What to know about store loyalty cards

CHARLOTTE — Loyalty cards issued by supermarkets and other stores can be a great way to save money. You may already have some on your keychain or in your wallet.

Experian says loyalty programs can include:

- Free gifts and early access to products.

- Free shipping.

- Cash back.

- Exclusive deals.

- Special offers on your birthday.

- Points to use on other deals.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke hears a lot of positive reviews from shoppers who earn rewards towards gas.

“Those are the ones that are really beneficial … (the) ones to really look out for,” said Kyle James, founder of the blog, Rather-Be-Shopping.

Usually, there’s no catch with these types of programs, but Action 9 suggests keeping these three things in mind:

1. The store you have a loyalty card with may not have the best deal. It may still be less expensive to shop for certain items somewhere else.

2. Read the fine print carefully so you know what the rules are.

3. Protect your privacy. You usually have to give your contact information to get the card. Some businesses sell that information, which may result in more robocalls, robotexts and junk mail. Even stores that don’t sell your data may still be able to monitor your shopping habits more than you want.

“You have to be kind of careful with them because … at the end of the day, they’re kind of a ploy to hopefully get you to spend a little bit more in the store,” James said. “As long as you are aware of that and you take advantage of the benefits, they are great.”

Groupon’s 18 favorite loyalty programs:

- Bed Bath & Beyond

- Bath & Body Works

- Best Buy

- CVS

- Dick’s Sporting Goods

- Home Depot

- JCPenney

- Kohl’s

- Macy’s

- Nordstrom

- Office Depot

- Old Navy

- Petco

- Sephora

- Target

- Ulta

- Walgreens

- Walmart

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