It makes sense to be loyal to your family and friends. These are important people in your life that deserve your trust and attention.

But what about a grocery store? A clothing brand? Or Amazon?

Loyalty cards, or rewards cards, sound good in theory. You can shop at the same store and overtime build up “rewards” to be used towards future purchases. However, in practice they are a just another tool that businesses have to take more of your money.

Being “rewarded” for shopping is about as stupid as it sounds.

These cards encourage you to shop more often, spend more money, all for fleeting “rewards”, which are often just 5%-20% off a future transaction. If you are an even remotely savvy shopper, you can time your purchases around larger sales and promotions.

Nobody has become wealthy through using rewards cards.

But it’s not just through incentives of earning points that these loyalty cards encourage consumption, they also make it incredibly easy for businesses to track your spending habits and market to you. Emails tailored to your purchase habits, founded from a complete record of your purchase history.

How very nice of you to share so much information!

Brand Loyalty vs. Conscious Consumption

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a brand loyal person in a lot of ways. I love my Patagonia clothes, I buy from the same craft breweries (shout out to New Glarus in Wisconsin), and a handful of local restaurants get most of my business.

The difference is that I’m brand loyal to these places because of the quality of their product and their ability to meet my needs. I’m not shopping with them to earn any rewards. I’m shopping with them because they earned my business.

Part of being a conscious consumer is learning what you need and purchasing those items from places that deserve your business. Rewards cards do the opposite by actively encouraging you to make purchases at one business, and buy items you might not actually need.

No More Rewards Cards

So do your wallet/purse a favor, and get rid of the rewards cards. Become a person that makes purchases based on your need, and the ability for a business to serve you.


    August 7, 2018

    I did that two years ago, dropped Air Miles and all the other cards. There is 1 card I can’t remove from my wallet, because of the store policy. Save-on-foods, a large grocery chain in BC, displays many prices as “card member price” (even if it’s a free “membership”). Thus, if you don’t have their reward card, you get screwed big times on produces and other grocery items almost everytime you shop there.

    At the end, I’m moving my grocery expenses elsewhere, in smaller, independent grocers. But the damn card still sits in my wallet…

    • James
      August 7, 2018

      Good stuff! You make a valid point that reward credit cards fall into this same bucket too.

      I think there will sometimes be exceptions for things like grocery store memberships, like a Costco. I personally found that stores like that increased my consumption. But I understand that some people know how to work those stores effectively to increase their savings.

  2. human
    August 7, 2018

    “Make purchases based on your needs” ~ simple yet profound quote


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