As I’ve shared before, China is a cash-based, prepay society. Bakeries, gym memberships, spas and grocery stores are not exempt. The Chinese love their pre-paid VIP cards and now so do I! (Well, at least for the spa.)
It is not uncommon at businesses to be asked to purchase their VIP, or membership, card. By paying a set amount ahead of time, the card owner receives discounts and extra privileges.
I bought one of the my spa’s (yes, I’m now calling it “mine!”) membership cards. Because of my card I received coupons for two free massages plus 30% off massages, 25% off nail care, and 15% off retail products. I think it’s a fantastic deal, especially since I was going to be spending my money there anyway.
One of the local bread stores took a different approach. It won’t exactly “match” the amount the patron puts onto the card, but it will add an additional amount for “free”. For example, if I put 50 RMB on the card, then and the store might add 5 RMB; or, if I put 100 RMB on the card, then the store could put an additional 20 RMB on the card.
There are no hitches, usually, but in China a business is often here today and gone tomorrow. It’s not unheard of for a favorite nail salon to be a grocery store by the next time you want to visit. It is a risk to give a business money up front because there is no recourse (that I know of) if the business closes up shop and takes the money. But, if you have confidence in the business, it can be a great deal.