Review: Borders Bucks, sweet – NOT

I just got an email from Borders Rewards about earning Borders Bucks, which starts on April 12th (emphasis is mine):

We’ve simplified your Borders Rewards membership. Now, for every $150 you spend on qualifying purchases at Borders, Borders Express, or Waldenbooks in a calendar year, you’ll earn $5 in Borders Bucks, issued the first week of the following month and valid until the end of that month. The more you spend, the more you get. There’s no limit to how many Borders Bucks you can earn!

That’s a reward of $0.0333 per dollar. If you want to “earn” $10 in Borders Bucks, you’ll need to spend $300 in a month. If you want to earn $20 in Borders Bucks, you’ll need to spend $600 in a month. I say “in a month” because those Borders Bucks are only valid until the end of the month they’re issued. I can’t even imagine myself spending $150 at a Borders in a month. If you spend that much in a month, you’ll probably be reading that stuff for the next few months, right?

Don’t mock our intelligence!

I prefer to get cheaper prices online, saving the amount of time and money that comes along with shopping in a brick and mortar store. “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” by David Allen is currently $8.99 at Amazon, and if you spend over $25 there, you can get free shipping. (It doesn’t hurt to have Amazon Prime, either.)

The only reason why I’d go to Borders is if I need a book right away. I can usually find a coupon to trim the price a bit, too.

What do you think? If you can buy online, why do you shop at Borders?

Published by

Bryan Villarin

Bryan is a Happiness Engineer at Automattic. He's also a photographer, card magician, and cat whisperer. (Thanks to my friend and colleague Steve Blythe for the sweet photo!)

12 thoughts on “Review: Borders Bucks, sweet – NOT”

  1. That’s why I have a Barnes & Noble MasterCard. I get my 10% member discount plus a 5% credit rebate on all Barnes & Noble purchases and a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card for every $2,500 spent outside of Barnes & Noble with no monthly restriction.

    As you can probably guess, I prefer to shop online with Barnes & Noble. It’s far more rewarding than Borders Rewards.

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  2. I think you’re grossly misinterpreting Borders’ rewards system. You certainly don’t need to spend $150 at Borders in a single month in order to receive some money; you’re only required to use the Borders Bucks within the month that you receive them. You could spend $50 a month from three months and start to enjoy the rewards.

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  3. Greg: That is still not much. I mean come on…I have to spend 50 dollars a month for 3 months to get 5 Borders Bucks? Most books that I get are programming/computer related and cost upwards of 30 bucks. That means if I spend roughly 50 dollars per month I will have to wait about a year and a half to earn enough bucks to buy a book that I am interested in.

    I’m sorry but that is pitiful. Do they seriously think that this is a worthy incentive to buy at their stores? I do appreciate their 20-30% off 1 item coupons that they send me but if they are going to throw an accumulative award in there they should make it decent.

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  4. ((Mike: That’s not a defense. He’s just saying that the long rant was wrong. Which is true. We’re not arguing how “good” the reward is.))

    Now me? I do surveys at e-rewards.com on the side to earn an extra $15 in Borders Bucks per year. I wish I could do more than that on a member card, but that’s what it limits me to: $5 / month for three months.

    For me, this works out quite well. The only books I ever buy are manga and graphic novels, for I see them as art, and in this way justify not just checking them out from a library… anyway, these books typically cost $10, so the last three times I’ve gone to Borders I’ve ended up paying approximately $1-3 for my book.

    Which makes me pretty happy.

    Additionally, in my area, Borders has better selection than Barnes & Noble when it comes to graphic novels and manga.

    I’m just saying. Some people might have better luck at Barnes & Noble or elsewhere, depending on what they’re buying. I don’t have a credit card, so this just works for me.

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  5. Your math is completely wrong here:

    “If you want to “earn” $10 in Borders Bucks, you’ll need to spend $300 in a month.”

    In reality, if you want to earn $10 in Borders Bucks, you need only spend $300 over the course of a full calendar year. Not too hard to do that at all. The one month is the time period during which you have to redeem your $10.

    The $0.0333 returns aren’t bad at all. Most reward systems through companies and credit cards tend to be at $0.01. This is more than three times as good as many offers.

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  6. The Barnes and Nobe discount card is nice because it give the customer instant gratification. However, the Borders card is free. They give you free money after spending a certain amount. Emails are also sent with coupons to give you discounts that are often times better than the employee discount. The B&N card you need to spend a lot of money in books in a year just to break even. The borders card gives you discounts without having to spend a dollar (if you use the coupons). You’d have to be a moron to pay for discounts.

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  7. With the multiple coupons, massive sales, and rewards bucks (which I get from spending money at Borders, through e-rewards, and from S&H green points), I get all my media from Borders at slash-rates. I usually get two coupons a week, which range from 20 to 40 percent. Borders sales are incredible – buy one-get ones, such-and-such a category half off, etc., and recently I got a $10 gift card just for spending $50 bucks. THAT was a %20 return reward. Plus, Borders Rewards is usable at Borders, Borders Express, Waldenbooks, and Borders.com. I like the fact that I can spend my money close to home rather than on the internet and still get a great deal. I wouldn’t shop anywhere else, unless I had no other choice.

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  8. Actually, if you check out the Borders Rewards FAQ page, you’ll see that the rewards do, in fact, expire that month:

    “Do my Borders Bucks expire?
    Yes. Borders Bucks expire on the last day of the month in which they were issued. That means if you earn Borders Bucks on August 5, they will be issued during the first week of September and will expire on September 30, of the same year.”

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  9. I work for Borders, the rewards program is not as you have detailed. The points you earn only reset every YEAR, not month. So you have an entire year to spend $150 and earn $5 in rewards. Second, it’s 100% FREE! Why would you complain about a program that doesn’t cost you anything? Even if the points were reset every month, you still don’t lose any money. Other book stores that charge for their “discount” cards, mean you would need to spend at LEAST $150 at that store within a year just to pay BACK for the $15 (which is the cheapest a discount card costs, most cost $20 or $25) you spent on a membership. Plus, your membership does not expire, EVER. And you can use it on EVERYTHING you buy. From a single Lindt Chocolate ball for $0.52 or a Sony eReader for upwards of $199. Every single point counts towards your BBucks. So seriously

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