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Loyalty programmes: Are they worth it?

We take a look at some of the loyalty programmes in the UAE and what they have to offer

  • By Cleofe Maceda, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 12:52 January 28, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit:
  • BUS_130124_Loyalty Cards Najm Loyalty Card Photo Clint Egbert/Gulf News
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It used to be that when you paid your groceries at the checkout counter you only had to use either cash or plastic money. When you go shopping today, your sales clerk will likely ask if you have a loyalty or club card.

There’s a dearth of retailers and service companies offering loyalty schemes, promising customers huge savings on purchases, from shoes and clothes to air tickets and food to electronic items.

 

By using a loyalty programme, you can use [the points or miles earned] to pay for things you would normally lay out cash for.”

Mark Mortimer-Davies | 
CEO of Air Miles 
Middle East

Loyalty programmes allow loyal customers to earn points or air miles for every dirham spent. The accumulated earnings can then be used to claim freebies, or buy meals at Carluccio’s, clothes at New Look, groceries at Spinney’s and flights from Emirates Airlines.

There are no local figures to show the uptake of reward schemes in the UAE, but in the US, Americans collect about $48 billion in rewards points and miles every year, according to the results of a study by Swift Exchange and Colloquy. The biggest provider of rewards is the financial services sector, at $18 billion a year, followed by the travel and hospitality sector at $17 billion annually and the retail industry at $12 billion.

As of the 2011 report, the number of loyalty memberships in the US exceeded 2 billion, up 16 per cent from the nearly 1.8 billion memberships recorded in 2008.

According to Mark Mortimer-Davies, CEO of Air Miles Middle East, part of coalition loyalty provider Aimia, the “global loyalty market is predicted to be worth over $100 billion by 2015, and their business in the region “expects to grow five-fold by 2017.”

But the question in many consumers’ minds is whether or not these loyalty programmes really help them save money. Some are, however, largely indifferent towards the programmes, saying that they’re only designed to encourage consumer spending.

“It is basically making your money go further. By using a loyalty programme, you can eventually use [the points or miles earned] to pay for things you would normally lay out cash for,” Davies points out.

Here are a few examples of loyalty programmes in the UAE:

Air Miles

When do I earn points/miles?
Members can collect miles when shopping either in-store or online at over 130 partners or 1,500 outlets across the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.

How many points/miles will I get for every dirham spent?
The amount of air miles per spend varies. A member may get one or five miles for every Dh1, or one mile for Dh2, depending on the participating brand or merchant.

However, those who use their HSBC credit card with their Air Miles card, get twice the miles. For example, if you spend Dh100 at Spinney’s with your HSBC Platinum credit card and swipe your Air Miles card at the same time, you collect 100 air miles from HSBC and another 100 air miles from Spinney’s.*

What form of rewards will I get?
Miles earned can be used to claim shopping/gift vouchers, electronic items, free hotel accommodation, air tickets, food and beverage, spa treatment and entertainment rewards.

How many points/miles are needed to get a reward?
In the UAE, rewards start from 14,000 Air miles which can be redeemed for a Dh100 shopping voucher at partners, such as Spinney’s, Sharaf DG and Pan Emirates Home Furnishing. Flight redemptions start from 30,000 air miles.

Put in perspective, your Dh14,000 shopping money (or less if you use your HSBC credit card or shop at outlets that offer more air miles per dirham of spending) will get you a Dh100 worth of reward.**

How long can I keep my points/miles before it expires?
Not more than three years under the new policy. Air Miles has recently introduced a three-year expiry policy and a fifteen-month inactive account closure policy. “Anyone holding Air Miles three years or older would encounter their first expiry date on March 31, 2013. After this first expiry date, three-year-old Air Miles will expire every March 31st. Those members whose Air Miles will be expiring [this March] should bear in mind that, where it’s important to spend their [miles] before [expiry], they have a grace period of at least one year to redeem rewards,” explains Davies.

How do I get to become a member? Is it free?
It’s free to join and you can become a member automatically when you take out an HSBC credit card. You can also get an instant temporary card at partner outlets, through www.airmilesme.com, or by calling the customer service centre on +971 4 391 3400.

Shukran card

When do I earn points/miles?
You will collect points when spending at more than 45 retail and hospitality brands across the GCC and Jordan.

How many points/miles will I get for every dirham spent?
This varies depending on the brand, amount and period of purchase. For example, you will get one point for every Dh10 spent at Splash in UAE during a sale, or ten points for the same amount during a non-sale period. At Carluccio’s your Dh10 will get you ten points.*

What form of rewards will I get?
You will get shopping money in the form of “rewards certificate” which can be used across any of the participating brand outlets, including Splash, Shoe Mart, Lifestyle, Home Centre, Emax, New Look, Koton, Ecco, Citymax Hotels, Carluccio’s and Mango Tree, among others.

How many points/miles are needed to get a reward?
A member needs to collect at least 500 points within a quarter to be able to earn a rewards certificate worth Dh25. That means your Dh500 bill at a restaurant could earn you Dh25 worth of reward.**

How long can I keep my points/miles before it expires?
Not more than 24 months.

