6 Brand Loyalty Programs That Are Actually Worth Joining

These brand loyalty programs are worth the extra emails.

There are probably a lot of things that draw you to your favorite stores. The products, obviously, the sales and the friendly salespeople all might be part of it, but a seriously rocking loyalty or rewards program is probably not far behind. Whether a loyalty program is free or has a small fee, if the benefits are plenty, it can be worth all the extra mail and email you’ll likely receive — or even a small yearly charge. (If you tend to pay balances off in full and want to maximize your earning potential, you may want to consider a rewards credit card as well.)

Here are some of the best loyalty programs we’ve seen around.

1. CVS

If not all pharmacies are created equal, then not all pharmacy rewards programs are created equal either. CVS’ ExtraCare Rewards stands out, for starters, because it’s free. Customers earn 2% back in ExtraBuck Rewards every single time they use their ExtraCare card, and additional savings are easy to find through ExtraCare emails, the CVS Pharmacy app and the weekly ad or throughout the store. You can save paper by using the “send to card” option to send selected offers from online directly to your ExtraCare card rather than printing them off to bring to the store.

2. Barnes & Noble

Becoming a B&N member isn’t free — it’ll cost you $25 a year — but if you’re an avid reader, the fee will likely be worth it. For starters, new members receive $50 in bonus coupons for joining. (Use ‘em all and you’ve already made up your initiation fee!) Members also receive member-exclusive savings options, free express shipping online with no minimum purchase, plus 40% off the list prices of current hardcover bestsellers and 10% off the price of other eligible items.

3. PetSmart

Animal owners can join the PetSmart PetPerks rewards program to start saving more on their pet purchases. Membership is free, and members receive discounts on in-store purchases, as well as special coupons sent directly to them in the mail. For more ways to save on your furbabies, sign up for the brand’s auto-ship plan, which provides 20% off and free shipping on the first auto ship order, plus 5% off and free shipping every time after. (Some exclusions apply.)

4. Sephora

For product lovers, the Sephora Beauty Insider Program is a dream come true. Sign up for free on the Sephora site and every dollar you spend earns a point that can be put towards free beauty products. (The points you need to purchase certain products can be found online.) Members also get a birthday gift, access to free beauty classes, and for an extra $10/year members get access to flash two-day shipping on all online orders.

5. Bed Bath & Beyond

Home goods superstore BB&B doesn’t have a specific rewards program, per se, but creating a free account online and providing your home address at the store will supply you with endless coupon offers. The best part? The store usually accepts coupons even after they’ve expired — though you probably won’t need to bother since you’ll likely have a new one waiting for you in your mailbox or inbox by your next purchase, anyway.

6. Starbucks

Pricey as their drinks may be, Starbucks does have a smashing (and free) rewards program. Starbucks Rewards members earn two “stars” for every $1 spent with your registered card to put towards future drinks. There are four ways to enroll in the program (online, through the mobile app, directly from a retailer or through a business affiliate), and you can earn also stars by entering star codes found inside specially marked packaged of Starbucks products as well. Starbucks fans can find more ways to save on their daily cup of coffee (or two) here.

Remember, you don’t want the lure of rewards to lead you to overspend. High levels of debt can affect your bank account and credit score. You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.

Note: It’s important to remember that prices for products and services frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms cited in this article may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with the company directly.

Image: oneinchpunch

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10 Ways to Save at Dunkin’ Donuts

Because the best kind of donut is a free donut.

When it comes to iconic coffee brands, few rival Dunkin’ Donuts.

Known for its familiar pink-and-orange logo, Dunkin’ Donuts was founded in 1950 in Quincy, Massachusetts, and has grown to be a global powerhouse with more than 11,300 restaurants worldwide. A visit to a DD has become a familiar — and necessary — habit for millions of people.

If you’re one of them, wouldn’t you like to know how to get more coffee and donuts for less? With National Donut Day on June 2, we’re sure you do.

