Save & Invest
What are the Best and Worst Loyalty Programs in Canada?July 14, 2023
With grocery prices constantly rising, people are looking for different ways to save money. One of these ways is customer loyalty programs. There are plenty of options available, whether its bonus points when using credit cards or retail loyalty programs. Do these programs really work though?
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Do you end up saving money or spending more? Is it even worth it to sign up for these programs? Well, honestly, if these programs are used correctly, you could end up saving a ton of money. We have listed below some of the best loyalty programs in Canada, and how they work.
What Stores have Rewards Programs in Canada?
While there are many different customer loyalty programs in Canada, some of the most popular are those that are for grocery stores and pharmacies. How you use these programs can actually be pretty beneficial to you. How they work is by using a points system. What you purchase is worth a certain amount of points, then you can save those points and use them to purchase more items.
PC Optimum is a program that allows you to earn loyalty points by purchasing groceries, gas, or using your credit card. They personalize your points for grocery shopping on the app, gearing it towards your most common purchases. Every 10,000 points are equal to a $10 redeeming value. For the most part, it is free to sign up for PC points, but they have a program you can pay for that provides extra points and incentives. You can earn or redeem points with:
- No Frills
- Shoppers Drug Mart
- Real Canadian Superstore
- Independent Grocer
- Joe Fresh
- Pharma Prix
Rexall Be Well
Rexall Be Well is similar to PC optimum points in the way that it personalizes offers for you on the app however their points system is different. Every dollar spent is 10 points and every 25,000 is equal to $10. Instead of having their own bank like PC financial, they are partnered with RBC to get extra points. Unlike other loyalty programs, Rexall Be Well can only be used at Rexall locations.
More Rewards is also a points program that’s available through:
- Save-On Foods
- PriceSmart Foods
- Urban fare
- Coast Hotels
- Oxygen Yoga and Fitness
- Vancouver Attractions.com
- Accent Inns
- Speedy Glass
- Vancouver Hino
- Jim Pattison Auto Group
Not only can you earn and redeem points on groceries, but they also have a ton of other options through their different partners. They partner with CIBC as a way for customers to earn extra points. The redeeming value of more rewards points depends on what you choose to use them for.
What are the Largest Loyalty Programs in Canada?
While there are quite a few large loyalty programs in Canada, two of the largest are Air Miles and PC Optimum. Both of these programs are partnered with multiple different companies and allow for a lot of diversity when redeeming and earning points. While we have already discussed PC Optimum, let us look into Air Miles.
Air Miles has been around for years and is partnered with many different companies. Not only can you use them for travel, but they also have many different partners. Airmiles offers a BMO Airmiles World Elite Mastercard and BMO Airmiles Mastercard.
The list of Air Miles’ different partners is massive and is different for every Canadian province. That being said, they do have a few exclusive partners that offer 3x the points.
- Jean Coutu
Best Retail Loyalty Programs in Canada
Even retail stores have some pretty awesome loyalty programs. While there are plenty to choose from, the top two are Hudson’s Bay and Plum Rewards.
Hudson’s Bay Reward Program
This program has been around for a long time and is great for those who shop at Hudson’s Bay. The rewards can be used in the store or online at thebay.com. The rewards are earned per dollar spent. You earn a different amount depending on if you are a part of the Hudson’s Bay Rewards, Rewards Plus, and Rewards VIP. Like most other loyalty programs, a minimum of $10 is needed to redeem rewards. The awesome thing about this program is that the points are also convertible to Air Miles.
This is a free loyalty program for those who shop at Indigo, Chapters, or Coles. Points are earned per dollar spent and can be redeemed in-store using the app. If you are a member of Plum Rewards, you also receive notice of limited-time and members-only offers. Sometimes they even have promo periods where they offer 10x the points. Because of the features this program offers, it makes sense to sign up even if you only purchase books occasionally, especially since it’s free.
Best Loyalty Programs with No Membership Fee
While the few rewards programs we have discussed are awesome especially since they don’t have fees. There are many more to add to that list such as:
Aeroplan is a frequent flyer program. You can get an Aeroplan credit card from TD, American Express or CIBC. You do not need to travel to earn these points. You can earn them just by using the credit card from everyday purchases and certain purchases can earn you more points. Aeroplan is also partnered with companies that you can shop with and earn points without using a credit card, however, the points usually double if you do.
These Aeroplan points can be spent to purchase Air Canada flights or other qualifying airlines that are part of the Star Alliance group. You can also redeem points for things like gift cards, rental cars however, the value of the points is more if they are used on travel.
These rewards are also travel rewards. WestJet has its own branded credit cards that allow you to earn dollars from partnered stores or from booking flights. If you fly often this is a great program and even has different tiers like gold and silver status. Some other perks are free checked bags, and lounge access, no blackout dates. The WestJet RBC credit card also gives you access to exclusive member fares. Some members also receive an annual companion voucher which can be used to cap the price or someone traveling with you.
Not only does RBC partner with WestJet but they also have their own RBC Avion rewards which do not restrict cardholders to a single airline. They offer a wide variety of flights and destinations that accept RBC Avion rewards and they have no seating restrictions and no blackout dates. The RBC rewards points can also be used to cover taxes and fees.
