Why The New flybuys Is A Rip-Off

Why The New flybuys Is A Rip-Off

Coles has revamped its flybuys loyalty scheme, changing the way you can earn points and redeem them. But the most important feature of the scheme remains the same: you will have to spend a massive amount of money to reap any long-term benefits, and you’ll be sacrificing a lot of personal information to do so. We’ll tell you how to make the most of flybuys if you do sign up, but you really need to examine whether it’s worth it.

With a massive advertising campaign featuring Dawn French, it’s unlikely you haven’t heard about the flybuys revamp. And if you’re an existing flybuys customer, you’ll already have been sent a replacement card and asked to re-register it. (The annoying lower case ‘f’ is now Coles’ preferred style, by the way.)

Like its most obvious rival, Woolworths Everyday Rewards, Coles lets you earn points which can then be redeemed for a variety of items. But you have to spend a lot of money to earn a very small number of points. Here’s how the system works, and why you’re unlikely to get much out of it.

Earning points: a slow process

You earn one point for each dollar you spend at Coles, Target, Kmart and Liquorland. You can also earn one point per dollar of an AGL Energy Bill, and (as we’ve mentioned before) score points for recharging Telstra prepaid mobile services. All of those are, of course, dependent on you using those services: if you shop at Woolworths, have electricity with another provider and use Optus, there’s not much going on. And there are other catches: for instance, tobacco doesn’t count.

Other major participants include Coles Express fuel stores (you earn 1 point for every $2 you spend on travel booked through the service) and Webjet (which has the same $2/1 point ratio). Given that you’ll pay a $20 fee simply for booking flights through Webjet, it’s hard to see that ever adding up to a meaningful benefit.

The fastest way to accelerate your points earning is to sign up for a Coles-branded MasterCard. That gives you 2 points for each dollar you spend whenever you use the card, plus all the normal points you would earn. If you’re disciplined about paying off your credit card, this will definitely accelerate your points earning — but it will still take a long time to accrue a worthwhile reward.

Spending points: a small reward

One way you can use those points is for a discount voucher for your supermarket shopping (a scheme called Flybuys dollars). 2000 points equals $10 off your Coles group shop (and you have to redeem in $10 lots). In other words, when you have spent $2000 at Coles, you will get $10 as a discount. That’s a whopping 0.5% off. I don’t imagine you’d go rushing to a store offering that small a discount in a catalogue, so why would you think that was a good bargain?

Here’s a simple way to look at it. The flybuys brochure notes that if you spend (in participating stores) $150 a week on groceries, $60 a week on fuel, $50 a month on alcohol, $150 a month in Target and Kmart, $300 a quarter on power and $30 a month on phone recharges, take out an insurance policy with Coles and pay for it all with a Coles Mastercard, you will earn 52,100 points. “That would give you $260 off your Coles grocery bill in a year!” the brochure proclaims. What it doesn’t tell you is that you will have spent $14,880 to get there. Your $260 represents a 1.7 per cent saving.

You can also use the points to purchase other items, but this is (again) often expensive. To pick from the most obviously Lifehacker-centric category, iPods: you can score a 2GB iPod shuffle for $36 plus 7800 points (which could represent up to $7800 in spending). A brand-new 2Gb Shuffle direct from Apple is only $55, so you’re spending $7800 to save $20. That’s a lousy value proposition.

Making the most of my5

One of the more heavily-hyped features of the flybuys revamp is my5: a list of five items which you will get a 10 per cent discount on every time you shop. That sounds appealing — it’s a direct saving, not something you have to wait for — but the promotion is rife with sneaky conditions:

  • First and foremost, the offer only runs until October 31 this year. Coles might choose to extend it at that point, but it seems more likely it’s being used as an enticement to get people to sign up.
  • You have to spend $50 to qualify for the discount. That’s likely if you are doing a full family shop for the week, but it might not happen if you just dash in for a top-up. (What Coles is hoping is that you’ll buy additional items to crack the $50 limit, but that’s a ridiculous strategy for saving money.)
  • Only five items a day within each my5 “group” qualify for the discount. If you purchase more than five of one of your selections, nothing else in that group will qualify (though the discount will be applied to the highest-priced items in that case). With items sold by weight, you can’t get more than 5 kilograms.
  • Not everything in the store qualifies. Depending on the category, you might find only Coles-branded products on offer, or you might find everything but Coles-branded items in there.

To make the most of my5, you ideally need to choose items that are relatively expensive and which you buy regularly. Given the time limit, you might also want to concentrate on dry goods which don’t have an expiry date; that way, you can stock up on items while they’re cheaper. The most obvious items I can think of in this space are nappies and dog food.

You should also be wary of Coles’ automatic “suggestions” for your most frequently-purchased items, since those won’t necessarily reap the biggest savings. A friend of mine signed up and used those suggestions. On her first shop of $238.30, the saving was just $1.52.

But I’m spending money anyway!

This is the most common argument amongst enthusiasts for flybuys (or any similar loyalty scheme): “I’m already buying this stuff anyway, so I might as well get the points.” That’s arguably true if you genuinely don’t change your habits and continue to seek the best bargains. What Coles is relying on is that you’ll feel tempted to keep earning points and change your spending habits more permanently.

But in return for your discount, as we’ve also noted before, you’re giving away a lot of personal data. Coles will know a lot about your buying habits, and it will use that data to aggressively bombard you with offers. It can also sell that data to anyone else it wishes. Is that really worth a 0.5% saving? I’ll stick to hunting down the cheapest food wherever it is, thanks.

