Valuing Reward Currencies and Programs


Jun 6, 2001


The Bottom Line In order to maximize your rewards in online reward and affinity programs, its first important to get a valuation on each reward currency.


This can be a very tedious and daunting task but with a little patience and persistence, its not impossible.

Start with a list

The first step to organizing your quest for reward currencies valuations is to make a list of programs you wish to evaluate. Making the list before hand will keep you from running in circles trying to obtain a value on each web currencies and rewards.

When starting on your list, its easiest to work with only 1 or 2 programs at a time. When completing each review, then you can go back and compare additional programs.

For the purpose of this article, we'll use MyPoints ( http://www.mypoints.com ) and Prima Rewards ( http://www.primarewards.com ) for our examples.

Value the currency itself

Most rewards programs are measured in reward points or some other unit of measure. These points or units are generally exchangeable for various rewards. We'll begin our valuation process by putting a specific value for each point/unit offered by each reward program.

The quickest way to obtain valuation on the currency is to use a gift certificate offering since it has a specific dollar amount available. Generally I recommend taking 3 - 5 gift certificates to get an average value since some certificates include fees or postage and may yield slightly higher costs in terms of the points needed to redeem.

For example:

Prima Rewards offers several $10 gift certificates for 10,300 - 10,500 points. To obtain a valuation on the points, you would divide the dollar amount by the number of points. $10 / 10,500 = $0.0009 which can safely be rounded up to $0.001 per point.

My points offers several $10 gift certificates for 1250 points. $10 / 1250 = $0.008 per point.

Valuing Offers

Now that we have the value of each point earned, in order to get a true value on the offers themselves, we have to find at least one offer in common between the two programs.

In our example we're using Prima Rewards and My Points. At Prima Rewards, purchasing Flooz rewards a user 30 points per dollar spent. At My Points, purchasing Flooz rewards a user 2 points per dollar spent.

Knowing our point values, we can conclude the actual reward value on the offer by calculating the number of points (per dollar or per offer) times the value of each point:

Prima Rewards: 30 * $0.001 = $0.03 (about 3 cents per dollar spent on Flooz)

My Points: 2 * $0.008 = $0.016 (about 1 3/5 cents per dollar spent on Flooz)

In valuing offers, its important to value at least 3 different offers in each program. Remember that you cannot assume this value applies to all shopping since each different shopping offer may provide a different number of points per dollar spent. The jest is to determine which rewards program offers more rewards for the same offer.

I'll skip the explanation, however, here are the results of two additional comparisons:

Prima Rewards: Florist.com - 8 cents per dollar

My Points: Florist.com - 1.6 cents per dollar

Prima Rewards: GiftCertificates.com - 2.5 cents per dollar

My Points: GiftCertificates.com - 1.6 cents per dollar

Considering the extras

While its easy to miss, you have to consider the extra's in each rewards program. While there is no direct correlation in value to extra's on one program or the next, its important that you at least weigh them in your decision.

One example might be referral programs.

MyPoints referral program is very simple to figure out. 100 points per referred member * $0.008 value per point = $0.80 in rewards. This is a one time up front bonus for telling your friend about My Points and having them sign up through your link.

Prima Rewards referral program is more difficult to weigh because rather then a single one time bonus, Prima Rewards offers an ongoing reward equivalent to 10% of the rewards earned by the referred member. If that referred member were to earn $25 in rewards each year, Prima Rewards would give you (for referring that person) and additional $2.50 in rewards each year. Additionally, Prima Rewards offers referral rewards for people referred by those you refer into the program.

Overcoming Non Similar Offers

Each program will feature different merchants and offers and while it can be difficult to compare programs when there are virtually no similar offers, this can be overcome.

When you encounter a program which doesn't have similar offers to the one you are comparing it with, put that one aside and compare another initially. Once you have a list of point values and values per offer for several programs, it will be easier to single out other programs that do have comparable offers. While it may not be possible to get an exact valuation between two specific programs, you can offer compare 1 against another and then use that other programs valuations to weigh the first one back to the original comparison you wanted to make.

Conclusion

Not all rewards programs are created equally. In our initial review of two programs, Prima Rewards and MyPoints, first impressions would lead a person to believe that MyPoints points are more valuable. However, when you compare apples to apples and break down the offers themselves, you find that Prima Rewards frequently pays out twice the reward or more that is offered for a similar offer at MyPoints.

In order to get the most reward for your money, be sure to review the various programs and value their currencies and offers before making a buying decision.


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