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So why would anyone consider signing up for a loyalty program just to get Black Friday perks?

Why shoppers trade loyalty for early access to Black Friday deals
There are a couple of reasons why shoppers would sign up for store cards in return for sneak peeks and exclusive access to sale items.

First, Black Friday shoppers crave information. Many serious bargain hunters begin searching for the best deals weeks in advance. Some extreme Black Friday shoppers start planning months in advance, like Joni Crothers and 16 of her friends and family members. Last year, they started meeting in July to discuss strategy. The group shopped for 17 hours on Black Friday and didn't even stop to eat. They came away with $10,000 worth of items, which they bought for just $2,000. All of the items were donated to local families in need.

Second, Black Friday shoppers want to be first. In fact, every year people are injured by rushing mobs and violent shoppers. Last year, a teenage girl in a Michigan Walmart was knocked over and stepped on several times when caught in the rush for discounted electronics. Other violent incidents included a fight over $1.88 towels and a woman who pepper-sprayed other shoppers to keep them away from the items she wanted. There was also the tragic 2008 incident in which Walmart employee Jdimytai Damour was trampled by a stampede of Black Friday shoppers and died by asphyxiation.

Obviously not all shoppers would trample someone to save a few hundred dollars on a TV, but even among more level-headed shoppers there's a sense of urgency to get to a hot-ticket item before it sells out.

So what should you do if you're getting some tempting early access offers in your inbox?

Carefully evaluate each offer
The only way to know whether any of these Black Friday offers are worth considering is to look at them on a case-by-case basis, says Somogyi.

That's because while most major retailers offer customer loyalty programs, the terms and benefits vary considerably. Carefully evaluating each offer is important for a couple of reasons.

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