Lifehacker’s weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


  • This is all good information and useful!

    My question is that I’m flying to the US later this year and doing three or four internal flights there as well. Is it worthwhile to sign up and try and earn some points with flying?

    Or again is it not worth it?

    • Pobably would get better rewards point-wise with a Coles Mastercard by Commonwealth. I’m considering getting one, but I don’t quite spend enough in total for it to be worth it yet.

      • If you go for the CBA Gold Mastercard you can also opt to get the American Express card on the same account in addition to the master card at no additional costs which earns more points than the Mastercard , while being accepted at less places.

        Anyway, I agree, you’ll earn points quicker with an awards credit card and depending on what card you get you may also have various insurance benefits included, some of which *may* be beneficial to a traveller. Still, credit cards and shopping cards arent mutually exclusive, so if the privacy isn’t an issue get both.

    • Hey all of you folk! Do you ever consider the big picture? By getting sucked in to spending at Coles you are supporting a monopoly which is a) treating suppliers abysmally and b) encouraging you to squeeze out local traders, thereby diminishing all the positives of community.

      • Susan Mahar is right! Not only do they have your spending habits on file they are monopolising the food & grocery market. so the prices are cheaper now..however wait til they have the whole monopoly. Prices then will be at their discretion and I do not think in our favour either.

  • From the tone of your article you would think that the Australian population has been compelled by government legislation to join flybuys and forced to pay a $100 annual fee. 1. It’s free 2. You don’t have to join.

    My5? What’s the downside? “Giving away a lot of personal data” – is this something new? Any evidence for the statement “it will use that data to aggressively bombard you with offers”? Has that happened in the past? Where exactly is the “rip-off”?

      • I saw all of that extra demographic information when I re-confirmed my details (existing Flybuys member) and just looked for the skip button. There was no way I was going to give them all of the rubbish they were asking for.

        • enter random shit for the demographic questions. i have never been truthful in any demographic info requested unless i feel that some info may help a recovery of the account

    • It’s a rip-off because the cost of the program is factored into the cost of our groceries. The SMH reports that this current re-launch alone has cost Coles tens of millions of dollars. Guess who is paying for that? They are not taking the money out of their own pockets, that’s for sure. You are correct when you say we are not forced to join. However, you are absolutely incorrect when you say it is free! We are all paying by way of higher grocery prices, whether you join or not.
      The scheme I like best is where I don’t need to join anything, don’t need to carry cards in my already bloated wallet, don’t need to remember to present said card at the checkout, don’t need to share private data, don’t need to think about which liquor store is part of which chain, and most importantly…. don’t need to wait for 2 years or more to receive a piffling $20 discount voucher off my groceries.
      As it happens, my local independent supermarket has a scheme exactly like that, and they are open 24 hours/7 days! On most things, their prices match Coles, or less, except for fruit and veg, which is considerably cheaper!

      • Oh course. Coles/Woolworths subsidises all it’s cheap milk, bread, and other promotions like this by absorbing the cost elsewhere. Most notoriously, and far reaching, in terms of the rise in fuel prices. It’s no different to the way target, kmart, and big w sell books and other items BELOW COST and LOSE MONEY in the hopes of luring customers and making up the money in sales elsewhere in the store. In the long run, it’s detrimental to everyone, but all they care about is regaining their marketshare and the ever growing value of their shares – Westfarmers (Colesgroup) is especially bad.

        • The Fact Remains NOTHING IS FREE and there are NO Such things as rewards when shopping at any major retailer.

          Eventually WE WILL ALL PAY DEARLY. When they have reaped their prices so low that not even medium sized chain stores have been all but wiped out their prices will reap US and SKYROCKET.

          BUT! YOU! Are ALL! Too greedy to see that.

          Don t Shop at Cole’s Or Woolworth’s and honestly watch how low their prices really tumble.
          Australia should have a NO SHOPPING AT Coles stores week/ then month/then STUFF THEM

          I can Guarantee they would shit themselves if we done this.
          Put out the word.
          I say fellows and ladies LETS DO IT.
          Roger and Brian work for Coles and Wesfarmers Respectively thats why they are against US. True.

          • and where would you shop if you don’t shop is Coles or Woolies? You will end up spending a fortune on your groceries in IGA or Franklins??
            Put it simple, if you shop in coles and woolies why not have the both rewards cards? So even tho you shop and you will spend the money anyway you get points, (I am not sure about woolies) but Flybuys points don’t expire any more. And the points can build up, so for every 2000 points you get $10 off your grocery bill. What is so bad here I don’t get it?

    • Well I got ripped off yesterday. I spent over $50 and had my printout with me, so I knew what things I had chosen (here’s another one of their tricks – they’re limiting the selection of things you can put on the my5 list to try and orient your purchases towards higher-profit items). At the top of the printout it says “Whenever you buy any of these products and spend over $50 in store, you’ll get 10% off each one – even if it’s already discounted or on special!” There is no mention of the five-item limit. Clearly it is a misrepresentation to state “you’ll get 10% off each one.” As there is no asterisk indicating the usual “terms and conditions apply” and one doesn’t get offered the opportunity to print out all the terms and conditions, when I bought 10 of my relatively expensive item that will last a while I was surprised when I only got the discount for five of them. I’ve filled in their complaint form and will be raising a misrepresentation claim with Fair Trading.

