11:24:14 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 1129400 at http://www.wisebread.com Get the Most Out of Safeway's Just for U Deals http://www.wisebread.com/get-the-most-out-of-safeways-just-for-u-deals <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-the-most-out-of-safeways-just-for-u-deals" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/27449565_94deba0e9e_z.jpg" alt="safeway" title="safeway" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Safeway is on the forefront of personalized grocery deals with its Just for U online savings program. If you shop at a Safeway or its affiliates (Dominick's, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Vons) you have probably seen signs urging you to sign up for Just for U. Signing up is a no-brainer &mdash; once you're using Just for U, you'll have access to discounts above and beyond the weekly advertised sales. But signing up is only the first step toward maximizing your savings at Safeway.</p> <p>First, a quick explanation of how Just for U works. Once you register your loyalty card on the <a href="http://www.safeway.com/ShopStores/Offers-Landing-IMG.page?">Just for U site</a>, you'll be offered two kinds of deals that you can add to your card simply by clicking the deals on the site. The deals come in two varieties: e-coupons, which are available to all Just for U users, and Personalized Deals. Personalized Deals are offered to you based on what you typically buy. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-grocery-shop-for-five-on-100-a-week">How to&nbsp;Grocery&nbsp;Shop for 5 on $100 a Week</a>)</p> <p>Here are some tips for making Just for U work for you.</p> <h3>You Must Actually Click the Deals to Get the Savings</h3> <p>When I attended a Just for U training session with Safeway representatives, they told me that many customers mistakenly think that all the deals shown on the Web site are automatically loaded to your card. In reality, you have to click each offer individually to get that price. Why don't they have an &quot;add all&quot; button? Because <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/10/business/supermarkets-try-customizing-prices-for-shoppers.html?pagewanted=all">they're using this system to find out what we're willing to pay for things</a>. Before I make a trip to Safeway now, I take a few minutes to check the site or the app on my smartphone to see if there are any new Personalized Deals or coupons available.</p> <h3>Make Sure That You Are the Only One Using Your Account</h3> <p>You might have a couple of Safeway cards in your household, or you might just punch in your phone number at the register without having any idea whose account that number is linked to. When I first started shopping at Safeway, I noticed that the cashiers would call me &quot;Ms. Mrouks&quot; when they handed me my receipt &mdash; because my phone number was linked to an account belonging to someone with that name. In that past, this kind of sloppy card use would frustrate Safeway's marketing executives, who are of course using these loyalty card accounts to study our shopping behavior, but it didn't matter much to you and me. However, if you want Just for U to offer you deals on things you're actually likely to buy, you should make sure you always use the same account. If you see weird items pop up on your Personalized Deals &mdash; like cat food if you don't have a cat &mdash; call customer service and they'll figure out if someone else is using your number. They have ways of fixing that.</p> <h3>Download the Just for U App Onto Your Smartphone</h3> <p>Safeway has improved the speed with which deals you add to your card get saved on their system, so you should be able to add deals with your phone while you're in the store and have them active by the time you get up to the register. Give it 10 minutes or so &mdash; and make sure you're getting a good cell connection when you add the deals.</p> <h3>Combine Coupons With Deals</h3> <p>This is tricky, because as coupon shoppers know, you can't redeem two manufacturer's coupons on one item, but you <em>can</em> combine a manufacturer's coupon with a store coupon or discount. Some deals on Just for U are manufacturer's coupons, while others are store discounts. How can you tell the difference? According to Safeway representatives at a recent Just for U training session, you should be able to pair a paper coupon with any Just for U deal where the item price is named. You won't be able to pair a paper coupon with e-coupons that promise a certain amount of money off. For instance, if your Just for U coupon says &quot;50 cents off Friskies cat food,&quot; that's a manufacturer's coupon, and you can't use a additional paper manufacturer's coupon with that. But if the Just for U deal says &quot;Friskies 45 cents per can,&quot; that's a store discount, and you can sweeten the deal by adding a paper manufacturer's coupon. If you try handing over paper coupons that can't be used with the deal on your card, the register will give you whichever coupon has the best value and give you back the other one.</p> <h3>Combine a Personalized Price With a Buy One, Get One Free Sale</h3> <p>Every week, Safeway offers a number of items that are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-buy-one-get-one-free-is-usually-a-bad-deal">buy one, get one free</a>. If you are lucky enough to have a low personalized price on one of those items, you will get two for the personalized price, often resulting in a really good deal. For example, say that Oscar Mayer bacon is offered BOGO, with a $5.97 price. On Just for U, you load a personalized price of $2.97. Other shoppers will get two packs of bacon for $5.97, or about $3 each. But you can get two packs for $2.97 &mdash; less than $1.50 each!