Store cards, which often offer rewards, discounts, or points for your patronage, can be beneficial in many ways. However, not all of these cards are free, and not all deliver on the deals that they promise. Some stores do not offer sale prices for patrons of their stores who do not have these cards. This means that they require you to give them your personal information or risk paying a higher price.
Most grocery and drug stores such as Ralphs and CVS offer free store cards with entitle you to sale prices, special offers and coupons, and in some cases, discounted gasoline (Ralphs) and rewards (CVS). Because these programs are free, the only thing that you are sacrificing is giving these stores your name, address, phone number, and email address. Some people don’t feel comfortable with revealing this information, and that is perfectly acceptable. You can’t put a price on your privacy.
Other stores, such as Barnes and Noble and Gamestop, charge a yearly fee for their store cards. Whether or not these are worth the fee, really depends on how much you intend to use them. For instance, the Barnes and Noble Membership costs $25 per year, but offers members a discount on books, often sends additional coupons via email and postal mail, and offers free shipping on purchases through their website. This savings can add up, but if you only find yourself using this card once or twice a year, it may not be worth the price.
Gamestop offers a similar program priced at $15 per year, which includes additional savings on used games, systems, and accessories, and a higher trade-in value for your own used games, systems, and accessories. This program also comes with a rewards points system that allows you to turn in rewards points for merchandise and store credit. If you have one or more active gamers in your household, this program can offer great savings.
Store cards that require a yearly fee, are much like club cards, and you should use caution when purchasing them. Ask yourself how much you will actually use the card, and if you will end up making excuses to shop at that particular store so you don’t feel like you’ve wasted money. Some stores offer trials that let you try their program or have a fee-free option with less rewards. If you try these cheaper alternatives first, you will be able to gauge how often you would use their fee-based program.