Loyalty programmes seem like a great way to save shopping money, but you need to do your homework before you start counting on the rewards.
Pick the scheme that fits your lifestyle
While loyalty schemes are fairly easy and free to sign up to, that doesn’t mean you have to enroll into each one of them.
Mark Mortimer-Davies, CEO of Air Miles Middle East, says the ideal programme gives you a lot of chances to earn rewards and doesn’t force you to change your shopping habits.
“The best card for you is the one that gives you the freedom and fits in with your lifestyle so you don’t need to change your behavior too much,” he advises.
“Some loyalty programmes may be restricted to one mall or even brand, which massively reduces your freedom if you want to save quickly for your preferred reward. In the end, you have to feel like you are getting a valuable and relevant experience and that swiping the card is actually rewarding or your will lose interest very quickly,” he adds.
Preeti Bhambri, managing director and founder of MoneyCamel.com, says the decision to choose a card depends on the “rewards conversion rate”, aside from the range of avenues to spend the rewards. Bhambri reviewed some of the loyalty programmes in the market to check how much it costs to get a voucher worth Dh100.
She says the Shukran card seems to offer the highest rewards given that a customer only needs to spend Dh2,000 to get a Dh100 voucher. In comparison, Air Miles’ rewards conversion rate stands at .71 per cent, which means the same amount of voucher requires Dh14,000 worth of shopping spends.
However, Bhambri says that while Shukran looks generous, the Air Miles card offers a larger range of stores to claim rewards. “While Shukran has 25 odd stores to earn and redeem points from, Air Miles has a wider option for redemption with the mall vouchers,” she says.
Watch out for annual fees
Loyalty schemes generally don’t require any membership fees. However, watch out for fees when you sign up for a credit card that offers rewards. At one bank in the UAE, for example, credit card annual fees can range from Dh150 to Dh1,500.
Always read the fine print before you sign up to a loyalty scheme. Some points to bear in mind include how long you can keep the points/miles and vouchers for, the minimum amount of points or miles required for redemption, or what happens if your membership has been inactive for a while. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the rewards conversion rate may change anytime, or that your Dh1 won’t always give you one mile/point.