Loyalty schemes yield higher rewards than savings accounts

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Z24 points out that collecting so-called supermarkt saving stamps can yield a considerably higher interest rate than even the best savings account at a bank.

Plus supermarket has an advantageous scheme where every two euro put in gets you three euro in return.

Saving stamps schemes work by letting consumers buy stamps for every euro of groceries bought. These need to be pasted onto a card, and once the card is full, it can be exchanged for cash. Plus’ generosity is easily explained, as they will let you only buy 2 cents’ worth of stamps for every euro you spend on groceries.

Albert Heijn has a scheme where you can get a 10 cent stamp for every euro you spend, and after 490 stamps you can exchanged your card for 52 euro. That is a 6% interest rate, paid out after only two or three months of shopping for a single person household.

Recent changes to Dutch tax law included a tax on property of about 1%. Interest on savings accounts these days (typically between 1 – 3%) is so low that it doesn’t even counter inflation. Z24 suggests that supermarket savings plans are therefore much better, because not only do they use higher interest rates, they also represent cash and therefore stay under the radar of the tax man. The argument is silly though, as property tax is only paid over property additional to the first 30,000 euro you own, whereas saving stamps will typically only account for a couple of hundred euro each year.

The Dutch are eager participants in loyalty programmes. Here are some of the things we participate in:

  • Spaarzegels (saving stamps), outlined above.
  • Spaarpunten (points), schemes like Airmiles, where you save for products you can get from a catalogue. In some schemes, having enough points will get you stuff for free, in others they will merely help reduce the price of a product, typically used by both supermarkets and brands.
  • Coupons, vouchers distributed in magazines or news papers, where you can get money off of specific products, usually for a very short period (like one or two weeks). Used by all kinds of stores.

The only scheme I ever participated in was one by a local supermarket chain called Groenewoud, where you got free points for every purchase, and after you had collected enough of them, they gave you a plant. Exactly my speed.

What loyalty programmes are popular where you are?

3 Comments »

  1. The Canadian Tire loyatly programme is so famous, it’s on Wikipedia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Tire_money

    Comment by Orangemaster — January 30, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

  2. In the UK, different supermarkets operate their own schemes, usually with electronic points going on a plastic card. The main one however spans lots of different retailers (Sainsburys, Specsavers, petrol stations and so on). So you can collect Nectar points in lots of places. It’s basically a penny in the pound. After saving mine for YEARS, I had enough to get a free DVD off the terrible terrible Nectar website. I reckon I spent about £40,000 to earn that DVD.

    But Sainsburys were nice. They’d give bonus points on promotions (100 here, 200 there), plus they sent me a birthday card with a voucher for free chocolates, knowing my birth date from my Nectar sign up.

    Which was nice.

    Comment by jon — January 30, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

  3. My local supermarket Tengelmann has “Treueherzen” which I’ve been refusing for all the five years I’ve been shopping there since this was supposed to be a limited offer. But they keep extending and extending and extending the deadline. And since it’s the old fashioned paper version of the saving stamp plan, I might have to reconsider…

    Then there are several shops and chains that have the so-called “Payback card”. The better reason for me not to participate in that is that I’m not interested in giving out my shopping profile to these shops so they can fill both my electronic and physical mail boxes with spam.

    The worst program though is “Rentepunten” from ING, formerly known as the Postbank! These “rentepunten” are not optional: you just get them, for ‘free’, or so the Post^H^H^H^HING claims. But, in order to actually *use* the points you’ve collected, you need to live in the Netherlands. The points can be used to buy several useless items from the Rentepuntenshop, but these items are only shipped within the NL and only to the address of the account holder.

    Comment by Eric — February 1, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

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