Finance Loyalty cards: Are they worth the time and effort?

Loyalty cards: Are they worth the time and effort?

Loyalty cards
Coles has expanded its Flybuys program to include Bunnings and Officeworks. But is it worth it? Photo: TND/Getty
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Coles is expanding its loyalty card network, allowing Flybuys card holders to collect points from Bunnings and Officeworks from December.

But are the extra seconds spent scanning your card at the checkout worth it?

Finder credit card expert Amy Bradney-George said it “doesn’t really hurt” to sign up for a rewards card.

“It’s free to sign up to, and you’re going to be shopping there anyway,” she said.

But Ms Bradney-George suggested working out your specific reward goals and whether earning them was worth your time before signing up for a card.

More specifically, she recommended converting your retail rewards points into frequent flyer points, as they “almost always” give you more bang for your buck.

Frequent flyer tip

Customers can get $10 off a purchase at both retailers after accumulating 2000 points.

But the same amount of points from Woolworths can earn you 1000 Qantas frequent flyer points, and the same amount of Flybuys points can earn you 1000 Virgin Velocity Points.

Qantas offers some flights from 8000 frequent flyer points, and Virgin offers some one-way flights from 2500 frequent flyer points.

Ms Bradney-George said you should also ask yourself if taking part in a loyalty program will take up a lot of your time.

Generally, it doesn’t take long to scan your loyalty card when paying for your shopping, especially if you have the card stored on your phone, she said.

“It really does come down to what you would use [your loyalty card] for and how much time is involved,” she said.

“And I think that’s something that everyone has to think about for themselves.”

What do retailers get out of the deal?

Loyalty cards are free and offer rewards so that retailers can collect data on your shopping habits.

They can then target you with special deals and promotions based on your individual shopping preferences, in the hope that this will keep you coming to the store and encourage you to spend more.

A 2018 Mastercard report, which surveyed 7000 members of loyalty programs across the Asia-Pacific, found that 22 per cent of Australian consumers believe these programs have “lots of influence” on their shopping behaviour.

Ms Bradney-George said retailers should disclose the type of data they collect – and how they use it – in the loyalty card’s terms and conditions.

But she said this shouldn’t cause customers too much concern.

“If you have a mobile phone, if you use social media, you’re sharing your data with a lot of companies already in a similar way,” she said.

“If you’re already shopping at a store that offers a loyalty program, and you’re comfortable with sharing your shopping data with that company, then … it can be a real benefit.”