Transit Treasure: Ride CTA, buy things, get cash

Is it really that easy? Indeed, says Dan Miller, founder of Transit Treasure, which he calls "a loyalty rewards program for public transit riders."

Here's how it works:

1. Report your use of public transit

  • Reporting at least 20 rides in a calendar month earns a member 100 Transit Miles

2. Spend at least $30 with a participating Transit Treasure merchant partner

  • Every dollar spent over $30 earns an additional Transit Mile
  • For instance: In September I record 30 rides with CTA and buy two sweaters at Gap.com for $100.  For the month I earned 170 Transit Miles ($100-$30=70 Transit Miles + 100 Transit Miles for recording over 20 rides).
  • Merchant partners currently include over 300 online retailers like: Office Depot, Walmart.com, Sears, Best Buy, Netflix, Macys, JC Penney, Target, Gap, & Kohl's.
  • In the near future merchant partners will include local, brick and mortar businesses.

3. Redeem your Transit Miles for cash payments sent to you via PayPal.

Check out the video for more details. I guess this might work for you folks who like online deals and shop a lot.

UPDATE: After a few commenters here asked some pointed question, the founder of Transit Treasure posted this comment, which I ha moving up here for further clarification:

Hi Everyone,

Dan Miller here – I am responsible for the Transit Treasure program. There have been some valid concerns raised in response to the article and I’d like to address them.

We believe people who use public transportation deserve a loyalty rewards program they can call their own – just like how frequent fliers have their frequent flier miles. Since the fare you pay to ride the bus/train does not generate a profit for the transit operator we had to turn elsewhere to find someone from whom we could extract a reward payment – that is the role of the merchant partners in the Transit Treasure program.

At the end of the day, if you take 60-seconds a week to record your use of transit and whenever you decide to/need to make an online purchase you visit a retailer’s site by first clicking their link at the Transit Treasure website you will earn Transit Miles redeemable for cash. That reward is on top of any reward you will also earn from the credit/debit card you use to make the purchase. It’s simple, easy and a good way to get some value out of your commuting experience.

My thoughts regarding specific concerns:

1. Self-reporting of your transit use – it’s simple, it’s easy and it allows you to identify yourself as a frequent transit rider if you so choose. Your transaction history with your transit rider is proprietary data that at this time is not being shared with third-parties.

2. Online retail partners – these partners will be supplemented with local businesses as more members enroll in the program over time.

3. How are my transactions verified? – by logging in to your Transit Treasure account and then selecting the link of the merchant you wish to visit your Transit Treasure ID stays with you throughout your online purchase. 48-hours after your purchase we receive a report that shows the dollar value, date and ID associated with the transaction and we use that award you Transit Miles. When local merchants are added you will simply use a debit or credit card you register to your account and whenever that card is used with a participating merchant your activity is logged and Transit Miles are awarded.

4. Facebook login – nearly 800M people have a facebook account and it allowed us to shorten the time it takes to enroll. We are trying to make things as simple as possible.

5. PayPal – no one wants to wait for the postal service to deliver a check in the mail. This allows us to transfer to you your rewards immediately.

If you all have any suggestions on how we could better “verify” that we are legitimate I would appreciate hearing them. I hope that you would give us a chance and support the program.

Thanks,

Dan Miller
Founder of Transit Treasure

And Dan added this later:

We 100% unequivocally will never sell your information to a third party under any circumstances. We collect your email address so we can communicate with you – you will never receive any communication from anyone other than Transit Treasure directly.
All of this is communicated and promised to in our Terms & Conditions (link here: http://transittreasure.com/TransitTreasure/terms.tt)

Your bank information is optional and that data is held in the data center of TSYS, an New York Stock Exchange traded, multi-billion dollar in revenue payment processor.

We place the utmost of importance on safety and security of our members personal information – my own information is stored right along side.

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Comments

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  • So there's no way to confirm someone has ridden the L or bus?
    You can just make it up?
    This will as successful as Flooze!

  • The only prize in which I am interested is the woman at :11. However, she appears to be in LA.

