In Part 1, we looked some of the ways you could score a discount on purchases in cold, hard dollars. But if you really want to eke the utmost value from your purchase, you should also take into account the many indirect benefits that are available:
- Credit card reward points: most credit cards issuers offer rewards programs that give you points for spending, therefore paying via credit card is a great opportunity to gain extra value every time you make a purchase. However, this is only beneficial if you pay off your full credit card balance each month – interest charges easily outweigh any value you might obtain from points earning. Also beware of credit card surcharges: some merchants (especially sellers of big-ticket items such as whitegoods and cars) will seek to pass on their payment processing charges to you, so if you can get a better price by paying via another means without a surcharge, you’d be better off opting for that instead*.\
- Store loyalty programs: most major stores will have some kind of loyalty program designed to keep you as a customer. For example, Woolworths Group stores (Big W, Dan Murphys, etc.) are all part of the Woolworths Rewards program, Coles Group stores (KMart, Target, Liquorland, etc.) have Flybuys, Myer has MyerOne and so on and so forth. These are usually free to join, and provide some incentive based on how much you spend with them. The supermarkets give discounts off petrol, and others may give you vouchers once you’ve spent a certain amount with them.
- Affiliates and cashback websites: competition between stores is fierce, so many businesses pay something akin to a “finders fee” for new customers. This is especially true online, where aggregator websites such as Cashrewards and PricePal exist as a front for the commission engines to help customers benefit directly from these payments. Other websites have “refer-a-friend” programs where you receive incentives for getting your friends to purchase. Always check to see whether the place where you’re purchasing offers this before making your purchase.
Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming to have to think about all these things for every purchase, but with a lot of knowledge and a little discipline, you can get a whole lot more bang for buck!
* Depending on how you value your reward points, a small surcharge can sometimes be palatable. For example, if you intend to redeem your points for business-class flights, a point can be worth as much as $0.05, in which case you’d still be ahead with a 2% surcharge. If you’re not earning points fast enough to redeem flights, or redeeming items like gift cards where points can be worth less than a cent, then it wouldn’t be worth it.