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How to score using your loyalty programme’s rewards

by | May 28, 2015

Too much month at the end of your money? It might be time to start really paying attention to your loyalty programmes so that you can get the best value for your money.

Loyalty programmesRecently FNB announced that eBucks members had earned R5 billion in eBucks since the inception of the programme 15 years ago. Of this, R4.2 billion has been redeemed – a spend-to-earn ratio of over 80% which even by developed market standards is considered exceptional. “In the developed markets, a spend-to-earn ratio of 70% is considered good,” explains Jolandé Duvenage, CEO of eBucks Rewards who adds that this R5 billion milestone was achieved just 13 months after eBucks Rewards reached R4 billion. In other words it took eBucks 13 years to reach R4bn but just over a year to grow by a further 25%. This shows not only the demand for eBucks, but also the rising popularity of loyalty programmes in general.

Loyalty programmes have developed so significantly in the last few years that consumers are starting to plan their monthly budget around their reward programmes.

City Press reader Lindiwe Mshibe maximises her eBucks by doing her grocery shopping at Shoprite and also fills her car tank at Engen because she earns eBucks for using these partners. “I normally use my eBucks to buy airtime and play lotto. I also book my travel online with and that helps boost my eBucks,” she says.

Nodumo Mthiyane gets the whole family involved when it comes to using loyalty programmes. “Items at Clicks go on special in the sense that you can earn double or triple points on your ClubCard and we wait for those specials in order to earn more points. However, we save our points to buy school stationery and groceries in January when cash is usually tight. This January we had accumulated R2 150 on our Pick n Pay Smart Shopper card alone,” Mthiyane says.

How FNB customers spent their eBucks:

  • Spent R560 million on airtime
  • Purchased 22 million lotto tickets
  • Bought 55 000 tanks of fuel
  • Flew on 280 000 local flights and 11 000 international flights
  • Rented 30 000 cars
  • Spent R150 million on health and wellbeing
  • Bought 1 million baskets of groceries

Nelly Hlatshwayo uses her loyalty cards with Clicks, Pick n Pay, PEP and Edcon to get discounts on already discounted items. “I usually keep my points until they are in a certain value or when times are really tough. I will go to Pick n Pay, redeem my points, and buy whatever I need without having to pay a cent. I do the same with my Clicks Clubcard points”.

As times have become tougher, many service providers have recognised the need to partner their programmes with retailers and petrol stations.

In 2013 FNB’s eBucks included Shoprite/Checkers as a reward partner and Momentum’s Multiply rewards programme recently signed up as a partner to the Pick n Pay Smart Shopper programme. “Increased petrol prices, raised personal taxes, rising food prices and an economy under pressure all mean that consumers’ pockets are considerably stretched,” says Lianne Williams, head of marketing at Multiply.

Reward programmes are the new “emergency fund” and a way for people to manage their finances, especially at month end when the real money has run out, when school uniforms need to be bought or when emergencies hit like having to replace a washing machine.

How to choose your loyalty programme

People handle loyalty programmes differently. You might be one of those diligent shoppers who has a loyalty card for every shop they go to or you might choose to focus on a handful of programmes and maximise the benefits you receive. For example, you might choose to have just one loyalty card that rewards you for grocery spend, one that rewards you for your petrol spend and one that rewards you with travel miles when you fly. However you choose to do it, you need to do your research beforehand to ensure you are receiving the maximum benefits.

Get the best out of your loyalty rewards programmes by doing the following:

  • Find out who the rewards partners are for each loyalty programme you use. For example, you earn more eBucks if you do your grocery shopping at Shoprite. Then make a point of using those partners as often as possible.
  • Be aware of any limits on your earning period. For example, you might find that you have to earn a certain number of points each quarter in order to reach a certain rewards level. Find out which level you are currently on, how many points you need to earn to reach the next level and then work out how much you need to spend in order to achieve that. Then set up a reminder on your phone so that you can keep track of what you spend. FNB eBucks has introduced a calculator on their website to help you calculate your reward levels.
  • If your loyalty programme points have an expiry date, set up a reminder so that these points don’t go to waste.
  • Often people lose out on their rewards simply because they forgot their loyalty cards at home. There is no way that all your cards will fit in your wallet. Carry a small purse within your handbag with all your loyalty cards in it. You can transfer the purse when you change handbags so that you always have your loyalty cards with you.
  • Check the loyalty programme’s website regularly for special offers.

