ShopSmart Uncovers the Best Perks of Retailer Loyalty Programs

Shoppers can earn great benefits and rewards for their holiday shopping and everyday purchases; Plus, three free awesome rewards apps

YONKERS, N.Y., Oct. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- There are many good reason why shoppers should take advantage of rewards and loyalty programs by the retailers they frequent the most. The November 2013 issue of ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, takes a close look at these programs from nine national retailers', including Best Buy Reward Zone, Amazon Rewards, Target REDcard, and Macy's Star Rewards, and highlights their best perks and benefits — plus the fine print shoppers need to know before signing up.

"Loyalty cards can be a win-win for shoppers and retailers, especially around the holidays," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "But signing up for these programs gives companies lots of access to your data so be sure to read the fine print and check each store's privacy policy before signing up."

The Perks of Being Loyal

There are many types of reward- and loyalty programs — some that are free to join and others that require shoppers to sign up for a credit or debit card. ShopSmart advises against leaving a balance on credit cards linked to loyalty programs if possible, as high interest rates are also an incentive for retailers to recruit members. Programs that require shoppers to sign up for a credit card are noted with an asterisk.

  • Amazon Rewards Visa card*. This card can deliver big rewards in the form of cash back, gift cards and travel for frequent Amazon shoppers. Best Perk: A $50 gift card just for signing up. How It Works: Three points for every dollar charged at Amazon.com, including downloads, gift cards and subscriptions. One hundred points equals $1 to spend at Amazon.
  • Best Buy Reward Zone. The perks of this program are a big incentive to join, especially for those who make big purchases here. Best Buy's new price-match guarantee includes online retailers such as Amazon.com and members receive exclusive offers, promotions, and access to special events. Best Perk: Free product setup helpline for Premier Silver members of the program. How It Works: One dollar spent in stores or online equals one point. Join the free Reward Zone Gamers Club to score two points per dollar for gaming purchases and trade-ins.
  • Macy's Star Rewards*. Shoppers get 15 percent off purchases made in their first two days after enrolling, plus choose-your-own sale days and returns for up to two years without a receipt. Best Perk: Exclusive store coupons. How It Works: All Macy's cardholders automatically receive coupons in the mail.
  • Target REDcard*. This debit card gives shoppers all the perks and none of the interest payments that come with credit options. In addition to 5 percent discounts on just about everything, shoppers get free shipping on online purchases and 30 extra days for returns. Best Perk: Five percent off in-store and online purchases. How It Works: Shop and pay with the card.

Three Awesome (and free) Rewards Apps

  • BELLY: Forget punch cards and stamps: shoppers can scan their phones at the register to keep track of their loyalty activity and earn rewards. Works on: Android, Apple.
  • FRONT FLIP: Unlock rewards and win instant prizes by scanning QR codes at participating retailers, restaurants and online. Works on: Android, Apple.
  • KEY RING REWARDS CARDS: Allows users to scan loyalty cards, join new programs, and receive exclusive discounts right from the app. Works on: Android, Apple.

For more information about the benefits of the ShopSmart recommended loyalty rewards programs, check out the November 2013 issue of ShopSmart on newsstands now and online at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/storerewards1013

About Consumer Reports:
Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of  products and services  annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

About ShopSmart magazine:
Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication's celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and "best of the best" lists. It's ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at www.ShopSmartmag.org.

ShopSmart is available 10 times a year. Subscribe at www.ShopSmart.org.

SOURCE ShopSmart



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