Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How a Points Ninja's mind works: Chipotle "Chiptopia" edition

Over at One Mile at a Time, Lucky posted on the unnecessarily complicated Chipotle "Chiptopia" rewards program. I'm not a huge Chipotle fan, but I am a fan of gameable loyalty programs in general. Where Lucky saw complication, I saw opportunity. As a thought experiment, I wanted to determine how good of a deal this program was. Here's how Chipotle explains the program:

The simple version is that making a minimum purchase of $6 before tax earns one "burritopia" point towards completing the promotion. If you make 11 purchases per month (which includes your "free" entrees), you would receive a total of 9 free entrees, and catering for 20. Let's say you wanted to treat (Ed: treat?) your office to a Chipotle lunch in the fall. You would have two options: 1) you could pay $240 like a sane person, or 2) you could figure out what it would cost to max out this promo. Guess which one I'm picking?

So, let's dig into this deal. If there's a catch, it's going to be in the terms and conditions. As Chipotle puts it in the Ts&Cs:
As usual, "some exclusions apply":

So, the purchase has to equal $6 at minimum, but does not have to be an entree. Off to my friendly local Chipotle online menu:

Look at that! Three drinks come to an exact total of $6 before tax, which should be a qualifying purchase. Adding tax would take my cost up to $6.60. Doing that 9 times in July would cost me exactly $59.40. Doing it again in August and September would bring my total up to $178.20. Which is (drumroll please) $61.80 cheaper than purchasing catering for 20 outright. That's setting aside the value of the free burritos and all the drinks you paid for.

So, would I actually go through with this in reality? Maybe if I had a Chipotle nearby... or if I could pay for online orders and never actually pick them up (something I briefly considered) but, alas:

But still, the payout for maximizing this promotion (and thereby your waistline) is impressively large.

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