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10 US Loyalty Programs That Put Experience First

Which brands have the best loyalty programs in terms of customer experience? Here are ten US loyalty programs you can learn a lot from.

There is no shortage of U.S. loyalty programs, but not every program is built with the customer experience in mind. That’s why we’re looking at ten loyalty and membership programs that take a unique approach to customer experience and value. These programs get to the heart of what customers want, and deliver.

1. Shop your way with The Nordy Club

Why the experience stands out

When it comes to US loyalty programs, you simply can’t skip over luxury department store chain, Nordstrom. Nordstrom fans are true shoppers. When you visit a Nordstrom location, you have a huge selection of product categories at your fingertips. So it makes sense that a US loyalty program like theirs ensures members can spend their points however they want to. 

If a member wants to use their Nordstrom Notes on shoes, so be it. On cosmetics? Great! This cash-back system lets Nordstrom customers design their own experience and choose their own rewards.

US Loyalty Program Nordy Club explaining how the program works
The Nordy Club combines points, tiers and credit card bonuses. Though the rewards are cash back, Nordy Club ensures engagement with enticing benefits and regular point bonuses campaigns.

Loyalty logic and program design

Members earn one point per every dollar spent, no matter how they pay for their purchases. However, if members use a Nordstrom credit or debit card, they double their earnings. The program has three tiers, Member, Influencer and Ambassador. Higher tier members earn even more points when they use their Nordstrom credit cards. 

There are also regular bonus points days and campaigns in the program, as well as personal double points days, so when a member is in the mood for a trip to the store, they can get double points all day.

One thousand points translates into a $10 Nordstrom Note, which can be spent freely at Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack or Nordstrom Trunk Club.

Getting the goods: rewards 

You won’t find a traditional rewards catalog here. Nordy members can spend their Notes on any products online or in stores. 

To keep things exciting, however, there are a lot of promotions, highlighting specific brands, product categories and products throughout the year.

Nordy club showing how reward redemption works on mobile
The Nordy Club is a sophisticated program with a number of ways for customers to earn additional points. For example, customers can earn Notes faster when they use the iOS app.

2. Be entertained for hours with Disney Movie Insiders

Why the experience stands out

Movie lovers everywhere are getting rewarded for what they love to do… watch movies!

From a business standpoint, Disney Movie Insiders helps the entertainment giant learn about customers they previously weren’t able to identify. By allowing members to upload their tickets, they’re now able to see who has seen Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Star Wars movies at their local theaters.

The frontpage benefits of Disney loyalty program membership
Disney Movie Insiders is a US loyalty program fully focused on entertainment. The program highlights movies at home and in theaters, and rewards customers for enjoying the Disney+ streaming platform, too.

Loyalty logic and program design

Flexibility is the name of the game. The program is designed to include Disney fans, no matter where or when they prefer to watch their movies.

For those who enjoy a trip to the theater, Members can earn points for their movie tickets or linking to partner accounts, such as Fandango. And for those who prefer to watch movies at home, members can enter codes from select DVDs, Blu-Ray, Digital and Disney+ Premier Access Purchases to earn points.

Movie Insiders also promotes their mobile app, offering members a point bonus for downloading the app. 

Getting the goods: rewards 

Members of the program can use their points to get movie vouchers, concessions, gift cards, collectibles, partner discounts and more.

The elegantly designed rewards catalog includes rewards for everyone. At the time of writing, there were 0-point and 5-point rewards available. So, even fans who are at the very beginning of their Insiders journey have something to get excited about right away. This is a great way to ensure engagement from the start, decreasing the likelihood that some members will register and forget about the program.

The benefits of using the app of Disney Movie Insider program
Disney Movie Insiders promotes the smooth loyalty experience that customers will get by downloading the app, and offering interactive content that can’t be found elsewhere.

3. Enjoy the great outdoors with REI Co-op membership

Why the experience stands out

REI, the omnichannel outdoor gear, clothing and footwear retailer has a paid membership program that takes a different approach to loyalty. It is unique in its approach to the community of customers, content, and aligning with customer values.

The main loyalty program page of REI Co-op program
Paid membership programs, like REI Co-op membership, work for brands offering a lot of exclusive services or a valuable community space.