      • No proper response from Coles so I’ve just filed a claim with Fair Trading. Here’s hoping they’ll crush Coles in court with a gross misrepresentation finding. In the meantime I’m avoiding Coles.

    • Hurray for some logic !
      As a long term Flybuys user who controls his spending and has linked to NAB card for extra points it has been great – nobody has compelled me to do anything except I can select to pick up some various items/ products and enjoy them, for no extra cost .
      A lot of time spent on the article, I suppose good to have a down side at least explained but how about the same amount of time on the upsides ?
      I have never been ” bombarded” with anything .
      Good on you Brian and others that see the positive

  • I got my FlyBuys card years ago and as Coles is my local supermarket and the cheapest anyway it really never been arduous to swipe the card at checkout time. I don’t buy more, I don’t buy different and every 6 months get a little extra money to spend there in return.

    In all those years I have received just one email related to products, so it’s not exactly bombarding as you claim. As for them knowing that I tend to buy a lot of Chorizos, olive oil, salads and milk and very few canned foods, no baby products and no petfood, meh, who cares? What I eat isn’t a state secret.

    Now if i could just convince them to stock chipotles.

  • Interesting article. One thing that’s not clear to me is how is the new Flybuys more of a ripoff compared to the old. Or perhaps I have just misinterpreted the title.

    • It looks better value to me. The implied discount appears to me 56% better than before to get the same reward. It may have been not great value before, but it’s substantially better now. I’ve also got the Woollies card but you don’t get any points for the first $30 there. Hard to know how to pick your my5 to get the best value but 10% is better than nothing. Although Angus seems to think it’s all bad…

  • I used to be a Flybuys member, then I did the numbers on how much I’d actually have to spend to get anything at all, along side the fact that the points expired (not sure if they still do or not) meant that I would never be able to get anything. The card was thrown out at that point.

    I figured the new one would be pretty much the same, and this article basically confirms it’s not worth having a thicker wallet over.

  • Good article.
    I’m in the category, I’m spending it anyway and in no way do flybuys change my spending habbits. But I have redeemed a few gift cards from coles and woolworths over the past few years, so my gain form what i can tell.

  • I had one appear in my letterbox last week and was a little concerned – for one they mispelled my name, and then I’m not sure how they got my details. I’ve never been a Flybuys user! I guess they raided the MyerOne database?

    • No they would of raided the Electoral Roll, so have a quick check of your name next election and make sure it’s correct.. or do what I do and have different ‘seeded’ spellings for my name (or other alias’s) that I enter into these sort of Database marketing schemes so that you know where the data is sort of coming from so know whom to complain to when your data is sold to India or other countries that do not honour our privacy or Direct Marketing laws.

      FlyBuys was originally designed as a Direct marketing demographic sponge to collect buying habits and other data that could be applied to integrated marketing campaigns, nothing much has changed other than the major players whom now own it.

      My opinion on them? DO NOT USE THEM OR BECOME MEMBERS OF THEM or if you do, lie on the application. It’s not unlawful.

    • I think they must have raided the MyerOne database. My “new”, unsolicited FlyBuys card was sent to my parents’ address, not my own residential address. Since I’m registered to vote at my own address (in an entirely different state), I can only guess that the details came from some kind of marketing database.

  • as someone who has been with flybuys for about 4 years, I haven’t found anything adverse happen to my privacy because of flybuys. I don’t get extra spam/junk from random companies, just from flybuys which is manageable. It hasn’t changed my spending habits at all and over the 4 years I’ve cashed in my points to get $150 in gift cards plus receiving a free gillette razor. I have since given up on flybuys though, even though I still use the card when I can.

    Qantas Frequent Flyer program has worked out so much more better for me, points can be accumulated in a hugely greater number of ways compared to flybuys, and they can be spent on even more things. There are also vastly more QFF promotions which have let me accumulate 30k points in 5 months (approx $150-$200 of gift cards), while only spending a few thousand dollars during my normal spend, nothing extra/changed

  • I have been a member of Flybuys since 2003 and have redeemed some small appliances over the years. I shop at Coles sometimes and use the card if I’m there or at K-Mart or Target. Today when I went into my flybuys account after receiving my new card I have found that my point balance has been ‘adjusted’ to put it in line with the new rewards programme. What???? According to my Coles Myer Master Card, they transferred over 3000 points to my flybuys just before the new card came out. They have been adjusted down to 99 points……..I noticed it’s still 13,000 points to even get a pepper grinder. I think it was a great system when it started but this is amazing! I have written to them but their website states that there is a ‘huge’ response to the new card and they may not get back to me within 48 hours. Not impressed

  • Woolworths Rewards peers with Qantas FF. A flight MEL-SYD is approx 8000 QFF points (worth about A$129 if the flight was bought online) .

    If you spend your A$ during Woolworths double points weeks to get points you would only need to spend A$4000 to get 8000 QFF Points which gets you a $129 flight. Or up to $8000 if your shopping outside of promotional times.

    Otherwise, as Angus says above, you could just shop where you choose, get the cheapest food you can, and buy a Jetstar flight for $39 – and you’d probably be a lot better off.

    Shoppers should have a BSOD policy (Best shop of day) just like business has (BFOD) Best (Air) Fare of Day. It’s going to save you big $$ in the long run.

  • BIG Problem is that all your existing points just got DEVALUED.
    Sure the rewards are now 1 point for $1, but the rewards are far less.

