Here at Spending Hacker we are not big fans of loyalty programs.

It seems that the ABC’s outstanding consumer affairs show The Checkout aren’t fans of them either…

We don’t like collecting points/stamps/coupons/whatever as we believe that the only ones who benefit from that are the retailers. No thanks, we would rather get paid instead.

However, one of our valued readers was able to prove us wrong and showed us that with the right system in place, supermarket loyalty programs can indeed be lucrative and generate decent savings.

Instead of us rambling about it, we thought it would be best if we went straight to the source and let Pat tell you about this herself.

Over to you Pat Mc:

Saving money on groceries can be a challenge at times but I believe it’s worthwhile spending a small amount of time trying to get the best deal out of the major supermarkets.

I do this using a variety of spending strategies.  One of these strategies is attempting to make the most out of supermarket loyalty programs and their targeted offer promotions.

A previous article on Spending Hackers mentioned that “loyalty is dead”.  The key with making the most money out of supermarket loyalty programs is making them think you are a disloyal customer rather than a loyal customer. You’ll get better offers this way!

I’ve seen member after member of both Flybuys and Everyday Rewards claiming that the targets for their offers are too high.  They don’t understand why they get an offer of $10 off for $100 spend and other members only have to spend $50 to get the same $10 off benefit.  Members often complain that the targets are set well above their usual spending amount.

There are ways to get loyalty programs to send you offers which are in reach of the targets you want.  It takes some time, effort and organisation but I have found it to be very rewarding.

The key to getting good targeted offers most of the time is to have a separate membership for every adult member of a household and be a member of both Flybuys and Everyday Rewards. I’ve been using this strategy for a couple of years and usually manage to save between 10% and 20% off each bulk shopping trip using loyalty bonuses.

I spend $150 on average per week on groceries from Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and IGA.  I only buy a few items at Aldi and IGA. I split the rest between Coles and Woolworths and the transaction amounts depend on a combination of who has sent the best targeted offer and who has the best specials for the week.

Flybuys and Everyday Rewards don’t really increase the rewards offered based on the amount you spend, as you can see from the example above. In order to get good rewards and make the most out of supermarket loyalty programs, you need to make your transactions as low as possible to get the highest percentage reward.

I always do my bulk shopping between Thursday and Sunday as this is when both Flybuys and Everyday Rewards send out their best targeted offers and look for every opportunity to combine multiple targeted offers in one transaction. Recently I took up 10 individual offers at Coles using a combination of email offers, docket deals, coupons and a general Coles/Flybuys offer (Pat is a true Spending Hacker. we love it!)

As mentioned above, my average weekly grocery spend is $150 but my offer targets are always much lower than this.  My Everyday Rewards offers range from $30-$80 and my Flybuys offers range from $50-$80.  I use two email addresses, one for me and one for my partner’s accounts.  I make sure that I write which card to use on all my shopping lists as well as what offers I am taking up on each shopping trip.

In addition to making the best use of the targeted offers from the supermarket loyalty programs, I also use several other saving strategies:

  • I stock up on 50% off specials;
  • I keep track of the prices of my regular products; and
  • I buy many generic items.

I also pay with gift cards purchased at a 5% discount.  There are many ways to get these discounted gift cards so I won’t go into the details here. (editor note: instead of using gift cards, you can score a discount by using the right debit card).

My aim is to never buy something just for the points.  The product needs to be at a good price so that the points take the products down below even the best price for that product.

If I get a targeted offer for $50, I only spend $50 with that supermarket and not a cent more.  If I need more groceries, I use a different card or a different supermarket.  I find that this slows down the rate at which the targets increase from week to week.

If I don’t use one of the cards each week, the targeted offer totals drop meaning I now have to spend a lower amount in order to get my cash rebate or other rewards as the supermarkets try to entice to spend a higher amount with them.

I usually receive at least two offers from Flybuys each week, although sometimes only one of the accounts gets an offer. If this happens, I don’t use the second card that week or only make a tiny purchase.

I find this leads to more frequent offers as the loyalty programs think that I will only shop with them if I get an offer.  It’s my opinion that I get more offers and better offers by using this technique.

I redeem my points for gift cards or other rewards which I can use at Coles or Woolworths as quickly as possible.  I don’t believe in stockpiling points.  Sometimes loyalty programs increase the points required for high priced rewards and de-value the points in other ways.

There are many other ways to get more points from both Everyday Rewards and Flybuys.

If you complete a Tell Coles survey online you can get 500 points per month.  If you spend over $100 on a regular basis  at Coles you can opt for a $5 voucher for doing the survey.  By having 2 Flybuys accounts I get $10 a month in return for a few minutes of my time.

Woolworths and Coles also have other products such as credit cards and insurances which offer customers extra points and discounts for signing up. I don’t use these extra products, but if you find that these products offer you good value for money and the services you want, it can be an easy way of picking up bonus points and extra gift cards.

The strategies above work well for me, but other members may have varying results.  My aim is to spend as little on groceries as possible but also to get products that our family really likes and that I don’t have to go all over the place to find.  I’m lucky to have a shopping complex near me that has Aldi, Coles and Woolworths.

If you don’t want to have two accounts for each program, try doing two transactions at each supermarket.  Scan your loyalty card for the first transaction and don’t scan it for the second transaction.  You will lose base points but you will eventually get many more bonus points. Occasionally you can also go one week without scanning your card at all.

In the long term, your offer targets will decrease and hopefully you will pick up extra points and extra discounts.  I find I get about 70% of my points out of bonus points.

There are many other tricks to getting the most out of Flybuys and Everyday Rewards.  I also have other examples of why I believe the loyalty/disloyalty strategy works when it comes to supermarket loyalty programs. Feel free to ask me about them in the comments section.


So there you go. That was Pat, one of our members. Isn’t she just great? 🙂

Epilogue

Since this post was first published, it generated quite a bit of interest amongst Australian media.

The ideas expressed here have been republished by the FiftyUp Club, a service with more than 300,000 members which negotiates special deals for Aussies who are (as the name suggests) 50 and over.

Our founder and ‘Chief Hacker’ Michael Ginsburg spoke about his own personal experience and the lessons he learned from implementing this strategy at Inside Retail Live, the leading conference of Australia’s retail industry, as well as Macquarie Media’s national radio station Talking Lifestyle.

You can listen to this interview by pressing play below:

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