Loyalty Card Ideas

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Loyalty cards are small, business-size cards that companies use to reward their frequent customers by providing a free item or discount after a certain amount of purchases. Businesses who sell small items regularly use loyalty cards, but options are available to reward customers for all types of organizations; the cards can be an incentive that brings in repeat business.

Free Item

The most common type of loyalty card is sold by restaurants and coffee shops, promising a free item after the purchase of a set number of similar items. A cafe, for example, might offer a free smoothie after the customer has purchased five at regular price. The loyalty card would have numbers from one to five on it and the cashier would punch a hole in the number after each purchase. This type of card can often be the tipping point that causes customers to choose your shop even when they have an equally attractive option.

Companion Rate

To get additional customers in the door, you can offer a companion rate loyalty card. This type of card works on the same principle as the free item card, but allows the customer to receive a second item for free or half-price with the purchase of a full-price item. This ensures that your client will purchase an additional item and increases the chance that you will get new business from the friend who gets the free item.


If the scale of your business does not allow you to offer free items, you can offer a discount-based loyalty card. A discount program works well for almost all businesses that provide services or products. A marketing firm, for example, might give a customer a 20 percent discount on his third brochure order or might include a free postcard layout with the purchase of an annual report design. This type of loyalty program demonstrates appreciation for customers that bring their business to the same firm and can be helpful in strengthening relationships.


If you have a business that runs on referrals, you can consider a version of the loyalty card that rewards both new and old customers. Distribute discount cards to existing customers that can be given to friends and family; when a new customer uses one of the cards, you can mail a discount card or coupon to the original customer as a thank you for referring her friend.

Special Sales

For a retail business with a walk-in store, a loyalty program that offers access to a special sale can mean a significant increase in business. To set up the program, you must issue a card that tracks the purchase amounts for individual customers. Once customers reach a certain level, they can be invited to sales that occur after hours, which creates the atmosphere of exclusivity.


About the Author

Elizabeth Smith has been a scientific and engineering writer since 2004. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, newspapers and corporate publications. A frequent traveler, she also has penned articles as a travel writer. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in communications and writing from Michigan State University.

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