Here is what I did - I got rid of any cards that I've not used for a year. That was actually quite a few. I used to travel a lot more than I do now and used 'hotel' cards but not any more...by the way, I've only received one reward from all of those cards. It seems many take 'forever' to collect anything. Next I took stock of what 'rewards' I could cash in...two return tickets for my son and family to travel home to see us! Yes I will be keeping my blue air miles card and just switched it to instant cash for gas and groceries since I shop regularly at Sobeys (there you go brother dear a plug lol). The Aeroplan card wasn't so lucky, I did cash in a few rewards but not for air travel and with their new expiry dates the card isn't worth me collecting the miles any more, so why carry it in my wallet. After I did a 'purge' of cards I felt kiddie and very freed. Of course, with all the stretching going on in my wallet, I will need a new wallet for the few remaining cards that I need and want to keep.
My favourite types of rewards are the ones that the companies track for me. Here is an example - Sobeys used to offer a free pizza from their deli after you bought so many (they still might, I just don't eat pizza anymore) and it was great to get to the cash and the cashier tells you that this pizza is free....they tracked it, not me. There was no card to remember and then search for, it was simple buy and save.
Is Free worth it?
That depends - in my father's case, he paid a pretty hefty fee to 'earn' miles. In the end, I figured out the cost to just buy the tickets vs what he paid in yearly fees and estimated that he came out even. The difference is he jumped through a lot of hoops to get what he 'earned' and in actuality 'pre-paid' for with his yearly credit card fee. To me 'free' should be 'free' to use. If you have to pay to earn points then it isn't free. Also if the company makes it so hard to get rewards then again, it isn't worth it - your time is being spent and in the end you might not get anything out of it. Not to mention the 'mind space' it takes up.
The one card I kept is my blue air miles card, it is worth it to me and I earn a reward fairly regular with it.
1) Free requires no real time or effort on my part ,or translation, I don't need to track anything or give of my time....which is valuable.
2) Free should be free - if you have to pay a fee then it isn't free! You are paying for it whether you see it or not.
So clear out your wallet, clear up your rewards and decide which 'cards' are worth keeping in your wallet....as value to you and not the company's marketing team. Simplify and save your time and your money.
Here is a great article from CBC on reward cards and risks