Five tips to help your loyalty live on (reward cards)

June 3, 2013

If you live in Canada, and enjoy saving a buck or two (like me) or treating yourself to some fabulous rewards, you’re likely a member of some type of loyalty program. Recently, LoyaltyOne put out a survey that indicates the average Canadian household participates in 8.2 loyalty programs – who knew!

If you’re addicted to collecting points (again, like me), you’ll probably agree that changing your shopping habits to collect the most points possible is an absolute reality. I have no shame in admitting that I’ll change my wine selection if it means collecting more points. And while I may not seem like a brand loyalist, jumping ship every time I see more points, I’m loyal to my loyalty cards (go figure)…

With all that work put into collecting, have you ever stopped to think about what happens when you die? I know I hadn’t and neither have most Canadians. A mere 3% of Canadians surveyed by LoyaltyOne have documented a plan for their points. And while it might not be the first thought that comes to mind as a collectorit’s definitely something to consider. You wouldn’t forget about your savings account, but people often forget about this lucrative asset. I mean if you are saving up your points for a trip of a lifetime or to purchase those holiday gifts, that’s some serious points. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to pass along your hard earned rewards to someone who will enjoy them just as much as you?

To make sure your points or miles aren’t wasted, here are a few tips to consider, whether you’re a first-time collector or not, here are a few tips to consider:

1.      Treat points/miles like a financial asset. Your points and miles are part of your financial assets. Build a plan with an expert like an estate-planning lawyer to ensure your points and miles are given to your family.

2.      Get Organized. Make a list of all of your loyalty programs. Include your membership number, recent statement, online log in, customer service phone number and policy guidelines. Keep in mind you may have to call customer service to get this last bit of information and should try to get in written form, such as an email. Keep all of this information updated, in a written document and in a safe place, like a fireproof lock box. Discuss your plan with your family members and let them know where to find your written plan.

3.       Keep track of your points and miles. Several online services and apps, including AwardWallet.comPoints.comTraxo.com and UsingMiles.com will manage your loyalty programs and monitor your points and miles. These free services will alert you when points and miles are about to expire and also provide tips on making the most of them.

4.       Consider the fees. Many programs charge a fee – typically $50-$75 – to transfer points from account to account. If a fee is involved, it would dilute the value of small gifts.

5.       Use them. Reward yourself and use your points and miles or consider gifting points to loved ones or a charity now.

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  • Sean @ One Smart Dollar June 3, 2013 at 9:44 am

    You also shouldn’t pass up on credit cards if they have a high sign up bonus just because of the annual fee. Most of them will waive it the first year and then all you need to do is call when your year is close to being up. If you tell them that you want to cancel the card they will usually waive your annual fee and give you bonus miles/points.

    • Marissa June 4, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      That is an excellent point!

  • DC @ Young Adult Money June 3, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I have a worthless travel rewards credit card that seriously had accumulated enough for 1/2 a flight after a couple years of use (and it’s not that I didn’t use it enough!). I like my Discover cash back rewards card and have been very happy with it.

    • Marissa June 4, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      One of my cards was like that, too so I barely use it.

  • krantcents June 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I love frequent flier miles and hotel points. I routinely use the miles for overseas trips and I am racking up points for hotel stays.

    • Marissa June 4, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      A lot of my fellow travelling co-workers do too.

  • Liana June 6, 2013 at 5:49 am

    This should just be a guide to help you know which are worth your time, not a comprehensive review of their programs.

  • Harry @ Smart Money Junction June 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    You’re right. Credit card rewards and offers are like financial assets, if you use them the right way they can pay off pretty well. I personally try to cash in especially on some of the most lucrative offers which have the potential to save me some money in terms of cashbacks or discounts (but only things that I genuinely need).

  • Paul Weldon June 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I agree with you that it’s necessary to change your shopping habits in order to maximize your points. My problem was remembering to carry each loyalty card until I finally found one which is one card to replace all cards.

  • Paul Weldon June 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I have changed my behavior by using one card for all.

  • Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa June 19, 2013 at 7:55 am

    I agree with Paul, only using one makes things much easier. I only use two. It makes the earnings seem much bigger if they are in two places instead of spread out across many.