How do Reward Programs Work? A Complete Guide (With Examples)

How do reward programs work?

Did you know that you can earn cash rewards and gifts from retailers?

Not only that, but many brands offer special discounts and promotions to reward members.  If you are not a member of your favorite store’s reward program you’re losing money.

Don’t worry!

In this post, I’ll explain everything you need to know about how reward programs work and how you can get perks and free gifts from your favorite stores.

  • How do reward programs work?
  • Benefits of joining a reward program.
  • Which brands offer reward programs?
  • How to sign up for rewards programs.
  • Other ways to earn rewards from retailers.
  • Why do brands offer reward programs?

How do reward programs work?

Reward programs are a membership given to customers for their loyalty to a brand.

In short, they are used by brands to encourage customers to buy from their stores.

These programs are frequently used at establishments that want to encourage customers to make recurring purchases.

While discounts are subject to terms and conditions, there are less known ways to save even more without infringing promotions’ terms and conditions.

This is how:

You can combine store rewards with other types of discounts.  In addition to taking advantage of rewards and perks, customers can also earn cashback on top of coupons, promo codes, and special promotions –more about this later.

To join a store’s reward program, you must first sign up to become a member of the store.  Many stores also have an app that you can keep track of points and find discounts and promotions.

It’s very easy to sign up.

To become a member, most stores ask for the customer’s information such as their name, phone number, address, and email.

Reward programs terms and conditions vary, but they are usually accumulated using a point system and are redeemable for gifts with purchase and in-store cash rewards.

Other benefits include free shipping, access to private events and workshops,  special return and exchange policies, exclusive sales and promotions, and exclusive customer service lines.

But what kind of reward programs do store offer?

                    Types of reward programs

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  • Frequency programs – This type of loyalty program rewards customers for repeat purchases.  Coffee shops, for example, might give a free drink after the customer makes frequent purchases.  Sign up for Dunkin’ Donuts to get a free beverage after 200 points!

Many stores have different tiers of membership.  The more you buy, the more rewards you will get.

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  • Tier system – Many stores offer a membership for their reward program based on how frequently they make purchases.  In this case, customers have to reach an amount to get to the next level and receive more benefits. At Sephora, for example, customers enjoy benefits when they sign up to their reward program.  After spending $350 on a calendar year customers will get even more benefits. The highest tier at Sephora is for ROUGE members, customers that spend at least $1000 per year. ROUGE members get a private landline and invitation to exclusive events, in addition to benefits of INSIDER and VIB members.

Our favorite tier reward program:

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Best Buy’s reward members get a variety of benefits based on how much they spend per calendar year.  While the first tier is free to join, elite and eliteplus members must spend $1500 and $3500 in purchases per calendar year respectively.

Elite plus members are eligible to receive free shipping, an extended period for returns and exchanges, access to special sales and offers, a point banking option, and a 24/7 customer service line.

The third type of reward program is a paid membership:

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  • Paid membership – In some cases customers need to pay to be a part of a membership service.  This is the case for Amazon Prime, for example. Amazon Prime costs an annual fee for benefits such as free shipping.  As a prime member, customers can also stream movies and download music.


  • Point system – Many reward programs are based on a point system.  After accumulating a certain amount of points, members are able to redeem their earnings for a discount, gift, or reward.

At most stores, points are redeemable for gifts with purchase and in-store cash rewards.

Some rewards require a minimum amount before taxes to get the reward.

Points may expire, so keep track of each store’s reward program policy to learn about expiration dates and exclusions.

One of the most popular types of points is frequent flyer miles.  Frequent flyer members collect miles or travel points to reach an amount redeemable for a ticket.

In addition to points being redeemable for gifts with purchase and in-store cash rewards, most membership programs offer other benefits such as free shipping, access to private events and workshops, special return and exchange policies, exclusive sales and promotions, and exclusive customer service lines.

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Benefits of joining a reward program

Benefits of reward programs varies, but many offer the following benefits:

1) Gift with purchase – Gifts with purchase are given by many stores such as Macy’s, Clinique, Estée Lauder, and other stores.