    $20 voucher used to cost 2500 points, now a $10 voucher costs 2000 points.
    If you had 20000 points sitting there already, they just went from being worth $160 down to $100.

    It’s what they are not advertising which you should be looking at.

  • What are you being ripped off? I’m confused, isn’t this a loyalty scheme with no investment other than doing your shopping in the supermarket which you probably use anyway? I’m OK with my supermarket knowing what I buy. I also go to a local butcher and he knows what I buy as I don’t hide my identity from him. I’m fine with the targeted offers because they are based on my habits and are relevant to me. The results can be amusing anyway; a supermarket in the UK used to mail me quarterly paper vouchers based on my spending. I used to think they were the items bought most often (usually bread and milk), however after opening one letter whilst in the supermarket I was worried about my lifestyle when it only contained vouchers for doughnuts and toilet roll.

    • Not really, you are getting free things from it, it just relies upon people, stupidly, buying everything from them in order to get more points… but if you just randomly earn $10 off your groceries every few months, it’s still a saving, as long as you don’t let them “reprogram” your consumption habits.

  • I believe this article is incorrect when it says that Coles can sell your personal information to anyone it wishes. This is not only untrue, it’s illegal.

    Great journalism.

  • I Have worked for Coles for coming up for 8 years. Sure a lot of this is a rip off. I’m not denying that, but its a rip off that works. Especially this part – “What Coles is hoping is that you’ll buy additional items to crack the $50 limit”

    You would not believe the amount of times I’ve had people come through my register and spend say $24. And then go back and spend another $6-8 to get over the $30 limit and get a fuel voucher. Congratulations. You just spent $6 to save yourself $1.50 at the fuel station. And the idea that you can spend an extra $2 in the fuel station to get an extra 2c/L off. Sure it works if you have a 100L fuel tank. But people do it regardless. Trust me when I say that rip-off though it may be, Coles knows how to make its money. They aren’t stupid, there are people earning a hell of a lot more money than me coming up with this stuff, and making sure it works

    • A warning to all coles mastercard users. Before the new coles credit card was introduced with the new flybuys you could get an additional 4c/l off your petrol (8c/l). Now to get the additional 4c/l it costs you 500 flybuy points. See you later coles.

  • I like to keep things as simple as possible so generally avoid all such schemes as this.

    For one thing there is a mental cost always having to remember to claim your points etc. And secondly it would be very easy to justify spending just that little bit more to earn extra rewards. In one of the examples above you have to spend almost $15,000 to earn $260. If line-ball purchases are swayed just 5% of the time say then you would end up spending an extra $750 to “earn” your $260.

    Finally, why would these companies offer such systems if they didn’t result in customers spending more.

  • If you have the willpower to not let it affect your spending habits (and honestly, it’s not that hard, the bonus offers are always pretty shit), then the only question you need to ask is:

    How much is the privacy of your spending habits worth to you?

    If it’s worth more than whatever amount you would save by using flybuys, then it’s a rip-off. If it’s worth less, then there’s no reason not to use it.

  • If like me you shop around and have both cards then basically it is free money, I prefer coles to wollies on a personal basis but will usually just go to the closest and If I can get free stuff for doing my normal shopping then tops to me.

  • As I seem to be on every marketing lust known to humankind, I am not averse to Coles keeping tabs on my purchases to market their themselves to me in a way that I feel benefits us both. I have worked in advertising most of my life and the ‘family business’ was a direct marketing company, so I am aware of how often my info is circulated after singing up to just one company. It isn’t a big deal; if they send mail, throw it in the bin. If they ema you, add it to the junk folder. If they call you, answer the phone, mumble ‘yes, please go on’ and then walk away from the phone for an hour – they all mark down which callers are too obnoxious to deal with and scrap you from their lists.
    As for flybys, I have been a member for over 10 years and have had the opportunity twice to renew my points for a $10 voucher but by the time I bothered to redeem them the points had expired. So I have NO idea why I always compulsively swipe the green card EVERYTIME I can, even for tiny $5 amounts, and get shirty with myself for buying petrol at a supplier that doesnt support the program. I think it’s maternal guilt – mum urged me to sign up and she is extraordinary when it comes to saving, earning points, getting more than she paid for and generally being a downright miser with her money but still reaping the financial awards of a highflier. But let’s face it, these programs are aimed at people like me who always swipe and never redeem, and only a very few like my mother are able to ‘work’ the system to their advantage.

  • And to add to my above comment, I have recently moved house and haven’t changed my flybuys address over. After seeing all of the advertising (and by golly there is a lot), imagine how crestfallen I was to open the mail box and find the shiny new silver envelope only to discover that it was addressed to the original occupants and not for me. So besides my complete lack of benefits gained from this program, I am still calling them tomorrow to have my new card sent out. The pathetic promise of a 0.5% discount after months of following their directions is just too much for me to ignore. That and Dawn French – they did well to score an actual ‘celebrity’ 🙂

  • “Coles Express fuel stores (you earn 1 point for every $2 you spend on travel booked through the service)” That’s it, I’m booking my next overseas holiday when I fill up! 😉

  • This article only highlights that all reward programs are not good value if your spending to earn points.
    In a short period of time, none are good value however in a long period of time everyone will have enough points to get something that they would not have had otherwise. In S.A. there is a deposit refund on bottles of 10 cents. If you want you can get a refund on a single bottle at a time but that is more work than collecting over a longer period at getting a few dollars when you do take it in. Now how you feel about this is a matter if thinking. If it’s a ” deposit / refund” thing you many think of it as who cares, if you think of it as a ” TAX refund” (which it is) because you have already given that money when you made the purchase, more people would want their tax back.

