Paycheck Chronicles

Points Are Everywhere

It seems that everywhere I look, there is another bonus card/points program/extra value club to be joined. I've signed up with the obvious ones, like the grocery store and the pharmacy. But what about more obscure programs? Are they beneficial or just a lot of work for little reward? Here's my experience signing up for a local newspaper's points program:

Shortly after we arrived at our new home, I subscribed to the nearest big city newspaper. Included in my "Welcome Kit" was a set of "Points" Cards and a brief letter that promised great rewards for using their Points Program. I went to the website to find out more. I first had to register as a newspaper website user, providing my address and other information. I then clicked through to the Points section of the website and registered again as a Points member. My initial efforts earned me 1505 points. I wondered what that was worth, so I selected the redeem points button and was pleasantly pleased to discover that this little effort had yielded enough points to purchase half of a $10 gift card at several merchants.

Now that I knew that 1500 points was equal to approximately $5 of value (and thus a point is worth about 3 cents), I explored the other various ways to earn points. The website suggested that you could link their program with other local retailers cards. I entered my card numbers for the local drug store and grocery store, where I will receive 5 points for each transaction that is made with the store's own club card. It took two tries to get the card numbers to enter. I then tried, unsuccessfully, to link my internet service provider to my Points account. The website repeatedly informed me that I was entering an incorrect account number. I guess I'll have to make some telephone calls if I want to earn that 5 points (15 cents) per month. This certainly isn't going to make me rich but it is an added benefit for shopping that I'm already doing. I estimate that I go to the drug store once a week and the grocery store twice a week, so that is nearly fifty cents a week for shopping that I'm already doing. There are a number of other merchants that offer 5 or 15 points per transaction. I suppose that I might earn some points that way if they have a great big sign advertising the program. Otherwise, I'm likely to forget that a particular retailer is participating. Plus, I would need to have my Points card with me, and I don't carry these types of cards unless I'm planning to use them. I don't imagine that I'll earn many points through these participating retailers.

So, how else can I earn points with this program? Each day there is a question about the daily newspaper's content. A correct answer will earn you five points, and you are given multiple chances to select the right multiple choice answer. You an also earn points for visiting the newspapers website, posting a resume, or writing a review for the paper's online guide. I don't see myself posting a resume or writing a review, but I do visit the website occasionally. I might earn another 50 cents a month that way.

All together, the process of registering with this Points program took about 15 minutes, for which I earned about $5 worth of points. I foresee earning about $2.50 a month in credit for doing my usual activities. If converted into gift cards, that would be about $30 a year after the first big bonus has passed. Not bad for 15 minutes worth of work.

I'll keep you up-to-date as I continue to use this program. I encourage you to investigate any such opportunities that you find...they might be worthwhile. Let us know what you find!

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