How do I get to become a member? Is it free?
You can fill out a form which is available at any participating outlet or register at www.shukranrewards.com. Membership is free and valid for life.

Emirates NBD Plus Points

When do I earn points/miles?
You can earn Plus Points when you use your Emirates NBD credit card anywhere in the world for all your retail spends.

How many points/miles will I get for every dirham spent?
Depending on your credit card, you can earn one to 2.5 Plus Points for every Dh100 spent. Infinite and Platinum card holders will get two points, Titanium card holders will earn 1.25, while Silver and DIC cards will get one point for every Dh100 spent. Go4it credit cardholders earn five times rewards on weekends, or 2.5 per cent of the money spent.

What form of rewards will I get?
Plus Points can get you some vouchers across categories from shopping, entertainment, dining, travel, among others, or you can choose to redeem some cash back or frequent flyer miles.

How many points/miles are needed to get a reward?
Redemption conditions may vary, but generally, 100 points will entitle a customer a Dh100 voucher. For Platinum cardholders, that means their Dh5,000 retail spend will earn them Dh100 worth of reward. For cash back, one point (or Dh100 spend for Silver card holders) will be equal to Dh1 in value, however, a minimum 500 points is required to redeem some cash back.

How long can I keep my points/miles before it expires?
Points will last forever and never expire, as long as the credit card is active. However, the expiry for frequent flyer miles earned will follow the rules set by the partner airline, for example in the case of Skywards it would be Emirates.

How do I get to become a member? Is it free?
Card members are automatically enrolled into the loyalty programme. The membership is free.

Mashreq Salaam Rewards

When do I earn points/miles?
Customers earn “spend” points when they use their Mashreq credit/debit cards. Those who avail themselves of a new loan and investment products or hold current accounts, savings, fixed deposits, insurance, MashreqMillionaire certificates and overdrafts also get to earn “relationship” points.

How many points/miles will I get for every dirham spent?
Mashreq Platinum Elite credit cardholders earn four points for every Dh1 spent in UAE and five points for every Dh1 spent abroad. Gold or Classic credit cardholders earn two points per Dh1 spent in UAE and three points for every Dh1 spent internationally. Relationship points will depend on the balance maintained or amount of money borrowed. If you have Dh100,000 in your current account, for example, you can earn 1,750 points, while a Dh100,000 personal loan may reward you 30,300 points.**

What form of rewards will I get?
You can use the points to bring home electronics, jewellery, groceries, furniture and fashion, among others. They can also help you get air tickets or dine in at restaurants. Points can be used instantly to redeem rewards.

How many points/miles are needed to get a reward?
Approximately 15,000 points will be equivalent to Dh50. That’s spending Dh3,750 to earn Dh50 worth of rewards.

“So, a Mashreq Platinum Elite credit card customer who spends approximately Dh6,000 a month [for one year] would earn enough points (288,000 points equivalent to Dh950) to get him a Blackberry or LCD TV, an iPod or a suitable gift for his family. The points add up even faster if he uses the card internationally,” says Ambar Brahmachary, head of marketing and customer experience at Mashreq.

How long can I keep my points/miles before it expires?
Points are valid for three years from the date of earning or transaction posting.

How do I get to become a member? Is it free?
No membership is required. Customers who use their Mashreq Platinum Elite, Gold and Classic credit cards are eligible to earn spend points and every customer that holds an eligible retail banking solution can earn relationship points.

*Information posted on company website as of January 21 and may change anytime.

** For illustration purposes only and should not be relied on as a definite statement.

Here are a few examples of loyalty programmes in the UAE:

Mashreq Salaam Rewards

When do I earn points/miles?
Customers earn “spend” points when they use their Mashreq credit/debit cards. Those who avail themselves of a new loan and investment products or hold current accounts, savings, fixed deposits, insurance, MashreqMillionaire certificates and overdrafts also get to earn “relationship” points.

How many points/miles will I get for every dirham spent?
Mashreq Platinum Elite credit cardholders earn four points for every Dh1 spent in UAE and five points for every Dh1 spent abroad. Gold or Classic credit cardholders earn two points per Dh1 spent in UAE and three points for every Dh1 spent internationally. Relationship points will depend on the balance maintained or amount of money borrowed. If you have Dh100,000 in your current account, for example, you can earn 1,750 points, while a Dh100,000 personal loan may reward you 30,300 points.**

What form of rewards will I get?
You can use the points to bring home electronics, jewellery, groceries, furniture and fashion, among others. They can also help you get air tickets or dine in at restaurants. Points can be used instantly to redeem rewards.

How many points/miles are needed to get a reward?
Approximately 15,000 points will be equivalent to Dh50. That’s spending Dh3,750 to earn Dh50 worth of rewards. 
“So, a Mashreq Platinum Elite credit card customer who spends approximately Dh6,000 a month [for one year] would earn enough points (288,000 points equivalent to Dh950) to get him a Blackberry or LCD TV, an iPod or a suitable gift for his family. The points add up even faster if he uses the card internationally,” says Ambar Brahmachary, head of marketing and customer experience at Mashreq.

