Smart shoppers use rewards programs

Customer-Loyalty-Program1Clever shopping usually conjures up images up watching sales and clipping coupons.

One often overlooked, but potentially very lucrative smart shopping strategy is to identify and leverage rewards programs.

The rewards are real

Many chain stores have reward programs, or there are national programs as well. Points programs offer a pretty good return on your shopping dollar, and even more so if you pay attention to opportunities to “double up” on points.

It does, admittedly, take a certain level of commitment and knowledge, but rewards programs are lucrative when done right. For instance, in the last year, I’ve been able to fund hotel stays for two separate vacations in awesome locales, simply because of collecting and redeeming points.

Here are some good programs that should compel you to take that card out of your wallet.

Air Miles

This rewards program is one of my faves, because it is not vendor specific, offering you choice. Click here for a list of participating sponsors. The rewards are varied, from travel to cash to merchandise. Watch for special offers to double up on points.

For instance, prior to the holiday season, a number of vendors offer double, triple even five times the Air Miles rewards through the online arm of I did the bulk of my Christmas shopping this way, bulking up on rewards points and not having to leave the comfort of my home. Win, win, win (and another win for good measure).

Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum

This one is a good vendor specific program, because the points add up fairly quickly. This is another vendor that offers bonus points on a regular basis, so it is smart to watch the flyers for sale prices and points bonuses.

Accumulating points means a discount for future purchases, saving you money down the road.

Grocery rewards

Like free food? Who doesn’t? Loblaws offers PC rewards, both as a points program and through their credit card products.  Club Sobeys offers rewards on grocery purchases, with frequent, large chunks of bonus points (this one adds up fast if you pay attention). Depending on what province you live in, Club Sobeys offers you the opportunity to convert your rewards to Aeroplan miles (which is another great travel rewards program). In the coming months though, Club Sobeys will be converting to the Air Miles Program.