People love free stuff.

The theory is solid. The bandwagon is rolling. And your interest is warranted.

Free gifts, irresistible rewards, they build customer loyalty, customer retention, business awareness, and boosts profits.

Everybody from airlines to pizza shops are using them and, it’s got to be said, it’s working.

But how do businesses of all shapes and sizes keep track of customer rewards?

One way is to use punch cards. 

Punch cards are a great way to not only keep on top of your customer rewards program but to also entice your customers to keep coming back again and again.

But if you’re still unsure about how punch cards work or are still on the fence about whether a loyalty strategy such as this is worth your while, here is everything you need to know.

What is a punch card?

A customer rewards loyalty punch card is a token of customer loyalty. For every purchase made, a physical or digital hole is punched through its surface. After a predetermined number of purchases, the customer is then rewarded with a targeted gift, discount, or exclusive deal. Over time the customer is rewarded for their purchases.

Implementing a customer loyalty rewards program in this fashion encourages customers to return to a business again and again.

Customer loyalty punch cards normally come in two different forms, paper punch cards and digital punch cards.

I’m sure you are pretty familiar with paper punch cards. You know, the ones that cafes hand out to you on mass to validate your coffee cravings.

And digital punch cards, as you may have already guessed, are basically the same as paper punch cards but rather they exist within an application or software.

It’s also important to note, these digital punch cards aren’t just great for boosting profits but they are also fantastic at giving insight into how customers are interacting with your business. People’s buying preferences, cashed in incentives, and spending habits can all be collected from punch cards, particularly digital punch cards. 

The advantage of being digital is that you can collect customer purchase data and behaviour, and use the insights for future marketing, targeted advertisement, and customer retention efforts.


What are the other definitions of punch cards?

Punch cards also have other definitions, including:

  • The old school data cards used to tell a computer what to do (sometimes called “Punched Cards“)
  • Those stiff pieces of paper that were once stuffed into a clock card machine to tell your boss you’ve arrived at work on time (sometimes called “Time  Cards“)
  • Fortnite Punch Cards, which are a list of interactive challenges within the game of Fortnite

How to make a loyalty card?

To make a loyalty punch card that keeps customers coming back again and again, there are a few key aspects of its design and incentivization that you’ll need to get right. We’ve detailed the steps below:

1. Decide on the Reward

Knowing your customers and giving them what they want is integral to setting up a successful loyalty card reward program. Offering your customers rewards that are so tantalizingly good is the name of the game. The reward has to match your brand offering and what your customers look out for.

And this is something you’ll definitely want to consider quite a bit before choosing in which direction your punch card loyalty program heads.

For example, a cafe may offer free coffees or small treats as an incentive, a retail store may want to implement discounts on high-profit items, and a service provider could make their services available for free or at a discounted price after a certain number of bookings.

Of course, this also has to match your brand’s pricing strategy. We can look to loyalty rewards from premium brands for inspiration:

  • Frank Body offers exclusivity: access to flash sales, and to products before they are released to the wider market
  • Hyatt offers perks like late check-out, preferred room upgrade and exclusive reservation lines
  • Sephora offers exclusive invites to events, special monthly gifts and in-person makeovers at Sephora booths.

To really streamline this process, here are a few key tips:

  • Collect customer information wherever you can. The collection of customer contact details allows brands to access existing and repeat customers often and easily. This, of course, will not only make promoting, implementing, and organizing a loyalty program super easy but also enable greater insight into a customer base.
  • Take note of customer behavior. Record and track what your customers want, when they want it, and how often. This way you can shift and move with customer demand, better target your marketing strategies, and perfect your customer loyalty program.
  • Target different customers differently. Your customers are individuals, so treat them as such. Take a multi-faceted approach and offer different rewards to different wants and needs.

2. Create a design or copy from a template

Now that you’ve got your rewards super honed in, it’s time to get those creative juices flowing. Probably the best strategy you can take is to keep things simple. Creative endeavors can become a time warp and a real frustration for non-creatives.

Myself included.

With that in mind, take the hassle-free approach. For instance, if you already have a logo design idea, color theme, and style for your brand, then use it. Make a punch card that emulates this and makes it clear to customers that they are shopping with your unique, methodical, and well-organized business.

For cafes, perhaps the design could illustrate one of your famous dishes, retail stores design may portray the niche your business is in, and the same goes for service providers, maybe a certain color theme best sets the mood for your services.

If you are designing from scratch, why not make use of a designer’s services or choose between one of the many online punch card makers. They are sure to make things super easy, streamlined, and hassle-free.

3. Print on Paper or Create a Digital Loyalty Card

Something else to take into serious consideration when developing customer loyalty programs is whether to make use of physical loyalty cards or use a digital loyalty card.

