What loyalty cards do you carry in your wallet?
A few weeks ago, I read an article by Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew (one of Moneyville’s bloggers) called Loyalty Card Makeover. Basically what Madhavi decided to do was clear out her wallet of all of those rewards cards that she doesn’t use anymore, as well as those that don’t provide real benefit. I thought that was a great idea, because as most of you know, us females tend to carry approximately 1 million cards in our wallets at any given time.
So I went on a mission to do the same thing. I culled my rewards cards from 13, down to the 4 pictured above. And of the 4, I haven’t actually benefitted from any of them yet.
- Air Miles – I’ve been a member since June 2010, and in that time I have collected 19 air miles. That’s right, 19. I keep this card with me because sometimes I shop at Safeway, and I usually buy gas at a Shell station near my house. Other than that, I don’t actually know what other places take air miles. And at the rate I’m collecting these miles, I don’t think I’ll collect enough points in my lifetime to go anywhere. I don’t think Air Miles is a great card to have unless you get one of those Air Miles credit cards.
- Sephora – I’ve been a member since February 2010, and in that time I have accumulated 284 points. Which means I’ve spent $284. Yikes. I like the Sephora points system because you only have to earn 100 points before you can start redeeming for product. Except that you don’t actually get to choose any product – I think it changes up each month. I’ll keep using this card because it’s easy, works at any location, and it’s free.
- Marriott – I’ve been a member since July 2011, and in that time I have accumulated 17,458 points (not including my most recent stay for FINCON11). I don’t know how that translates into rewards (how many points do I need for one night’s stay?), but I know that I can rack these points up fast since I can use it to collect points when I travel for work. I’ve also gotten points from booking a car rental, and from a customer service mishap when I complained on Twitter (then complained again, and got double the points). I will definitely keep using this rewards card because it’s free, and I feel like I can put it to good use for an awesome free hotel stay sometime in the next year or so.
- Plum (Chapters) – I’ve been a member since May 2011, and in that time I’ve collected 890 points. I don’t know what that means, and I’m not actually sure if I’ll continue carrying the card. It doesn’t really seem to give me much value, and I rarely shop for books anyway. So, I’m on the fence about this one.
So from the 13 I had, I was able to cull down to 4. And of those 4, I think I might drop Air Miles and Plum, leaving me with just 2 rewards cards. Not including my MBNA Mastercard, of course.
There are also two rewards programs that I use online, and actually prefer to use over rewards cards since I do most of my shopping online anyway. I talk about them often enough that you probably already know about them. But in case you’re new here, I’ll give you a little rundown. Just to let you know, both links below are referral links.
- Great Canadian Rebates – Basically whenever I buy anything online, I look to see if I can click through using my GCR account. If the merchant I want to buy from is listed on GCR, I will get a percentage of my purchase back as a cash rebate. For example, you can stack GCR with your next Sephora purchase (click through on GCR and earn 3% cash back). You can also use it to earn 2% cash back when you book through the Marriott. It definitely adds up – especially when you can stack it with rewards points from the retailer, and if you also use a cash back credit card to pay for the transaction. And it’s free, so … can’t really beat that.
- Swagbucks – So far I’ve earned almost $1,000 in Amazon gift certificates, PayPal money, and Starbucks gift certificates. If you don’t already use this site, basically you earn points through using their search engine (and by finding codes, doing trivia, buying things off other sites, etc. – it’s really easy to start racking up points). You can also earn referrals, and their program is really generous. Basically you earn 100% of each referral’s Swagbucks, up to a maximum of 1,000 SBs per referral. All of these SBs are then redeemable for a bunch of different prizes or gift cards on their website. I personally by Amazon gift cards, hoard them throughout the year, and then use the site to help buy Christmas presents. :)
Your turn: what loyalty or rewards cards do you keep in your wallet?
Author: Krystal Yee
I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.