This travel rewards program also does not restrict travel to one specific airline. They also don’t restrict seat choice and flights, and the points don’t expire. Redeeming the points is easy because they only require you to have 80% of the points needed and can purchase the rest for a low cost of a few cents per mile. They also allow you to redeem these points as cash towards your statement.
Like most other banks, BMO offers travel rewards. These can be earned using one of their credit cards and can also be redeemed for other things such as gift cards and merchandise. They also offer monthly specials on products that you can redeem your points on. They also allow you to use the points towards your credit card balance. If the other options don’t work for you this is a great way to use them.
Scene is an extremely popular program. You can earn points with Scotiabank credit cards and chequing accounts for everyday purchases. You can earn extra points for spending at Cineplex theatres. Not only can scene points be redeemed for movies, you can also redeem them for travel, merchandise gift cards, obtain restaurant discounts or use it as an account credit.
This is a convenient free program that allows you to earn a point every time you purchase gas with Petro Canada. You earn points at 10 points per litre, or every dollar spent. They have several retail and financial partners that allow you to earn extra points as well. You can link your Petro Points with an RBC credit card, Hudson’s Bay
The Triangle Rewards program, also known as Canadian Tire, is one of the longest running loyalty programs in Canada. You can earn rewards at any of their affiliated companies such as:
- Sports Experts
With Triangle Rewards you get Canadian Tire money and personalized offers. If you use the Triangle Rewards Mastercard then you earn even more.
Lastly, we have the Canada Automobile Association. They prove millions of Canadians with car insurance, roadside assistance, and rewards that you can earn. They have over 165,000 partnered locations and many of those places offer special discounts and offers to members. National Bank also has some credit cards that allow you to earn CAA points.
Loyalty programs with a membership fee
While most loyalty programs are free in Canada, the most common ones to have fees are credit cards. It is normal to have a small annual fee for a credit card and then earn extra points and cashback with that card. For those who use their credit cards a lot, these can be quite beneficial. Two examples of these credit cards are:
- MBNA Rewards (World Elite Mastercard, MBNA Smart Cast Platinum Plus Mastercard
- American Express Membership Rewards (All American Express Credit Cards)
While these are just examples, most major banks offer these kinds of credit cards.
One of the most popular loyalty programs that has a membership fee, is PC Optimum. While you can also earn points for you, they also have insiders’ subscription. It is a $199 yearly fee that allows you to earn 10% in PC points on all PC products. You also get free PC Express pickup with priority and free shipping at no minimum purchase amount. This program also allows you to earn travel rewards and extra points on Joe Fresh purchases.
Other Loyalty Programs
Along with the loyalty programs we have listed, there are a few others that are just as popular. While they may not be as widely used as some of the other programs, they do have some great benefits to offer.
By downloading the Mcdonald’s app and purchasing your food through there, you can earn some great points that translate into free food. It’s simple to use, and extremely convenient. Plus, if you’re an employee of Mcdonalds you could get an employee discount with the Mcdonald’s platinum card.
If you shop at Choices Market, you can get something called the Prefered Shopper Card. Not only can you earn points with this card, but you can also get special deals on certain items throughout the store, You start earning points on purchases of $15 or more, and once you reach 2,000 points, then you can redeem them for $20.
Food Basics doesn’t have a loyalty program per se, but they do have an app that will offer coupons and special discounts. If you’re a Food Basics shopper then this is a must-have. That said though, because Food Basics isn’t owned by Loblaws, you can’t use PC points there.
What Loyalty Program is the Most Popular?
While not surprising, the most popular program is Air Miles. Not only can you earn and redeem points in a variety of places, but they have also been around since 1992 so they are well known. They have over 11 million members and partners with over 200 retailers and travel suppliers. While we have already gone over what Air Miles offers, it is a solid program and can be quite beneficial to those who actively collect points.
What are the Best Loyalty Programs in Canada?
While it really is difficult to decide which is the best loyalty program. The top two are Air Miles and PC Optimum. These are both large, well-known loyalty programs and are free to join, however, they are not for everyone. There are so many loyalty programs in Canada that, while these may be the best programs for some people, there are options out there for everyone.
What are the Worst Loyalty Programs in Canada?
The worst loyalty programs are those that are linked to credit cards. Because you end up using your cards a lot to earn the points, it is easy to get into a cycle where you can’t pay off the cards and end up spending more money in interest then what you receive in points. If these credit cards are used properly they are great, but often they end up costing more than you earn.
Which Loyalty Program is the Oldest?
The oldest loyalty program in Canada is Canadian Tire Money. While actual Canadian Tire Money is not offered anymore, it is found in the form of Triangle Rewards. While it doesn’t hold the same nostalgia the Canadian Tire Money does, the Triangle Rewards card allows you to keep track of your Canadian Tire Money and redeem it when you feel necessary.
How Many Canadians Use Loyalty Programs?
While it is difficult to pinpoint how many Canadians actually use loyalty programs, studies have found that there are almost 130 million memberships which average out to around 4 per person. That’s a lot of membership. One of the main reasons for this is that memberships are everywhere, at every store and bank. Since these are places, you are going to go anyways you may as well earn some rewards for it.