    the main change that the New flybys has that now turns your membership card into a rewards card. i.e. use your flybys card to redeem the points you’ve earned and converted into dollars.
    the down sides;
    You can’t get the gift cards for gifts to anyone anymore
    You need to spend the whole redeemed amount in one transaction.
    The benefits;
    you don’t have to wait for the gift card to be posted out
    Coles saves on postage, creating plastic gift cards, can monitor your gift card spending more closely, get the redeemed value spent at once

  • wouldnt it save you more to shop around for higher priced goods to find discounts, following this you could easily save over the $260 ish a year and more. brand loyalty is poor in this regard

    • The barcode on the two cards is the same, so it doesn’t matter which card you use, but you will need to activate the new card by the end of June/July (can’t remember which the girl said) in order to keep your account, or redeem any rewards.
      This is because there are new terms and conditions, and new ways of redeeming your rewards.
      Also, you don’t get your my5 10% discount until you activate.

  • In the time spent reading through this article and it’s comments I could have earned another 300 flybuys points. But seriously.
    If you just have the card, don’t mind giving up your shopping information & being “aggressively bombarded” (?), just use it. It’s not hard. And if, as some commenters say, Coles is raising grocery prices to cover the cost of the re-launch, then you are losing out by NOT taking advantage of flybuys when you can, right?
    But what do I care, do whatever you want. I won’t lose any sleep over it.

    • “aggressively bombarded”

      I’ve hard a card for years but I only ever get a statement from them every few months. I’m sure it’s possible to get a lot of mail from them, but it’s also just as easy to opt out.

  • To get a free 16Gb iPad at my current spending $350/week at Coles, I would need to save up points for 6.5 years, and had spent $118,300.

    • or to paraphrase…

      “without changing my current spending habits, Coles will give me a free 16Gb iPad every 6 years” (possibly much less, if you get bonus points here and there for buying stuff you were going to buy anyway).

      those cunning devils !

      I can only assume that you’ll be exercising common sense in purchasing decisions so won’t be incurring any additional costs, so this boils down to a couple of free tablet devices every decade.

      honestly, how else do people expect to get free stuff with minimal effort?

  • Thanks for the article. That truly is an awful deal. If someone came up to you with 25 cents at the exit to Coles and wanted to write down a list of everything you purchaced for their database so they could send you more personalised marketing material, what would you do? I, for one, would tell them to shove it.

    I also hate that this will waste the time of non participants in checkout lines and make everything in the shop more expensive.

    • But they aren’t. The reason that would be irritating to most people if because the work involved negates the worth of the deal.

      Because all you are doing here is swiping or scanning a card when you already have your wallet open to get your debit/credit/cash it’s not much more effort.

  • not sure if they have changed the rules now, but when i use to use flybuys 5 years ago the points would expire after 12 months! if thats still the same, then the points scheme is pointless.

  • I shop at Woolworths, it’s across the road from me, my rewards card is linked to my Qantas frequent flyers, yeah the points don’t add up rapidly to the point where i’m flying to New York business class each month, but i certainly don’t go out of my way to boost them with offers. I’m still gonna buy food, so the bonus is exactly what it is, a bonus!
    But on the articvle above, i’m pretty excited about booking travel at Coles Express fuel stores;
    and who spends $50 on alcohol a month???????

  • If you are already a flybuys member, then flybuys just got better. 1 point per $1 spent, and no expiry date on points.

    If you’re happy giving up a little personal information for a little reward from time to time, then it may be worth joining, IF you don’t let it change your spending habbits.

    As for the privacy question, I see it as no more insidious than having a Google account, (or nearly any other free service).
    The rule is always this: “If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer, you’re the product”

  • 2 key things Coles want from this:

    1. Have shoppers switch from Woolworths to Coles.
    A lot of people shop at both, this aims to for those people to spend more at Coles and gain further market share

    2. Guide ranging decisions.
    Loyalty data allows Coles to track shopping behaviour, to see if products are substitutable, to understand if you only buy on special or are loyal to a brand, what makes you switch and what wont you compromise on. Will you buy the brands or just switch to Coles brand because its cheaper. So think twice when you buy Coles brand because in 6 months you’ll see those brands that you used to consider and sometimes buy are no longer there because you wanted to save the 20 cents to buy the Coles own label…

    So yes you are giving away personal information, but you would be vain to think that they are going to get all big brother on you. You are 1 data point of millions of people of millions of baskets.

  • Thanks to always having my flybuys registered online I have been able to save up to 28 cents per litre of fuel! The petrol at Coles express is generally the same price or less than other local service stations…so no loss for me…especially for the V8!
    I shop at Coles anyway…we’re all going to have to pay the extras factored in to our grocery prices whether we take advantage of the flybuys program or not…if we don’t use it that little $10 possible saving for each person could become an extra $10million profit for Coles!

  • I have a flybuys card but this in no way weds me to coles, I also shop at Woolies but would prefer an independent if there was one locally. The fuel vouchers are not used as I get cheaper fuel at an independent and I buy my green groceries from a grocer. I am sick to death of Coles, Woolworths and Bunnings diminishing the choices I have to buy where and what I want.

