Making the Most of Your Club Card

by Shannon Medisky

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In an effort to stretch my grocery budget, I invested in a subscription to the Sunday paper. Every week I clipped the coupons and organized them by expiration date in an effort to actually use them. This process continued, and I did save money.

Then along came the grocery store club savings card. An absolute God-send, I thought. Simply swipe the card and reap the savings. No more paying for the newspaper. No more afternoons spent at the table trying to simultaneously cut out coupons while my toddler son made mountains of crinkled newsprint at my feet. Like the debit card replaces a checkbook, my club savings card replaces the clutter of countless coupons floating around somewhere in my purse.

I sign on the dotted line for any and all club cards I can get my hands on. Over the years and throughout the stores, I've picked up a number of ways to multiply my savings beyond what the "club" promises.

There are two basic types of club card programs. One offers special discounts throughout the store for those using a club card. The other may or may not offer discounts, but tallies your purchases and promises a rebate on a certain percentage of your accrued purchases after a set period of time. Some stores even combine the club card with specifically targeted coupons printed right at the checkout counter - coupons directly related to your purchases.

Club Card Tip #1 - Share with Others

Many of these club card programs provide you with several cards so that you can share them with members of your family. For your shopping convenience, many stores will allow you to simply key in your phone number in case you do not have your card on you. Unless the program explicitly forbids it, ask friends and extended family that don't have or use a club card to key in your phone number whenever they make purchases at these stores. For stores offering discounts, they'll reap the savings; however, for stores offering rebates, you'll reap the reward of their purchase amount! Not only that, at stores offering coupons at the register, you'll be adding more variety to the stash of free coupons.

Club Card Tip #2 - Let Brands Compete for You

Many product manufacturers are in on this. Club card usage provides them invaluable data on how their product is selling versus that of the competition. If you're not a brand snob, you can easily make this work to your advantage. If you pay special attention to the coupons printed at the checkout line, you'll see a pattern develop. Often times, you'll receive a coupon for a product you already purchased on that visit, only the coupon will be for a competing brand. If you alternate the brands you purchase each visit, you can almost guarantee that you'll always have a coupon for something you'll already be purchasing anyway.

Club Card Tip #3 - Combine Store Discounts with Manufacturer Discounts

If you're willing to clip coupons or at least use the already clipped coupons conveniently printed out for you with each shopping visit, you can easily compound your savings by using them along with scheduled club card promotions. It's key to remember that most of the coupons you clip are provided by the product manufacturers, but the club card discounts are given by the store. It's completely legitimate to use a coupon along with a club card discount. Using this method, you'll quickly and easily rack up even more savings. Those of you living in areas of the country where stores double coupons, I envy you!

Club Card Tip #4 - Look Online for More Savings

Think the savings end here? Think again! We have yet to touch on the computer - online shopping, that is! Stores know that they must market to two different demographics: those who shop in person at the store and those who shop online from home. Many of these stores offer completely different or additional promotional savings on their websites for club card members. One nationwide chain in particular often offers buy one, get one free promotions online for products that aren't offered in the store. Some weeks the savings online are so great with my club card that it washes out the nominal cost of delivery. And, if I haven't done any shopping yet that week, I often make the dollar amount cut off for free delivery. Anyone with a car that they actually use knows that can translate to additional savings - no gas! Anyone with small children knows that having groceries delivered to your doorstep means immeasurable savings as your energy is at a premium!

If you don't mind the additional direct mail that comes along with each new club card, then get ready to reap the savings. The stores and manufacturers will be working hard to make the data they receive from your card work for them; make sure you do your best to squeeze every last penny of savings out of each and every card you sign up for!

Take the Next Step

  • Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

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