Almost everyone is a member of at least one grocery store loyalty program, right? While the grocery store’s intent by issuing loyalty cards is to retain you as a customer, for you it can mean significant savings and sometimes, just plain fun. To ensure you get the most from each store where you may shop, we took some time to compare the loyalty programs at each of the major Triad grocery store chains. First we will describe each feature available with all the cards followed by a comparison chart at the bottom of the post.
Loyalty Program Overview
The loyalty programs at Food Lion, Harris Teeter, and Lowes Foods all provide for paying lower prices at the cash register. For this reason alone, and aside from the down sides of the loyalty card, we recommend signing up for these at every store where you shop, even if only occasionally. Because we only use coupons when it is fast and easy, we especially like the digital coupons that are also offered by all 3 loyalty programs. Weekly emails and alerts and charity links are 2 other features we especially like. Here is a list of the loyalty programs at each store (with links).
Note: ALDI does not currently have a loyalty card program.
How do the 3 loyalty programs measure up? Here is a nifty chart followed by more information on each feature. Check out each store’s website for more information and try and take advantage of your store’s loyalty program features that make sense for your lifestyle.
Special prices for loyalty program members are displayed on shelf tags in the store, in the weekly sales flyer, and usually via regular emails or alerts. In the case of Harris Teeter, your VIC card will get you basic special pricing but some deals are reserved for eVIC members which is a separate sign up.
Harris Teeter has a weekly meal deal for VIC members with deep discounts on an entire meal for 4. Lowes Foods Gas Rewards program is in conjunction with Fresh Rewards and can save you 5 cents per gallon on gasoline.
All 3 programs include digital coupons which allow you to click on the coupon and add it to your card so when you check out, the discount is automatically taken. We admit these (and the occasional in-store coupon) are the only ones we have the patience to use. It only take a few minutes to scroll the list and click. That way you can’t accidentally leave the coupon at home. Although you CAN forget to buy the product, you’ve only wasted a click, rather than hours and hours of clipping and sorting. We love digital coupons.
The Food Lion MVP loyalty program is the only one that offers in-store coupons and we love it. You spend a couple of minutes to scan your card and receive both paper coupons from the machine as well as digital coupons added to your card. It takes less than 5 minutes to determine if you will be buying any of the featured items and if so, you already have your coupons with you. Easy peasy.
Lowes Foods Fresh Rewards program is the only one that offers printable coupons. We think paper coupons are a pain and rarely use them.
Weekly Email/Savings Alerts
We receive the emails and we get the alerts. Half the time we open them. We try to make a point to open and scan them for relevant deals just before going into the store but we often forget.
Both Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods claim the deals are hand-picked for me based on purchases I’ve already made but often they offer me deals on a different brand for a product I previously purchased. This makes me feel a little manipulated and angry and happens more often than not so if I have to skip a money-saving activity, this is it.
Savings Analysis Tools
Food Lion has a cool feature that none of the others have that shows you your savings history on your last visit, the last 7 or 30 days, and year to date.
Although all 3 stores offer occasional sweepstakes, Harris Teeter offer the most and some are restricted to eVIC members