  • If you don’t mind people knowing you like to eat steak and eggs on a weekly basis, then I don’t think its a problem. Sure, the rewards aren’t necessarily great, but the membership fee is zero if you are not concerned with the rather low impact it poses on your privacy. The points don’t expire which helps. That said, I fall into the category of people that has a Woolworths near by, not a coles, thus while I will have the card, it will be limited to a few outlets. Personally I find the Woolworths card a bit more useful as it links with my frequent flyer card also.

    On a related note, while it is hard to rack up points at a specific store for some rewards card, I just checked and as I suspected, my awards credit card which I pay an annual fee for has paid for itself quite comfortably should I choose to redeem the points for cold hard cash. In fact, I’m probably *slightly* better off with the gold card than a zero fee card. Certainly as far as award schemes go, I think credit card ones are ahead of these chain specific ones as they don’t discriminate on where you shop nearly as much, and if you used a debit card they’d have the same information anyway. Theres no temptation to buy one more item to tip you over some arbitrary $30 or $50 threshold either. Just an observation anyway.

  • I’ve been a flybuys card holder from nearly day 1. I’ve redeemed points for gift cards,that you no longer can do,which in times past has been ok,but not ok is the amount you have to spend initially. What I found intriguing is that the letter stated it was a all new revamp look & it was much easier to earn points. Ok. It then went on to state that in the past you redeem 2000 points for $2o. Now you redeem 4000 points $ 20. And nothing had changed ?? They claim this is better ? How ?

  • If you use a card to pay for your groceries then Coles and Woolies already know what you are buying. They track what your card is paying for. So if you are avoiding Flybuys because you are worried about your purchases being tracked, I hope you are paying with cash.

    Obviously when tracking payment cards they know nothing about who is using the card. Flybuys gets them the added benefit of that basic biographical information that allows them to target their advertising.

  • Good article.

    Flybys, Its like people trying to scab off coles or woolworth, they only give you a little tiny slice of a piece of cake. Even with the 4c fuel discounts I only get under a buck off for spending over $30.

    They can shove their discounts + saving up their asses…

  • Flybuys (sorry flybuys now) always had been the worst value rewards program I’ve ever been a member of! In the 10+ years that I’ve had a card all I’ve ever managed to get was a book of 10 movie tickets, most of the time my points would expire before I had a chance to accumulate enough for anything.

    The good thing is that now points don’t expire, so at least there’s hope of getting something after a few years! In terms of value its still hopeless, as this great article points out.

    You’re much better off getting a good value credit card and earning points that way. The only thing I’ll use flybuys for is when I’m already buying something at a store that gives flybuys points. If I ever spend $2000 I’ll get my $10 off at Coles, but I certainly won’t be going out of my way to earn points when I can be getting a lot more on my credit cards which can be used for almost anything, including flights.

    As for my5, its the biggest load of BS ever! Its so convoluted, even the staff at Coles had no idea about how it works when I asked them. I’ve got a Coles 5 mins walk from me, so I never spend $50 in 1 transaction there, so my5 is totally useless for me. And things like meat cost almost double what they do from a butcher 5 mins drive away, so why would I bother!

    Nice try Coles, but back to the drawing board I think!!

  • I guess this winge like all the others will fall on deaf ears at Coles. I signed up to my 5 thinking it might be a good idea, but would not included the Coles milk because it is sending dairy farmers to the wall, figured I would put down dairy farmers milk ,only to find they don’t stock it in any of my local Coles. So I suppose dairy farmers paid to get some promotion out of this scheme that is not going to work because the whole scheme is about Coles. so they have my 5 favorite buys in a data base, but I can get a discount, I still have to by bread and milk but I won’t buy Coles bread and milk. In fact the IGA is starting to look like better value all the time now.

  • Just did my first shop at Sunbury, Vic. with the new card, spent $311.53, saved .70cents only. It appears that if you buy more than 5 items in one group (as in my case, cat food tins), the rest is not discounted. Sorry, but Coles has just lost one consumer. Their call centre logged my query, but were unable to assist. Back to Woolworths where the parking is easier and any award cards are automatically sent out to you during the year.

  • Woolworths and Coles make millions out of shelling consumer purchasing habit data to others including manufacturers and marketers.

    If they want to make dollars out of my data like this I want a much bigger reward and more easily obtainable than those now on offer.

  • I agree that if these reward programs don’t change your spending habits, and you are able to resist the ‘spend more to save more’ trap at fuel stations, etc, you will get some rewards, albeit slowly. I have the flybuys (haven’t activated my new card yet) and Everyday Rewards (linked to my QFF) and shop where and when needed and convenient at the time, only for what I need. It seems to work for me. But, I reckon you’re right… Another hotel stay may just be a very long way off!

  • I used to have a Coles Group Source card that allowed me to have additional 4cents discount when I spend $30 or more at Coles. I’ve been told that I have to switch to the new Coles Platinum card which provides 2 points per dollar spent at Coles.

    Additional fuel discount of 4 cents is available upon claiming 500 flybuys point. I think this is a rip-off as in the past, spending $30 gave me that discount while now, the $30 will equate to 60 flybuys points …. still short of 440 points to redeem a 4 cents discount voucher !!

    Would love to hear why this new rip-off option has been forced to loyal customers like myself. I’m sincerely looking at switching over to Woollies !!

