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Chili's promises loyalty revamp

Chili’s intends to sweeten the perks offered through its My Chili’s Rewards loyalty program after alerting members the chain is pulling out of the Plenti expanded rewards network in May.

Chili’s had teamed up with Plenti at the end of 2016 to enable members of My Chili’s Rewards to redeem points at any business that participated in the Plenti program. Similarly, consumers who amassed Plenti points by shopping at places such as Rite-Aid or Winn-Dixie, or by buying gas at Exxon or Mobil stations, could trade the credits for free food at Chili’s.

Chili’s wasn’t alone in trying to expand the scope of its affinity program. Bloomin’ Brands introduced Dine Rewards, which enabled guests of any of its four casual-dining brands to redeem points at any of the other concepts. Starbucks switched to a program that also rewards customers for the purchase of Starbucks-branded grocery items.

Chili’s said it decided to sever relations with Plenti after reviewing feedback from guests. Sites that collect comments from Plenti users show frustration with the pace of amassing points and the high redemption thresholds of the program. Two hundred points were needed to qualify for a $2 discount on gas at a participating Exxon station, for instance.

Customers of Chili’s earned one Plenti point for every $2 they spent. They continued to qualify for the perks extended by My Chili’s Rewards under that arrangement’s redemption schedule. Chili’s fans who wanted to transfer points had to join both networks.

Participating restaurants will continue to provide free food for redeemed Plenti awards through May 3. Afterward, My Chili’s Rewards members can still redeem their Plenti points at participating retailers, but not at Chili’s.

Macy’s and American Express have also stopped the transfer of frequent-customer loyalty points to and from Plenti.

In explaining the change on its website, Chili’s promised that “new, more valuable My Chili's Reward perks are coming.”

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