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Punch card roundup: Bellingham spots that offer rewards programs

How much do you have to spend to get that freebie?

CDN staffer Jaya Flanary keeps her punch cards in a second wallet for easy access. (Jaya Flanary/Cascadia Daily News)
By Jaya Flanary Digital Editor/Designer

I carry two wallets, and it’s not because I have so much money I need the extra space. Unless, of course, you look at punch cards with as much enthusiasm as I do — and consider the little paper rectangles as good as cold, hard cash.

Below is a roundup of 11 Bellingham establishments that offer punches, stamps or points for free stuff.

With room in my wallet and the urge to add to this punch card roundup, please send more to me at jayaflanary@cascadiadaily.com. (If you know of any at a bowling alley, nail salon or brewery, please write “URGENT” in the subject line.)

Chelsea Williams punches AB Crepe’s old punch card Sunday, March 24 at the restaurant in downtown Bellingham. While the deal used to be “Buy 10 crepes, get one free,” the new punch card offers a free crepe when you buy 12. (Jaya Flanary/Cascadia Daily News)

And, as a punch card aficionado, here is my advice:

  1. Ask an establishment if they offer a punch card. Many places don’t advertise it, or employees simply forget to mention it when you order.
  2. Keep your punch cards in a separate wallet. You’ll be less likely to lose them, and more likely to remember you have them.
  3. Read the fine print. If it’s not on the card, ask about the fine print, because it likely exists.
  4. To get the most value out of your punch cards, volunteer to buy big orders for friends and coworkers. They pay you back, you get the punches. (This is what I like to call big-brain behavior.) 

AB Crepes

Buy 12 crepes, get one free

Recently I was craving this college staple I hadn’t had since before the pandemic. I whipped out my punch card from “the olden days” and handed it over to a crepe maker who let out a laugh. “Is it a relic?” I asked them.

Chelsea Williams, who has worked at AB Crepes for five years, punches an old card. (Jaya Flanary/Cascadia Daily News)
AB Crepes displays the paper cutouts from punch cards in glass jars. (Jaya Flanary/Cascadia Daily News)

While the old deal was “Buy 10 crepes, get one free,” the new punch card promises a free crepe when you buy 12. Punch card inflation? I guess so.

The employees save the tiny paper cutouts in glass jars displayed on floating shelves in the dining room. 

Crepes range in price. If you buy 12 at the average price, you’ll spend $156 to earn that free crepe.

The Bagelry

Buy nine coffees, get one free
Buy six baker’s dozens, get one baker’s dozen free

This Bellingham bagel storefront has two stamp cards — one for drinks and one for food. The Bagelry is offering “Two-punch Tuesdays” until April 30, so you’ll get the most bang for your buck then.


Fun fact: The free espresso drink can be any coffee, any size. “I’ve had a $16 drink for a punch card, which was fun,” said Jules Seguin, who has worked at the bagel shop for 1.5 years.

If you buy half a dozen baker’s dozens, you’ll spend $117 (or $58.50 if you only go on Tuesdays) for a free baker’s dozen.

Otherside Bagel Co.

Buy a dozen baker’s dozens, get a baker’s dozen free
Buy 12 bagel sandwiches, get one free
Plain bagels are stacked in a basket in May 2022 at Otherside Bagel Co. (Noah Harper/Cascadia Daily News)

When Otherside opened in 2022, I was on a bagel kick. Personally, I have never bought so many bagels, but it sounds exhilarating to eat 156 and be rewarded with 13 free ones.

Sandwiches range in price. If you buy 12 at the average price, you’ll spend $120 for a free sandwich. If you go heavy on the carbs and fork out $252 on a dozen baker’s dozens, you’ll get another 13 bagels ($21 value) free.

The Coffee Shop by Hammerhead Coffee Roasters

Buy 10 coffees, get one free
Buy 10 breakfast sandwiches, get one free

Another new-ish breakfast spot that offers two punch cards, Hammerhead has one for biscuit sandwiches and one for coffee. Though equally popular, one employee told me customers go through the drink one much faster.

A mocha and a biscuit sandwich at Hammerhead Coffee are each worth a punch on the establishment’s punch cards. (Jaya Flanary/Cascadia Daily News)

The cards’ designs are fairly inconspicuous — though a little hammerhead shark is popping out of the edges, nowhere does it say “Hammerhead Coffee,” or any fine print at all. I confirmed with a barista that you can buy any sized coffee for a punch, and your free drink has no limits. My advice? Buy ten 8-ounce drips for $2.50 each, then stroll in and order a 20-ounce mocha priced at $7.

Sandwiches range in price. If you buy 10 basic ones, you’ll spend $85 to get a free one. Coffees also range in price, but if you take advantage of the loophole I’ve leaked above, you’ll spend $25 for that free mocha.

