Picture this: you’ve finally finished all the groceries for your weekly shop at the self-checkout. Your trolley is fully loaded, people are queueing up behind you, and you might even have a kid or grandkid begging you for just one more thing. Then that familiar message rings out from the register: “Please scan your rewards card now”.
Where is my card? It’s not in my wallet or bag, but did I download the app? Or add it to my phone? Did I even spend enough to get anything worthwhile?
Maybe you haven’t encountered this exact scenario, but if you’re already a member of Coles’ flybuys or Woolworths’ recently rebranded Everyday Rewards, chances are you’ve questioned whether scanning your card for just a few points is even worth it. And if you’re not a member, you’ve likely questioned whether it’s worth the effort to sign up at all.
Let’s get straight to the basics. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the two rewards programs from Australia’s main supermarkets are fundamentally the same: once you earn 2,000 points, you can get $10 off your next shop. You earn one point for every dollar you spend, so after you’ve sunk $2,000 at your preferred supermarket, you’ll get $10 to spend.
For anyone who loves their percentages, that’s a return of 0.5%. You can earn more points per dollar if you’re willing to put in a little bit of extra effort and research as we’ll go into more later on, but if not, this is as much as you’re going to get.
But before we dive too deep into the two rewards programs, let’s go for a quick detour. There is another relatively easy way to save on your purchases at Woolworths and Coles which is going to save you more than 0.5%. The trick is discounted digital gift cards.
While the idea of buying gift cards for yourself might seem a bit weird, the cashback sites Cashrewards and ShopBack both offer WISH eGift Cards in any denomination you choose with a saving of 5%. Along with Woolworths, these eGift Cards can also be redeemed at Dan Murphy’s, Big W and BWS. There really is no catch with this, but you’ll need to make sure your gift card is loaded up before you shop and have the card number and PIN handy in store or online.
Discounted Coles eGift cards are harder to come by since they aren’t made freely available to everyone, but you should check if your bank, super fund, employer, energy provider or motoring club offers a rewards program and what discounted gift cards are available from them. Even if they don’t offer discounts for Coles, they may have discounts for other retailers that you frequent.
But back to flybuys and Everyday Rewards. If you’re keen to get more value out of these programs, you’ll need to make sure you’re signed up to all of their marketing emails, download their respective apps, and keep an eye out for any offers that are available both in store and online. Here are a few examples you might see:
These examples are quite generous, and not everyone will receive offers like this. Both of the major supermarkets have dedicated significant resources to their rewards programs, and the incentives used to encourage members are unique and targeted to each individual. Anecdotally, the general rule seems to be that the more you regularly spend, the less valuable your rewards and discounts. Of course, if you’re already a loyal shopper to Coles or Woolworths, they don’t have to work as hard to keep you coming back.
It's also worth remembering that rewards like ‘$10 off a future shop’ incentivise you to return to that particular store even if another store has cheaper prices or a better range of products. When you redeem the reward, you’re likely to spend more than $10, earn more points and be closer to the next reward, essentially putting you in an infinite loop of earning and redeeming points.
If you’re not getting good offers or any offers at all, vote with your feet. Head to the other major supermarket or a smaller independent for your regular shops for a while or, if you really are a diehard Coles or Woolworths fan, avoid scanning your rewards card. You might just find you’ll get a more generous offer to win you back.
Why is that? While offers and discounts are the most obvious part of the programs for us shoppers, the major benefit for the supermarket is data collection. It can be easy to forget that, every time you scan your card, the supermarket can magically link all of these purchases to your profile. Everything you’ve ever bought when scanning the rewards card can be tracked and used by the supermarket to market specific products and services to you. This data is worth a lot to them, so if you’ve stopped shopping at a supermarket, they have an incentive to lure you back in with more valuable offers.
So the question remains: is it worth scanning your rewards card when you shop at the big supermarkets? If you’re not willing to put some or all of the suggestions above into action and increase the points you earn above that 0.5% return mark, the answer is most likely no. While free money is free money, you should probably value your personal data at more than a fraction of a cent on the dollar!
This article was originally published on Tilly Money. Visit Tilly Money for more on financial wellbeing, closing the gender wealth gap and beginner’s investing.
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