When most people think about their loyalty rewards programs, the first words out of their mouths are about their frequent flyer miles. In addition to that, families get into tracking their American Express Membership Rewards, point programs through their favorite hotel chains, and even from rental car programs throughout the country. If you think its hard to manage your 401(k)’s and IRA’s, just ask those who have more than four or five frequent reward programs. One program I stumbled upon recently through Verizon is something called the ‘smart reward’ program, and here are a few tips to maximize your Verizon points.
OK. Let me give you the scoop. This could be one of the worst reward programs I have ever covered in my blog. I love the fact that Verizon puts together some note within the ‘smart rewards’ site letting you know about their best price match guarantee and that other sites don’t always have authentic deals. Here’s the newsflash. Point programs are supposed to be earned so you don’t spend more money, but literally every single part of this reward program allows you to use some itty bitty points and then spend more money out of pocket to buy something you probably don’t need. Here’s how to maximize what’s on the Verizon site.
- Hotel Gift Cards- The Hotel Gift Card was one of the only things I could find on the site where you could actually use your points to get a gift card. Much like the American Express programs, 5,000 points will get you a $50 hotel gift card. The only catch is that you’ll have to pay $2.95 for shipping and handling (didn’t know a gift card was that heavy) for the gift card to be sent out to your house.
- Auctions- There a section for Auctions where you can compete in an EBay like style against other Verizon wireless customers for gift cards and various sundry items that are on the website. However, I wasn’t too impressed to see people on the smart rewards auctions bidding 17,000 to 20,000 points for a $50 Dunkin Donuts card.
- Sweepstakes- If you like the idea of playing the lottery, you can certainly do that with your rewards points on Verizon’s program. The system will allow you to bet points for an entry into a sweepstakes to earn a larger prize such as a $500 Visa Card.
- Merchandise- This is the part of the program I liked the least. There are many fantastic brand names located on the website from Nike to Under Armour, but you can only use a few points to get money off an item and then you have to actually spend more money to get the item. Even something most point programs give away for free like a magazine subscription will still cost you more money if you want to get a subscription.
I guess there is a reason I had not heard about this program before I stumbled across it the other day. Reward programs are really meant to allow you to get something for free (or at a massive discount) for being a loyal customer. Verizon won’t even let you transfer the points to pay down your next bill. Wouldn’t that be the ‘smart reward’ that would help you increase your bottom line? Use my tips above to maximize your smart rewards program.
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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.