Give Me Back My Five Bucks

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.


  1. Putri says:

    I have:
    – Shoppers Optimum card: comes in pretty handy when the parents come from out of the country and they buy tons of vitamins…I rack up points too just for regular toiletries. I have also redeemed these points for the same toiletries :)

    – Ramen cards: some ramen joints have those buy 10 get 1 ramen free cards. Yup, gotten some free ramen over the years :) Actually the hubby holds on to this card, but when I go out to ramen it’s usually with him and both our ramens go on the same card.

    – Sephora Beauty Insider thing: I shopped at Sephora for the first time this week using a gift card some friends got me. It happened to be on my birthday, so when I signed up for this card I got a shower gel/bubble bath for free :)

    – Airmiles: I have it, but don’t really accumulate a lot of points. My brother on the other hand acquired the fan we use in the living room from Airmiles :)

  2. Alexis says:

    Going in to my wallet right now and I have the following:
    Plum Rewards (Chapters)
    Shoppers Optimum (Shoppers Drugmart)
    Subway Card
    HBC Rewards

    I love the Plum Rewards card – by the way I think it is once you are at 1500 points that you get $5 off your next purchase which is great! I love reading so I definitely use this one.

    Shoppers Optimum – This one is probably the best and most rewarding for me. We go to Shoppers at least 1-2 times per week and each time we get some points. On the back of each receipt is the breakdown of points. I am currently at approx 5000 points. at 8000 I get 10 dollars off – but you don’t have to spend you can keep tallying points. I am usually picking up milk (they have the cheapest price) and a couple of other low cost products. My mom is almost at 50,000 points this year alone. She saves up all of her points and spends them on stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts for the family. She will have $85 at 50K points!

    Airmiles I use at LCBO and Metro only. I don’t have very many (definitely over your amount though!) but maybe one day I will claim it. You can use airmiles for more than just flights too! The site has electronics, gifts and all sorts of things!

    PureHMV was 2$ after I purchased a couple of cds so I got it, haven’t used it since!

    And the Subway card I only use when I go to subway probably once every couple of months? The points add up though and I love when I am pleasently surprised by having enough for a free sub!

    I like rewards that give me something concrete back, not just a discount. Getting money back to spend on more product is why the loyalty card was invented, and I am okay with that!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I know a lot of people that use the Shoppers Optimum card and love it. Maybe it’s something I need to look at getting too. I usually stay away from Shoppers b/c it’s so expensive, but the sale prices look decent whenever I see flyer, and it can’t be more expensive than London Drugs, which is where I usually shop if I’m not close to a Real Canadian Superstore.

      • munchkin says:

        Krystal the best way to maximize your Shoppers Optimum points is to shop on 20x the points events. They are usually on the weekend, and they happen quite often like atleast once to twice a month. You only have to spend $50 usually, which is quite easy to do! You just stock up on essentials like feminine products, toiletries, shampoo etc and you can easily reach the $50 mark. If you shop on these days you can rack up the points pretty quick.

  3. Support Spy says:

    @krystal I like this post!

    I have the following loyalty cards:

    Petro-points – I’ve been collecting for 10 years and have redeemed for restaurant gift cards many times (probably $1000 worth or more). In the last few years they changed the limits which makes rewards more difficult to earn.

    Hard Rock Cafe – I used to travel frequently for business and received significant discounts on food and swag from the giftshop. Lately this has gone stale and I can probably retire it.

    Aeroplan – When I was travelling for business this was an obvious choice. I redeemed for rewards here too. Since the expiry limits have been implemented, I will probably not be able to benefit any further from this as I travel 2 – 3 times per year and not always Star Alliance. I have found Westjet to be more appropriate for my travel. I could retire this too.

    (Online) – As a member for almost 4 years I have membership with MyPoints. I have earned enough for roughly $100 worth of rewards but have not yet redeemed.

    I carry two credit cards that both have no annual fee and cashback rewards. My Canadian Tire Options card offers instant cashback in Canadian Tire Money on the card.

    My MBNA platinum card offers cashback by cheque (there may be other options but this is new to me). I recently replaced my Citibank Mastercard (which offered 2 cents off Petro Canada gas) with the MBNA card.

    The Citibank card was acquired by CIBC and I had previously decided to never hold a CIBC product. The bank let me down with several poor customer experiences in the past.

  4. apetrigs says:

    Oooh, fun post!

