Apparently my bank has a points program. I have 10,000 points. I have no idea what I did to earn these points, but apparently they're there. Maybe it was from opening an account? I have no idea, though apparently these points are redeemable for merchandise. Apparently if I upgrade my banking or sign up for a specific credit card I can get more of them.
I'm not going to.
Why? It would cost me money to do so, and they aren't offering a net benefit to me. Why would I sign up for a credit card with a 19.99% interest rate that charges $50+ a year just for the privilege of earning points that are worth pennies on the dollar? It doesn't make sense. It's like signing up for a cash back credit card that offers 1% cash back, then charges you $50 a year to use it. You'd have to charge $5000 a year on that card just to break even on it. Carry a small balance for a month and your cash back is wiped out. It just doesn't make sense.
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have the points. In fact, I'm going to cash in 9,000 of them for $75 worth of Starbucks gift cards that I can use when I go for coffee with my friends. The other 1,000 points are just going to sit there afterwards. I didn't do anything for them, they don't cost me anything to sit in the account, so why do I need to spend the account to zero? I don't. And I certainly don't need to "top up" my points just to use that last 1,000. Most of the rewards that are handed out by companies are little more than a way to entice us to spend more money we had no intentions of spending in the first place. Banks in particular are really good at it, as a credit card companies.
If the points are free and can improve my quality of life, awesome. I don't need to pay for them, thanks. I'd rather just save for an item in the catalogue myself.
Take Charge Now: A Woman's Guide to Personal and Family Finance
The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough and Getting Out of Debt
The Wealthy Barber: The Common Sense Guide to Successful Financial Planning