Rewards programs savings

Got a b’zillion points on your rewards cards? Redeem them!

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I bet there are a lot of folks who have points piling up. I have an Air Miles card and I use it to redeem for drugstore and grocery savings. My girlfriend, Sue, redeems her points for gas coupons. She’s saved about $200 in the last year. But the Air Miles process is cumbersome; you have to redeem in small increments and the lineup behind you doesn’t appreciate the time it take to scan in each of those coupons. That may be why I haven’t redeemed in a while.

I also have a PC MasterCard and the redemption process at the grocery store is way easier. I tap, they check points, I say how many I want to use, and BAM! Done. So I redeem my PC points all the time.

Some points cards, like the Shoppers Optimum, want you to carry points for longer so they ramp up the rewards the more you delay your redemption gratification. You have to weigh how long it’ll take to get to those higher levels against the opportunity cost of redeeming at the lower level. As long as you have a plan, you’re fine.

But leaving your points to gather dust like coins in your couch is pointless (ha!). In fact, those points are losing value every day as inflation ticks up. So this week grab all your points cards, figure out how much you have and what you can get for them and redeem.

Don’t forget the next important step: For every dollar you save by using your points, open up a “points savings” account and deposit the money. Now each time you use your points for anything—groceries, gas, travel, whatever—deposit the equivalent amount in real dollars into this savings account. Now you’re really saving with those points!

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