Retail Therapy Without the Guilt (or Expense!)

Checkout page from William Sonoma showing our loyalty reward being applied

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we spent a pretty good chunk of change in our recent living room remodel. So, in keeping with our Mustachian ways, that means we’re tightening our wallets a bit over the next month or so, to even out that additional expense.

That being said, you can imagine how pleased I was today when some FREE MONEY just showed up in my inbox, allowing me to do a little shopping without the guilt or cost that normally comes with such activities.

How? Well, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of airline and hotel loyalty programs. But as it turns out, many shopping outlets have their own retail loyalty programs as well. And West Elm, where we purchased our new couch, is part of a retail loyalty program called “The Key”.

I took the 30 seconds or so to sign up for this program before I punched in my credit card details for the couch purchase, and poof! Three months later, a credit for $67 showed up in my email. Even better, I could choose from between 7 stores (including Pottery Barn, West, Elm, and William-Sonoma) for where to spend it.

Retail Loyalty programs like The Key can provide users with free cash back

So, after perusing the many beaded pillows and terrariums and finials and all other matter of stuff that pretty much no one on Earth *actually* needs, we settled on two items from Williams-Sonoma: a wine decanter (to replace an old one that cracked) and a spoon rest for the stove (which I’ve been talking about getting for ages).

The subtotal came out to just under $58. I applied a coupon code I found online for free shipping, and then with tax, my “total” was $62.73. Then, I added the certificate number from my email, and voila — my purchase was free. I didn’t even have to enter a credit card number!

The lesson here is always to take a couple minutes to research your “reward” options, especially on large purchases. Our typical order-of-operation goes something like this:

  1. Check for coupon codes using Honey or RetailMeNot
    • If not, check to see if you can get bonus points for purchasing the item by going through a travel shopping portal (like Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping).
  2. Check to see if there’s a statement credit available through Amex Offers, if you’re an Amex card holder.
  3. Check to see if you can get free shipping by meeting a certain subtotal amount or through a service like ShopRunner, which is a free benefit of many Amex cards.
  4. Check to see if you can sign up for a retail loyalty program through the merchant, or if they participate in an umbrella program, like Plenti.
  5. If the retailer gives you any sort of discounts to use in the future with your purchase (like with Kohl’s Cash, or Old Navy Super Cash), mark them on your calendar so you don’t forget about them.
  6. If it was a really large purchase (over $300 or so), keep your eye on the price of the item over the next 60 days or so, then avail yourself to your credit card price protection benefits if the item’s price decreases.

So take the extra time, and you might just run into a free shopping opportunity yourself!

Whitney