  • I’ve had a Flybuys card for many many years probably from the time it was implemented. I’ve shopped buying my regular items from Coles, Kmart, Target etc including specials that I would normally buy no excess spending to earn points & have over the years collected an LG Video player (I did say many many years ago) Tefal toaster, Microwave, a Sander & very recently a Spice & Coffee Grinder. I was about to buy one from Kmart & found it was on offer at Flybuys & I qualified for it. All of these items are still working perfectly. This was earned just going about doing my normal shopping. There’s nothing wrong with Flybuys. I shop at Aldi & Safeway too. My family consists of 2 instead of 4 now so it just takes longer to earn the points but the points dont expire so it doesnt matter. If I need a new appliance or anything I check my points first incase its on offer at Flybuys. I havent registered for the my 5 yet because I dont think it will benefit me.

  • the only reason for a fly buys card is just another way for the goverment to check up on what you buy. they know how many people live with you to the amount of grocerys you buy, they know what you buy when ever you use this system. i refuse to use it. pay cash

  • Totally agree I use theColes source card as its easier to pay my shopping monthy than eft pos each time I shop for every $30 I spent they sent an vouchers for an extra 4 cents of petro with the accountl .Last month got on line and tried to print out the vouchers(I did the right thing and went paperless)and was told the petrol vouchers can be purchased on flybuys for 500 points each .So you apply spend your points and then they will send the voucher in the mail.How useless is that I wanted petrol yesterday not next week.On a pension that was a little help but now they can keep it .The flybuys will probably never give me a reward as looking at the reward scheme I will be long dead before I have enough to even buy a movie ticket

  • I work for flybuys and i dont understand this complaining. flybuys is a free program. If anybody had actually read the terms and conditions of flybuys you would know that your personal information is not sold. As for my5 being a con rip off, its 10% off of items that you frequently buy anyway, whats wrong with that? it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get a reward, IT’S FREE! as for the fuel vouchers, if you have a problem with redeeming flybuys points for them contact GE Money. They are the ones that stopped giving you the vouchers. We didnt want customers to miss out so we created this reward. I honestly didn’t think that there would be that many brick heads out there that are trying to hide with their tin foil hats because of government conspiricies. GROW UP! stop complaining. IT’S FREE!

  • I’ve been a member of flybuys for years and years….and can honestly say that for years I have said I must be the only person in the world gaining anything at all…We shop at Coles, occasionally Target/Kmart, and have always had our NAB visa connected to the flybuys. Given we put everything on our credit card, which we then pay in full monthly, our entire beach house was furnished with free appliances gained from flybuys points. A connected credit card is the way to go…we earn points really quickly. The my 5 though…definitely a rip off and not worth the effort !

  • As a single older person, I don’t spend a lot on groceries (like families do), but for years I’ve used my Flybuys card at Coles; Shell; Liquorland; Target; etc., and earned many points that I’ve cashed in for gift cards – which have been really great !
    My current Flybuys card is also linked to an NAB credit account – which has an annual card fee of $30.
    This credit card has also contributed to many of the points I’ve earned – BUT- after 31st October it will no longer earn points, as the NAB have a new linked card – which has an annual card fee of $65 !
    So, with the need to earn so many points in order to get very small returns, I can’t see that the new Flybuys card is worth the effort – especially not the NAB linked Flybuys card !!!

    – which after October 31st, will not earn points.

    and just reading through all the ‘lifehacker’ info not to change my flybuys card to the new NAB linked card. Instead of the $30 annual card fee they want to charge $65 for the new linked NAB Flybuys card

  • Angus – valued reading your blog. I guess I was in the category of “you spend the money may as well get the rewards” and under the old system we redeemed a dozen wine a couple of times a year. What rather annoys me is all the hype about getting more ‘Points’ per dollar spent, but not making it clear that the new ‘Points’ are worth less than the old points. You might reasonably combine those words Angus! Now I have just received mail from my bank encouraging me to change from my old visa card to a new one. The benefit being on the new card $1 for each $1 spent compared with the old 1 point for every $3 spent. Sounds great until you consider the value of the new card. And this bank is upfront with its advertising “More Give and less take”. Sounds good – but the new visa card charges an annual fee of $65 compared with the old $30. Thats more than double. It looks a lot like more take and less give. In fairness to the bank – which I havent named – I am waiting to hear their response to my concerns on this matter.

  • I should have added to my last comment that it looks like we are only half way to redeeming a dozen bottles of wine and half way through the year. I havent worked it out, but it really does look like the new system is worth significantly less than the old one.

  • Really a rip off about the Coles MasterCard Fuel Reward. Redeem 500 FLYBUYS points ($2.5 worth) to have only 1 transaction of 4cents voucher. (if your fuel tank only 60 litre, then can save you $2.4). From my first ready, I thought it is for all the transaction in the next 180 days shopping at Coles to have a extra 4 cents voucher. But find out is 1. Then why should I redeem? Unless I have a 62 Litre fuel tank car?