Note: Some of the offers below won’t apply, as franchisees decide which promotions to run. Be sure to call your favorite location to confirm participation.

So, do you run on Dunkin’? If so, here’s how to save.

1. Join DD Perks

DD Perks is Dunkin’ Donuts’ loyalty program, and if you visit the restaurant regularly, you need this app because it offers more than a mobile loyalty card. You get a free beverage just for signing up. And you get a free beverage on your birthday. Every month brings surprise offers, which could mean discounts, bonus points or extra treats with a purchase.

For every 200 points you earn, you get a free beverage. You get five points for every dollar you spend on qualifying products, which includes pretty much everything you’d expect. That’s one free beverage for every $40 you spend.

2. Get the App

The app ties into DD Perks so you don’t need to remember a number or carry a card. More importantly, it allows you to order ahead and skip the line.

3. Do the Receipt Survey

At the bottom of your receipt is an prompt to fill out a survey with a code. Hop on the computer or your phone, fill out the survey and you’ll get a code for a free donut with the purchase of a medium or large drink.

The best kind of donut is a free donut!

4. Check for Student Discounts

One of the best money tips for college students is to show your student ID at every opportunity. Check with your local Dunkin’ Donuts to see if they offer discounts for students and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Your local Dunkin’ Donuts may also host a happy hour. If they do, here’s how it works: Between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., you can get coffee and teas at a big discount. These are regional offers, however, so call your local Dunkin’ Donuts to find out the details.

5. Buy Discounted Gift Cards

Visit your favorite gift card marketplaces to buy marked-down gift cards to Dunkin’. Despite the restaurant’s popularity, you can usually find gift cards at a significant discount online.

You can also buy discounted gift cards with a credit card, so stack those cash back rewards with the discounts for even more savings.

When you get the card, load it up onto the app for easy discounted Dunkin’ without having to juggle gift cards.

6. Use a Cash Back Credit Card

Hopefully you’ve budgeted for your Dunkin’ and, seeing as it’s something you’re already spending money on, may as well get something for it, right? A good rewards credit card can give you some sort of kickback, be it airline miles, hotel points or plain old cash back. Not sure which card to get? Check out this roundup of cash back cards great for shopping. Just make sure you don’t spend more than you can pay off each month. Otherwise, you’ll lose your rewards to interest. (Eyeing a new card? Be sure you’re able to qualify before applying. You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

7. Brew Your Own at Home

Dunkin’ sells bags of their coffee, so you can brew it at home.

If you have a Keurig coffeemaker, you can buy Dunkin’ Donuts coffee pods for less than a cup of coffee at the store. It’s just as easy to brew.

If you don’t have a Keurig, it’s a little bit more work, but it’s still cheaper. You get the flavor of Dunkin’ at a fraction of the price and skip a drive to your local store. Buying coffee at home is one of the ways I try to upgrade and save in my life. It’s not as easy to make homemade donuts, though.

8. Check Your Valpak or Coupon Mailers

Ours always include one from our local Dunkin’, but we live within five miles of a store. If you’re further away, your mailers may not include one.

If you threw out your mailer, go online and search for a printable coupon.

9. Remember National Doughnut Day

As we mentioned earlier, National Doughnut Day is the first Friday in June — this year, that falls on June 2 — and last year Dunkin’ Donuts gave customers a free classic donut with the purchase of any beverage.

10. Join AARP

If you’re an AARP member, you can get a free donut with a large or extra-large beverage when you show your card. The offer excludes croissant donuts, squares and fancies but includes everything else.

Looking for more brand hacks? You’re in luck — we have 19 ways to save at Target right here. Have a brand you’d like us to tackle? Let us know below in the comments. 

Image: ChristinLola

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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8 Stores With Loyalty Programs That Actually Save You Money

Loyalty programs can be a dime a dozen these days, so it’s worth it to know which ones really pay — and which ones just want you to spend more in their stores. OK, to be fair, they all want you to spend, but there’s a difference between racking up points that don’t ever give a return versus receiving a sweet freebie on your birthday. (For more ways to get perks, you can check out these rewards credit cards.)

