Cash Back: Saving Money or Incentive to Spend?

We often see various cash back offers from credit cards, and there are many offers that save us a small amount of money in return for giving a company business. The latest has a charitable component, as well, but let’s take a closer look.

CVS will attempt to reduce plastic bag waste by using a new “GreenBagTag” initiative, which will pay shoppers a dollar (in ExtraCare Bucks) every four uses. The tag leaf-shaped scannable card costs 99 cents, but pays for itself in four uses.

It sounds good, and for people who shop at CVS regularly will surely benefit from a discount when they were already planning on buying goods, but what about people like me, who occasionally buy milk at CVS and other supplies occasionally. But will this new program encourage me to shop at CVS more often? If I know that a candybar will now cost 50 cents instead of 75 cents, I’m much more encouraged to treat myself (I actually don’t eat candy very often, so this example won’t tempt me, but what about a pack of sugar-free gum?).

If we are dilligent and don’t spend our spending habits, then a few extra cents is worth it, but are we actually able to control our spending and limit ourselves or do we overspend just because we get an extra quarter from each visit?

So, do you think cash back incentives help us save money or do they encourage us to spend more?

One Response to Cash Back: Saving Money or Incentive to Spend?

  1. marissa says:

    I am a sucker for “extra” incentives and always end up spending more. I think in my head I justify it as saving money. The canadian version of CVS usually has a deal where is you spend $50, they will give you a $10 coupon, even if im there for a really quick, small purchase, I end up spending the full amount.

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