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the Scene card! You get points everytime you purchase a movie ticket or concessions from Cineplex theatres and once you hit 1000 points, you get free admission to a movie. I suppose this is really only beneficial if you go to the movies fairly regularly… I’m a moderate movie-goer and it took me about a year to get a free ticket, but I still thought it was worthwhile.

    I also carry the Shoppers Optimum card. I’ve had it for a few years and have probably redeemed about $75 worth of points. It’s always nice to be able to take $10 or $20 off your final bill when you have enough points saved up. :)

    I have both the Aeroplan AND Air Miles cards, but I never use them. I can never remember which stores accept what card, and the points accumulate way too slowly. I think if you have a credit card with travel reward points, that’s probably the better option.

  5. Jamie says:

    Krystal – there is one major outlet for collecting Airmiles that you might be aware of – Amazon is one of the shops. So, you sign in to airmiles with your collector number, shop with and then you collect airmiles on Amazon! 1 airmile for every $20 you spend, and as you pointed out, you use Swagbucks on Amazon anyways.

    On top of those websites, we go to Metro, PharmaPlus, Shell, and Zellers (another tip that most people don’t know is that you can redeem your HBC reward points for Airmiles) and the occational trip to the LCBO. I bank at BMO and that gets me Airmiles too.

    I would suggest taking a look at Airmiles website and see what other places offer Airmiles near you that you might not even have known about. If after that you decide its not worth it, then get rid of it :)

    BTW, I don’t work for Airmiles, I just love the program, planning on using Airmiles for one of our flights to Ireland for our honeymoon :)

  6. SD says:

    You can ditch your sephora card because they’ll look it up at the store by your e-mail address :) If you’re worried about 284 points, you definitely don’t want to know how many points I’ve acquired! :)

  7. Michelle says:

    Oh, man. I have so many! I even have loyalty cards from the U.S. when I travel there.

    I carry in my wallet: Air Miles, Safeway Club Card, Sobey’s Club Card, Shoppers Drug Mart Points Card (I get my meds there now so I earn faster), and MasterCard Points Card.

    Other cards that I have, but aren’t in my wallet: Sephora, Godiva, Hot Topic, DSW Shoes, Famous Footwear, Booster Juice Card, Aeroplan Card (I use it for Rexall whenever I’m there), Chapters (I have to renew it), HBC Card.

    Bottom line. I have too many. LOL. I’m a rewards sucker.

  8. Echo says:

    If you don’t want to carry a bunch of loyalty cards you can always download the Key Ring app (

    I find at some places (Chapters, for instance) you can get a better deal by signing up for their loyalty program…but if you don’t shop very often at that store then it becomes a pain to carry all of those cards in your wallet. At least with the app you can sign up for all the programs and then just search through your phone for the card number instead of trying to find it in your purse or wallet.

  9. I think I only really have two reward cards and I only carry one in my wallet.

    I have the Shopper’s Optimum Card because there are two Shopper’s Drug Marts really close to my apartment and they are the only store that is here in Vancouver and back in my hometown, so I can rack up the points no matter where I am. I try to save up any big toiletry purchase for their 20x times the point days and have almost $85 worth of points that I will probably redeem around Christmas time when money is tight.

    The other is a Safeway Club Card but I actually don’t have my own card. At Safeway, you can just give a telephone number to get the discounts immediately, so I use my boyfriend’s mom’s telephone number. So far, no one has told me I can’t so I just keep doing it! I should probably shop at a cheaper store but its hard to get your groceries home on the bus and Safeway is within walking distance (and delivers!!)

  10. I actually keep all my loyalty cards in a separate wallet in my car – since to carry them all together would rupture my sciatic nerve!

    Years ago, some partners and I had the brilliant idea of aggregating all loyalty programs onto one simple chip card – reducing wallet clutter etc. Unfortunately we were at least ten years ahead of our time and the V.C.’s showed us the door :(

    Day to day I get most use of Air Miles and Aeroplan and TD Rewards – I have a ton of points on Aeroplan but the company keeps diluting their value, so I am weaning off them.

  11. Elexis says:

    For the past year, we’ve really been focusing on Air Miles. We build up the miles, then spend it all on gift cards for Christmas spending.

    However, we got a nasty surprise a couple of months ago, when Air Miles pulled most of their gift cards from their rewards list without telling anyone. Especially still angry over the loss of the Chapters gift cards – that’s usually the majority of our shopping. :(

    I’m going to look into those Swagbucks for Amazon, thanks :)

  12. Mark says:

    Let’s see..

