For most households, food is one of the largest monthly expenses. Just because you have to feed yourself and your family doesn’t mean it has to cost you a lot of money. This is where grocery loyalty programs can help you cut your costs while still feeding your family well.
We’ve all gone to the grocery store to buy food for the week and come out wondering how you spent so much. It seems like every year, it’s more and more expensive to feed your family a healthy diet.
Learning a few grocery shopping hacks and tricks can help you save money on foods you already buy. One of those is using grocery programs to get discounts on foods you were already planning to buy.
What is a grocery loyalty program?
Many grocery stores have loyalty programs that reward customers for shopping with them regularly. Each program is a little different but, in general, you earn points for every dollar you spend at the retailer.
You can redeem points for free stuff once you reach a certain amount. This can include a free grocery item, a discount off your order, a discount off fuel, and so on. Many grocery loyalty programs also offer coupons and discounts based on your purchasing history.
Combine your store savings with a discount app such as Ibotta to increase your savings. Some grocery stores require shoppers to be members of their loyalty program to qualify for any advertised sales or discounts.
How do grocery reward programs work?
When you join a grocery reward program, you’re assigned a customer loyalty number. This is used to track your purchases and give you discounts on items you purchase. Many grocery reward programs allow you to use your phone number instead of scanning a loyalty card.
Every program works a little differently so always review the rules before signing up. In general, you can use your customer loyalty number to get discounts on advertised sales. Some stores offer coupons that can be added to your loyalty card online or through an app.
You will also get personalized discounts and coupons based on your purchase history with that retailer. These can only be used with your loyalty reward card.
How much money can you save with a grocery store’s loyalty program?
Since every program – not to mention every family’s shopping cart – is different, the amount you save will also differ. The more loyal you are to a store, the more rewards points you’ll rack up. These translate into discounts on your purchases, saving you money down the road.
Just keep in mind that even though shopping at just one store is convenient, you may end up paying more in the long term. That’s because most stores don’t have the best price on everything you buy.
To maximize your savings, shop at least two or three stores in your area. Pay attention to sales and discounts, and stock up when you find a great price on something your family eats regularly.
Best grocery store loyalty programs
Let’s look at some of the most popular grocery loyalty programs. Most of the stores below are nationwide chains, so chances are you have one in your area.
When you sign up for each program, the company will track your purchases and reward you with points, discounts, and coupons.
The Target loyalty program is called Target Circle and offers discounts on everything from food to clothing, home goods, and so on. You will need to create an account to join the program. If you download the Target store app on your phone, you can also sign into the reward program that way.
Target Circle is free to join and offers both store savings and manufacturers’ coupons. You will need to add all the discounts you may want to redeem to your account before going shopping. When you check out, you can either scan the in-app barcode or enter your phone number to get your savings.
In addition, you earn 1 percent on every Target purchase as store cash that can be used on a future purchase. You also get personalized offers that aim to give you a discount on items you already buy.
If you have a Target REDcard, you can stack the 5% cashback from the card with the 1% cashback through the Target Circle loyalty program.
Sprouts is another grocery retailer with a loyalty program that gives shoppers in-store discounts. To sign up and use the program, you will need to download the Sprouts app to your phone.
Every month, the store releases new digital coupons to help you save. You will need to add the coupons to your account before shopping. When you get ready to check out, scan the in-app barcode to get your discounts.
Sometimes the store will run discount offers for reward members such as $5 off a $40 purchase or 20 percent off frozen items. You can also view the weekly ad in the app and save items to your grocery shopping list.
Kroger is another popular chain with a grocery loyalty program for its customers. It goes by different names depending on the market, including Dillons, Ralphs, King Soopers, and Fred Meyer.
The chain’s loyalty program can save you money on two fronts – groceries and fuel. For the grocery discounts, you will need to create an online account and look at the discounts and coupons available to you based on your shopping history.
Add them to your card before going to the store. Shop as usual and enter your phone number when you check out (or scan your loyalty card). The discounts and coupons will deduct when you ring up your purchases.
The other way you can save is through Kroger’s Fuel Reward program. When you shop and use your loyalty card at checkout, you will earn one fuel point for every dollar you spend. If you buy gift cards, you will earn two times the fuel points.
When you fill-up at a Kroger gas station, you can get a discount based on the fuel points you have accumulated. This can add up to significant savings if you buy a lot of your groceries at Kroger.
Tom Thumb is a chain of grocery stores that goes by different names depending on the market, including Safeway and Randalls. In addition, the company bought Albertson’s stores so they use the same loyalty program. The Tom Thumb loyalty program called “Just for U” can help you save on groceries and gas purchases.
To join the program, you will need to create an online account and link your phone number. You will also need to download the app on your phone so you can have access to digital coupons for both in-store and manufacturers’ discounts.
The grocery chain also gives loyalty program members special deals on items they buy often and exclusive free items that can be redeemed on your next shopping trip. Before you go shopping, you must add the items to your account. When you check out, enter your phone number or scan the barcode to get discounts.
If you like to shop online for your groceries, Tom Thumb offers a delivery option. You can use loyalty program coupons and discounts when placing an online order.
You can also redeem rewards for fuel discounts. Earn one point for every dollar you spend on groceries and pharmacy items and two points on gift card purchases. When you get 100 points, you can redeem for $0.10 off per gallon at Tom Thumb, Chevron, and Texaco gas stations.
The Walgreens loyalty rewards program is called Balance Rewards and gives you discounts based on the points you accumulate. You will need to create a Walgreens account to get started.
While Walgreens is a pharmacy, it also sells groceries. When you check out, enter your phone number or scan the barcode for your loyalty program account. You will earn 10 points for every dollar spent and 100 points per 30-day prescription.
Points can be redeemed for discounts with every 1,000 points worth $1 off your next purchase. Walgreens also offers several other ways to earn points, including health challenges and special promotions.
You may need to be flexible
If you’re looking for an easy way to save money, consider signing up for the grocery loyalty program at your local retailers. You can create an account for each store where you regularly buy groceries and use it when you go shopping to save.
Just remember to review the available discounts and coupons for the store you’re about to visit before leaving the house. That way you can use them upon check out to save money on your purchase.
Keep in mind that grocery stores use the information from your loyalty card to track your purchases and give you personalized offers. You need to weigh the pros and cons of sharing your data before you sign up.
–By Veneta Lusk
Do you use grocery loyalty programs when you go shopping? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments.