I like to think I'm rational when I shop. When I buy things I have an internal nexus that weighs up price, quality and convenience. But also included in the mix, at a secondary level, is any potential loyalty points / rewards I can gather in the transaction.
Reward points should not trump price, quality or convenience but all things being equal, a loyalty scheme can influence purchasing decisions. Let me give you an example:-
I live near to a Tesco supermarket and so for convenience and price, I often shop there. Therefore not only does it makes sense to have a Tesco Clubcard but also a Tesco MasterCard which doubles up my Clubcard points. My rewards behaviour is subsidiary to my primary motivation - location and price - but as I have made a decision, it would be stupid not to maximise my rewards for each transaction.
The rationale is, if you are going to shop somewhere always maximise your ability to earn rewards. For this reason, I tend not to use cash as cash will never bring me the rewards that paying by a credit card will. Obviously, you have to settle your bill every month to realise the benefits, but, so long as you do, the following proposition works:
In each transaction try to be rewarded in some way. If possible twice.
Looking through my wallet I see I have twelve cards that offer rewards. Clearly I'm serious about this! (Love the picture Tim, BTW. Thanks Tim.)
The other side of the equation is that the benefits need to be realisable. In the case of my primary duo (Tesco Clubcard and Tesco MasterCard) they certainly are. Free cinema tickets, free family days out in Chessington, travel to France. All have been paid for by Clubcard points. Again, as I was going to make the transactions that funded these freebies anyway, it would be sub-optimal not to take advantage.
So far, so perfect market / rational consumer. I am a robot. But, two things occur to me:
1) The recent EU regulation on capping interchange levels. This will have the effect of lessening the number of linked rewards points you will get from your MasterCard / Visa loyalty schemes. For a scholarly, and yet accessible, article I wrote on this subject, look here.
2) An app/device that can convert random stray points on underused loyalty schemes to a consumer's preferred scheme... Well, that would be next level for the rational consumer. That way I could move my tiny allocation of Shell Drivers Club points or BA Miles, over to, wait for it, Tesco Clubcard Points (or Beefeater Grill!). I know there has been rumours of this sort of scheme but as yet I've not seen a decent prototype...
And so friends, get rational. Suck eggs.
PS, I like to dance too.