  • the local coles here in regional victoria bumped up the price quite a bit on cube boxes of soft drink when the new cards were issued – obviously it sells well at the shop ………. also NAB have offered a new credit card that will accumulate flybuys after October ( current card ceases to accumulate then ) but it has doubled the annual fee on that card .. doesn’t have any other incentives offered to counter the hike

  • with my good ‘ol Flybuys card, I could rely upon ending up with enough credit to buy the nieces and nephews movie ticket vouchers at Xmas time each year – not happy with the new process at all
    and certainly don’t like the invasive selling and information gathering – we are all being milked on every level today. But lean back and love it, there’s no way out – now. thanks for a great article

  • this is all good info and all true but i am a happy fly buys customer and my thought is if i am spending the money anyway why not get the rewards, i never buys things i dont want need just to get more points and with 2 cars and a family to feed i have got 30 fly buy dollars with in 6 months without going out of my way to spend money i didnt want to spend

  • Agree with Kev. Don’t redeem. Really a rip off about the Coles MasterCard Fuel Reward. Redeem 500 FLYBUYS points ($2.5 worth) to have only 1 transaction of 4cents voucher. Terms and conditions do not clearly state it’s one off voucher particularly when we used to have the 4cents on receipt plus 4cents from the statement a month later. I believe a lot of people are misled by the promotion. It’s really a misrepresentation and scam when you go through the calculation. Would be interesting to know how many more people are falling in the trap like me and thought it’s applicable for every spending in next 180days after redemption. Believe ACCC should take action on this blatantly misrepresented advertising not telling clearly the real picture!

  • it’s only a rip-off if you’re not shopping wisely, and/or you are changing your shopping habits to try to get these rewards. I do most of my groceries at coles (may go to butchers or fruit shops etc if considerable price differences) but try to buy things on sale more often than when they’re full price, so I’m getting the stuff for the same or less as I could anywhere else and therefore not spending any more money than I have to, plus I get an extra discount because I work at Target. This means I am getting my groceries for the same or less cost than I could elsewhere, so by using flybuys on what I do buy from Coles and would be buying there regardless of the flybuys program or not, I get a small bonus every few months for nothing. That’s hardly being ripped off. Only idiots get ripped off by these systems

  • My daughter & I are among the “we shop there for those items anyway so might as well get the points” group. Leading up to Christmas we would cash in the points for gift cards to use on special treats. The new scheme does not allow that anymore as there are no longer Coles/Myer cards. Funny how a company has a promotional scheme that does not promote their own company!! Our shoppng habits have not changed – we still shop for the best discounts at either Coles or Woolies. The points were an additional bonus that are coming under serious review.

  • I was wondering why I wasn’t earning any points from Coles express. Finally I found it in the small print ‘and where payment is made with Shell Card, Fleet Card, or Motorpass and Motorcharge Cards.’ So why do they keep scanning my flybuys card when I pay using Visa! trying to maintain the illusion that I am earning points. No more coles. I’m switching to Woolworths and their reward program. Prices are pretty much the same.
    I also noticed that the bonus offers to try and get you to spend more are based on your current spend. So people who may spend on average $50 get and offer of 500 bonus points to spend $80. we spend around $100 a week so our bonus offer of 500 points required us to spend $130! Suddenly the bonus offers and the data they collect starts to make sense.
    Good bye Coles!

  • Heh, wait till Coles/Woolies monopolise everything, then


    But yeah, this article has some good pointers, even if flybuys is optional.

  • I got an email from Coles saying spend $110.00 over the weekend and get 500 bonus points.
    My Mum gets the same email and it says spend $50 over the weekend and get 500 bonus points.
    How the hell do you explain that you ripoff merchants

    • It depends on your average spending in Coles plus they add more. I got the same voucher and I need to spend $190 which I never will. So I normally spend around $140 but they put a bit more. However, the verdict is that you don’t spend that much money only to get the points, so use only the vouchers that offer triple or double points on a single shop of your choice or for a specific product.

  • With three family members earning points on our flybys account, we’ve converted our points into flybys dollars to cover our entire christmas day lunch spend.

  • I ask myself why do they want to collect my information?
    The answer is to maximise the amount of money they can get from me.
    Already the occasional discount vouchers they post out have changed from spend $30 or more and get double points to spend $80 or more to get the same benefit. I almost never spend $80 in one shop trip.

  • Hey people! You can ignore ‘the big guys’ to a large degree. None of you have mentioned shopping at Aldi! You get value for your buck. For eg. I buy milk there for $4.50 for 2 litres. At my local IGA the same milk is $5.60! Why do they think I would shop there? If you want to earn ff points get a Qantas card. This is getting harder because I tired to open Nab Gold Qantas credit card but guess what? They dont have that product any more!

  • We recently joined as we use a lot of the partners. We had an offer to get 500 points if I filled up 50 litres of petrol before 1st May. I did this and they didn’t honor the offer. If this is the way they honor new members then they can go **** off.

  • I earned more than 200,000 points in bit more than two years with flybuys and coles credit card. That’s worth $1000. which I redeemed as Jb hifi gift cards (10x$100). For me it was worth getting credit card and using flybuys. there is always a trick to earn more points. 🙂

  • Over the last 15 or so years we have been in Flybys, for 2 people we have had flights from Brisbane/Cairns, Melb/Perth, Melb/Darwin, Sydney/Airlie Beach and today Albury/Brisbane and we have cashed in points for Visa credit. We shop at Coles mostly and Aldi/Woolies, petrol from Shell and we pay for everything by NAB Visa. I think we have done very well out of Flybys . We have to buy this stuff anyway so it’s no biggie, we try to always use Flybys, but we don’t go out of our way or buy anything just to get points.

  • I’m one of these people who treats shopping like a battle. Ha ha. I shop at Aldi a lot of the time, as they are the cheapest on the basic stuff I buy. Brand loyalty is long dead with me. Ha ha. I got to about 3 different places (locations) for my shopping, and I check every item online before I buy it to find the best deal. Incredibly boring, but it saves me a fortune. I am a rewards member, but I automatically set my email address to junk any crap they send me. That seems the best solution

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