PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — You may have a wad of them in your wallet or some jingling on your keychain, but it’s what is on the back of your store loyalty cards that businesses are really interested in.
It seems like every store tempts customers to sign up for loyalty cards as a way to score discounts, rewards and rebates. But there’s something in it for them, too.
KOIN 6 News learned companies get more than just cash rewards for your information: The magnetic stripe or barcode on the back of loyalty cards lets businesses track your habits to collect data showing what you’re buying, how much you’re buying, when you’re buying it and details about your family life.
“We use it to look at shopping habits,” Melinda Merrill with Fred Meyer said. “What are they buying, more of like gourmet cheese, apparel? What are they moving towards?”
Stores use information collected through loyalty cards to determine where to place items that may tempt you, like gourmet bread along the fancy cheese aisle.
“The key to retails is to have it before customers realize they want it,” Merrill said.
Some shoppers pass up loyalty card offers over concerns about giving out personal information like their name, address and email. Others put down fake information.
But sometimes sharing your personal information can help protect you. If an item you purchased is recalled, some stores will track you down via phone or email to let you know. If you lose your keys, many keyring loyalty cards instruct whoever finds them to drop them into a mailbox. The store will then help track you down.
You can also check to make sure stores don’t sell, rent or exchange your information.
If you hate collecting cards, many stores now have apps that offer the same benefits.