Many beauty brands give gifts with purchase to customers when they buy a certain amount from the brand.

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Birthday gifts are also popular rewards given by brands.  Express and Sephora are examples of stores that offer birthday gifts to loyal customers.

2) Cash rewards – Most stores that offer rewards give a cash reward valid for any purchase at their store.  This works like a discount at your next purchase. CVS’ ExtraCare card, for example, can be used to purchase most items at their store.  Gap’s cash reward is called GapCash and is valid in-stores and online.

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3) Other perks – Reward programs also offer other types of benefits such as free shipping, access to exclusive events, birthday gifts, special promotions, early access to sales, private customer service line, invitation to classes and workshops.

    Which brands offer rewards?

Reward programs are used by several type of businesses such as airline companies, hotels, retailers, restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, and credit cards.

Popular stores with rewards programs include Dunkin’ Donuts, Best Buy, Sephora, Omaha Steaks, Walgreens, CVS, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, JC Penney, Ace Hardware, Kohl’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Moosejaw, Express, Godiva, Target, Century 21, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Staples, Office Depot, Petco, Rite Aid, Wyndham Hotel Group, Best Western, Choice, Hilton Hotels, La Quinta Hotels, Petco, Auto Zone, Shopko, Big Lots!, GameStop, and more.

Take advantage of the 61 Best Rewards Programs: Store Customer Loyalty Cards You Must Get!

Other types of rewards  

Companies also offer other types of rewards such as coupons, discounts, and promo codes.  Other types of rewards include credit cards and cashback.

  • Credit cards – Credit cards offer various rewards for using their product.  Some credit cards rewards their customers with miles, cash, or products and services.


  • Cashback – Cashback sites return a portion of the amount spent at a store when you make a purchase.  Hence the term “cash-back”. It works like a referral program. Shopping through a cashback site isn’t different than making a purchase like you normally would.  The difference is that by clicking on the retailer (i.e. Walmart) through a cashback site (i.e., the retailer shares a commission to the cashback site. The cashback site then shares a part of that commission with the customer.  Cashback sites also feature coupons and other rewards. Each cashback site offers different rewards, so it’s important to find the program that best fits your needs. One of the most important factors when choosing a cashback site is to find the one with the best rates. Lemoney, for example, is a cashback site that is unique because it has some of the highest cashback rates.  In addition, it’s the only site that gives a cash bonus to its members for inviting friends. It also rewards members with cash every time they shop.

Why do brands offer reward programs?

Customer acquisition is expensive.  Many studies have identified that the most profitable customers are the ones who are already shopping at a company.

Considering it costs five to twenty five times to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one, reward programs are an important strategy for many companies and businesses.

Reward programs exist to create another incentive for a customer to become loyal to a brand.

Loyalty programs are used by many brands to encourage customers to buy from their stores by rewarding them for repeat visits.

Since many stores offer reward programs to their customers, the ones who don’t become less competitive.

While there are other ways for brands to market their product or service, reward programs are very effective and turn customers into loyal ambassadors.

For customers reward programs are beneficial given the perks offered to members.  It is worth signing up to become a member at your favorite stores!

Final thoughts on rewards programs

Take advantage of reward programs.  Most stores offer a rewards program, so you are missing out on benefits if you don’t sign up to become a member.

Each reward program is different.  When deciding which type of reward program to to sign up for, think about which stores you shop at the most.

Since it is better to accumulate points at a specific store, we recommend focusing on two or three stores in each segment to get the most benefits.

How to Budget Like a Pro: What I Learned in Business School

When I was in college, I saved $15,000 in two years on a low salary.  My secret?  I learned to budget.  As a business major, I have always been interested in finances.  I took several investing and accounting classes in school, but it wasn’t until I started managing my own money that I learned a very important lesson:

How you manage your money is more important than how much you make.  Let me explain.  Your income determines the things you can afford and the things you can’t.  However, lifestyle is something completely different.

