CVS, PetSmart, Giant Eagle…I have at least six loyalty rewards cards, not including ones from the airlines. The average consumer has between 10 and 20, depending on who you ask. And you know what, less than half of those people cash in their points. So are they really worth it?
The perks for redeeming points or miles on loyalty programs can be tempting, thanks to that instant discount you get at the store register or the money saved on a plane ticket.
Just make sure you know what your needs are so that you are getting the most for your money.
1. Some programs require that you sign up for a debit or credit card. If you can't pay it off each month, that may be a concern because you will lose the discount to interest.
2. Consumer Reports reminds us we could be handing over personal information, which some stores use to track your purchases. Check out the privacy policies before you sign up.
3. Keep up with your points. A report in Real Simple magazine suggests that the average person lets more than $200 a year in loyalty reward points go to waste when they expire or go unredeemed.
4. If you don't have the time, GoMiles.com will do the tracking for you. The free website will tell you the best use of your miles or points for a particular airline or hotel.
The other issue is when you're signed up for these loyalty programs, you often get coupons, so you end up heading to the store more often and spending money for things you don't need.