Let's face it, these days everywhere your gaze fell, whether it's in a retail chain store, bank or petrol station, there will be some form of a rewards or incentive program.
They are widely advertised as a way to save money on your next purchase or getting cash back on your purchase. All that you have to do is, buy allot of stuff, get some points, and maybe you’ll have enough that you’ll be able to use to get some bucks of your next purchase.
And here is my problem with them; you will literally have to shop till you drop, to even remotely get enough points to buy something decent with it.
That, and there is way too many of these rewards programs, which tend to sometimes overwhelm people and even get people to question them, asking if they really need them. Hell in the last year or two there has been UCount Rewards from Standard Bank and ThankU points from Edcon stores.
Now before we get into my experience of using them, let’s look at some quick facts on UCount Rewards and the ThankU points program from the Edcon group:
UCount - Standard Bank
• Earn points using all your credit, debit or cheque card as well as when throwing in fuel or buying groceries at selected partners.
• Maximum save on spend is 1.5% at the highest tier.
• Exclusive partners provide a higher point accumulation, which includes Clicks, Incredible Connection, Makro and Tiger Wheel & Tyre. These provide a 5% in rewards points collected on spend.
•You can earn up to 10% back on your grocery shopping from Woolworths, Checkers, PicknPay and Spar.
• Receive R1 in points for every liter of fuel thrown into your tank at your nearest Caltex petrol station.
R20 p/m with other bank charges.
ThankU - Edgars & Edcon stores
• Points are collected on 10 points per rand spend (10 pts = R1 spend) and 1000 points is equal to a rand spend. So it’s 1% back on R1 spend.
• If you’re an account holder, you get an extra 5 points on every R1 spend (15pts = R1 spend), equal to 1.5% back on R1 spend.
• Only spend 10 000 points at a time. (R10)
• If you spend R1000 across participating stores, you can get R10 or R15 back in points of you are an account holder.
• Points expire after 36 months.
• Gift cards, financial services products, payments or 3rd party payments like utility bills, do not qualify to earn points.
No paid subscription. Get 2 card types, one for account holders and one for non-account holders.
Account holders can use theirs, when making payments on their Edgards or any other Edcon group shop card.
Non-account holders use their when making cash purchases, also either at Edgars or an Edcon store.
Is it worth it? Will it save you money?
Looking at the above, points collected will not really help tighten your budget.
In actual fact, you will have to spend more to get anything back, unless you are very patient and are willing to wait a couple of years before you will be able to buy that dress or jeans with points collected.
So In my experience this isn’t really going to save you money.
Let’s take a real-world example, using UCounts Rewards:
If we were to buy a pair of jeans for R600 at Edgars as a non-account holder, we would only get back 6000 points and 9000 points if you are an account holder.
6000 points = R6 approx. and 9000 points = R9 approx.
So that doesn’t really amount to much, and you won’t be able to really do anything with it, as you need 10 000 points first, before you can use it. And that only gives you R10 back on your purchase.
So to get at least get 50% back on the purchase of a pair of these jeans, you will at least need to have 3000000 points, which means you will have to buy at least 30 000 pair of jeans to get it.
This strengthens my point more, that rewards programs can sometimes come across as misleading.
Hell a regular customer should be rewarded all the time, just because he spends lots of money in your store, never the guy who spends the most on a good day.
Getting More Rewards Faster
There is however ways of speeding up your quest to get more points with some rewards programs, for example with ThankU points, you get extra points when Edgards have in-store promotions giving double or triple points, purchasing airtime, the paying of club fees and 3rd party payments.
My Personal Experience
I was totally bummed when I bought something the other day at CNA with my ThankU card, worth almost R7000 and low and behold it only gave me 70000 points, amounting to R70.
Now I ask you with my sad blue eyes, what can you buy at Edgars for R70 today, which is decent?
I rest my case.
Although these rewards programs, doesn’t really give you allot of points, it sometimes does make you wonder what all the fuss is about. But the small amount that is does give you back in rewards can be used as a last resort for that odd R20 or R50 you may need to add, to save on something you really NEED to buy.
Check out more of our personal finance articles