Smart phone savvy shopper Joanna Alva earns points she can redeem for discounts and gift cards at thousands of retailers across the country by just walking into certain stores and scanning featured products using an app called "shopkick".
"I don't have to do anything to really get the points and get rewarded for shopping," she says.
Retailers are finding all kinds of new ways to woo you, from letting you merge points with friends to partnering with other companies so you can use your reward points in other stores. But the biggest trend in rewards revisions: dumping those plastic membership cards for something else.
"They're using mobile. They're using your cell phone," says Mark Johnson with the Loyalty Marketers Association.
The number of retailers offering special deals if you check into their store on Facebook or Foursquare is skyrocketing, as well as the number of businesses that will text you coupons.
And get ready to get rewards for playing. It's part of a new trend called "gamification." Soon, players can stop by sites like gamify.com and earn real life rewards.
Viggle also allows you to earn reward points simply by watching TV. It listens to the show that's on, identifies it and you can cash in on gift cards and movie tickets. But should you be worried that what you gain in savings you lose in privacy?
"Most retailers don't like to sell information about your shopping habits to others because they want to use it to spend more money with them," says Gerri Detweiler, Director of Consumer Education with Credit.com.
But always read the fine print. Advocates also warn, be careful when it comes to store credit cards that offer you cash back and discounts. Some cards will share your info with third parties. Plus, know the rate.
"A credit card rewards program can cost you a lot more than the rewards you earn, especially if end up carrying a balance and paying interest on that card," explains Detweiler.
If Alva links a Visa to her shopkick account, she'll earn more points if she pays with it.
"I'm not so much worried about my information being sold as I am about getting the better deals," she says.
If you rack up reward points, don't forget to spend them. Research firm Colloquy found that U.S. consumers earn $48 billion a year in points and miles but fail to redeem one-third of those points and miles.
Copyright 2012 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.