By Cheryl Lock
A lot of things probably draw you to your favorite stores. The products, obviously, the sales and the friendly salespeople all might be part of it. But a seriously rocking loyalty or rewards program is likely not far behind. Whether a loyalty program is free or has a small fee, if the benefits are plenty, it can be worth all the extra mail and email you'll likely receive -- or even a small yearly charge. (If you tend to pay balances off in full and want to maximize your earning potential, you may want to consider a rewards credit card as well.)
Here are some of the best loyalty programs we've seen around.
If not all pharmacies are created equal, then not all pharmacy rewards programs are created equal either. CVS' ExtraCare Rewards stands out, for starters, because it's free. Customers earn 2 percent back in ExtraBuck Rewards every single time they use their ExtraCare card, and additional savings are easy to find through ExtraCare emails, the CVS Pharmacy app and the weekly ad or throughout the store.
You can save paper by using the "send to card" option to send selected offers from online directly to your ExtraCare card rather than printing them off to bring to the store.
2. Barnes & Noble
Becoming a B&N member will cost you $25 a year, but if you're an avid reader, the fee will likely be worth it. For starters, new members receive $50 in bonus coupons for joining. (Use 'em all, and you've already made up your initiation fee!) Members also receive member-exclusive savings options, free express shipping online with no minimum purchase, plus 40 percent off the list prices of current hardcover bestsellers and 10% off the price of other eligible items.
Animal owners can join the PetSmart PetPerks rewards program to start saving more on their purchases. Membership is free, and members receive discounts on in-store purchases, as well as special coupons sent in the mail. For more ways to save on your furbabies, sign up for the brand's auto-ship plan, which provides 20 percent off and free shipping on the first auto-ship order, plus 5 percent off and free shipping every time after. (Some exclusions apply.)
For product lovers, the Sephora Beauty Insider Program is a dream come true. Sign up for free on the Sephora site, and every dollar you spend earns a point that can be put toward free beauty products. (How many points you need to purchase certain products can be found online.) Members also get a birthday gift, access to free beauty classes and for an extra $10 a year, members get access to flash two-day shipping on all online orders.
5. Bed Bath & Beyond
Home goods superstore BB&B doesn't have a specific rewards program, per se, but creating a free account online and providing your home address at the store will supply you with endless coupon offers. The best part? The store usually accepts coupons even after they've expired -- though you probably won't need to bother since you'll likely have a new one waiting for you in your mailbox or inbox by your next purchase, anyway.
Pricey as their drinks may be, Starbucks does have a smashing (and free) loyalty program. Starbucks Rewards members earn two "stars" for every $1 spent with a registered card to put toward future drinks. There are four ways to enroll in the program (online, through the mobile app, directly from a retailer or through a business affiliate), and you can earn stars by entering star codes found inside specially marked packaged of Starbucks products as well.
Starbucks fans can find more ways to save on their daily cup of coffee (or two) here.
Remember, you don't want the lure of rewards to lead you to overspend. High levels of debt can affect your bank account and credit score. You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com
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