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Membership Cards: Are They Worth It?


Membership Cards

We all have specific stores that we shop at often. Whether it’s out of
habit, because we enjoy chatting with the staff, or the products are
amazing to us, we all have certain loyalties. I can’t stop going to the
grocery store on the corner even though I know that there are better
grocery stores around us. I can’t stop drinking Tim Horton’s coffee even
though I realize that it’s not that strong or special to be honest. We are
all loyal to a store.

I wanted to look at membership cards/store cards. These are essentially
loyalty cards to a specific store or a chain of stores. I wanted to
discuss store loyalty and loyalty cards that are used to bring us back.

What are a few things to consider about loyalty cards?

How often do you shop at the store?

Is this a store you visit daily or annually? How often do you find
yourself in the store at this point? These are just a few of the questions
that you should consider when it comes to deciding if you should get some
sort of a loyalty card with the store.

I ended up getting a Walmart specific credit card because I shop there
often and wanted to enjoy the cash back feature. I got myself a Tim
Horton’s store card because I drink a cup of coffee every single morning
and I don’t always have change. Instead of stressing out over change every
morning, I can swipe a pre-loaded store specific card. Sounds like a good
deal to me.

The frequency at which you visit the store should directly tie into your
decision here. If you’re going to frequently shop at a specific place
regardless, you might as well earn some points or take advantage of the
random rewards that come with a loyalty card.

What are the benefits?

What are the benefits of becoming a loyal customer? Will you get a
discount for using this store membership card? Are there any benefits to
the loyalty card? Some places will offer you a percentage discount, a free
gift, or some sort of a benefit to sign up. There are many different ways
to entice customers to become more loyal. It’s just a matter of finding
benefits that are relevant to you.

If you do sign up for the loyalty card, you need to find some sort of a
benefit that makes it worth it. Why should this store obtain your

Will consumption increase?

Perhaps the store card is a sneaky tool to get you to shop more
frequently. If you think about it, there’s no other reason as to why a
store would offer you a discount or some sort of incentive just to shop
with them. They want your business. They want you as a long-term customer.
To get you as a customer they’re willing to offer you some free gift or
perhaps a bit of a discount just to get you in the door. Once you’re in
the door they know that they have you.

Whether the program is a prepaid card or treated as a store credit card,
you need to understand why you’re signing up for one. Do you plan on
taking advantage of rewards? Will this loyalty program influence where you
shop? It’s cool to get a discount at a place you already shop it. It
totally sucks to get conned into shopping at a store you don’t care for
just because you feel like you have to since you have a loyalty card.

What do you guys think about membership cards? Did you every regret
signing up for one afterwards? Did you ever take advantage of a customer
loyalty program offered to you?

This was a guest post from Martin of Studenomics, a fun blog aimed at
helping you figure out what to do after college and how to find
the best student credit card
. If you want to invest your hard earned
money you can learn about screening tenants to protect your rental property.

(photo credit: Andy on flickr)


AUTHOR Derek Sall

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially--one email, one article, one person at a time.


  1. No they are not worth it. I have 1 credit card that gives cash back. No need for the airplane card, amazon card, macy’s card, the toilet bowl card, the gum chewing card… However, to get a quick discount… I have been known to open a card and close it once I get it.

    • How about all the restaurant cards like Panera and stuff? You often get free stuff, but they sure are a nuisance……

  2. I have a loyalty card at my favorite grocery store but once the other stores started seeing the possibilities, they all came out with cards. Now I can shop at any store because I have a ‘loyalty’ card for each one! lol

    • I consider them a nuisance, but feel like I’m forced to use them, otherwise I’m losing money…

  3. I dislike the membership/ loyalty cards in general. I especially hate ones where a product is more expensive if you don’t have a card, like at Albertsons. I think that is in horrible taste and unfair to customers. I avoid stores that use this type of program.

    I do have the more expensive membership at Costco though. With the extra cash back every year my Costco membership ends up being free. And I just love Costco, which probably goes against everything I said above.

    • Haha! Yes, you just did contradict yourself, but I understand what you’re saying. I have a membership card to one of our local grocery stores because without it, we end up paying WAYYY too much. But, it’s just too convenient to avoid.

  4. I resisted Costco for years, until they started their gas station. Gas is generally below market prices and I receive a 3% rebate. I earn enough to pay for the membership each year. I selectively buy only the things that are cheaper there vs. a regular store such as Target. It is definitely buyer beware and you need to know your prices.

    • Sounds like you’re a savvy shopper too! What is it that you’re not good at krantcents? Anything?

  5. I’m not a fan of discount cards. Mostly, because I’m not loyal enough or shop enough at one place. I do use some store credit cards, often to take advantage of 0% interest periods. But, very infrequently.

    • I’ll take advantage once in a while if there’s a 5% discount for having the card – but I still don’t like it since I feel like I’m being forced into getting the card…

  6. I don’t think they are worth it. I also only use one primary credit card for my spending and just collect cash back back on it. However, if I am making a large purchase in one store and get a 10% off for first time use, I will consider it. The example that comes to mind is a home reno and say if I get 10% off at Home Depot for using the card for the first time. I haven’t had to come across this yet though. Will decide when I come to that cross road.

    • Yeah, that’s how I ended up with a Macy’s card. They offered 20% off the first time purchase. I cancelled it later that week, but I’m sure that it didn’t help my credit.

  7. If store loyalty cards are free, there is no harm in getting them. The important thing to keep in mind, is that just because you can save money on certain items doesn’t mean you have to. If the item is something you normally wouldn’t buy or something you only “sort of” want don’t buy it. Just because you can get a good deal doesn’t mean you need the item. More precaution should be taken when signing up for store credit cards. Often times the apr for store credit cards are high and there are sometimes hidden fees associated with them. For instance, I once had a store credit card that charged me $10 a month if I didn’t spend $25 or more on it monthly. If your spending habits are working for you, don’t change them to be loyal to a store, but if a loyalty card will enhance your savings then go for it!

    • Yeah, if they charge you a few to have the store card, then there’s no way I would get it! That’s crazy!

  8. Don’t have a loyalty card and never did (I’m almost 55) We shop only at Meijer and Aldi. We have one checking acct and only one credit card which we pay off every month. It’s a Harley card and we earn chrome cash to use on any Harley parts or clothes. So they pay us to use the card! I did just see a story on the TV about closing cards and how it hurts your credit score. At this point in life we don’t care about our score because we have no debt including our mortgage. When we bought our last bike new, we tried to use our credit card only because we wanted to earn the chrome cash. The dealer would only let us put $5,000 on the card and the rest we paid in cash. We told him he better give us an outstanding price since we were loosing the chrome cash…he did.

    • Hahaha! I love it! Great job being completely debt free – I always love hearing stories like this! I never heard of the Harley credit card (or the chrome points), but it sounds like you know exactly what you’re doing. Congrats, and please comment again soon!

  9. I find that these cards are really not worth having. They are just trying to get you to shop more at their store. If you are already a regular shopper then these loyalty type rewards cards can definitely be a good thing.

    • Yep. I feel the same way Ryan. Most of the time, it’s just not worth it.

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