Five Minute Finances #13: Sign Up For A Free Customer Rewards Program

Five Minute FinancesFive Minute Finances is a series of tips on how you can save significant money or reorganize your financial life in just five minutes. These tips appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on The Simple Dollar.

In the past, I discussed how you can do very well with the Borders Rewards program, but the effectiveness of free customer rewards programs extends far beyond that of just Borders. In fact, I sign up for any free customer loyalty program that is offered to me if I believe there is any chance of my return to the establishment. Because of this, just in the last three months, I’ve received two free large pizzas, a free sandwich, $20 in free groceries, and about $30 in additional discounts and savings. For just a minute’s worth of effort here and there, this is a very nice return.

Here are some general tips for maximizing rewards programs without revealing key personal information.

Set up an email address to handle nothing but rewards program emails. Then, whenever you sign up for a program, give this address. Keep tabs on that address every once in a while and see if you can dig out some good offers. Many rewards programs mail out great coupons via email that can really save some cash.

If you’re cautious about giving out other personal information, make it up. This might violate the rules of the program, but in most cases, the program’s benefits are “virtual,” meaning they don’t require direct contact with your identity.

Slim down your wallet by combining a bunch of the cards. Use to cut down the size of your wallet by up to 87% by literally combining up to eight rewards cards onto a single card. I have several of these cards and I’ve found that they really work great.

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  1. Whenever I have to enter information that I would rather keep private, I use an “alternate” identity that was created for me at the Fake Name Generator ( It includes a name, address, a short-term email address (you can change to a permanent one if you like), phone #, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, social security number, and a credit card number with expiration date. I just copied the information and stored it in a word file on my computer so I can use it whenever I need to. It’s even fun to just hit ‘refresh’ to see what combinations you’ll get!

  2. D says:

    I use Borders and my rewards card a lot, but I’ve discovered you dont have to carry it with you. They can look your account up for you using your email address or phone number. One less thing to carry!


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