Avenue Bread

Buy 12 eggenues, get one free

Recently, I was told by a fellow eggenue-fanatic that the stamp card system at Avenue Bread is discontinued. I marched into the Railroad Avenue location and the cashier, holding up a big stack of the cardboard gold, told me this was a rumor they had only heard from customers.

Committed to watchdog journalism for this hard-hitting piece, I marched into the James Street location and asked what the deal was. James Street is out of cards, and though they’ll honor the cards customers already have, they will not give out new ones.

I followed this up in the parking lot, while wolfing down a Beast eggenue, by calling Lynden and Fairhaven. Lynden is also out of cards, but willing to honor. Fairhaven’s employee told me they’re giving out what they have left — “about 30.”

I called downtown just to be sure and was put on hold so they could check with the owner. “We have no plans on getting rid of them right now,” they said.

You heard it here (probably) first, folks: If you need an eggenue stamp card, go to Avenue Bread on Railroad Avenue.

If you buy 12, you’ll spend $83 to get your freebie.

Mallard Ice Cream

Buy 10 scoops, get one free

Another vintage card in my wallet is a flimsy yellow one with a single stamp. (Mallard has since redesigned a sturdier card with a full-color logo.) Apparently, they used to use a custom duck stamp, but the ink got everywhere, one employee told me. They’ve replaced it with a punch.

Ellen Fossett scoops strawberry cracked pink pepper in July 2023 at Mallard Ice Cream. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

This one is tricky. One scoop is $6 but a double scoop is $8.50. If you like ice cream and deals, I recommend getting double scoops five times. You’ll spend $42.50 and be rewarded a single free scoop.

Neko Cat Cafe

Visit nine times, get one visit free

The only experience on my list, this cat cafe offers the most clever of my collection: a “Frequent Feliner” card, which advertises “Nine lives and you get one free!” and features a custom kitty face stamp.

Passersby peer at cats climbing in windows at Neko Cat Cafe in August 2022. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

This is my personal favorite because I am more than partial to cats. Pros of going: petting and playing with happy cats of all ages. Cons: It’s hard to leave without one, and usually when I get home my cat smells my clothes and thinks I have been cheating on him. 

A 45-minute session is $16 per person. If you go nine times (nearly seven hours!) you’ll spend $144 for a 10th session free.

Worn Again Thrift

Spend $10 fifteen times, get 15% off

If you prefer buying thrifted clothing, I suggest checking out this store which offers a “frequent flier” stamp card with a groovy design (much like the vintage clothes they sell). 

Store manager Natalie Mote holds a Ziploc bag full of used stamp cards Sunday, March 24 at Worn Again Thrift. (Jaya Flanary/Cascadia Daily News)
Bella Bonserio looks through clothing at Worn Again Thrift. (Jaya Flanary/Cascadia Daily News)

On April 20, the store’s spring event will feature a game for customers to guess how many stamp cards they’ve collected in a Ziploc bag. (Worn Again will announce the giveaway two weeks prior on its Instagram.)

With this deal, you spend $150 to get 15% off your next purchase. (I recommend saving your card for a big shopping spree!) 

Cruisin Coffee

Buy 12 drinks, get one free

If I had known Cruisin had a punch card, I probably would have drunk 50 free drinks by now.

While it’s not quite a “punch” or “stamp” card, this drive-thru coffee stand offers a plastic they’ll swipe that earns you one point for every drink you buy. Buy 12 drinks, get one free — with some size limitations. That free drink can be as big as a 24-ounce coffee or 16-ounce blended.

Coffees range drastically in price, so let’s pretend you like a basic 12-ounce latte like me, and you want to get the biggest coffee you can with your freebie. You’ll spend $50 to get a free 24-ounce caramel macchiato (usually $7.05).

Emerald City Smoothie

Buy 15 smoothies, get one free

Similar to Cruisin Coffee, Emerald City’s rewards program is a plastic card that says “smoothie perks” on it. The perks? Earn one point for each smoothie or açaí bowl you buy. Fifteen points will get you a free 24-ounce smoothie (additional boosters or flavors not included).

Smoothies range in price. If you buy 15 at the average price, you’ll spend $120 to get that free smoothie.

Phở 99

Buy nine entrees, get one free

I found out the hard way that it’s critical to bring your punch card to Phở 99, because the fine print says, “Punch cards cannot be combined.” I have two cards: one has seven punches and one has two. Last time I checked, that makes nine — which would get me a free bowl of phở if I could combine them. 

Phở bowls range in price, but if you go with a large, you’ll spend $130 for a free bowl.

Jaya Flanary is CDN's designer/digital editor; reach her at jayaflanary@cascadiadaily.com; 360-922-3090 ext. 106.

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