Is PostPoints Worth It?

PostPointsThe Washington Post company recently launched a rewards program called PostPoints. The launch included strange television ads featuring people exchanging anthropomorphized blue point chips for things like pizza. I recently signed up to see how the program worked and whether I too could get some free pizza out of it.

Since I am not a Washington Post subscriber I joined at the “silver” level, earning 500 points for joining and another 125 points for proving some basic information about myself. Members can earn 5 points per day for visiting washingtonpost.com, reading Express and entering a code, or answering a quiz requiring a copy of today’s Post. Other ways to earn points include attending community service events or getting coupons at certain businesses, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do either. Most days I read online or Express, meaning I could earn between 5 and 10 points. With over 600 points already earned, I was off and running.

A quick look at the rewards dampened my enthusiasm. A $10 CVS gift card looked like a useful prize. However, at 3,385 points it would take me 677 days of Express reading or almost one year of reading both a print publication and the website to earn enough points to earn it. If I purchased copies of the Post from newsstands for the $10 gift card, it would cost me $338.50 in newspapers. Taking 1 minute a day to enter the Express daily code would add up to 11.3 hours for the gift card. A $25 Visa gift card was even more out of reach. At 6,325 points, it would take 3.47 years of reading one publication daily to earn enough points for it.

In fact, the only prize available for less than 1,000 points was a points exchange between PostPoints and Amtrak’s frequent rider program: 500 PostPoints for 100 Amtrak points. Since a one-way coach ticket in the Eastern zone costs 3,000 Amtrak points, those 500 PostPoints cover roughly 3% of the cost of a ticket.

And the pizza? At 2,500 points, I’ll have to read both washingtonpost.com and Express for 50 weeks continuously.

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Author: Rob Goodspeed

Comments

  1. thanks for looking into this, rob. looks like it’s a massive waste of time. is there any way you could even approach 6,000 points in a more reasonable time frame (like a month or so)?

  2. I think the point is that you can’t earn anything as a non-subscriber. They want you to see the wonderful things you could be getting if you did subscribe.

  3. Rob, you do earn point faster at CVS, but if I remember correctly, it’s 5 points per month per vendor. So, it’s still ridiculously slow.

  4. It is only 5 points per purchase so it will take forever BUT if you’re making the purchases anyway, why not get the 5 points each time? Lots of places give you the credit (Giant, Shoppers Food Warehouse, CVS, My Organic Market, etc.) Maybe you can consider the points program like an IRA/401K… something to look to tap in your golden years. ;)

  5. My CVS card is linked to my PP account, but the points are never credited. I have to add the extra step of e-mailing to claim the measly 5 points. I’ve been a member for a year or so and still can’t get any rewards I would actually use.

    The program is a waste of time, but the archives access for full subscribers is pretty cool.

  6. A couple of notes on the Postpoints program:

    * The Postpoints program has been in operation since the end of March 2007, or about one year now.

    * Silver members can start out with 1,005 points upon signing up. You get 500 points for signing up, 500 points for selecting 5 Areas of Interest, and 5 points for entering your Birthday.

    * On March 17, 2008, the program changed the value of the Daily Express Code from 1 point to 5 points.

    * On March 11, 2008, the program removed the ability of Silver members to enter voucher codes from merchants. These voucher codes were worth either 5 or 15 points each, and could be entered once per day. Now only Platinum and Gold members can enter merchant voucher codes. Silver members can still enter the 25-point voucher codes for helping out your community for things like Greater DC Cares and attending certain events.

    * After one year of existence, the most points accumulated by anyone in the Postpoints program is just under 109,000 points, and they won a contest in July 2007 for which they were awarded 100,000 points.

    * The best bang for the buck is the Shoppers Food and Pharmacy $10 gift card that you can get by redeeming 1,700 points.

  7. At least they raised the value–the Express code used to be worth only one point!

    The real value for me has been the buy-one-get-one-free pizza deal at Papa John’s. Alas, it’s only available for the top tiers….

  8. I have never been able to get credit for shopping at Shoppers Food Warehouse or CVS (even thought my CVS card is registered). I’ve even contacted Wash Post and still no help, no answer. I am beginning to wonder if it is worth it.

