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Rewards Programs: Are They Worth It?

May 16, 2016

Businesses offer rewards programs as a way to thank loyal customers and encourage them to continue shopping at their business. With a little bit of knowledge, you can use rewards programs to save money in the long run. What types of rewards programs exist, and how can you take advantage of them? Below, are five examples for savvy shoppers.

Types of Rewards Programs

  1. Debit Card Rewards. Many financial institutions offer cash back or other perks for everyday debit card purchases. Starting now, interested PFCU members can sign up for Kasasa Cash Back or Kasasa Tunes accounts. With Kasasa Cash Back, PFCU members can enjoy 2% APY* cash back on every debit card purchase with no monthly service fees and refunds on ATM fees, nationwide*. For music and movie lovers, Kasasa Tunes offers PFCU members the option to earn $10 per month in iTunes®, Amazon® or Google Play™.

    Learn more about PFCU Kasasa Cash Back Checking & Kasasa Tunes Checking

  2. Retail and Grocery Stores. Most local supermarkets, retail stores or pharmacies have programs that offer cash back or coupons based on shopping frequency. The next time your cashier recommends signing up, consider whether or not you shop often enough to reap the actual benefits. If you're a weekly or even bi-weekly shopper, you could potentially be leaving money on the table by not signing up.

  3. Flights and Hotels. Frequent travelers, whether for business, leisure or otherwise, can take advantage of rewards offered by several hotel chains and airlines. A common model among these services is point accumulation for every dollar spent. After accruing enough points, users can be eligible for free rooms, flights, upgrades or other small gifts the next time they check-in.

  4. Restaurants. Going out to eat is always more expensive than choosing to cook and eat at home. However, for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions, eating out is an appropriate way to commemorate achievements, life events or simply have fun and unwind. There are ways to earn rewards for every time you reserve a table at your favorite restaurant. Many services such as OpenTable offer discounts or gift cards for frequent diners who check-in or make reservations through their website or mobile app.

  5. Gas Stations. Most gas stations offer credit cards that can help you save a percentage of cash every time you fill up your tank. In order to take full advantage of the savings, you'll need to carry a balance of zero to avoid interest charges. Today, mobile banking options make paying bills much more convenient. To avoid being hit with an interest charge, use mobile bill pay to easily settle debts every time you refuel.

You'll notice a few key words in nearly every example listed: frequent and often. Rewards programs are best leveraged by those who are frequent patrons to a business and are simply collecting rewards on top of normal spending. An example of frequent use is debit cards – according to CreditCards.com, consumers charge more than 21 purchases as debit on average every month. Just remember to take advantage of products and services you plan to buy anyway, and avoid being persuaded to purchase something because it sounds like a good deal.

For more information on the benefits of rewards programs or to learn how to sign up for Kasasa Cash Back Checking or Kasasa Tunes Checking, please visit our Checking Accounts page or get in touch with a member services representative at 215-934-3500.

Happy Saving!

Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor
Philadelphia Federal Credit Union

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