Over the weekend my wallet got wet and I had to empty it out to let everything dry. With the contents spread out on the table, I noticed that more than half of the items I was lugging around were cards for some kind of loyalty program: a few plastic store cards, countless (now soggy) paper punch cards and even two tiny ‘keychain’ size plastic tabs stuffed in a small pocket. A few of these are for places I shop at frequently – notably the grocery store cards and a punch card for my favorite soda & candy shop, Rocket Fizz – but most were for random places I don’t visit very often.
Having been granted this excellent opportunity for a little wallet spring-cleaning, I started choosing cards to throw away. That’s when it hit me – I didn’t want to throw any of them away! They all had some kind of value attached to them. Two punches toward a free sandwich. Only 8 more to go! Half-way to a free oil change. That’ll save me $35… next year. Yea!
The loyalty programs for some of the other cards are less clear but this just makes me want their points even more. One electronics store (which will remain nameless in this post) has some complicated scheme where if I spend enough money in a short period of time then log in to their webpage then choose the right coupon to ‘spend’ my points on then print the coupon then bring the printed coupon to the store I can save $10! (*WHEW*) This process drives me crazy but, for some reason, I’m always just a few points away from my coveted printout and I keep the card with me “just in case”.
I know some of these cards have become staples of everyday life. Who would pay “non-member” price at the grocery store?! But can I just give up on the others? Most of the punches and points I have collected were directly related to money I spent in these stores. Throwing them out would feel a little like de-valuing the purchase I made (even though I enjoyed that sandwich a long time ago). Others were the result of a promotion or prize, usually for registering an account or some other task. Throwing these ‘bonus’ points away makes the time spent signing up seem wasted. This may be why people who receive a little boost toward their first reward are much more likely (15% more likely, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research) to participate in a loyalty program than those who start with a blank slate.
After everything finished drying out and I began to re-pack my wallet, keeping my entire collection of loyalty cards. Maybe one day soon Mocapay can mobilize these paper and plastic cards so I can access my points on my phone. Then my wallet can be skinny and I can keep collecting rewards!