When writing up our post earlier this week on how Harris Technology and Officeworks are leaving the FlyBuys scheme, I realised that you often don’t mentally update the list of stores associated with your preferred reward scheme. The whole point of a retailer rewards card is to engender loyalty to the store. Since Woolworths and Coles also own lots of other retail outlets, it’s not surprising that their schemes extend over those stores. What’s sometimes surprising is the outlets they miss.
I realise Everyday Rewards and FlyBuys are far from the only options you’ve got if you’re trying to accumulate reward points, and they don’t offer particularly good value. Lots of individual stores run their own loyalty schemes, every major bank has a credit card reward scheme (which can tie in with other existing schemes), your airline offers lots of ways to spend your points, and so on. However, since buying food is a constant for all of us, these two schemes are going to impact on more buyers than practically anything else, even if they sign up on the basis of “well, I’m spending the money anyway”. Here’s who’s in and who’s out as of July 2009.
Core chain: Coles Participating stores: Kmart, Target, Bi-Lo, Liquorland, Jetset, Travelworld, Kmart Tyre & Auto, Budget (car rental), Best Western (hotels), Curves (fitness)
FlyBuys has been running since 1994, and while it’s always been a Coles-centric vehicle, the list of other participating retailers has varied widely over time. The big exits since it started have been Telstra (which eventually chose to spend the money on Sol Trujillo’s salary instead) and Myer (which got sold off as a separate company). The recent omission of HT and Officeworks — both of which are still owned by Coles parent Wesfarmers — suggests that the list might shrink further in the future, though not all retailers who offer points are associated with Wesfarmers.
Despite the name, getting a flight through FlyBuys isn’t cheap (Sydney-Melbourne costs 22,500 points). There are plenty of other items offered through its catalogue, but points totals are also pretty high. A popular alternative is simply to convert the points into a shopping voucher you can use at a participating store, but that’s not spectacular value either. A $20 card requires 2,500 points; to earn that at Coles, you’d have to spend $6,250.
Core chain: Woolworths Participating stores: Big W
The screaming omission from this list is Woolworths-owned liquor retailer Dan Murphy’s, which is bad news if (like this writer) you like perusing their wine specials. Tandy and Dick Smith also pass on the card, so if you’re keen to earn points, stocking up on blank DVDs at Big W looks like a better bet (and will almost certainly be cheaper anyway).
Everyday Rewards initially was all about petrol: having a card gets you cheaper fuel at Woolworths-branded outlets (without having to remember the docket from the last time you shopped). However, a partnership with Qantas should soon mean you can also earn frequent flyer points, which can then be converted into flights and other goodies. The conversion rate hasn’t yet been announced, though some online rumours suggest a point for every dollar over $30 spent in a single transaction. We’d hope that’s not true, as it would mean that getting a one-way flight from Sydney to Brisbane without taxes would require spending at least $8,030.
Lifehacker’s weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.