Here's my little disclaimer about these cards; they are not all created equal and not all of them are beneficial in my opinion. There's a lot of cards out there, pretty much any major retailer these days has a rewards program, so how do you choose if they are worth it or not? Here's my tips for using and making the most of these cards.
First, take a look at the stores you frequent the most. Do you do most of your shopping at a certain store? The cards I use the most are the ones that I shop at frequently, so it makes it very worth the rewards programs.
For example, Babies R Us has a very great rewards card and program. Everything from free diapers, formula, gift cards, coupons and more. Basically every time you buy you get qualifying dollars rewarded and get rewards back. I signed up when I was pregnant in a little over a year now I've earned $100 worth of rewards not to mention lots of coupons and exclusive members only sales and coupons. So for me since I shop here often and the program is good it's a benefit for me and my family.
edited to add: Last night we went to Babies R Us to get a high chair, and used our coupons combined with our rewards card gift certificates and coupons and paid $29 for a $159 high chair!! This is why I am a believer!
I also use my Kroger rewards card quite a bit. Most grocery stores have some sort of rewards card option. Make sure you check it out and look at the benefits of the card to see if it will work for you. Kroger has an option of uploading coupons right to your card and maximizing those with the in store deals. This is awesome because there's nothing to clip and take to the store you just upload them online and then scan your card at the check out. This rewards card saved me $54 the last time I went shopping. Check your local areas and see what cards will best fit your lifestyle.
My second tip is to really read the rewards program benefits and see if it works for you. For example when we first got a dog I signed up for the rewards programs at two major pet retailers one of the programs wasn't really a benefit for me because you had to spend quite a bit to even make it into the first rewards program bracket. I ended up never using this card because the rewards and savings weren't really that good.
Also, I never get a rewards card you have to pay for to sign up. I always use cards that have a free program option. I find that if I have to pay for the card once or even more than once a year you'll never use it. Unless you go to that store weekly it probably wouldn't benefit you. I personally like and benefit most from rewards cards are the ones that are free, and you're earning rewards every time you shop at said store.
Some of the cards I use the most & have really good rewards programs are :
Babies R Us
That's a little insigh into how I make these little wonders work for me and our family, I hope this helps you navigate rewards cards and start saving and using the money towards other things in life.