Check out our roundup of eight we really like below, and let us know in the comments if we missed any of your favorites.

Bloomingdale’s Loyallist

How it Works: Earn points for every dollar spent online, in-store and at outlets.

What You Get: A $25 reward card every time you reach 5,000 points. Members can achieve Top of the List status by spending $3,500 on their Bloomingdale’s card in a calendar year. They’ll earn four points per dollar when shopping on their Bloomingdale’s card, free shipping with no minimum purchase and free unlimited gift wrap, among other perks.

Power Up: Members earn double points on shoes, cosmetics and fragrances.

Starbucks Rewards

How it Works: The green mermaid’s new program rewards two Stars for every dollar spent, which means more stars for the coffee and food you purchase. And your pennies count, too, toward partial stars. For example, if you spend $6.20 (not including tax, tips, alcohol or other exceptions), you will collect 12.40 Stars, not just 12.

What You Get: Earning 300 Stars grants you Gold status, which means a personalized card, mobile payment options and all the perks that come with Green status, such as free in-store refills on coffee and tea. Every time you earn 125 stars, you get a reward you can exchange for a drink or food.

Sweet Treat: Two days before your birthday, you’ll receive a complimentary birthday reward, which you can redeem for a free drink or food item. Just note it expires the day after your birthday.

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

How it Works: Members earn a point for every dollar spent on rentals and optional service charges, such as fuel and GPS tracking.

What You Get: Members can redeem points for a day, week or weekend car rental. AnyDay rewards have no blackout dates, while Standard Rewards “are available during all but the most busy travel periods,” per Hertz’s site.

Vroom, Vroom: All members get to bypass the wait times at the counter.

Sephora Beauty Insider 

How it Works: Every dollar spent earns a point toward more beauty goods.

What You Get: Basic members can receive free, two-day shipping on all orders for $10 a year, while VIB-level members (who’ve earned $350 worth of points) are entitled to a free makeover and seasonal savings. VIB Rouge members, who’ve earned $1,000 worth of points, get free two-day shipping at no extra cost, plus a free private hotline to call for beauty tips.

Looking Good: All members receive a free birthday gift — this month they’re offering a luxe mini set from Fresh or Marc Jacobs Beauty — and free beauty classes.

Regal Cinemas’ Crown Club

How it Works: Members earn 100 credits for every dollar spent on tickets and concessions.

What You Get: Free upgrades on snacks and movie swag, like an Angry Birds Movie plush toy.

Scene Stealer: Free movies!

DSW Rewards

How it Works: Earn 10 points for every dollar spent in store or online.

What You Get: Birthday offers, $10 rewards for every 1,500 points earned and bi-annual double points days. Members who earn 6,000 qualifying points by spending $600 in a calendar year can become a DSW Rewards Premier member, which means free next-day shipping on available items, more points per dollar and priority customer service.

Step Right Up: Free shipping is standard.

Petco’s Pals Rewards

How it Works: Earn $5 rewards for every $100 spent.

What You Get: Everyday discounts on products, plus coupons and offers.

Linked Up: Fill out your online profile, and you can receive coupons for a birthday treat for Fido.

Panera Bread’s MyPanera

How it Works: Scan the card each time you order — they simply take note of how often you eat here instead of giving you points.

What You Get: From time to time, you’ll be rewarded with free drinks or treats.

Chow Down: Members are rewarded as soon as they join.

Even though these reward programs may inspire you to spend more to get more perks, you shouldn’t do so at the detriment of your bank account. Going into debt because you’re trying to reach the next reward level simply isn’t worth it. If you have found yourself overspending, whether to get more points or for some other reason, consider these tips to on how to cut back without feeling deprived. If you’re working on paying off credit card debts, you can see how the changes you’re making are affecting your credit score, which you can see for free on Credit.com.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Geber86

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