Canada, it may be time for a bigger wallet. Canadians are enrolled in 130 million loyalty programs, according to 2014 research by COLLOQUY. That breaks down to four programs for every man, woman and child in the country, and it represents an 8.1 percent increase from 2012.

Yet for many Canadians, these programs have yet to deliver on what they promise. Forty-six percent of Canadians do not feel companies use their personal information to better serve them, according to a 2014 survey by LoyaltyOne. Thirty percent do not trust loyalty programs with their personal information.

“It is possible for consumers to gain in their wallets a sum commensurate with what they sign up for in loyalty programs.”

This lack of trust, and value, could result in a lot of unused programs. For consumers, the implications are greater than merely carrying around some extra plastic, because in many cases the shopper has traded his or her own personal information for nothing more than an enrollment perk.

It is possible for consumers to gain in their wallets a sum commensurate with what they sign up for in loyalty programs — they simply must identify those programs that would best benefit them. Here are a few ways how.

1. Choose based on experience

Shoppers should consider what qualities inspire them to do repeat business with a brand and limit their memberships to those that deliver on them. If the merchant rarely carries your size or favorite brand of cereal, why return?

2. Favour rewards most valued

Companies have become quite creative in finding imaginative ways to reward customers. A luxury retailer may offer VIP tickets to fashion shows, while traditional grocers (which count 170 million members — down 2 percent from 2012, according to the 2015 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census) get mileage from short-term promotions. Shoppers should assess how they spend their time and money and be realistic about what they will use.

3. Consider the cost

Many programs charge a fee for membership, so be sure to ask. Sometimes, as in the case of Amazon Prime or the BMO World Elite MasterCard, these fees offer great services in return, such as free shipping and VIP lounge access. Note that free programs also come with fees of a sort – they collect personal data. Shoppers should be sure the benefits promised are worth their information.

By limiting the number of cards in their wallets, consumers can increase not just their rewards, but also their opportunities.