Think the only benefit of being a shareholder is (hopefully) enjoying a stock’s appreciation in price?
For some companies, being a stockholder pays in more ways than just capital gains. While these shareholder perks may not be of tremendous monetary value, they can certainly be fun, and something to look forward to.
Here’s a list of some of the most interesting and compelling shareholder perks. Although these programs are subject to change or cancellation at any time — and are certainly not sufficient reason to own a particular stock — they can be surprisingly nice benefits.
The biggest and best of the shareholder perks available to owners of publicly-traded companies has to be the one offered by Ford (F). Anyone who has owned at least 100 shares of Ford for at least six months qualifies for the Ford X-Plan, better known as the “Friends and Neighbors” plan. This program allows shareholders to visit a Ford showroom and purchase a new car for just a tad over the invoice price.
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B)
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) owners looking for a better deal on their auto insurance rates should know their stake in Berkshire qualifies them for up to an 8% discount on GEICO insurance. One share is all you need. Berkshire Hathaway shareholders who attend the annual meeting also qualify for discounts at some Berkshire-owned companies.
Churchill Downs (CHDN)
If you’re into horse racing, stepping into a position of at least 100 shares of Churchill Downs (CHDN) entitles you to two season passes to the company’s dozen or so tracks or off-track betting facilities. The only catch: Investors must own their 100 shares by the end of the previous calendar year in order to get that year’s season passes.
Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL)
Investors planning on taking a cruise on a Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) boat in foreseeable future may want to consider buying 100 shares of CCL stock before the voyage. One of the company’s shareholder perks is on-board credits that vary with the length of the trip. For cruises of six days or less, shareholders sailing from the United States are credited $50 dollars, while cruises lasting two or more weeks will earn CCL owners $250 worth of on-ship credit. The credits vary slightly when passengers sail from continental Europe, the U.K., and Australia. While restrictions apply, there is no stated limit on the number of times per year an investor can request the credit.
International Business Machines (IBM)
International Business Machines (IBM) shareholders shopping for a computer may want to utilize the IBM shareholder store. The online store offers discounts of up to 25% on pre-owned and refurbished computers and equipment. It’s not just IBM-branded or even Lenovo-branded technology either. The store also offers Mac systems.
Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL)
Not to be outdone by Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) also offers shareholder perks to anyone traveling on the company’s boats. It’s an on-board spending credit. In fact, the Royal Caribbean Cruises credit schedule is suspiciously similar to that of Carnival Cruise Lines. Travelers on cruises of five days or less will get $50 to spend on the ship, while passengers on cruises of two weeks or more receive a $250 credit. The usual 100-share minimum applies here.
Willamette Valley Vineyards (WVVI)
It may not be a huge company, but Willamette Valley Vineyards (WVVI) certainly treats its investors like it is one. The shareholder perks enjoyed by WVVI owners include admissions to special events at the winery, access to limited production wines, and use of the winery’s tasting and hospitality facilities for events. It’s a small company with a small shareholder base, but that size creates the kind of personal intimacy shareholders couldn’t find with a larger company.
Again, shareholder perks alone aren’t a reason to invest in a particular stock. If you’re already an investor, however, you may as well take advantage of the offers the company is extending.
As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.