The average individual belongs to 23 loyalty rewards programs. That puts me way above the Average Joe since I have at least 62 bookmarks to various frequent use programs. It does not count the grocery and pharmacy chains that require a card just to buy sale priced item on the shelf. Am I a sucker for participating in these schemes?
As long as you are aware of the rules to get in, how to get and use your points, and how to exit when necessary, then go for it! If you are going to spend money, do all that you can to stretch your hard-earned dollar. Everyone loves free things and if you have the discipline to stay loyal to the same programs and places, the pay back is worthwhile. However, caveat emptor applies to any program.
Be Aware of the Credit card offers, they are the most dangerous.
- When you apply for a credit card to get points, you are immediately marked. Your credit report is notified of the application and should you be accepted, your credit rating is affected. Assuming you have a mortgage or any debt, that awesome credit card limit of $5,000 or $15,000 they approved you for is added to your debt total and it re-calculates your debt level and credit score based on the new credit approval level. That is before you charge the first penny.
- Your name and all personal data is now listed for advertising blasts. All credit companies will send you a number of email promos, mail promos, texts, mobile blasts, pop ups on your Facebook page, Google searches, and who knows where else. ‘Sucker’, stamped on your forehead, to not knowing that free points are not free points, fits if you are naive. Nothing is free.
- Make sure you opt out of any and all mailings and notices they send you. But realize, they will tell you that the opt out will take 30 days. How many times do you think your data can be sold on lists in 30 days?
- Be sure to be aware of card fees! Often the fee is waived the first year, but 12 months goes by quickly and the next thing you know you just paid $125 for a renewal of the card fee. The benefit of the points for one free flight just went out the window.
- I am amazed how few people understand how credit cards work. If you are not aware that the day you don’t pay the card off in full during a month, that you are charged interest at an exorbitant rate from that moment on until it is zeroed out, you must read the link highlighted.
- Understanding the loyalty programs is secondary to the danger in for signing up for multiple credit cards. Whether it is for airlines, your hardware store, clothing store or even the coffee shop, there are deep consequences to not understanding the ramifications of having more than a couple of credit cards
Airline Point programs have much fine print to read.
- Points are only available for a small number of seats. If you expect to book a flight during Christmas break for a family of four, forget it.
- Free flights are not free. Most of the airlines have service fees for each ticket booked which increase if you are not elite and inside of 21 days away.
- The lure you hear during the 5 minute in-flight sales pitch, over the loud speakers that squeal and crackle, (why is it even legal for them to force flyers to have to hear the ‘important announcement about a great offer only for passenger on this flight’?), to sign up for their credit card will assure you of a flight anywhere in the U.S. is often not true. Free flight point requirements increase to higher levels if the one cheap point seat is already booked. Assuming it is not part of the long blacked out dates list.
- Points expire if not used within a certain period.
- Rules are subject to change, even cancellation
I could go on with many more gotchas in point programs. The bottom line though is some are very good and worth participating in, but be sure to understand the rules and avoid getting trapped with credit card lures that can destroy your finances. A great site to learn about the best programs can be found here under my Helpful links tab under ‘Travel wisdom’. Next post we will talk about loyalty to local businesses.
This may be a shocker, but sometimes you need to be aware that lures to join good causes or even churches can have misleading information.
Sometimes we are fed messages that if you come and join our group or church and follow a set of rules that your whole world will change and all will be better for you in every way. Some join up with multiple groups in search of the one that will provide the most benefits. The best music, the best entertainment, the message that makes me feel good about myself despite what I may be doing or how I am living are all lures to membership. Just like signing up for a credit card and joining the frequent use club, we expect it will provide all kinds of cool and free extras if I become a part of it.
But if one looks at the message of hope and love that was delivered by Jesus it not only provided an understanding of God’s love never heard before, but also included a firm point that requires our loyalty and commitment. Did I say require? Yes I did. Political correctness and not wanting to turn people away has lightened a message that Jesus gave that created many followers, but also much opposition. Opposition to following Him comes with from the outside influences that lure us to many other things. He knew as I have on my blog sites that each day we would encounter doubts, worries and fears that would make us want to sway from the program. He did not however hide it in the fine print.
In Luke 9:23 He stated , “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”
If you are not aware how to begin as a true follower of His, click here to watch a message from the now 96 year old Billy Graham. Billy was not one that shied away from talking boldly, yet in his latter days he mentions he wished he had been even stronger about the commitment messages of the past.
Digging even deeper for those who already have made a ‘profession’; Is it a commitment? I find it bothersome that many today feel it is ok to just pick up and leave one church, and go to another, and then another. It is like using 15 different loyalty cards to grab the best sale at a store or for more points. While that is ok in the retail world, it is not, in the Christ follower world. Would we find it acceptable for any man to just pick up and leave his family/wife for another? (oh wait, that happens all the time doesn’t it?) The second a pastor says something wrong, or the music leader plays a song we don’t like, people run and try out a different program. Carrying a cross daily means, forgiving one another daily and often putting up with challenges.
In a household we always have things we don’t agree on. Just because divorce is easy to get should not mean taking advantage of its simplicity to get one. More so, just because there are multiple churches to choose from, should not equate to going to another place as soon as we are not happy about some little thing. The lack of loyalty has watered down messages from the pulpit from fear that people will not show up the next week and take their donation check to another basket. It goes completely against Luke 9:23.
Not being a Pastor or staff member with something to gain, I feel this message must come more from us Average Joe’s than from the pulpit. It is easy to write off such a teaching as; they are just saying that because they want the money, or power, or they want the ego built by having a big following. Yes that does happen, and yes there are times when a church divorce is necessary. If however, we ourselves do not look at the church we leave as serious as a divorce, then one should question whether a commitment was ever made. Jesus calls the church His bride, do we consider ourselves married, or are we just on a date?
Beneficially, commitment and loyalty to one church group provides more opportunity to learn the fine print messages in the Bible than any other way. In Luke 17 Jesus stated that many temptations will come. Many times we will be confronted with fellow believers that we have to forgive. In the same chapter, stories were told, showing that if we walk and take actions in faith, change and healing happens. It is not a believe, sit and watch, and things miraculously will happen program. Because of the combination of both being a necessity, we will be challenged to do and participate in things we do not like.
If we want growth in our faith, we have to learn loyalty to other people. That requires daily forgiveness to ourselves when we screw up, and to others around us when they do. It requires when we get advanced in our growth, to pass that on to the new person that just found a relationship with Christ, rather than leaving, so – ‘I can have more advanced teaching elsewhere for me’. It could and does require allowing somebody ‘less qualified’ than myself, to have to work with them, instead of me having to be the leader (it is called humility).
Which loyalty program will you choose?
Note that church loyalty is somewhat different from being loyal to a job, group, or business. There are rare instances where it may be necessary to change churches. I will discuss both topics in future posts. My next post will be about the importance of supporting your local church (pre-portico of supporting local businesses)