The arrival of spring brings a lot of things for the outdoor enthusiast to get excited about, including longer days, warm temperatures, and melting snow for those of us in the north. However one additional perk that spring brings is the annual REI Member Reward (previously known as the REI Dividend) release. For REI members, this is the time of the year when REI Co-op members receive their rewards from REI purchases you made during the 2023 season.
Gear-up with the help of REI Member Rewards
When are Rewards Applied?
I've been an REI Co-op member for about 25 years – I originally signed up to get an REI Dividend when purchasing a higher-priced jacket, where the dividend back ended up being more than the price of the REI Membership itself (at the time). Each year is seems the rewards are applied a bit earlier in the season.
While March is the official timeline here, frequently and if you check, you might just find your member rewards sitting in your account early in the month or even in late February these days. REI Co-op also offers an annual member sale in March, and by using your reward combined with discounts during the sale, you can often pick up some nice gear at a nice discount and perhaps with no money out of pocket.
While it's not quite January (which is when I usually start getting ancy for the season ahead and start contemplating what I'll use my REI Reward towards), the March or so release on the membership reward is usually good timing for hiking season and REI Membership sales.
How to Check Your REI Reward / Dividend Balance
Your rewards are first applied to your online REI account. However, you can also easily check your REI Membership balance without logging in. Additional notices will arrive later by snail mail provided that you made at least $10 in purchases the previous year, unless it was your first year as a member. Note that your reward does expire. You typically have almost 2 years to use your balance. For example, for rewards that will be applied in spring of 2024, you'll have until January 3rd, 2026 to use your balance. Use it or lose it!
REI Rewards arrive just in time for spring.
How Much is the REI Reward?
REI members typically receive 10% back on eligible purchases. This is on full-priced REI purchases only, REI Outlet and sale items don't apply here and you won't get a reward back on sales tax, either. Additionally, some services like classes, gear rentals, REI gift card purchases, garage sales, or an REI Adventure Trip for example, are not eligible or are only eligible at a reduced amount. More details on all the fine print here. Throughout the calendar year, you'll accrue these rewards; the total will then be applied to your account the following year.
For example, this year in 2024 all the rewards you accumulated during the 2023 calendar year will be applied to your account. Thus, is it really a 2023 or a 2024 member reward? It's a bit open to interpretation. Note that while you won't earn rewards if you're buying gift cards, you do earn rewards back when you shop using a gift card towards an REI purchase.
While your purchases on clearance items, used gear, or REI Adventure Travel won't accrue rewards, once you're signed up for a membership you'll start to earn rewards from your very first purchase on new gear purchased at full price at REI.
Other Ways to Earn Towards your REI Co-op Member Reward
If you're interested and choose to sign up for the REI Co-op Mastercard in combination with your REI Membership, you can also find ways to add a boost to your total REI Rewards when Co-op member reward season rolls around. If you are looking for another credit card, the REI Co-op Mastercard gives Co-op members additional rewards on purchases at REI, on additional services at REI, and even on purchases outside REI.
These rewards are all combined with your normal purchases at REI throughout the year and added to your total REI Rewards. While we are not looking to broaden our horizons here at TrailGroove into the financial advice sector, the REI Co-op Mastercard does offer the potential to raise up your total REI Rewards, even on groceries.
When you purchase gear at REI, you can earn rewards towards next year's purchases with a one-time membership fee.
How to Use Your Rewards
Rewards are applied to your account and can be used at REI.com and in the REI app at checkout, just make sure you check the box to redeem your balance before finalizing your purchase. At an REI store, you can ask an associate to apply your balance at the register. In the days of old, you could also request your balance as a check later in the season, but REI Co-op no longer offers this option. I always used my balance before they became paper check-eligible, anyway.
Even if you're all set on gear, I find replacing old socks and stocking up on some freeze-dried meals for the backpacking season ahead is always a slam-dunk no-brainer type of purchase. While you won't be earning a Co-op Member Reward for REI Outlet purchases, you can certainly use already-earned REI Rewards towards gear when you shop REI Outlet discounted gear.
REI Rewards are applied in March and are (for the most part) based on the total amount you spent on full-priced items during the previous calendar year.
How to Become an REI Member
While this has gone up a bit in recent years, an REI Co-op Membership is just a one-time $30 charge for life. Once signed up you'll be eligible for member rewards and member sales. As long as you plan on shopping at REI more than once it's likely worth the sign up cost – you can become a member here. After your one-time membership fee you'll be assigned a unique member number associated with your lifetime membership.
The longer you've had your REI Co-op Membership the lower your member number will be. Whether you shop online or in REI stores, make sure you're purchases on outdoor gear are associated with your REI Membership number either by logging in at checkout or by relaying your REI Membership number to an associate at an REI store. Overall REI offers a great rewards program and it's hard for me to imagine being an outdoor enthusiast without being a member.
Members may also receive early access to new gear, special pricing, & more deals from time to time.
Provided that you've accrued a balance in your account, REI Reward season typically arrives at just the right time to get ready with new gear for the spring and summer hiking season ahead. Whether it's a new sleeping bag or just a new pair of socks, having a little credit sitting in your REI Membership account combined with the sales that REI offers during this season, can go a long way towards getting your outdoor gear set and your spring hiking off to a great start.