During the time I was in college, I was dating someone who had a fancy internship and was making four times my income.  However, my significant other didn’t have any money left at the end of the month.  The worst part?  He had no idea what he spent it on!

I, on the other hand, was very careful about everything I spent.  I didn’t deprive myself of the good things in life.  I traveled often, bought groceries, went out with my friends, shopped at the mall, and still had money to save.  My secret?  I learned the 50/20/30 rule:

After taxes, 50% of my income is spent on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% to savings.   This is the key to budgeting.

So it works like this:

  • Needs – 50% of your income should be allocated to this category.  This includes everything thing that is a necessity such as food, rent, electricity, doctor appointments, transportation and other bills.


  • Wants – 30% of income should be allocated to this category.  This includes everything that you want but is not a necessity such as dinners out, movie nights, that expensive perfume you want, trips etc.  As long as you’re not exceeding 30% of your income in this category it doesn’t matter how much you spend on wants.


  • Savings – 20% of your income should be allocated to this category.  I learned early on the importance of saving.  This category includes saving, investing, and debt.

Although the percentages are the maximum amount that should be spent in each category, you can adjust each category to fit your needs.  Read more about budgeting here.

So why is the 50/20/30 rule important?  It doesn’t matter if you have a $200,000 yearly income if you have been spending $250,000 per year.  Someone with a $150,000 income that uses the 50/20/30 rule would be better off!  Budgeting is essential to have a healthy financial situation. I can’t stress this enough.

You don’t have to have a degree in Finance to manage your income like a pro!  With the 50/20/30 rule, it doesn’t matter how much you make.  You can save as much as I did or even more!

The important thing is that I stick to my budget and was able to manage my finances in a way that I had enough to do everything I wanted.

I also took advantage of every passive income strategy I knew.  I earned Cashback from Lemoney, got paid to participate in surveys, and became a loyal reader of The Financial Diet and The Penny Hoarder

If you want to learn more about saving money, read our blog post about why you should consider a frugal lifestyle.

Do you have an incredible story about managing your finances?  I would love to hear it!  Let me know in the comments below.

9 Financial Goals for 2018 (money resolutions you can actually achieve!)


It’s the beginning of a new year!  What are your resolutions for 2018?  Whether you are planning on traveling to a new country, buying a house, or experiencing new adventures you need to plan ahead.  If you want to start the new year on the best terms, make financial decisions to help you achieve your goals.  Yes, we know it’s not that easy.  That’s why we’ve gathered the most realistic money tips so that you can have the best year yet!

1. List your goals – Listing your goals is the first step to make better financial decisions.  Once you do this, you can start focusing on the things that you’re working towards.

2. Put money aside for emergencies – Unexpected financial emergencies are overwhelming.  However, an emergency account is important for unpredictable events such as unemployment and or other hardships.

3. Make a budget (and stick to it) – A budget is important to control your finances.  Start by calculating your monthly income and listing your expenses.  After subtracting your income from expenses, you will know your discretionary income. The last step it to set financial goals and monitor your expenses.

4. Take advantage of free money – If you have to make a purchase, at least earn cashback.  You can earn cashback on a variety of items such as travel, clothes, books, electronics, foodeventsbeauty, and more!  Lemoney has over 1,700+ stores and it’s 100% free.  Also, you earn rewards when your friends shop too.  Sign up here.

5. Save for your goals –  Saving $50 per month means you’ll have $600 left at the end of the year.  Figure out what your goals are so you will be able to afford them.

6. Contribute to a 401(k) – Start thinking about retirement.  Contributing to a 401(k) is a great investment for your future.  The best part?  It reduces your taxable income.  Learn more on our blog post: 10 Tips to Reduce Your Tax Bill.

7. Get creative – In this day and age there are various ways of making extra income.  Think out of the box and figure out other streams of income such as freelancing and odd jobs.  You can also sell things online, become a dog sitter, and more.

8. Periodically check your credit score – Your credit score determines if you’re a risky borrower.  Your score may affect you if you’re interested in buying a house, applying for a loan, purchasing a car, or becoming an entrepreneur and opening your business.  In addition, this score may be important for a future employer or landlord, or cell phone utility company.