    However, looking at the site, it doesn't seem verifiable, just that they send you an e-mail, and you reply by checking off how many days a week you used transit. So, Scooter, get your free money now.

    Conversely, it also doesn't say where he gets his money for the rewards, unlike, say all the credit card reward programs that fleece the merchants and those paying 24% interest first.

    Also, it doesn't say how the merchant partners plan works, and whether one can use the same merchants for this and Best Buy Rewards and AAA discounts all in one purchase.

    The check is in the mail...or it isn't.

  • Remember, you have to buy stuff to get money. So there's nothing free in this world. We'll see how it pans out.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    However, except for the merchant program, the "stuff" is transit rides.

    We know that, at a minimum, the CTA ain't got no money to be spending on this promotion, and especially to send to some guy in LA (I presume).

    All I can infer from the video is that you can convert your transit miles into cash if you also shop at the merchants, although it doesn't say how they verify that.

    Does that then mean that "unlike doing your usual shopping," one decides to buy appliances from hhgregg rather than overpriced Best Buy, you can't redeem your miles for cash?

    Still too many unanswered questions.

  • Why don't you just present your transit card and get 10-20% off,like is done with student or military I.D.'s at some places ?

  • In reply to JamesReyes:

    That essentially is the question.

    At least under your proposal, Best Buy would have to verify that you have a transit card.

    After sorting Transit Treasure all out, the subscriber is just getting another form of Best Buy Rewards by going through the charade of replying to an e-mail and saying that he or she rode transit that week. That is, if the guy does eventually pay off by crediting your PayPal account.

    Hence, Scooter's point whether the rides are verified becomes irrelevant to how the scheme works, except for the possible marginal mile.

  • The catch is you have to have a Facebook account to join.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    So, you have to have a Facebook account, and apparently also a PayPal account and buy only online.

    Too many catches. Unlike what was represented in the video, he just isn't sending the woman $23 to buy her weekly bus pass.

  • In reply to jack:

    So if you need a Facebook account & a PayPal account & only buy online, it's really a scam to get your email address & your PayPal & Facebook info so they can sell that info to scummy scammers in Russia, China & Nigeria.
    I have a bridge in Brooklyn I need to sell for cash right now & some excellent bottom land in Florida that will go for a nice price.
    That will be a better deal for you!

  • fb_avatar

    Hi Everyone,

    Dan Miller here - I am responsible for the Transit Treasure program. There have been some valid concerns raised in response to the article and I'd like to address them.

    We believe people who use public transportation deserve a loyalty rewards program they can call their own - just like how frequent fliers have their frequent flier miles. Since the fare you pay to ride the bus/train does not generate a profit for the transit operator we had to turn elsewhere to find someone from whom we could extract a reward payment - that is the role of the merchant partners in the Transit Treasure program.

    At the end of the day, if you take 60-seconds a week to record your use of transit and whenever you decide to/need to make an online purchase you visit a retailer's site by first clicking their link at the Transit Treasure website you will earn Transit Miles redeemable for cash. That reward is on top of any reward you will also earn from the credit/debit card you use to make the purchase. It's simple, easy and a good way to get some value out of your commuting experience.

    My thoughts regarding specific concerns:

    1. Self-reporting of your transit use - it's simple, it's easy and it allows you to identify yourself as a frequent transit rider if you so choose. Your transaction history with your transit rider is proprietary data that at this time is not being shared with third-parties.

    2. Online retail partners - these partners will be supplemented with local businesses as more members enroll in the program over time.

    3. How are my transactions verified? - by logging in to your Transit Treasure account and then selecting the link of the merchant you wish to visit your Transit Treasure ID stays with you throughout your online purchase. 48-hours after your purchase we receive a report that shows the dollar value, date and ID associated with the transaction and we use that award you Transit Miles. When local merchants are added you will simply use a debit or credit card you register to your account and whenever that card is used with a participating merchant your activity is logged and Transit Miles are awarded.

    4. Facebook login - nearly 800M people have a facebook account and it allowed us to shorten the time it takes to enroll. We are trying to make things as simple as possible.

    5. PayPal - no one wants to wait for the postal service to deliver a check in the mail. This allows us to transfer to you your rewards immediately.