Loyalty logic and program design

The program costs $20 to join, but unlike many popular subscription-based loyalty programs, Co-op membership lasts a lifetime. At the time of writing, REI was also offering a $20 member bonus card to use toward the next purchase, easing any customer concerns about the initial fee.

The program is designed around a “member dividend”, rather than traditional rewards. Typically this is based on 10% of your spend at REI, however there are products, such as sale items and adventure travel, that don’t count toward your dividend.

There is also a used gear trade-in program, which aligns with member values surrounding protecting the environment and working toward a circular economy.

Finally, as an outdoor community, Membership highlights the forum as a benefit, where members can share their experiences, tips, inspiration, jokes and more. 

Membership perks explained for REI Co-op loyalty program members
REI Co-op Membership is built around community building, customer values, and a permanent discount.

4. Get gorgeous with Ulta and Ultamate Rewards

Why the experience stands out

The U.S.-based cosmetics retailer and beauty services provider has a very enticing set of benefits, spread out over three tiers: Member, Platinum and Diamond. 

There’s also ultra-convenient with a mobile app that lets you try makeup looks virtually, search for products at specific store locations, order online and pick up in-store.

US Loyalty Program Ultamate Rewards explaining the rules
Ultamate Rewards makes it look fun and simple to start earning points and spending them freely on your favorite things, giving customers more control of their own experience.

Loyalty logic and program design

Ultamate Rewards is a point-based and tier-based program, which is ultimately based on spend. Members in the first tier earn one point per dollar spent, and the point multiplier increases as members move up to the second and third tiers. Higher-tier members get to keep their points forever, with no expiration date.

All members get a free birthday gift and double points during their birthday month, while top tier members get everyday free shipping for orders over a $25 minimum and an annual $25 beauty service rewards card.

Getting the goods: rewards 

Points are converted into a cash-value amount that can be used on products and services at Ulta. This is another program that lets customers take the reins and design their own reward experience. For companies that decide to take a cash-back approach like Nordstrom and Ulta, offering free samples is a great way to ensure that customers still get a taste of new products that you want to highlight.

Tiered benefits table for Ultamate Rewards
Ultamate Rewards has three tiers and clearly shows customers the benefit of becoming a member and earning Platinum and Diamond status.

5. Sail like royalty with Royal Caribbean International’s Crown & Anchor® Society

Why the experience stands out

Cruise line Royal Caribbean International’s loyalty program, Crown & Anchor Society really goes all out when it comes to tiers. They have built the program to really value their top customers. For example, members who reach the top Pinnacle tier have the chance to dine with an Officer on board and get priority seating at events, among many other benefits that give the feeling of exclusivity. 

This is a program that knows how to make members feel special.

Loyal Caribbean International’s Crown & Anchor® Society program showing its loyalty benefits
From well-worded promotion to an exclusive line for inquiries, Crown & Anchor Society is really well-positioned to make cruise-goers feel special.

Loyalty logic and program design

Customers become members automatically once they complete their first cruise. For each night they spend sailing, they earn a Cruise Point, and double points for nights spent in suites. Royal Caribbean Visa cardholders can spend money on their everyday needs to earn even more points.

The more points members earn, the higher their tier, and the more benefits they earn.

Getting the goods: rewards 

Though, logically, most of the rewards revolve around on-board discounts, special welcome gifts, lounge access, dedicated service lines and vouchers, there are also on-land rewards, too, such as perks from hotel and rental car partners.

Two exciting elements that really help members feel that they’re in an exclusive community are the special event access and physical rewards, such as lapel pins, which let members show off their well-sailed status.

Royal Caribbean International’s Crown & Anchor® Society tier groups
Royal Caribbean International keeps it simple with automatic enrollment in the program, but keeps the loyalty journey interesting with six tiers and a range of unique benefits.

6. Push your boundaries with Nike Membership

Why the experience stands out

Sportswear giant Nike has taken “community” to a new level with a series of member-exclusive apps, aimed at runners, fitness enthusiasts, sneaker fans, and the folks who just want to shop. Nike Membership is well integrated into the website and doesn’t conform to the usual “loyalty program” design, landing page, nor copy.

With its community, Nike aims to bring athletes together and encourage them to try new things and push themselves.

The main image of Nike’s loyalty program
A true powerhouse in marketing, Nike builds up the excitement in their loyalty program with a video enticing viewers to “Join Us.”