</p> <h3>Check Your Receipt</h3> <p>Just for U has improved a lot since its trial launches last year, but it may still sometimes happen that you don't get the discount that was promised to you. Just like with other coupons and discounts, you should check your receipt and take any problems to the customer service desk.</p> <h3>If You Move to Another Region, Call Customer Service</h3> <p>When I moved from Chicago (Dominick's territory) to California (Safeway territory), I went online and changed my zip code on the Just for U site. But even after I made the change, none of my personalized deals were working. This is because personalized deals only work in the region of the store where you shop most often. It can take several months for Safeway's computers to stop offering you your former region's deals and start offering you the new region's deals. You can speed this up by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-what-you-want-on-customer-service-calls">calling customer service</a>, but even then, the change won't be immediate. Personally, if I had it to do again, I might have simply applied for a new account at my new store &mdash; but that's my suggestion, not Safeway's.</p> <h3>Can You Game the System?</h3> <p>This <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/10/business/supermarkets-try-customizing-prices-for-shoppers.html?pagewanted=all">New York Times article</a> quotes one shopper saying she gets better personalized prices when she alternates brands of coffee. I haven't experienced anything like this so far, but it's worth experimenting with. One tactic I plan to use after reading the article is to avoid clicking on personalized prices that I find too high &mdash; I want to teach the system that I am a customer who should be offered the absolute lowest prices.</p> <p><em>Disclosure: Safeway provided me with several Safeway gift cards at their Just for U information session, as well as assorted goodies and a ride in a fancy limo bus.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-the-most-out-of-safeways-just-for-u-deals" class="sharethis-link" title="Get the Most Out of Safeway&#039;s Just for U Deals" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink grocery shopping just for u loyalty programs Safeway Fri, 17 Aug 2012 10:24:41 +0000 Carrie Kirby 950542 at http://www.wisebread.com Are Loyalty Programs A Marketing Gold Mine? http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/are-loyalty-programs-a-marketing-gold-mine <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/are-loyalty-programs-a-marketing-gold-mine" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/are-loyalty-programs-a-marketing-gold-mine</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/are-loyalty-programs-a-marketing-gold-mine" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000012205267Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="165" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/are-loyalty-programs-a-marketing-gold-mine" class="sharethis-link" title="Are Loyalty Programs A Marketing Gold Mine?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>Customer clubs can dramatically increase customer loyalty and give you targeted feedback on your marketing. Or they can be a gigantic waste of time. How do you know whether it will work for your business?</p> <p><strong>Do a Little Self-Analysis</strong></p> <p>If you're running a customer club of any kind, have you taken a good look at it lately? It can be a valuable tool, a way to get cash in the door, increase customer loyalty, gain targeted marketing information, get customer feedback, improve customer service, and make more sales. Too often, though, small businesses settle for something much, much less than that: a sad excuse for a customer club, with a meaningless membership card and uninspiring perks.</p> <p>Here's what you should be giving and getting with your customer club:</p> <ul> <li>You should be giving value to the customers.</li> <li>You should be giving a reason for customers to be loyal.</li> <li>You should be getting customer information.</li> <li>You should be getting <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/4-simple-ways-to-get-customer-feedback-online">targeted feedback on your marketing</a>.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Are You Providing Value and Increasing Loyalty?</strong></p> <p>First, examine your customer club for value to the customers. What do you provide?</p> <p>The most common (and, often, most useless) customer club is a free, opt-in system. For a little information, customers get a basic reward like <i>one</i> free coffee after you buy 10. What the business gains from these is merely a bit more information. The program doesn&rsquo;t really provide value or give customers a reason to be loyal.</p> <p>What if, instead of schlepping together a free but low-value customer club, you put together something really worthwhile? What if a customer had to pay to be part of your club, but in return they always got a 10 percent discount (retailers) or they always got free shipping (online sellers) or they always got a $5 lunch special (restaurants) or they always got rush status (service providers)?</p> <p>A club that people have to pay to be part of conveys exclusivity, which is something customers tend to like. We all want to be somebody special. A club anyone can join without charge or consideration, and with very little effective value, is not going to give your customers a feeling of being special.