    If you all have any suggestions on how we could better "verify" that we are legitimate I would appreciate hearing them. I hope that you would give us a chance and support the program.

    Thanks,

    Dan Miller
    Founder of Transit Treasure

  • In reply to Dan M:

    I note that you specifically avoided answering my statement that you will be harvesting Facebook & PayPal emails & other info to sell to other sites.
    Plus you wrote: "you will simply use a debit or credit card you register to your account".
    That means credit or debit info will also be out there.

    No thanks, web security is bad enough already, we don't need another hole to be opened up for digital info to leak out or be stolen!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Sorry for missing that key point.

    We 100% unequivocally will never sell your information to a third party under any circumstances. We collect your email address so we can communicate with you - you will never receive any communication from anyone other than Transit Treasure directly.
    All of this is communicated and promised to in our Terms & Conditions (link here: http://transittreasure.com/TransitTreasure/terms.tt)

    Your bank information is optional and that data is held in the data center of TSYS, an New York Stock Exchange traded, multi-billion dollar in revenue payment processor.

    We place the utmost of importance on safety and security of our members personal information - my own information is stored right along side.

  • In reply to Dan M:

    I'd rather wait for a check in the mail than trust PayPal or Facebook with any personal information, but that's just my opinion.

  • So instead of dealing directly with a merchant,we are supposed to go through a lot of time and trouble so you can earn a comfortable living ?

  • I can see Scooter's point that this is an opening for identity theft. Apparently people from Nigeria make the same promises (and have the backing of the Secretary General of the U.N.), although we are also supposed to believe that Nigeria doesn't have Internet access (according to PBS).

    Also, the point of the comments about self-reporting were directed at that this really isn't a transit reward, as represented, but a reward for using his site as a link to some other site, that others could access directly.

    The reward for using transit is (a) you are paying $0.97 for a ride that costs $2.00 to produce, (b) you get to commingle with all the fun people profiled on the CTA Tattler, such as the guy who broke at least 3 rules, and (c) you might not have to pay for a car or parking.

  • Jack says: "I can see Scooter's point that this is an opening for identity theft."

    You certainly make a good point, and should be distrustful of any such scheme, especially from someone trying to make money.

    That said, you realize that the Trib, and, by extension, its marketing people and perhaps some of its retail partners, already have, most likely, a working e-mail address or two from you, stored data regarding the various IP addresses you might use when you log on here, and other such information that helps to identify you as a real person, right?

    I am no computer expert, but were I working among the data hamster wheels at the Trib, and were I an evil person and did my homework in an efficient manner, it would take me perhaps 30 minutes to find enough identifying information about you to open at least one credit card in your name.

  • In reply to vise77:

    Maybe, but I sent the Tribune a notice that I would report them to the FTC as violating the CAN-SPAM Act if they didn't turn off the Chicago Shopping spam. You can ask Anonymous if I meant it. They did.

    Also, I have one e-mail address that I use for this kind of trivia, and I sure as hell would not give the Tribune any other identifying information. In fact, when I rarely purchase something over the Internet, I use a randomly generated credit card number.

    Unless you are saying that EFTPS or the Illinois Dept. of Revenue is going to steal my identity (the latter might), I'm not too worried, But I certainly would not indiscriminately give a guy like this my bank or PayPal information--especially if I can get a Best Buy Reward directly from the local Best Buy, if I choose to shop there.

  • "Unless you are saying that EFTPS or the Illinois Dept. of Revenue is going to steal my identity (the latter might), I'm not too worried, '

    Nope, but such cases often some some rogue employee, too. Not saying you shouldn't be vigilant--off course you should--only that you shouldn't worry only about retail and retail-focused organizations only. As far as those groups go, at least they have a strong incentive to protect your data, lest they go out of business.

    In any case, just wanted to have a shot at being able to agree with you. It doesn't happen often ;) Thanks, and carry on, sir.

  • In reply to vise77:

    OK.

    For that matter, Best Buy and MSN were involved in a credit card scam about 8 years ago.

  • What is the exchange rate between transit miles and US dollars? How many miles do I need to get, say, $20 back from paypal?

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