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Buy groceries, get cell phone minutes

Would this be a frequent talker or frequent eater plan? Either way, it could be a deal.

By Teresa Mears Dec 17, 2009 5:44PM

Kroger is in the forefront in experimenting with how to use its loyalty card to, well, keep customers loyal, including offering coupons that can be loaded directly onto the card.


This week, it becomes the first supermarket to give its customers free cell phone minutes for buying groceries. Buy enough groceries, and your cell phone minutes could be free.


The company can do that because it has its own cell phone company, i-Wireless, and sells phones and service plans in its stores. (This is not the i-wireless affiliated with T-Mobile.)


Kroger’s i-Wireless phones are basic cell phones (no smart phones), though some do have cameras. With i-Wireless, which uses the Sprint network, customers can choose prepaid or all-you-can talk or text plans.

Like Wal-Mart’s Straight Talk plan, Kroger’s plan has no contracts, which means no termination fees. The straightforward, no-frills plans avoid some of the practices that make so many customers hate their cell phone companies.


Through the company’s new Free Minutes loyalty program, customers that subscribe to a monthly rate plan or a pay-as-you-go plan will get 20 free minutes of wireless time for every $100 they spend in the store. Customers who buy new phones during the holiday season get 500 minutes of free airtime.

The Web site Best Prepaid Cell Phone Plans has a detailed look at which Kroger deals are best for which types of users. It also analyzes Wal-Mart’s Straight Talk plans.


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