Don’t Forget About Your Credit Card Rewards

Posted May 22, 2017 - updated June 19, 2017 by Craig Jenkins in

Credit Card Stack

Are you guilty of procrastination? You’re not alone. No matter how productive we are with our time, there are some tasks that we all dread. For me it’s filing my taxes. Since I have self-employment and rental income, it’s quite a time-consuming ordeal.

Financial tasks are perhaps the easiest to let slide. If you don’t cook dinner or do the dishes, the consequences are immediate (you won’t have anything to eat or any clean dishes to eat from). However, if you don’t pay your credit card statement on time, the consequences won’t happen until later on when you’re sent a reminder notice in the mail and your credit score suffers.

We Can’t Seem to get Enough of Credit Card Rewards

Canadians have a love affair with credit card rewards. We can’t seem to get enough of them. (This perhaps explains why our credit card interchange fees are among the highest in the world.) While we love earning rewards, that’s only half the battle. Redeeming them is the other half. Credit card companies sometimes make us jump through hoops to redeem the rewards we’ve rightfully earned. The reason is simple: it’s in the credit card company and its shareholders’ interest for you to not redeem the rewards. The fewer cardholders that redeem the rewards, the better the credit card company’s profits will be.

How Easy is it to Redeem Your Rewards?

For many cardholders, the rewards are a key consideration when shopping for a credit card. While rewards are a key factor, equally important is how easy it is to redeem those rewards. Some credit cards make it easy for you to redeem your rewards. For example, with the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, you can choose for the cash-back that you earn to be automatically deposited into your savings account. It doesn’t get any easier than that! Unfortunately, not all credit cards are this simple.

I’m a big fan of the MBNA Smart Cash Card. It’s been a staple in my wallet for almost a decade. I love this card because it’s a straightforward cash-back credit card. When you earned at least $50, MBNA used to send you a cheque in the mail. I noticed it had been months since I received my last cheque, so I logged into its website to see what was going on. I discovered that the rewards program had changed. MBNA was no longer automatically sending me a cheque. I had to choose how the rewards would be sent. I had over $100 worth of rewards sitting there. If I hadn’t of bothered to login, they’d still be sitting there unused. MBNA could change its reward program at any time, so cashing out sooner rather than later makes sense.

A similar situation happened with my PC World Elite MasterCard. I had over 95,000 PC Points – $95 worth of free groceries. I use my PC MasterCard every week when I go to the supermarket, but the cashier didn’t ask me if I wanted to redeem my points. I realized it was because my PC World Elite MasterCard and PC Plus card weren’t properly linked up.

The Bottom Line

It just goes to show you how important it is to stay on top of your credit card reward program. Your points aren’t going up in value by sitting there unredeemed. They could actually go down in value or worse, expire. Next time you sign up for a credit card, make sure to ask about the reward redemption process, otherwise you could have $100’s in valuable rewards sitting there without even realizing it.