August 17 2011|08.00 AM UTC

Erik Chang

The Best Loyalty Programs

Category: SR, SavingsTags: , ,

It seems like every company has some sort of loyalty program these days. Unfortunately, many of these programs are not worth the time, money or effort required to get any real benefits. There are, however, several outstanding loyalty programs that reward customers in generous proportions. Here are our picks for the top three loyalty programs:


Virgin Airlines

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Although airline loyalty programs have gained a bad reputation in the past, Virgin Airlines has set out to change that. In addition to offering access to clubhouses and expedited upper class check-in, Flight Club members have the opportunity to work their way up a three tier loyalty ladder that offers the potential for earning back up to 100% of all base miles traveled. Virgin also allows Flight Club members to carry on extra baggage and to take a fast track route through security. This is one loyalty program that is sure to save time and money in the long run.


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Starbucks’ rewards program goes beyond the traditional coffeehouse punch card. Their reward card allows customers to receive free drinks on their birthdays in addition to a free drink with every 15 purchases. The unique thing about the Starbucks rewards program is that it is completely personalized. They offer customers special offers and coupons based on what they purchase the most. Customers are sure to be thanked for their loyalty through this innovative program.

Kroger Supermarkets

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With gasoline being so expensive, Kroger Supermarkets offers one of the most valuable rewards programs. With the Kroger Plus program, customers receive points with each in-store purchase. These points are accumulated constantly and turn directly into discounts at Kroger fuel pumps. With frequent purchasing, Kroger Plus members are able to receive up to 40 cents off each gallon of gas they purchase. Just by choosing the right supermarket, customers have the ability to save every time they fill up.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Beagle August 17, 2011 at 8:48 am

Regarding Lowes. My guess is that the low price guarantee items are probably running on razor thin margins, so to add 5% discount might put them at a break-even or loss situation.

Still, we buy a lot of little things at Lowe’s that add up throughout the year, and I don’t see a big portion of them falling into this category, so I’m hoping that we get some benefit from this. If it turns out that there are too many exclusions, I can just cancel the card. Even if it works out to 3-4% total discount on what we spend, that is still 3-4% that’s in my pocket, right? Since we pay off the balance every month, I don’t see that as a really bad thing.


Bob August 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Your comments about Aeroplan are factually incorrect. In order to keep your miles from expiring you only need to be active in the program at least once every 12 months. That means accumulating or redeeming at least one point every year. So if, for example, you spend any money on your CIBC Aerogold card you remain active and don’t lose your miles. You do NOT have to fly Air Canada once per year.


Alex Gutow August 18, 2011 at 11:01 am

@Bob Thanks for the clarification! We’ve updated the post to be more accurate. In their Terms and Conditions though, they do say that they won’t notify you if your miles are about to expire, which can make it easy for some people to lose track (especially if they don’t have the CIBC card). Once you earn your rewards, we think you should be able to keep them or at least be notified when you’ll lose them.


Vesna August 18, 2011 at 8:23 am

Great examples! Companies that roll out a loyalty program with convoluted rules are bound to end up on the ‘worst’ list. Rather than focusing on retention, some companies, unfortunately, look at loyalty programs as a quick way to make more $$$; so they mislead customers and lure them into programs that are just not worth.


Nikki Camacho August 19, 2011 at 5:24 am

Thanks for revising your post and correcting the misunderstanding about keeping your Aeroplan Account active. I’d like to provide further clarification to your update by adding that Aeroplan’s current business practice is to send out a notification to members after a period of inactivity, prior to their miles expiring.

Nikki Camacho
Aeroplan, Digital Marketing & Communications


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