</p> <p><strong>Are You Getting Information and Feedback?</strong></p> <p>Having a little extra cash up-front is nice for a small business, but that's not the sole purpose of your customer club. A customer club, full of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/secrets-to-earning-passionate-fans-not-just-customers-and-the-top-3-things-stopping-your-company">loyal members who love being part of your business</a> because <i>you make them feel special </i>is a gold mine of customer information and targeted feedback.</p> <ol> <li>Your membership form should <b>gather basic information</b> and various methods of contact (address, phone, email). It can also ask lots of questions. The questions can be optional, of course, so someone in a hurry can skip them; you don't want to deter potential members with a lengthy questionnaire. Give them a bonus if they fill it all out.</li> <li>A customer club is an <b>automatically created </b><a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/6-ways-to-boost-your-mobile-e-mail-marketing">mailing list</a>. You've got a list of people who want to do business with you and several ways to contact them.</li> <li>You can <b>periodically send out surveys</b> regarding your business and products to your customer club members. Offer an additional coupon or discount for customers who complete the surveys.</li> <li>You can invite a limited number of customer club members to come in as &quot;<b>secret shoppers</b>.&quot; You comp them a meal or a service or a product, and they fill out a detailed response or survey. You are getting feedback from the type of customer you want to have.</li> <li>You can <b>host customer club parties and special events</b> (including online events and sales for &quot;members only&quot;) that will help you get to know your best customers and their buying habits.</li> <li>You can <b>test out new product ideas</b> on your customer club first; let them know it's an exclusive offer for members only and track how they respond.</li> </ol> <p>That's just a beginning.</p> <p>If you're not getting valuable information and targeted feedback from your customer clubs, you're doing it wrong. And you're wasting a huge opportunity to get valuable marketing help without having to a pay a PR consultant or marketing firm.</p> <p>So, grab your pickax and start mining.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center customer loyalty customer service customer surveys loyalty programs market research marketing small business Thu, 15 Sep 2011 22:24:01 +0000 Annie Mueller 696862 at http://www.wisebread.com Credit Card Rewards Programs http://www.wisebread.com/credit-card-rewards-programs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/credit-card-rewards-programs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/credit%20card%20rewards.jpg" alt="credit card rewards" title="credit card rewards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText">A commenter on a <a href="/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything">recent article</a> of mine on <a target="_blank" title="Guide to Using Credit Cards Wisely" href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-card-guide">credit card usage</a>, suggested a follow-up post with an eye to uncovering the mysteries of credit card rewards programs.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">And in my research, I discovered it&rsquo;s a murky world of points, rebates, fees, and interest rates out there! A lot of it comes down to personal choice, but here is some information to aid your plight for a suitable credit card rewards program:&nbsp;</p> <h2>Three types of rewards</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">There are typically three types of rewards programs: <strong>point-based, cash back, and frequent flyer miles</strong>. Some programs offer combinations of these rewards, with varying value for point redeemed.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Points-based programs</strong> involve accumulating points (based on the amount you spend), and then redeeming your points for merchandise from their catalogue. Points leave a little to be desired, since depending on what you redeem your points for you might not get a lot of value.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">For example, Smart Money has an <a target="_blank" href="http://www.smartmoney.com/dealoftheday/index.cfm?story=20070309">article on this topic</a> , where they show you the Good, Bad, and Ugly of credit card rewards programs. Case in point for the ugly:</p> <blockquote><p class="MsoPlainText"><em>You could trade 39,200 Bank of America WorldPoints for a 30GB iPod, which retails for $249. Or you could use just 35,000 points to get a $350 check &mdash; enough to buy the iPod at your local electronics store. You'd come out roughly $100 ahead, and saved 4,200 points to use for another reward.</em></p> </blockquote> <p class="MsoPlainText">Gift certificates tend to be the best value for your points when flipping through the catalogue, and it is generally recommended that you stay away from the merchandise, since it is over-priced and lacking in quality. The gift certificate option also carries an added value advantage, since credit companies strike deals with the retailers to give them a deal on the gift certificates, whereas a dollar is a dollar when it comes to cheques or merchandise.