10/20/2014 08:16 EDT | Updated 12/20/2014 05:59 EST

How To Tell If You're Suffering From Severe Rewards Card Accumulation

Lately I've been experiencing a chronic pain in my left cheek. I thought maybe I had been overdoing my spinning classes. But it turns out my left butt pain has a different cause: a nasty case of SRCA, otherwise known as severe rewards card accumulation.

SRCA is a slowly developing condition brought on by the ongoing acquisition of more and more loyalty and rewards cards. As a sufferer acquires additional pieces of plastic, his wallet grows in size to the point where it burrows into his left gluteal muscle thereby causing discomfort and pain.

Years ago, I was pain-free with a slim wallet that held little more than my driver's license, my health insurance card and one solitary credit card. Unfortunately, over time, my wallet grew.

First there was the obligatory second credit card everyone said I needed as an emergency backup. But it wasn't long before the card slots in my wallet began rapidly filling up. One soon held a blue Air Miles card, the one that requires years of collecting to get a one-way trip to Hamilton.

From then on, the acquisition of cards continued unabated. At some point I got a Shoppers Optimum card, a Chapters Plum Rewards card and a Staples Dividend card. Then it turned out that it wasn't enough that I earn Air Miles at my local Shell station. In order to optimize my gas fill-up purchases, I also had to have Petro-Points and Esso Extra points cards.

Then came the other store rewards cards. The PetPerks card from PetSmart, Target's REDcard and Loblaws' new PC Points card. I even have a card from a card shop that gets me a free card after four purchases.

In recent years, wallet manufacturers have tried to keep up with this explosive growth in plastic cards. My current wallet is probably a first generation example of this trend with ten slots for different cards.

Even after doubling up on some of those slots, however, I still ran out of space and had to incorporate two of those multi-sheaf, see-through plastic cardholders to stuff in more cards wherever space allowed.

Almost anyone can suffer from SRCA or one of its related afflictions. For example, left-handed males might experience pain in the right cheek. And women can easily suffer from burst wallet overflow or even chronic shoulder droop due to excessive purse weight.

Given the rapid spread of loyalty and rewards cards, we are almost certainly on the verge of a posterior pain epidemic. The time for action is now. We must halt this health hazard before it cripples the entire male population.

So if you suspect that a friend or loved one is suffering from SRCA, help them break the card-acquiring habit and relieve that annoying pain in the rump. If you're unsure if someone close to you is a victim of this insidious condition, check for these telltale signs and symptoms:

* Does the individual frequently experience lengthy delays in checkout lines searching for the right card or cards?

* Does the person drive out of his way to use a particular card for a gas fill-up even though the dollar in gas used far exceeds the twenty cents in points gained?

* Does the cardholder often freeze in mid-purchase, not knowing which combo credit card (e.g. - MasterCard Air Miles or Visa Aeroplan) to use?

* Does your friend or loved one lack a rewards card filter, viz. is he unable to say no to the latest card offer?

If you know someone who experiences one or more of these symptoms, he is likely a SRCA sufferer and needs help now. With some gentle but firm intervention, that person can learn to let go of his hoard of plastic cards and forego the pain and humiliation associated with having a large protuberance in his back pocket.

Except maybe for a credit card or two. And perhaps the blue Air Miles card. And I've got to have my Starbucks and Tim Hortons cards, right? For now, I think I'll just take it one step (and one card) at a time.


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