Shopping card shenanigans

Do you use a shopping card? Are they worth the effort?

Beyond your ordinary supermarket shopping card (like ShopRite – which has easy benefits), there are now countless other shopping cards out there. And the more we look into it – the more we realize they’re utterly more trouble than they’re worth.

Let’s examine a few out there – and why it would probably be best to avoid them entirely.

The shopping card is just an added distraction – marketing hook

buy more stuff crazy shopping card psychologyThis whole expanding trend of shopping cards is a bit fascinating to me.

A major-league “cross marketing” endeavor most of the time, many of these cards offer what on the surface appear to be enticing “deals” you might feel compelled to want.

But they’re nothing more than overly-complicated ways of tricking you into spending money – for an extremely MINOR benefit (often just a few pennies).

Below are a few I’ve investigated.

Rite Aid / Plenti Points

Rite Aid, and several other companies (like Exxon, Macy’s and AT&T) have teamed up to bring you this Plenti Card. And all we feel it’s good for is “plenti” of distractions, spam mail and more.

Plenti Points Shopping Card

For one, they use a “point system.” You’re promised tons of points – but those points are in reality PENNIES (or less).

For example, “1,000 POINTS!” if you sign up to a costly AT&T contract. That translates into $10.

Or “2X points for shopping at Macy’s!” But translates into a 2% savings ONLY if you use the Macy’s credit card (which you don’t want to do), or an almost insignificant 0.2% if paying with other methods. Why bother?

Sure, maybe if you’re able to avoid unnecessary shopping you can build up a few bucks over the course of a year if you use it for your regular auto fuel purchases and nothing else – you might get a minor chunk of pocket change ($50) to spend at some point. But avoid the complicated teaser offers.

The “points” system is just stupid – and probably aimed at the “scoring” generation raised on video games and statuses.

Kohl’s Cash

Kohls CashFrom what we gather, the hooks that Kohl’s throws at you are simply incentive to keep you coming back time after time.

Most of the crap they sell is marginal quality (although the discounts can often be substantial).

I’m sure many people feel pressure to continually shop there for fear of losing their $10 or $20 discount on the next purchase.

And those “next purchases” you have less than two weeks to redeem.

This is just preying on the human condition, and I feel bad for those that fall into this trap.

Sad, yet a brilliant way to keep people hanging on to the crap you peddle.

Gulf Power Points

I looked into the Gulf Power Points system as well. It’s similar to the Plenti Points, and one of the newest additions to this marketing frenzy.

gulf power points shopping card

Shopping at other retailers earns you points that you can use to convert into gas cards for use at Gulf stations around the area.

They also offer an interesting “printed coupon” program – which pays you $0.32 for each (grocery) coupon you print on your computer printer. If you stick with things you were going to buy anyway – this may translate into perhaps two free tanks of gas per year. Nothing to sneeze at – but it’s still probably hours of wasted time that could have been used elsewhere.

I guess this isn’t the worst – but like we said – time consuming for minimal reward. Anywhere

Hoboken-based Jet Anywhere is also similar, in that they reward you with credits for your online purchases with other retailers. Over 600 stores in fact. And Jet is an okay place to buy everyday “staples” such as paper products and household goods. Cheaper than most places (except sales at Supermarkets).

Jet Anywhere

While most of the options are minor credits (between 0.3% and 6%), they do offer some places that offer up to 20-30% back (like Nike, Gilt City, PetSmart, 1-800 Flowers), which is fairly substantial – especially if you actually use those other outlets in your normal shopping travels.

It clued me in to something different though. The companies offering the biggest credits – are the ones that are most likely over-charging for their crap the most if they can afford such give-backs. So keep that in mind.

If you’re a member, it’s worth it to check their list of vendors before making any online purchase. It could be “found money” otherwise lost. This is especially true for high-ticket items like travel, mattresses, car tires, furniture, jewelry and appliances. And considering banks give practically no interest on your savings – it’s a welcome alternative for some extra spending power.

Just kind of sucks that they took away hardware stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s) and office supplies at Staples.

Bottom Line: Always be a spend thrift!

it is your moneyAs you can see – these shopping clubs offer what they want you to believe are “incentives.” And with the exception of, we think most of these are a waste of your time and effort.

In an ideal world, no one would be psychologically coerced into buying anything they truly didn’t need.

But we live in a material world – and the intense and purposely manipulative (and complex) realm of marketing is not going anywhere. It just takes a little bit of effort to understand “cui bono?”

So keep that in mind as you identify future slippery slopes of unwarranted expenditures in your life!

Here are lyrics to the above video.

“Spirits In The Material World”

There is no political solution
To our troubled evolution
Have no faith in constitution
There is no bloody revolution

We are spirits in the material world
(Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world)

Our socalled leaders speak
With words they try to jail you
The subjugate the meek
But it’s the rhetoric of failure

We are spirits in the material world
(Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world)

Where does the answer lie?
Living from day to day
If it’s something we can’t buy
There must be another way

We are spirits in the material world
(Are spirits in the material world)

(Are spirits in the material world…)

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