  9. I joined at the platinum level. Had I not lucked out and won a sweepstakes for 20,000 points, I would not live long enough to earn enough points to exchange for anything worthwhile. ( The points apparently take 1-2 months to appear in my acxcount– they’re not there yet) Comparable restaurant discount certificates can often be found in junk mail promotions, but the restaurant deals do seem to give the best “bang for the buck” for your points. It does appear to a bit over the top to see the Post hype their expensive prizes, vacations, etc. in a contest that is only a year old in which only a lucky few sweepstakes points-winners could ever hope to get more than a basketball in a couple of years. At the same time, they encourage players to use their points for pizza discounts. No way to build for that Paris vacation.

  10. I have been a Washington Post subscriber for the last 27 years. I currently subscribe to both daily and Sunday papers, but have not been able to become a platinum member. I have called PostPoints 4 times to find out the reason for this, but have not been able to, nor have I been contacted by anyone in the organization (every person I talk to says they will have the proper person contact me). Since I don’t have access to this person, perhaps I should ask for an improper person. They wouldn’t hire any of those people, would they?

  11. I have had the pleasure of participating in the PostPoints program since its launch in 2007. During that time I have earned points for things that I do normally like visit CVS and Giant. This program is simple and easy to use thanks Washington Post!

  12. It sounds to me like maybe Bill works for the WP Post points program…

    it seems like the program would be something that I might find fun… but after trying it for a few months I’ve found it to be pretty worthless. I have 2 accounts (one gold and one silver) I figured why not try and earn double the points every day.

    If you take the quiz you can “try again” using the link on the page itself till you get the answer right…

    Really, unless someone starts to figure out a good way to boost points… I’m going to stop. It’s just not worth it!

  13. They don’t always credit you for entering the Express code, they NEVER credit me for shopping at My Organic Market, they practically doubled the cost for the Shopper’s gift card and raised the cost of alot of other gift cards with no warning or notiification, they never reply to comments or questions emailed to them.
    I finally have enough point to get one $10 gift card. I’m cashing in my points and I’m done with this program. I hate to think how much time I wasted for $10!

  14. I think it’s pretty obvious that PostPoints is utterly worthless to subscribers. What I’d like to know is, what is the Post getting out of it? Do the organizations supplying the rewards get free publicity, and is that their motivation.

  15. @Cassidy: I don’t remember any problems entering the Express code, which I do pretty much every day. I don’t know about the My Organic Market points because I don’t shop there.

    @SmugJerk: I recently learned that The Washington Post pays for all points and buys rewards from advertisers. It does not cost the advertisers anything, and provides them with free publicity. The PostPoints program is supposed to create a partnership between the Washington Post and the advertisers by delivering customers to them.

    Obviously, too many people were redeeming the Shoppers Gift Cards so the Post raised the cost from 1,700 to 2,650 points to save money.

  16. Can someone tell me what the DAILY CODE is for on the front page of the daily paper? I know about the daily code from the Express, but I haven’t found a place to enter the code from the front of the paper.

  17. I joined when the program started, as a Sunday-only subscriber. I think, I got 10,000 points for that (not sure). We buy some small things at CVS and Giant almost daily, but we are not chasing points. In October or November of 2008, we redeemed points for $10 Shoppers card, which we received soon after. Recently I got an email notifying me that I have another 1,700 points. I thought about another $10 Shoppers card, but I did not know about the recent “price increase”. As always, the best prizes that are easiest to obtain, become unawailable first. Yes, these points are basically worthless… but if you earn them by going to the most convenient store to buy things you need anyway – then why not?

  18. @JaTo: Unfortunately, the 4-digit DAILY CODE on the front page of The Washington Post can only be used by Silver PostPoints members. If you are a subscriber to the Post, i.e., a Gold or Platinum PostPoints member, then there is no place to enter the 4-digit DAILY CODE.

  19. The whole program is a nuisance. Partner points don’t get posted reliably. Sometimes the Express daily code is a number; twice it’s been “xxxx” and neither will be accepted. And, I’ve been even more discontent since the price increase for the Shopper’s gift card. I feel self-loathing each time I go to their site and enter a code or play the quiz…

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