How long can I keep my points/miles before it expires?
Points are valid for three years from the date of earning or transaction posting.

How do I get to become a member? Is it free?
No membership is required. Customers who use their Mashreq Platinum Elite, Gold and Classic credit cards are eligible to earn spend points and every customer that holds an eligible retail banking solution can earn relationship points.

*Information posted on company website as of January 21 and may change anytime.

** For illustration purposes only and should not be relied on as a definite statement.

Emirates NBD Plus Points

When do I earn points/miles?
You can earn Plus Points when you use your Emirates NBD credit card anywhere in the world for all your retail spends.

How many points/miles will I get for every dirham spent?
Depending on your credit card, you can earn one to 2.5 Plus Points for every Dh100 spent. Infinite and Platinum card holders will get two points, Titanium card holders will earn 1.25, while Silver and DIC cards will get one point for every Dh100 spent. Go4it credit cardholders earn five times rewards on weekends, or 2.5 per cent of the money spent.

What form of rewards will I get?
Plus Points can get you some vouchers across categories from shopping, entertainment, dining, travel, among others, or you can choose to redeem some cash back or frequent flyer miles.

How many points/miles are needed to get a reward?
Redemption conditions may vary, but generally, 100 points will entitle a customer a Dh100 voucher. For Platinum cardholders, that means their Dh5,000 retail spend will earn them Dh100 worth of reward. For cash back, one point (or Dh100 spend for Silver card holders) will be equal to Dh1 in value, however, a minimum 500 points is required to redeem some cash back.

How long can I keep my points/miles before it expires?
Points will last forever and never expire, as long as the credit card is active. However, the expiry for frequent flyer miles earned will follow the rules set by the partner airline, for example in the case of Skywards it would be Emirates.

How do I get to become a member? Is it free?
Card members are automatically enrolled into the loyalty programme. The membership is free.

Shukran card

When do I earn points/miles?
You will collect points when spending at more than 45 retail and hospitality brands across the GCC and Jordan.

How many points/miles will I get for every dirham spent?
This varies depending on the brand, amount and period of purchase. For example, you will get one point for every Dh10 spent at Splash in UAE during a sale, or ten points for the same amount during a non-sale period. At Carluccio’s your Dh10 will get you ten points.*

What form of rewards will I get?
You will get shopping money in the form of “rewards certificate” which can be used across any of the participating brand outlets, including Splash, Shoe Mart, Lifestyle, Home Centre, Emax, New Look, Koton, Ecco, Citymax Hotels, Carluccio’s and Mango Tree, among others.

How many points/miles are needed to get a reward?
A member needs to collect at least 500 points within a quarter to be able to earn a rewards certificate worth Dh25. That means your Dh500 bill at a restaurant could earn you Dh25 worth of reward.**

How long can I keep my points/miles before it expires?
Not more than 24 months.

How do I get to become a member? Is it free?
You can fill out a form which is available at any participating outlet or register at www.shukranrewards.com. Membership is free and valid for life.

Air Miles

When do I earn points/miles?
Members can collect miles when shopping either in-store or online at over 130 partners or 1,500 outlets across the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.

How many points/miles will I get for every dirham spent?
The amount of air miles per spend varies. A member may get one or five miles for every Dh1, or one mile for Dh2, depending on the participating brand or merchant.
However, those who use their HSBC credit card with their Air Miles card, get twice the miles. For example, if you spend Dh100 at Spinney’s with your HSBC Platinum credit card and swipe your Air Miles card at the same time, you collect 100 air miles from HSBC and another 100 air miles from Spinney’s.*

What form of rewards will I get?
Miles earned can be used to claim shopping/gift vouchers, electronic items, free hotel accommodation, air tickets, food and beverage, spa treatment and entertainment rewards.

How many points/miles are needed to get a reward?
In the UAE, rewards start from 14,000 Air miles which can be redeemed for a Dh100 shopping voucher at partners, such as Spinney’s, Sharaf DG and Pan Emirates Home Furnishing. Flight redemptions start from 30,000 air miles.
Put in perspective, your Dh14,000 shopping money (or less if you use your HSBC credit card or shop at outlets that offer more air miles per dirham of spending) will get you a Dh100 worth of reward.**

How long can I keep my points/miles before it expires?
Not more than three years under the new policy. Air Miles has recently introduced a three-year expiry policy and a fifteen-month inactive account closure policy. “Anyone holding Air Miles three years or older would encounter their first expiry date on March 31, 2013. After this first expiry date, three-year-old Air Miles will expire every March 31st. Those members whose Air Miles will be expiring [this March] should bear in mind that, where it’s important to spend their [miles] before [expiry], they have a grace period of at least one year to redeem rewards,” explains Davies.

How do I get to become a member? Is it free?
It’s free to join and you can become a member automatically when you take out an HSBC credit card. You can also get an instant temporary card at partner outlets, through www.airmilesme.com, or by calling the customer service centre on +971 4 391 3400.

$100b

global loyalty market is predicted to be worth by 2015.

$48b

Americans collect in rewards points and miles every year.

The number of loyalty memberships in the US exceeded 2 billion, a 2011 study says.

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