I have 22 loyalty cards in my wallet.

They breakdown by type as:

  • coffee cards
  • other food cards
  • clothing/jewellery cards
  • beauty cards
  • supermarket cards
  • random other cards

The cards that I use the most are the coffee cards (Starbucks, Globe, C1, Mondo, Esquires, BBs, Muffin Break, Robert Harris). They great value for money. Every little stamp or click brings me closer to a freebie coffee. I like to save them up and redeem them when I’m poor and needy. There is nothing more joyful than finding a fully stamped card when you are tired and frazzled and in need of a latte. I find it interesting that they all have different schemes to keep me loyal. At C1 I get the 10th coffee free, but if I save up five fully-stamped cards, I can get a free t-shirt! At Muffin Break the fifth and tenth stamp is a free coffee. The Globe Cafe is stingy, they only give me the 11th coffee for free. Esquires has the most complicated system: the third stamp gives me a free flavour shot, the sixth one I get a free size upgrade, and then after I’ve purchased ten coffees, the 11th is free.

I haven’t really figured out how the Countdown Supermarket OneCard works. Perhaps it’s the OneCard to rule them all…but I wouldn’t know. I swipe it every time I go to the supermarket, and nothing has ever happened as a result of all these swipings. But I’m hoping that this will change. Yesterday I logged onto their website and updated my address. I suspect some lucky punter at 43 Brockworth Place has been reaping the benefits of all my (not) hard work. But no longer!

I think the one I love the most is my Body Shop club card. I buy all my beauty products at the Body Shop, and usually stock up every 3-6 months. With my club card, I get a $10 gift voucher every time I spend $100. The dollars rack up really fast, and I usually have an extra $10-20 to spend each time. There is something especially luxurious about free beauty products.

Anyway, my point. Looking through the volume of loyalty cards that I’m carrying around, I question the value of the system. Does it make me any more loyal to a particular brand or store? Not when it comes to coffee. There are three coffee shops within stone’s throw of my work, and I really just visit them at random, using the appropriate stampy-card. So really, there is no particular benefit to the company to hand out these things. There is however, a cost – to me! I must be paying for these things. I assume that the cost of all these freebies are built into the price of the products I buy. On this basis, Michael Moore once implored me to cut my cards up and JUST SAY NO! He argues that loyalty programmes are a trick and a gimmick, and we are paying for them through higher prices at the till. My strategy is to make maximum use of what these stores offer, since I’m paying for it anyway.

It takes commitment to carry all those cards around and have them at the ready, but it’s a commitment I’m prepared to make.

What do you think? Love them? Hate them? Ignore them? Do tell.