The evaluation study found "no evidence" that the pound;100m Connexions scheme had improved attendance or led more 16-year-olds to continue their studies.
The cards were launched four years ago and are managed by the first public-private partnership between the Department for Education and Skills and Capita.
Sixth-formers in schools and colleges collect points for attendance, which they exchange for prizes including concert tickets and discounted clothes and CDs.
The study by York Consulting company and Mori found, however, that fewer than a tenth of 16 to 19-year-olds used the cards and only 3.7 per cent redeemed points.
"There is no evidence that the original intended impact on participation is being achieved," it said.