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. If you have a smartphone, use KeyRing to cut down the size of your wallet by up to 87% by literally combining all your rewards cards onto your phone. Plus, the app can help you save by offering additional coupons and keeping a digital grocery list.

Trent Hamm

Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.