Coupons

Many drugstores and supermarkets have loyalty programs that can “pay” you to shop. Loyalty programs typically accrue points or dollar amounts toward future purchases at the same store. They’re designed to build repeat business with shoppers, giving you an incentive to return to the store to spend the reward you’ve earned.

Each store handles its loyalty rewards differently. One major pharmacy chain accrues 10 points for every dollar you spend in the store. When you reach 1,000 points, you can spend it in the store, as every 1,000 points equals $1 to spend.

At first glance, this is not a very enticing program — you have to spend $1,000 to earn $1? However, this store offers plenty of promotions to quickly increase your rewards. There are often “10X Points” coupons in the ad, where you earn 100 points for every dollar spent. There are bonus offers in the ad, too, where if you spend $20, you’ll get 5,000 points, and so on.

All of these points add up to free money for you to spend at that store on future trips.

Another large pharmacy chain also rewards you with cash-back coupons for 2 percent of each purchase you make in the store. Additional rewards can be earned.

Drugstores aren’t the only places to enjoy loyalty rewards, though. Many supermarkets and grocery stores also offer them. One supermarket in my area offers tiered rewards for a future shopping trip, such as “Spend $100, Get a $5 electronic coupon for your next trip.” These offers accrue automatically as long as I enter my phone number at checkout on each shopping trip.

Another supermarket I shop at offers a different kind of tiered rewards. For every $100 spent in-store, a reward point is loaded in the store’s app. There is a menu of free products you can “shop” with reward points for — everything from free eggs, cheese or milk, to higher-value offers that accrue when reward points are saved up. The same reward points also can be used at affiliated gas stations for .10 off each gallon of gas in a fill-up.

You might not always be raking in large discounts with these loyalty programs, but the fact remains any financial rewards you gain by shopping at a store offering loyalty savings are better than not having these programs at all. I typically don’t change the way I shop in order to accrue rewards — for instance, if another store has better prices on the items I would like to buy this week, I will shop on price versus going where the rewards are. However, if I’ve already decided to shop at a store with rewards, of course I will log in to them with my phone number at checkout or present my shopper’s card so I continue to rack those rewards up.

To find out if your store offers a loyalty program, look on its website or in its app. You typically will find signup or registration info there, and you’ll be on your way to saving even more money on the things you need for your household. Another plus: Most stores with loyalty programs also have electronic coupons you can load to your account in the same app or via the same website link. Once you’ve activated your account, you not only will be on your way to loyalty savings, but you also will be able to quickly and easily tap into additional coupon offers and tiered discount offers via the same login link. Then, at checkout, enter your phone number or scan your store’s loyalty card — whichever they require. Not only will all of your electronic coupons be applied to the items you’re buying, but you also will accrue your ongoing loyalty points or rewards that are based on the dollar amount spent on your total purchases for the trip.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.