9. Pay off debt – Although this can feel overwhelming, it is feasible.  Make a plan to figure out how much you can afford and start by paying off the balance with the highest interest rates.  Even small payments can make a difference.

Small habit adjustments can make a significant difference in your financial life.  Plan ahead so you can achieve all your new year resolutions!

If you want to learn more about personal finance and investing we recommend the following books:




Get these books with cashback from Lemoney at Barnes & Noble.

10 Tips to Reduce Your Tax Bill (that you probably didn’t know)

Tax season can feel overwhelming since it directly affects your income.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Although everybody has to pay taxes, there are legal recommendations so you don’t have to pay more than you owe.  We’ve gathered the best accounting advice so you can file your taxes like a pro!

1. Include work-related expenses – professional expenses may be deducted from your taxes (make sure to keep a receipt).  Some items that could be deducted are equipment and professional dues not covered by your employer.  For more information consult with an accountant and take advantage of companies such as Turbo Tax.  Alternatively, visit and consult the list of deductions and credits.    

2. Donate to charity – your donations are deductible.  This includes cash as well as food, clothes, real estate, mileage, electronics, and other items.  The deduction amount can be calculated on sites such as Turbo Tax.  All you have to do is ask the organization to give you a receipt.  You can also deduct your out-of-pocket expenses for your work as a volunteer, such as gas.  Be aware of the restrictions, though.  The non-profit is eligible if they can prove 501(c)(3) status.  This information can be found on the organization’s website.

3. Give a gift to your loved ones – in addition to donating to charity you can also deduct gifts up to $13,000.

4. Change your W-4 tax form – the W-4 is a form given to your employer and can generally be changed at any time.  The form determines the amount that is withheld from your paycheck and it depends on your claim exemptions.  The amount withheld is applied towards your personal income taxes.  If you prefer to maximize your refund, consider reducing the exemptions you claim on your IRS tax form W-4.

5. If you’re married consider filing your taxes separately – you may reduce your tax bill  significantly if you and your spouse file separate tax returns.  Your filing status is an important factor that determines your refund.  Some of the categories are single, head of household, married (filing separately or jointly).  In most cases, it makes more sense financially for married couples to file taxes jointly.  However, this is not true for everybody.  Some couples will get a larger tax refund if they file separately.  Consult with a professional if you are not sure what is best for you.

6. Become an entrepreneur – business owners can declare certain costs as company’s expenses, which may reduce their tax bill as a result.  There are many factors that are taken into consideration, so consult with a professional if you think this may be an option for you.

7. Don’t forget your kids (and parents) – there are a number of ways you can deduct dependent care expenses.  Examples include the child tax credit and healthcare expenses.  Consult with a professional to learn more.

8. Invest in your children’s future – creating a 529 college savings account for your children is a great investment option.  As long as you apply this money towards higher education, you can benefit from a tax-free investment.  Find your state’s deadline and policies to explore if this is an option for you.  Another option is a retirement investment account.

9. Contribute to an IRA – this is a great option because you reduce your tax obligation while investing in your future.  Contributions to individual retirement accounts are recommended in many cases.  However, keep in mind that there is a deadline and a limit based on how much you make.

10. Get professional assistance – prepare your taxes with the assistance of a tax service such as Turbo Tax, Tax Act, H&R Block, and Liberty Tax.

  • Turbo Tax is a user-friendly software service to file your taxes online.  This is one of the easiest ways to file your taxes.  Turbo Tax identifies over 350 tax deductions so you can get the biggest refund possible.  In addition, every detail in your tax file is reviewed so that it is 100% accurate and you will not have to pay any penalties.  They also offer other products such as a credit score check and a live assistance with a CPA or EA.  Other tax services that we recommend are Liberty Tax Service, H&R Block, and Tax Act.

If you decide to use one of the recommended services listed above, make sure to get cashback with  Lemoney offers the best rates on the market.  The best part is that you earn rewards when you invite your friends. All you have to do is become a member and click on the following links: Turbo Tax, Liberty Tax Service, H&R Block, and Tax Act.

