Friday, October 1, 2010

TheStreet's 5 Best, 5 Worst Customer-Loyalty Programs took a look at customer-loyalty programs and rated the 5 best and the 5 worst out there for customers. From high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus to the corner Starbucks, find out what loyalty programs customers should sign-up for and which they should avoid. Reporter Jason Notte writes, according to marketing firm Colloquy's Loyalty Census released last year, membership in U.S. customer-loyalty programs has reached 1.8 billion, up from 1.3 billion in 2007. The census showed that the average U.S. household has signed up for 14.1 loyalty programs, but only participates in 6.2 of them.

We've highlighted two of the best and two of the worst - you'll have to visit for the rest!

Neiman Marcus
Neiman Marcus' rewards program isn't for everyone, but neither are its offerings. First, InCircle's best benefits don't kick in until a shopper spends $3,000, which is roughly the amount of a middling offering in the wish book. At that level, the valued customer receives invitations to members-only shopping events, advance notices for sales, double points on a day of your choosing (not much of a sacrifice, as it takes roughly $5,000 in spending to earn back $100), free gift packaging and various literature.

National's Emerald Club
National's fast lane for frequent renters that not only gets them from plane to car faster than most folks can call up their rental agreement, but also gives renters their pick of any car on the lot once they arrive.

Celebrity Cruise Lines' Captain's Club
While behind-the-scenes tours and increased access is nice and all, it looks flimsy when compared to the $75 to $400 credits that customers receive on competing lines like Oceania.

Amtrak Guest Rewards
Even when a traveler reaches Amtrak's upper echelon -- Select Plus -- he or she only get a 50% bump in point accrual, club access and blackout availability. When a points program gives a customer more incentives to deal with partners -- Select Plus members get double points at Hertz and Hyatt -- its value goes off the rails.

What loyalty programs do you know work the best, what work the worst? Let us know! DM @customerworld

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