    Subway Card
    Air Miles (I’m at 278 miles after having it for like 15 years, LOL)
    Aeroplan (use it at Esso)
    AMC Theatres Moviewatcher card
    Chapters iRewards card

    My wallet is really full as it is. I generally turn down offers since I don’t want to carry anything else.

  13. Laura says:

    I’m kind of wondering what other cards you got rid of, if the ones you kept, you don’t use that often. I went through all my cards earlier this year and put the amount of point/miles that I had into a spreadsheet to see if I actually needed to keep the card around. So now I can keep track. Anyways, I carry around:
    Petro Points
    RBC Visa – Rewards Points
    Esso Extra
    Shoppers Optimum
    Save-On More
    HBC Rewards
    Best Western Club Card (don’t carry with me everyday, just on holidays)
    All are free, and all are worth keeping, in my mind anyways.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Ah, they were dumb cards, like an autobody repair shop rewards card (seriously??), Safeway, some spa I never go to… I can’t remember the rest of them. But there were also a few punch cards thrown in there too.

  14. Happygirl says:

    I LOVE airmiles, the key for me though is banking at BMO where i get points on debit (1 for every $40) and credit. I put almost all purchases on the gold card (1 for $15 spent) and then pay off the card through online banking as soon as I get home.

    In 3 years my partner and I both have over 10,000 points. We are going to be able to get a roundtrip flight to Hawaii each for our honeymoon!!!!!

  15. Mikhaila says:

    Hmm.. Let’s see, I’ve got my MasterCard Gold which accumulates AirMiles at an accelerated pace, and then added to that I have the Platinum AmEx (again, to accumulate AirMiles faster at listed sponsors). I have the safeway club card (totally worth it for the discounted prices), an expired Body Shop card (tossed!), an iRewards card (is that now Plum? Not iRewards anymore?), HBC rewards (can also convert your points into AirMiles), Beauty Insider, and Ricki’s Fashion and Friends card.

    Off topic, but I just found a Blockbuster membership card… I think it’s safe to get rid of that!

  16. Queenie says:

    1) CIBC Aerogold Visa: I absolutely love this card, I collect Aeroplan points so easily that I didn’t have to pay for my last two flights to Vancouver and Chicago. I even got a huge discount off of my Hong Kong ticket.

    I get 1.5 Aeroplan points for every $1 I spend at one of these places:

    2) Shoppers: I always have it with me, I haven’t redeemed any points yet because I save it for when I need medicine.


    3) I don’t carry my Plum Rewards because the cashier just needs your name/address so it’s one less card I have to keep on me.

    4) I hate Air Miles, I keep it at home because I never get anything out of it.

    5) Pure HMV was a waste of $3.

    6) I only bring my Costco, Scene, Pet Smart, MEC, or Bluenotes cards when I know I’m going to need it.

  17. Darmuzz says:

    I use Airmiles at Sobey’s (grocery store) and every year, I earn enough for two $70 Sobey’s gift cards.

    My best local deal is a stamp card at the one place where I splurge on organic fair trade coffee. If you buy 9 bags, you get the 10th free.

  18. Tori says:

    It’s funny, I have a hard time think that it would be a good idea to get rid of most of my rewards cards. Maybe I don’t use all of them ALL the time, but looking through I think I’ve used all of them at least in the last year:

    – SCENE is my biggest payoff, since I collect those points on my credit and debit cards as well, which ends up paying for date nights with me and the BF :)
    – AMC MovieWatcher
    – Shopper’s Optimum (although I’m with you, I probably use this one the least. Stupid expensive Shopper’s.)
    – Yves Rocher
    – Air Miles (Ontario’s liquor stores take Air Miles, which is where I, sadly, get most of my Miles)
    – HBC Rewards (which I’m positive will never actually add up to anything worthwhile
    – Plum Rewards

    When I think “loyalty cards” I also think discount cards, and while the programs aren’t quite the same, discounts are AWESOME.
    – SPC Card is my other big use one. It’s like a loyalty card for EVERYWHERE. I plan on having one as long as my student card is still valid!
    – Fabricland (I only just bought this one, so we’ll see how much fabric I end up needing this year)

  19. AMD says:

    I probably have a few too many (I have about 8), however I am cashing out a few of them to help with Christmas this year. I actually blogged about it last weekend: and I’m going to end up with a good enough stash for about $200 worth of gifts. Not bad!! The ones I’m cashing out are:
    Aeroplan (Air Canada)
    PC Points (Loblaws)
    Optimum Points (Shopper’s Drug Mart)

  20. Erica says:

    currently I carry, and I use them all.

