Posts tagged ‘card’

Do Hotel Key Cards Contain Personal Info?

By Chad Upton | Editor

I’ve been saving hotel key cards for years because I want to see exactly what is on them.

Years ago, somebody told me that hotel room access cards contained personal info and credit card data. The rumor was that this info was necessary for you to charge items to your room during your stay.

I recently got my hands on a magnetic card reader and started swiping all my old cards. The results fit into three categories.

1. 77% of all the cards could not be read at all. This should not be a surprise to anyone who has ever stayed in a hotel with magnetic card keys; some are notoriously poor at holding their magnetic charge. Another reason they may appear blank is that some systems use non-standard data encoding which make it difficult for an ISO card reader to extract information. Whether the charge is weak, distorted or proprietary, specialized card readers may be able to extract data from these cards. Still, that data would likely fall into one of the two following categories. (more…)

February 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm 13 comments

Coupons You Get at Grocery Stores are Based on Your Purchases

In the United States it is very common for supermarkets to offer discounts to shoppers who present their loyalty card at the checkout. Price tags in the aisles often quote two prices, with and without the discount card.

The loyalty cards are usually provided by the retailer at no charge. However, they’re not free.

Although you don’t pay any money for these cards, you do handover your entire purchase history at that store. Your information is often used immediately at your time of purchase to determine which coupons should be printed out for your next visit.

Marketers frequently target consumers who buy their competitors products. For example, if you frequently buy Uncle Ben’s Rice, you may get a coupon from Rice-A-Roni. The manufacturer is trying to entice you to buy their brand the next time you shop.

Purchase history may also be used to determine the dollar value of the coupons you receive. For example, if you normally buy Dannon yogurt, then Yoplait may offer you $0.50 off your next Yoplait purchase. If you’re already a Yoplait customer, you may only get a $0.10 coupon or none at all.

Obviously, you don’t need a loyalty card for the store to recognize that you’re buying Uncle Ben’s today, but it is important if they want to know if you have bought that brand before or if you typically buy another brand.

When you sign up for a loyalty card, you often fill out a short survey of personal information, including your home address. They say they want your address so they can mail other offers to you, which they may. More importantly, your address allows them to understand a lot about you, including the average income of your neighborhood and even how much you paid for your house. In some cases, these programs are run by outside companies. Your address will help them combine your shopping information from multiple stores, assuming you always use the same name and address.

By comparing your personal information with information about other people’s shopping habits, average income and other demographic information, they can predict which products you’ll most likely try if they provide a coupon a for it.

Many stores will give you their loyalty card and let you use it right away, then they send you home with a survey to fill out and mail in to register for the card. I can tell you from experience that you can use your loyalty card for years without ever mailing the survey in. Although they’re collecting your shopping history, they don’t know much else about you.

There are also studies that show stores with loyalty cards don’t always have the best price, even when you use your frequent shopper card. In fact, one study even showed that sale prices went up after the introduction of a loyalty shopping card. It’s a good idea to keep track of the prices of a few items you commonly purchase to see if the regular price is better at other nearby stores.

I usually shop at a co-op, which does not use a loyalty card but has better prices than any other store around. They even have better prices than Target on items that they both carry, although that is one of the few places I cannot use my credit card to get cash back — they only accept cash or debit, one way they try to keep their costs down.

It’s not just grocery stores that provide you with sponsored coupons. I stopped at target yesterday to pick up some envelopes, on my way to the cash I spotted a new iced coffee drink. From other posts, you know I am addicted to coffee, so I couldn’t resist. At the register I was given a $7 off coupon for Crest Whitening strips. I doubt the envelopes triggered that.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Seattle Press, No Cards, an Industry Insider

June 22, 2010 at 8:16 am 3 comments

Increase Your Income With Your Credit Card

There are two ways to get rich(er): spend less money and earn more money. Both can be tough, but here’s an easy way to start earning more money immediately.

Credit cards are a real life game and depending on how you play, you can win or lose real money.

When you lose, your credit card issuer wins big. When you win, your card issuer still wins, just not as much as when you lose. So, if you’re going to use a credit card, then you better be winning.

Some people have lost and decided not to play the game anymore, they cut up their credit cards and swear off credit forever. Depending on your lifestyle this may or may not work. In many cases, you need a credit card to rent cars, reserve hotel rooms, book flights and buy online.

Credit card issuers make it easy for you to lose the game. When you apply for their card, they ask you what your income is. Once they know they can trust you, they increase your credit limit beyond what they know you can afford to pay back each month. If you take the bait, they start lining their pockets with your hard earned money. If you carry a balance, you instantly lose the game — if you want to be a winner, be sure you pay your bill in full every month.

That’s the first step to winning. The second step is to switch your card to a high dividend credit (or debit) card. Dividend cards pay you a cash reward for using your card, usually 2-5% of how much you spend. This might not sound like a lot, but many people can make over $1000 per year with this. (more…)

May 24, 2010 at 5:00 am 14 comments

The History of Valentine’s Day

By Chad Upton | Editor

Where did Valentine’s Day come from?

I’d like to say that some marketing genius at Hallmark was looking for a good reason to sell cards between Christmas and Easter, but that’s not the case. Although, they’re not shy about making the best of it — Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday for sending cards (Christmas is the leader). Approximately one billion Valentine cards are sent each year.

In elementary school, we used to decorate giant Valentine’s Day envelopes and hang them from our desks. Then we would buy a box of Valentine Cards and write a nice message for every person in our class, except the ones we didn’t like. After that, we’d walk around the room and drop the cards in each others envelopes. That was usually the end of the day, but just before we left, the teacher would feed us cake until we were mad and turn us loose on the neighborhood. (more…)

February 12, 2010 at 12:08 am 1 comment


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