Last week, Target announced that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, shoppers can get exclusive access to 20 deals on Target.com. But there's a catch. In exchange for sneak peeks and early access, you have to pledge your loyalty to the big box retailer - in the form of signing up for a Target REDcard. Of course, you get more than just early access. The Target REDcard also comes with year-round benefits, like 5 percent off all purchases and free shipping. Pretty good deal, right? Well… maybe not. Loyalty programs put you “on the hook”
The problem with a Black Friday offer like Target's is that you're signing away your personal information, says Jeff Somogyi, media editor at dealnews.com. “Last year a lot of retailers offered sneak peeks for a Facebook 'like,' says Somogyi. “But companies are moving away from the cheap Facebook 'like' and are now using 'stickier' offers like tying Black Friday to loyalty programs.” And he says that while “some of these loyalty programs are fairly harmless, others put a lot of hooks in you.” Lowe's is an example of a company that offered a low-commitment deal: “If you signed up for their MyLowe's card, they'd let you see what they're going to put on promotion,” he says. “All the card does is track your purchases. Fairly innocent.” On the other hand, Target requires a pretty serious commitment, since their REDcard is a debit or credit card: “That becomes a financial entanglement,” he says. Also, if the offer is only for a sneak peek, you could be coughing up your info only to get a peek at deals you could've learned about on Google: “Once a company lets one person see a Black Friday ad, it's going to be on the Internet immediately. There's no point in signing up,” says Somogyi.