There are so many points systems out there these days, and endless cards we carry to get those points. Some points can be worthwhile, some can be just a bonus to get at a store that you are going to shop at regardless, and some are worth very little.

For example, I go to Save-On-Foods fairly regularly, but definitely not to gain points. While they can add up for some, for little old me, shopping only for myself, the pace of point progression is paltry. To put the points in approximate dollar value, it takes spending $1 to get 1 point, or $1000 to get 1000 points which are worth about $1. In other words, the reward is .1%. It takes me a long time to spend a thousand dollars for the exciting reward of one dollar off a highly priced avocado.

Now let’s hop over to Thrifty’s, which is a nice enough store, though the name isn’t really applicable. For example, the tofu sausages I often buy elsewhere for $4.99 were on there for $7 the other day. Highway robbery, I tell ya. But back to points, Thrifty’s now is rewarding with Air Miles and while I’ll never save enough to fly with, the miles can add up reasonably well, especially if you are able to get bonus miles on some products. The ratio is different than Save-On in that about 100 Air Miles is worth $10 towards a grocery bill discount, and it takes spending $20 to get 1 mile, or $2000 to get 100 miles for the $10 freebies. (The bummer aspect though is that you could spend e.g. $35 but still only get 1 mile so it almost makes me want to just shop there in $20 increments!) To compare the reward, it’s more like .5% vs. the .1% reward of Save-On.

It’s a better reward, but if you did all your shopping there, it could overall be a more expensive route to get the reward. If, however, you are good about getting what is better priced from each store and avoiding the rip-offs, even if it means getting fewer points, you could be better off overall.

At many different stores, some product purchases may result in more points or rewards, like if you buy the special toothpaste for ultra whitening sensitive teeth that costs $6, you’ll get twenty bonus points. Wow, that sounds good! Or does it? What are those points worth, and what about buying the other brand that costs $1 less even if you don’t get any points?

It’s always good to stay aware of what the reward value really is. If it takes $10 purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart to get 100 points and you have to do that eighty times, or spend $800 to get the 8000 points worth the $10 discount reward, that reward is of a 1.25% value. That’s a lot better percentage than the other two mentioned, but in all cases we need to think about the initial product prices. If you are spending a lot to get a very modest reward, or spending more than you would elsewhere, is it worth it?

For the above toothpaste example, the twenty points would be worth only about two and a half cents, so a dollar saved on a different brand would be a much better avenue to take to flash your lovely smile.

Speaking of Shoppers, I purchased a few things there the other day, including an Easter bunny that was looking a bit lonely, and I was charged several dollars more than the sign had said that the bunny cost. But I caught the error quickly, returned to the store, and didn’t just get a refund of the overcharge, but I got a refund of the full amount paid for my little friend. So, my free little bunny is tasting extra sweet. And I am smiling, with teeth cleaned by the more affordable toothpaste.

To keep your wallet smiling, try to remember, wherever you may shop, the true value of however you are being rewarded.

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