HTSMC: Join The Right Clubs…And It’s Not What You Think

I’m not talking about the Country Club or Skulls & Bones. I’m not talking about clubs that are much easier to join for middle-class folks, and ones that will reap some rewards.  I’m talking about “clubs” like Rubio’s Beach Club, Del Taco’s Raving Fan e-Club, or other loyalty programs for popular chain restaurant and retailers.

The sign-up process for these clubs are usually just your name and email address.  However, once you sign up, you’ll realize that not all clubs or reward/loyalty programs are created equal. Some make it worthwhile to stay loyal; some are a waste of time.

Here’s a run-down of my experiences with various “clubs”:

1) Rubio’s Beach Club – I like their mix of eco-friendly messages and special coupons. They send you a $7-8 coupon for your birthday, which is pretty much one meal without a drink.  They also send you a special coupon on your “half-birthday”.  Yes, they also send you marketing messages about new menu items and what-not. However, special deals make it worth staying around.

2) Del Taco – I signed up. I left soon after. Other than a few low-value coupons, I don’t remember much about this program.  Maybe it has changed but I just wasn’t impressed back then.

3) Waba Grill – I think this is a relatively new chain of healthy teriyaki foods.  I signed up at a physical location — only full name and email address required.  I never got one email (and I do check my spam folder once in a while). Maybe others have had different experiences?

4) Panera Bread –  Since this place is kind of pricey, I don’t think the rewards are worth it. However, if you’re a Panera regular, you can easily accumulate discount coupons, free cookies and other rewards.

5) Farmer Boys – This is another smaller California hamburger chain. Since signing up a few months ago, I’ve received at least 2-3 coupons and 1-2 marketing type message.  I like that they don’t send too many emails.

6) CVS Beauty Club – You get a 10% discount for signing up, then you earn $5 CVS “bucks” per every $50 spent on beauty purchases. It has an easy sign-up process and it’s worth it if you shop regularly at CVS.  However, don’t try to spend $50 just to get that $5.  In general, toiletries are much cheaper at Target and Walmart.

7) Sam’s Club and Costco – I couldn’t finish this post without mentioning mega-retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club. I’ve been to both a handful of times.  I know that Costco has many quality food products and excellent discounts on electronics, but I still can’t make myself pay the joining fee.  I hate fighting crowds, I don’t have tons of storage space, and I think you can still get better prices if you watch for sales and use coupons.

What ‘clubs’ do you belong to?

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