As Canadians, we love our loyalty programs. Whether it be a shopping program, a credit card program or a travel rewards program — you name it, we love it. However, studies show not all Canadians partake in loyalty programs. There are tens of thousands who couldn’t bother — the question is, why? Whether it’s a cash back credit card or even a McCafé sticker card, there are so many options to earn rewards that there is no excuse not to.

Many argue that reward programs raise prices, blur the line on privacy, and make it feel like Big Brother is watching you while not feeling rewarded at all. However, reward programs are entrenched in our society; they are part of the free market and they are the norm now. Prices are going to be increased all the time, whether or not merchants have a loyalty program.

As to privacy and being watched, yes, many loyalty programs today are about collecting big data. The more they know about your shopping habits, the more worthwhile that data is. The question becomes, ‘Is this really a bad thing?’. Heavy loyalty program users will tell you no. They like receiving targeted offers that are actually useful.

For example, I frequently buy avocados, so I get bonus mile offers on a monthly basis for avocados. It’s convenient as it boosts my program balance to get to that next reward level. It’s all about making the loyalty program worthwhile for the member.

By getting more targeted offers, you should be able to get to levels in your program where you can be rewarded. This is the loyalty program’s way of getting you more involved and getting you to the point where you feel rewarded. Many people pass on programs as they don’t feel they’ll get anything out of them, but what these people are unaware of is that many programs have evolved to make it easier to redeem with lower-priced rewards and partial point redemptions.

With so many loyalty program options available to Canadians, we come back to the question: why aren’t you participating? It’s easy to earn points, miles, dollars, you name it — and it’s easy to get rewarded. If you saw a loonie on the sidewalk, you wouldn’t just walk past it, would you? The same goes for the loyalty programs. If you aren’t using them, you’re leaving money on the ground.