How different bank loyalty programmes reward you

Everyone has bank accounts so it makes sense to use the loyalty program offered by your bank. However, each bank has a slightly different way of structuring your rewards.

FNB rewards you for the product you use

FNB offers double eBucks points for using a credit card. You can work the system without taking on credit by transferring funds, for example for groceries, to your credit card and then using your credit card to pay for your monthly grocery shopping trip at Shoprite.

Absa rewards the number of products you have

Absa’s rewards programme is based on the number of products you have. The percentage of rewards you earn per rand spent is the same irrespective of which card you have. It does, however, increase based on the number of products you have with Absa. Rewards start at 0.25% cash rewards per rand spent on the card up to 1% for tier-3 members who need one transactional and three products from any of the other six product categories to qualify. In order to further reduce hurdles in earning rewards, all Absa rewards are paid as cash and not points. This means you can easily understand your rewards and redeem them.

Nedbank rewards using American Express

Nedbank incentivises the use of American Express cards by offering double Greenbacks points for every R5 spent on American Express cards and no limit applies.

Standard Bank rewards banking behaviour

Standard Bank’s uCount rewards programme sees you earn tiered points for specific behaviours such as a minimum monthly deposit amount, using the Standard Bank App or internet banking, consenting to receiving marketing material as well as having additional products.

Know your rewards partners

Trying to keep track of which store is partnered with which loyalty programme can make you feel like you need a personal assistant. We compiled this handy list of grocery and fuel partners for loyalty programmes to help you build up your rewards:

uCount (Standard Bank)

Partners are: Shoprite, Checkers, Checkers Hyper, Food Lovers Market, Fruit & Veg City, Pick n Pay, Makro, Spar and Woolworths. This loyalty programme seems to have covered all the bases. However, make sure you read the fine print. For example, you do not earn points for liquor or in-store pharmacy purchases. You can earn points and use them to buy fuel at Caltex garages.

eBucks (FNB)

Partners are: Shoprite, Checkers, Checkers Hyper and Makro. You can earn eBucks by filling up at any petrol station of your choice but if you want to spend eBucks on fuel, you have to fill up at participating Engen garages.

Absa rewards

This programme does not appear to have a grocery store partner. Instead the programme focuses on lifestyle and partners include furniture stores such as Hirsch’s, Bradlows and Morkels as well as online shopping partners such as Netflorist. You earn Absa rewards at a rate of 5% cash-back for buying fuel at Sasol garages. Note that you also earn rewards for purchases made at Sasol garage convenience stores. Absa does not use a points system but pays out cash, allowing you to spend the money however you choose.

Greenbacks (Nedbank)

There is no specific appointed grocery store partner for this programme. However, you earn greenbacks when you swipe your Nedbank credit or cheque card or your American Express credit or cheque card. You can redeem or spend your greenbacks at Makro. Nedbank also does not reward you for buying fuel but you can load your greenbacks on to a prepaid card and use it to pay for fuel at any service station of your choice.

Discovery Vitality

You earn between 10% and 25% cash-back at Pick n Pay and Woolworths on purchases that are classed as “Healthy Food” – qualifying items are clearly marked. If you have a Discovery credit card, and have opted in to the Discovery Miles benefit, you can earn additional miles on your total spend at these partners, depending on your Vitality status. These miles can then be used online for discounts at certain retailers.

Momentum Multiply

If you belong to Momentum’s Multiply rewards programme, you can literally multiply your smart shopper points at Pick n Pay. Your smart shopper points are multiplied depending on your Multiply status. Bronze members multiply their smart shopper points by 2x, Silver members by 4x, Gold members by 6x, Platinum members by 8x, and Private Club members by 10x.


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Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered


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