Loyalty Programs Add Fancy Levels For Big-Spending Customers

When you’re running a retail business, the customers who spend the most in your store are valuable and magical creatures. Loyalty cards let you return that love to your customers. Sort of. Some companies are taking rewards cards a step further, rewarding their most loyal customers (probably the ones with the most money) with special perks.

After all, tempting big spenders with special discounts or free merchandise can’t get you far. They might not care about things that you can buy with boring old money, but what about special privileges that only people who have spent a large amount of money with one retailer can get?

The Starbucks Gold Card is a cheap endeavor compared to some of these new reward levels. Can you spend $1,000 in a year at beauty retailer Sephora? (Well, I probably could, but it would be fiscally unwise.) The store does have some customers at that level, who get free shipping and early access to new products, as well as invites to special events. Gilt.com? Spend as little as $1,000, and get access to special sales and a VIP customer service queue.

“It almost has become the overall scorecard for customers, so they understand where they are relative to where they could be,” one expert explained to CNBC. The privileges just one level above yours seem so…tempting…

Earning these special perks means that you give something up. The ability to comparison shop, for example. If you’re aiming for Silver status at Best buy, it doesn’t matter that there is a better deal at Newegg for the new digital camera you have your eye on.

It’s not quite the frequent-flyer lounge, but some customers are willing to spend enough to earn that status.

Retail loyalty programs add tiers to reward big spenders [CNBC]