How to Take Advantage of Loyalty Cards

Earns CVS
Matt Rourke/APCVS offers an appealing loyalty program to customers.
By Mel Bondar

I remember my first ever loyalty card was for American Eagle when I was 14. It added something legit to my keychain that otherwise consisted only of a house key, which was super cool to my teenage brain. Every time I dragged my mom to the mall or talked a family member into dropping me and my friends off, I would wind up in that store and I quickly racked up a ton of points, which translated into discounts and coupons.

And then the little loyalty cards on my key ring started to grow -- and help me save.

Loyalty programs can be really fantastic. You can usually join for less than five minutes of your time and if you're a frequent shopper, the deals can be really worth it. Here are several loyalty cards that really pack a punch.

CVS Rewards

If you're a regular CVS shopper and you don't have this card, you're just throwing away money. Even if you're an irregular CVS shopper, it's worth signing up for. CVS tracks what you spend on and provides you with coupons geared towards your shopping habits. To sweeten the deal even further, after certain amounts of spending, they give you rewards cash -- sometimes it's for beauty-related items, but lots of times the rewards cash is just $5 to $10. You don't have to purchase a minimum amount of items in those cases, it's just like getting a $5 or $10 gift certificate.


Not to be left behind, Walgreens also has its own Balance Rewards program that incentivizes healthy living. Regular purchases can get you anywhere from one to 10 points a dollar and 5,000 points equals a $5 reward -- the more points you rack up, the higher the reward amount, capping out at $50 for 40,000 points.

That may seem like a lot of purchases, but the Balance Rewards emphasizes making healthy choices. You get bonus points for filling prescriptions, keeping you immunizations up to date and even completing weekly activity goals, like walking or running a certain number of miles.

Also, for the older readers, you can link your AARP card to your Balance Rewards card and super charge your points.


Listen up coffee lovers, if you stop by Starbucks on your way to work everyday or even just once a week, the 13th cup is on Starbucks if you have the rewards card. You use it like a gift card that you keep refilling and each drink or food item is worth a star. Once you collect 12 stars, the next item is free. Starbucks also often offers discount codes that you receive when you sign up for their rewards system and offers double stars on some items at certain times, to help you get to your 12th star quicker.

Dunkin' Donuts

If you're a Dunkin' Donuts loyalist, sign up for DD Perks, Dunkin' Donuts reward system. Every 200 points you earn gets you a free reward, and every dollar is worth 5 points. There are regularly 2X point offers on different items.

You also get to take advantage of different limited time offers; recently there was a promotion for DD Perks members to purchase a beverage five times within a set period and the next beverage was free.

This is another rewards club that gives you a freebie not only when you join, but also on your birthday every year.


If you're a makeup maven, the Beauty Insider card is worth the time it takes to sign up. Sephora can be a pricey store, but the Beauty Insider card gets you really excellent coupons you can take advantage of throughout the year.

Additionally, rather than gift cards, the points you rack up through purchases allow you access to exclusive items only available to Beauty Insiders and you get a coupon for a free item on your birthday each year.

One quick word of wisdom though: While signing up for any loyalty program with a store you shop at often is a terrific idea, you may want to start a separate email for these programs. While coupons are awesome, having your inbox swamped with them takes away some of the charm. By creating a separate email address for your loyalty cards, you can just log on whenever you're about to head out shopping and print the latest offers.

Mel Bondar blogs at brokeGIRLrich, where she explores topics including how not to totally panic over adulthood, working in the arts and retirement strategies that don't involve living in a cardboard box under an overpass.
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