Loyalty logic and program design

Nike Membership is all about relevant perks for like-minded athletes. Free delivery, 60-day wear tests, receipt-free returns, special offers, exclusive products, inspiring content and a sense of community. 

One highlight is the Partnerships & Events area, where Nike members can get special offers from partners, like Sweetgreen or Headspace, that help them build motivation and reach their goals. Through the app, members can also find local events to attend.

Getting the goods: rewards 

This program positions several perks as “rewards”, including access to product advice from real athletes and a huge line of members-only shoes, apparel, equipment and accessories. But there is no typical catalog of rewards, nor is there a points system, so there’s no doubt that this is a program that’s focused on exclusivity and a wealth of attractive benefits. 

There’s nothing traditional about it.

US Loyalty program Nike Membership showing its main benefits
Nike Membership focuses on member benefits rather than the traditional rewards that consumers have come to expect from loyalty programs. And the benefits are tightly matched with their target consumer’s interest: better performance.

7. Fly high with Delta SkyMiles

Why the experience stands out

When you think back to the original best examples of loyalty programs, airlines like Delta come to mind immediately. Delta SkyMiles has always been well-aligned with the company’s core business of travel. SkyMiles members can earn SkyMiles to purchase flights, upgrade seats, book vacation packages and score exclusive experiences

Though the program has been around for a long time, SkyMiles has kept up with today’s expectations. Their social media campaign, #SkyMilesLife, allows Delta to promote content shared by travel- and photography-loving members who use the hashtag.

Delta Skymiles summarizing how the program works
SkyMiles is free to join and the miles customers earn are theirs to keep, which is a unique approach in the airline industry.

 

Loyalty logic and program design

Members earn miles when they fly or earn more by using the American Express SkyMiles credit card, with triple the points Delta purchases. A unique feature in the airline industry, SkyMiles do not expire.

There are four credit card levels: Blue, Gold, Platinum and Reserve. The higher-tier card a member uses, the more points and benefits they’ll receive. There are also four tiers within the loyalty program, called Medallion Status: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond.

Getting the goods: rewards 

Rewards in the SkyMiles program are 100% focused on providing travel value. From vacation booking to upgrades to magazine subscriptions, it’s all about planning a better trip or being entertained along the way. Members who want to give back can also donate points to a greater cause through the SkyWish program. 

The SkyMiles Experiences section of the rewards catalog is currently being renovated, but the program also lets members bid on memorable experiences in travel and entertainment. Often seen in the world of hotels, bidding combines a bit of friendly competition with high-value rewards, really giving members something to earn towards.

Travel reward image for Delta Skymiles
If you traveled and didn’t post about it, did you really travel? SkyMiles connects with the lifestyle that its members aspire to with its #SkyMilesLife hashtag.

8. Stay connected with AT&T Thanks

Why the experience stands out

As the world’s largest telecommunications provider, AT&T is also a leader in loyalty strategy. Simply put, AT&T Thanks aims to give customers more of what they love. And who wouldn’t love that? 

One particularly lovely thing about this program is that there’s no hassle or required change in behavior. If you’re a registered AT&T customer, you’re a member. AT&T has eliminated the need to sign up to a separate program. Customers can even get the app on their phones by sending a text message. The experience is built around a simple idea: convenience comes first.

Main page and message of At&T Thanks loyalty program.
AT&T makes loyalty hassle free. If you’re a customer, you’re a member. By reducing friction and requiring minimal effort from customers, they are providing an experience that feels more rewarding and less transactional.

Loyalty logic and program design

Say “hello” to gamification. AT&T’s Friday Access campaign gives members a chance to win giveaways every week through a “Scratch to Win” game. Customers can win gift cards, accessories and more. 

Getting the goods: rewards

AT&T Thanks rewards range the gamut, from concert and festival experiences to dining discounts. It’s a straightforward strategy that allows customers to earn by doing what they already do and get the rewards that they already want.

Benefit descriptions for At&T Thanks loyalty program.
Telecommunications and entertainment go hand-in-hand. With support, giveaways and Spotify Premium access, AT&T Thanks offers its members fun and practicality combined.

9. Explore your cheesy side with Domino’s Piece of the Pie Rewards

Why the experience stands out

It’s fair to say that pizza lovers are passionate about their pies. Marketing and advertising fans may remember back to the campaign Domino’s ran, where they gave points to members who uploaded a picture of their pizza… no matter where that pizza came from. 

