Buying a stores' membership card can save you money and other cool benefits, but it's not always a good deal. Registering for membership cards with companies that you do business with regularly can have personal, business and financial benefits. It also is a way that you can establish credit or build a history that will lead to future membership privileges.
What Are Membership Cards
Generally, retailers that have an exclusive client base offer membership cards. Only registered members are able to shop at their retail outlet or chain. This is what your membership card if for, it acts as a form of identification and sometimes maybe a kind of in store limited credit card. By using store membership accounts regularly and building a relationship of good business dealings with them, you can make yourself part of their valued customer circle. Membership with stores and other organizations is a way to save money on your regular monthly expenditures. This will only work if the membership actually is worth the costs, meaning that you use the card enough to warrant the cost of the annual membership fees.
Membership Cards with Fees
Usually these retailers charge an annual membership fee which gives access to the store and purchasing rights within it, but only when you show your membership identification. The items inside the store will be at wholesale or bulk rate pricing that is not available to the public, but is available to members and anyone on their accounts with a membership card. Prime examples are bulk wholesale stores like Costco or Sam's Club in the United States. Both charge an annual fee for individual membership of approximately $50 annually or a premium membership that allows multiple users on one account that is $100 annually.
Benefits of Membership Cards
This is how Costco members benefit from shopping at their local membership warehouses. An individual account earns 2% kickback for every dollar spent in their stores, the premium account earns a higher rate and benefits from multiple users purchase being added together. Each year the total is taken off the annual fees or the balance is remit in a check for the balance forward. If you spend regularly on groceries, gas at the club filling station and even online purchases through the club, all these will count toward your kickback percentage.
You can also apply for a special store American Express card that not only earns a higher kickback percentage, but also has an increased limit for club members towards all purchases. It is possible to eliminate the charges of interest and receive a larger kickback percentage, if you pay off the AMEX balance monthly. It is also a way to build an excellent credit history, but this is only available to members of Costco.
Membership Cards without Fees
Other types of retailers will offer you free membership cards that total your purchasing history. These totals earn you awards or points, but also will act as an automatic discount card for the store specials. This is a common practice at local grocery stores; the card membership automatically calculates discounts for members on items as they are being rung through the cash register system. If the grocery offers to match coupons from other grocers in the area it will calculate this, some stores give double or triple the amount for coupons from competitor stores. This is a way to rack up big savings monthly.
Another thing some stores do is offer mailings to customers only; these will announce special discount days for loyal customers or will contain membership only coupons that are incentive to shop for certain items. This allows the retailer to clear their bulk stock and lets customers take advantage of these deals before the public is aware of them. Direct mailings to customers on a business membership list is a sure way to make the most of marketing, this is another way companies benefit from customer membership.
Things to Watch Out For
Some companies are legitimate while others are just trying to get your membership fees for profit. It is important to discern the difference. If a company charges a membership fee that requires that you make a certain dollar value in purchases monthly or yearly, they are probably not using membership to help you save money. Also, if the membership fee is more than approximately $100 dollars annually or is that much or more monthly, then you are probably being suckered into some kind of scam. Be sure that what you are going to spend in the store will be worth the membership card fees that are being charged. If not, then you should probably just shop elsewhere and find discounts on the general market for the items you want.