All businesses are different and this really boils down to individual preferences and the types of products and services your business offers its customers. 

Going back to our examples, a cafe may best benefit from a digital loyalty card as this will likely streamline POS transactions or take away orders.

A retail store may benefit from either or both forms, retail stores often covering a much larger age demographic, some less tech-savvy than others. 

While a service provider is probably best using print on paper cards as these transactions often happen at less frequent intervals and the chances a customer will download a customer digital loyalty card app on their phone is less likely.

4. Promote this to your customers

Your loyalty is fresh off the press and your loyalty rewards program is streamlined and ready to go, it’s now time to promote this service to your business’ customer base.

Just like you would with any of your business’ other products, advertise and promote your loyalty cards.

 For cafes this may involve in-store promotions, for online retail stores a well-designed call-to-action will do the trick, and for service providers a simple email newsletter or local advertisement campaign to encourage your customers to sign on the dotted line will likely work best.

Examples of Loyalty Punch Cards

For some inspiration, here’s how well-designed loyalty punch card templates look.

1. Examples of Restaurant Punch Cards

subway punch loyalty card

Source: Lizzy Beach

Subway’s easy to follow and clean looking loyalty punch card makes coming back for yet another 6inch or 12inch sub so much more tempting.

kfc loyalty punch card

Source: PealaDeal

KFC’s loyalty punch card not only saves loyal customers money on their favorite meals but it also donates money to people in need.

burger king loyalty punch card

Source: PeelaDeal

Burger King’s marketing team has nailed this great looking punch card. The flipped corner indicating how much money this loyalty card will save customers is a great touch.

2. Examples of Cafe & Coffee Punch Cards

starbucks customer loyalty punch card

Source: Lindsey Roehrig

Starbucks validating their customers’ coffee addictions with more free coffee is never a bad thing, right?

dunkin' donuts customer loyalty punch card

Source: PealaDeal

Dunkin’ Donuts makes their coffee even more irresistible with this awesome looking loyalty punch card. Customers can grab themselves a free bagel or free coffee with frequent purchases.

3. Examples of Fitness Class Punch Cards

zumba customer loyatly punch card

Source: Template Sumo

This great looking fitness loyalty punch card makes keeping fit that little bit easier.

fitness loyalty punch card

Source: Active Edge Wellness

ActiveEdge Wellness Center’s exercise classes card not only looks sharp but also super motivating. The fitter you get the more money can be saved!

4. Examples of Digital Punch Cards

candybar digital loyalty punch card

CandyBar is a digital loyalty punch card and customer loyalty wallet. It’s a super easy to set up system, with no POS integration required. And a great example of how digital punch cards can take your business to the next level.

domino's pizza digital loyalty punch card

Source: QSR Magazine

Domino’s digital punch card adds even more value to its value range of pizzas. Simply login, order, and save.

mccafe digital customer loyalty punch card

Source: McDonalds

We really like this McDonald’s McCafe punch card. It not only incentivizes future sales but it also sends push notifications to remind their customers that a nice hot coffee is awaiting them next time they visit.

starbucks digital loyalty punch card app

Source: Bustle

Starbucks is not only the king of coffee shops but also the king of loyalty cards. Their simple, clean cut digital punch card found in their app earns their customers points any time they purchase an item.

Loyalty Punch Card Templates

cafe punch card template front

cafe punch card template

Source: Must Have Menus

coffee shop punch card

coffee shop loyalty punch card

Source: Must Have Menus

Better than a 10% discount across 10 cups – and ensures you’ll get 10 trips!

coffee shop customer loyalty punch card

Source: Zazzle

health and wellbeing punch card

Source: Zazzle

health and beauty loyalty punch card

health and beauty customer loyalty punch card

Source: Zazzle

florist customer loyalty punch card

florist loyalty punch card

Source: Zazzle

retail customer loyalty punch card

Source: Template Sumo

car wash customer loyalty punch card

Source: Template Sumo

pizza shop customer loyalty punch card

pizza shop loyalty punch card

Source: Zazzle

fitness customer loyalty punch card

Source: Template Sumo

yoga customer loyalty punch card

Source: Template Sumo

Paper Punch Card Makers

There are a number of quality punch card makers that offer self-design or design services for you to take advantage of. Here are some of the best:

If you’re interested in boosting your word-of-mouth marketing strategy, check out ReferralCandy and InfluencerCandy!


Posted by Visakan Veerasamy

Visa is CandyBar's blog editor. He's a 3-time Quora Top Writer, and he's working on a project to write a million words. Hopes to someday enjoy a glass of scotch from beyond the Earth's atmosphere.

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