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Cash back</strong> is most common, and offers quick rewards for your buck. However they can also have limitations; Some will only start to honour the cash back policy once you have spent a minimum amount of money, and yet others will cap the total amount of cash they&rsquo;ll reward.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Frequent Flyer Miles</strong> for airline tickets will sometimes give you the best bang for their buck, but can be a pain to redeem. Many issuers have blackout times, while others only designate a certain number of seats per flight as airline rewardable seats. If you don&rsquo;t book your ticket early enough you can be out of luck, especially if you want a flight that&rsquo;s commonly flown and redeemed for.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Saving for airline ticket rewards can also be tedious and take some time to accumulate for, and in this changing airline world, increasing fees and limitations could pose problems in the future. I have already noticed that one of the rewards programs I use have imposed a stipulation that if you do not use your points within seven years of the point being rewarded to your account, you lose it. So if you are saving up for a big reward (or on the flip side have accumulated tons of points over the years and haven&rsquo;t used them), you may lose your chance.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Also, expect to pay out of pocket for the taxes, fuel surcharges, and other miscellaneous expenses (like a special booking charge if you redeem on the phone with an agent as opposed to online). But hey &ndash; a buck is a buck. To fly across the country (or around the world) for the cost of the taxes is rarely something to complain about.</p> <h2>Tips for the reward-hungry credit card user</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Pay off that balance!</strong></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">As stressed in my <a target="_blank" href="/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything">previous article and related comments</a>, using a rewards program is for responsible credit card users. If you rack up a balance with an eye to getting rewards, and then spend the next 6 months or more trying to pay off the balance (and paying interest all the while), then the value of your rewards decreases significantly. Pay off those darn cards every month and treat your credit card like a <a target="_blank" href="/call-your-credit-card-a-plastic-check">debit card or chequebook</a> &ndash; if you don&rsquo;t have the money in your account, don&rsquo;t whip out the plastic.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Don&rsquo;t get sidetracked by the smaller rewards</strong></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Initially it can take time to build up a big enough balance to start redeeming for the rewards you really want. Don&rsquo;t lose patience and redeem your 800 points for an item of insignificant value when what you really got the card for was airline tickets, or special gift certificates. Most rewards programs have tiered systems that offer sweeter rewards (with better value) for those with more points. Your patience in saving up will be rewarded.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Get the card for the rewards you want</strong></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">If what you want is an airline ticket to Hawaii, then search for the best card to get you there. I found a program (in Canada) where flights to Hawaii required fewer points than even some continental flights, and I chose that card with an eye to getting that ticket. It took time, but my boyfriend and I are now living (temporarily) in<a target="_blank" href="/hobo-living-made-easy"> Hawaii</a>, and got return tickets for a total of $76 in taxes for both of us (whereas paying in cash would have been over $1,600 for both of us).</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Look for bonus points</strong></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Lots of programs will offer bonus points depending on where you spend your money or what you buy. Check online for bonus offers regularly, and spend wisely. You can often get triple the miles with a little research and effort.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Look at points conversion programs</strong></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Some programs are in cahoots with each other, and you can transfer or convert miles from one program to another. Be wary of those that charge a fee to do so, and take a close look at the conversion ratio. Sometimes they&rsquo;re way out of whack such that is makes no sense to convert.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Specific programs vary from country to country (and sometimes even within regions), so I won&rsquo;t go into many specifics with regards to individual program choices. It's up to you to decide which rewards will ultimately benefit you the most. Just remember to use it wisely or else the interest fees will end up costing you more than you're getting in rewards, and it's a safe bet that that is exactly what the credit card companies are counting on.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-card-rewards-programs" class="sharethis-link" title="Credit Card Rewards Programs" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/personal-finance/credit-cards">Credit Cards articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Credit Cards Shopping cash back credit card frequent flyer loyalty programs rewards programs Sat, 01 Dec 2007 00:22:00 +0000 Nora Dunn 1442 at http://www.wisebread.com