Some of us may disagree on how much money should be allocated to each expense, but who doesn’t like to save money?  Consult with a professional to ensure the best options for you.

Many people miss deductions every year.  Don’t be that person.

The Smartest Ideas to Shop on Black Friday

Is that time of the year again. Can you fell it?
Brace yourselves: Black Friday is coming.

The most expected time of the year to shop is November 24th, but we are already counting down the minutes – and saving money to get the best deals!

With all the buzz, there’s always the question: Is Black Friday worth for shopping? What should you buy and what should you avoid?

Black Friday last year was one of the most intense shopping seasons ever, with over $5 billion spent online over the weekend. For that reason, retailers are anticipating the date and giving discounts right at the beginning of the month.

You will definitely find some great deals on electronics, like video games such as PS4 Pro, Xbox One and Xbox One X, LCD HDTV, laptops and more. Probably, stores will give limited discounts on most-wanted products, like Nintendo Switch or the new iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. But if these are the ones you want to shop with lower prices, it’ll be better to wait a little until the buzz around these products slows down – or until Cyber Monday.

We expect to see some hot deals on Personal Assistants, like Google Home and Amazon Echo. So, if you’re wondering how it is to ask a machine about the nearest pizza place or to tell you a joke, well, that’s your chance!

Other electronics that may pop up (with prices down) include Google’s Nexus 9, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 and Ipad Mini 4.

You may also find great prices on other cell phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel 2. And, all the older models (by older we mean the ones released last year or the year before that) of all brands will be on sale at amazing prices.

Besides electronics, Black Friday is a great opportunity to buy toys, home appliances, apparel, makeup, books and much more, which are perfect for anticipating gifts for Christmas!

What are you looking for this year? Do you think buying on Black Friday is a good idea? Leave your thoughts in our comments!

Frugal Living: why you should love it

For some people, frugal living is more than a way of life: it’s almost an art.

Frugal people are people who realize that it doesn’t take a lot of money to be happy. That taking advantage of coupons, discounts and promotions are not being petty, but a way to save on essentials so you can spend your money on what really matters with the things that make you happy.

Spending more time with family, clearing debts or school loans, planning your dream getaway. Why give up on these things to buy daily branded products, more expensive or with no discount?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


Stretch your budget being frugal. Buy things with cash back (because, seriously, why not?). Put your hands on DIY projects. Learn how to cook and avoid spending half of your income with food. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions. Plan ahead.

Of course, you can’t just stop spending money. You still need clothes, soap, a new cable for your phone. But you can buy these products in a smarter way.  Here at Lemoney, you can find great deals on coupons and cashback. This way, you spend less and still earn money!

Saving money requires patience and compromise. Start writing down all your expenses. If you want, there are a few apps that may help you with controlling your budget, like Mint Budgeting App and PocketGuard Budget App. What is important is to put everything down and be more conscious about how you spend your money. This is being frugal.


Here at Lemoney’s blog, you can find articles on how to save and get cash back on many different topics, like education, health, kids and much more. If you need a kickstart, join us and see for yourself the wonders of living a frugal life.



What Is Cashback?

Do you know what cashback is? In a few words: cashback refers to receiving money for every purchase you make.

Wait, what?

You read it right: whenever you buy something through a cashback website like, you get a percentage of the amount back. After reaching the minimum required amount (here on Lemoney it is only $25) you receive actual cash. This is like stretching your budget!

I know, it sounds a little weird, but this is how it works: when you buy things you would buy anyway from a website via Lemoney, we receive a commission from the store. Instead of keeping the entire commission to ourselves, we share it with you. Cool, right?

Lemoney has over 1500 retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy, Ebay, Target and all kinds of categories: clothing, electronics, toys, make-up, sports, travel services, wine, gifts and so many others. You literally get paid for shopping! And there’s no need to search anywhere else (but you can verify it for yourself if you want to): Lemoney offers the best cash back rates.

So, what are you waiting for? Join now for free and start shopping the Lemoney way!