The average Canadian belongs to more than a dozen rewards programs. It seems like every retailer – large or small – has its own loyalty program, along with incentives to save money if you join.

If you’re like me, you probably belong to a bunch of rewards programs, most of which have only been used once or twice. Most of these cards are nearly worthless by themselves – just another piece of plastic taking up room in your wallet.

So what should you do with all your rewards cards that don’t have enough points to get you a free coffee or a sandwich?  Purging your wallet and tossing un-used cards in the garbage seems like a reasonable solution, but you might be throwing away free money.

Use Points.com to swap points from one rewards program to another

Use points.com to swap rewards

A site like www.points.com can help you get more out of your loyalty programs, from your airline frequent flyer miles to your hotel points, from your credit card rewards to your gas and drugstore cards. Here’s how it works:

With Points.com, you can register all your loyalty programs in one place, and then exchange unwanted points from one rewards program to another program you really want to use.  You can also trade points with other people on Points.com, which boasts over a million members.

There’s more than 100 loyalty programs listed on the site, although most of them are American. Still, you’ll find popular programs like Aeroplan, Air Miles, Esso Extra, Petro Points, Shoppers Optimum, Sears Club and Starbucks rewards.

Related: RBC Shoppers Optimum MasterCard Review

There’s no fee to move points or miles between your own loyalty programs within the site. However, if you want to swap points or miles with another Points.com member, you’ll pay a trading fee.

The loyalty programs participating in Points.com trades charge a fee when you transfer points or miles to another user. Fees vary from program to program: some charge a flat fee plus a cost-per-mile/point; others only charge a fee that’s based on a range of miles or points.

Each program determines the ‘exchange rate’ between reward programs. As a result, not all exchanges are equal on a one-to-one basis.

Exchanges across different industries (for example, swapping airline reward miles for retailer points) tend to be more favourable.

Related: Why Cash Back Beats Travel Rewards

The best way to use the site is to register all your loyalty programs and exchange points from the ones you don’t use to the programs you use more frequently.

Another option is to redeem your unwanted points and miles for gift cards or into your PayPal account. For example, you can redeem 2,000 Esso Extra points for a $10 Amazon.ca gift card.

Trading points between members can be costly, so be careful. Also, instead buying more point to top up your account through Points.com, it makes more sense to do this directly through your rewards program.

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