Well, that campaign is long gone, but it certainly got a lot of buzz. Today the Piece of the Pie program is still making ordering pizzas a lot more fun.

Domino’s loyalty program showing how many points you get with an order.
This loyalty program is as easy as pie. And it’s perfectly aligned with the restaurant chain’s fresh and fun approach to marketing.

Loyalty logic and program design

Each food order valued $10 or more is worth ten points. Once members have 60 points, they qualify for a free medium pizza. The program also runs members-only offers and promotions.

So, pizza is the experience AND the reward. Though a great rewards catalog can work wonders for some companies, others with one strong product or category can gain a lot by keeping it simple. 

It always pays to give customers what they want.

A summary of the perks of being a member of Domino’s loyalty program.
Piece of the Pie puts speed and convenience first for a better experience. Speaking of customer experience, did you know that you can order a pizza on Slack or by texting Domino’s with a pizza emoji? The future is here and this is one company to keep an eye on.

10. Put health first with CVS CarePass

Why the experience stands out

CVS Pharmacy, as a pharmacy and convenience store combined, has a huge base of customers with a range of interests. Some are looking to get prescriptions filled, others regularly scan the beauty aisles for the latest looks, while others might be looking for greeting cards, a cold beverage, or a healthy (or not so healthy) treat.

To respond to those varied needs, CVS takes quite a complex approach to loyalty with multiple programs. While CVS ExtraCare and ExtraCare BeautyClub are more traditional, points-based loyalty programs focused on consumer and beauty goods, CarePass is a paid membership program centered around providing simplicity, good monetary value for prescriptions, and convenience. 

CVS Carepass loyalty program benefit page.
The CVS CarePass membership program is another layer over the company’s ExtraCare loyalty programs.

Loyalty logic and program design

Members pay a monthly or annual membership fee to get their CarePass. This guarantees that they get a 20% discount on CVS Health brand items, as well as a range of promotions throughout the year.

Members get same-day prescription delivery, saving time. Members can also get free one- or two-day shipping on their online orders, saving a trip to the store. And, for peace of mind, members have access to a 24/7 pharmacist helpline to get their Rx questions answered.

While this isn’t a typical rewards program, members get personalized coupons, and at the time of writing, new members can get a monthly promo reward credited to their account, which can be used toward purchases of $10 or more, with exclusions.

The program ties into existing ExtraCare membership, so customers can track their progress and savings in one place, and get all of their benefits using one card. So, while it’s a triple-program system, it’s one that has earned the company a lot of recognition.

Additional loyalty program offers for US Loyalty program CVS CarePass.
Right next to CarePass, ExtraCare and ExtraCare Beauty are complementary loyalty programs offered by the pharmacy franchise.

A great customer experience comes from great value

Many programs from this list don’t have much in common, but they all deliver on experience. This illustrates the importance of knowing how your customers perceive value. 

Customers might see “value” as: 

  • great service, 
  • early access, 
  • exclusive products, 
  • flexibility,
  • good prices, 
  • fast ordering and delivery, 
  • a massive rewards catalog, 
  • relevant, personalized content,
  • a tight-knit community,
  • cash back, 
  • or maybe something else entirely.

By building a loyalty program around what customers want, you’ll be able to deliver an experience that keeps people coming back for more.

For a more detailed look on running a successful , experience-driven loyalty program, check out our joint webinar with Salesforce.

The best of US loyalty programs 

Though this list is just the beginning in a market full of amazing loyalty programs, these ten programs demonstrate how to balance engaging point structures with a reward-centric mindset. These programs serve as an inspiration on how to go beyond traditional point programs and create something memorable and exciting for a Western audience.

Did we pique your interest? Let’s continue the discussion of next-gen loyalty solutions! Our team of experts are more than happy to give you advice, so make sure to include us in your RFP or book a demo.

Alternatively, you can also continue exploring loyalty program rewards by downloading our worksheet, which guides you through the most important steps.

Sheila Power

Sheila is Antavo’s VP of UK & North America. She has decades-long experience working with consultancies and SaaS technology providers in various parts of the world. She’s a long-time fan of loyalty programs, and eagerly consults with brands on the best solutions.

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