Hey, I’m like everyone else—I like free, which is why rewards programs are everywhere now. You get rewards for buying coffee and clothing and credit card use…Why does every company have a rewards program? It’s not because they’re being nice and rewarding loyal customers; it’s because companies know that consumers love the idea of getting free stuff, and the rewards programs keep you coming back and entice you to spend more.

The value of the frequent-flier miles, hotel rewards, credit card points and other loyalty program currency that Americans earned in 2010 was about $48 billion. And that doesn’t include cash discounts that grocers and other retailers often offer.


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