    Shoppers optimum
    HBC rewards
    Air Miles
    Petro Canada Fuel Saving Reward
    Pioneer Bonus Bucks
    Plum Rewards

  21. Potato says:

    I’ve got a bunch of reward cards, but keep them on my desk for the most part. If I’m going to Chapters or Shoppers or the movies, I can grab the appropriate card, I don’t need to carry it with me all the time. The only one I keep in my wallet is Air Miles because it’s good for so many places I may stop at in a typical month (Shell for gas, Metro for groceries, Pharma Plus for most everything else).

    I’m not fond of the Air Miles credit cards though: the large thresholds/discretization to earn points is their undoing (if you spend say $20 to get 1 air mile, it compares reasonably well against many other reward cards; but if you spend $39 and still only get 1 air mile, it’s pretty lousy).

  22. Amy says:

    I have a Shoppers Optimum card, the Chapters Plum card, a card to the Vault, which is a jewelry store here in Halifax, and a La Senza Bra Club card that I’m not even sure is valid anymore.

  23. Vicky says:

    Honestly I get any loyalty card I can if they’re free. Why not? Even if you don’t go to a store often, it is still worth it to accumulate points and be able to redeem them in the future. The ones I use most are aeroplan, shoppers optimum, air miles.

  24. I have Sephora BeautyInsider too, but I don’t really pay attention to what I get from it. All the little samples are a nice surprise. I also have a Marriott rewards membership (not credit card) and just got a free night stay in Category 1-4 hotels because of a Q4 promotion. I’m a Southwest airlines Rapid Rewards member.

    In terms of credit cards, I am getting much more aggressive about seeking out good sign-on bonuses and making sure I am taking advantage of them.

  25. I went through mine not long ago. I worked out which ones were worth me using, which I actually use and what the benefits are.

    Some I had I will never get the rewards for as they are so time limited, and I don’t shop enough.

    My wallet is much slimmer now, lol.

  26. Rebecca says:

    I actually think the Sephora card sucks… you have to spend $100 just to get a tiny little sample, and $500 to get a reward… that’s too much of a commitment for me! But I still have the card in my wallet…

    Thanks for the info on GCR & Swagbucks. I’ve never heard of GCR before! I’ve been hesitant to sign up for swag bucks because it sounds too good to be true… but maybe I should look at it again.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yeah, it’s true you have to spend a lot to get the rewards with the Sephora card… but you also get something on your birthday… and it’s free. Plus, skin care and make up is so expensive in Sephora as it is, I feel like I’m at least earning *something* whenever I shop there.

      Swag Bucks is pretty cool. Over the past few years I’ve been able to significantly cut down on my Christmas shopping bill just by saving up my gift certificates earned.

  27. Gina says:

    I’m using an app called Key Ring in which you add your loyalty cards into your smart phone by scanning the bar codes with your phone’s camera. I haven’t tried it at the store and apparently the digital bar codes don’t scan well, but you can just get the cashier to type in the code. Thus, no more cards to carry except debit/credit/library cards!

  28. PD says:

    Just found your blog today and I’m finding your posts very informative! I have the following rewards cards:
    – SCENE
    – Sephora Beauty Insider
    – HBC Rewards
    – Shoppers Optimum
    – Safeway/Air Miles
    – Save on Foods
    The only one I use regularly is Safeway/Air Miles for groceries; I don’t shop at the other stores often enough. SCENE is definitely handy for movies although it does take a while (about a year for me) to earn a free movie. I also have the SPC BMO credit card, which is great because I get the discounts without needing to buy a new card each year.

  29. Trina says:

    I have:
    The Body Shop
    Plum Card

    I have already earned 3 books on my plum card and 4 movies with my scene. As well as 10 dollars in body shop purchases and 5$ off my groceries! All great cards. but the trick to the plum card is to go on triple point events!

  30. Randi says:

    If you download the Shoppers Optimum app, every Saturday they send bonus coupons that you can ADD to your card. For me, this is the fastest way to rack up points. And sometimes you can double up—for example you might get a coupon for 4000 bonus points if you spend $20 on food and snacks, and also the same week, a coupon for 500 bonus points if you buy a specific food item/size. On my birthday, I got 4000 FREE points. NOTE that you have to register your card online first.

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