Two of my favorite places to buy food and other household goods are Vons (part of the Safeway group) and Ralphs (part of the Kroger family). However, if I had to pick one clear winner with the best rewards program, I'd have to go with Vons. Hands down. The reason I picked Vons comes down to their awesome incentives and their phone app.
Mobile store rewards
To maximize my savings, I applied for a rewards card (not the credit card—I want to be very clear about that) at both stores, went online to register my card, then downloaded their apps on my phone. Once I downloaded the app, I synced my card to the app. Being able to open an app on my phone, scroll through all the coupons, and click on the ones I like and/or intend to use is extremely convenient and saves me a lot of time. I also feel like I'm saving paper by not cutting paper coupons.
The Ralphs app only lists the coupons on the circulars and any in-store coupons they might have at the moment. A nice bonus is being able to earn fuel rewards. From Ralphs.com, "You'll earn one fuel point for every $1 you spend. Plus, you'll earn 2x fuel points on gift cards, no-contract wireless phones and Airtime cards!" Certain restrictions apply, so make sure you read the fine print for your state. Ralphs' fuel points are redeemable at Shell gas stations. Earn up to 20 cents off per gallon for up to 35 gallons.
While this is pretty nice, it doesn't hold a candle to what Vons offers me. Like Ralphs, Vons' circulars are updated on Tuesdays, and I can scroll through what in-store coupons and circular coupons are available to me on my phone and save the ones I want to use. When I check out, I hand over my club card and, just like magic, all the coupons that apply to what I bought are automatically applied to my bill.
Why Vons is better
That's about where the similarities end. I don't know if it's a server issue or a backend issue, but I'm able to use Vons coupons immediately. I have to wait around 30 minutes before my Ralphs coupons load to my club card.
Vons offers what's called "Just For You" coupons. Every time you use your Vons club card, it gets smarter and starts understanding what you buy. Based upon that information, they offer you coupons not only that they think you'll like, but they also offer you these "Just For You" coupons. These coupons are exactly what they sound like—they're coupons that are just for you! When I look at my receipt after shopping, I'll see the following codes:
- MC: Manufacturer's Coupon
- SC: Store Coupon
- J4U: Just For You coupons!
All three kinds of coupons are applied towards my final bill. I haven't run into an instance when all three weren't used. I also love the other kinds of coupons Vons gives me. Take a look at the photos I've included in this article. All of them are actual coupons my husband has loaded onto his Vons phone app that's linked to his Vons club card.
Like Ralphs, Vons also has a fuel rewards program. According to Vons.com, every 100 points gets you a 10¢ per gallon reward for a single fill-up at a Vons gas station or participating Chevron or Texaco station. You can use your points in increments of 100 and use up to 200 points for a single fill-up at a participating Chevron or Texaco station, and up to 1000 points for a single fill-up at a Vons gas station of 25 gallons or less and a limit of one vehicle per transaction:
- 100 points = 10¢ off per gallon
- 200 points = 20¢ off per gallon
- 1000 points = $1 off per gallon (Vons gas stations only)
Note: Gas Rewards only apply to Chevron, Texaco and Vons branded products.
The cherry on top of the Vons fuel rewards program is a coupon especially geared to help you gain more fuel points! For example, instead of saving you 10 cents off an item, the coupon will allow you to earn 4 points per dollar spent instead of the usual 1 point per dollar spent. That can add up to pretty substantial savings—not just towards your shopping cart, but also to your gas tank!
This is a guest post by Bonnie from Los Angeles, CA.
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