Yesterday, I got an email I had been hoping for for a while.
PC points and Shopper's Optimum points (both owned by Loblaws) have finally decided to merge their loyalty programs. And it's as good as it can be.
Recall in #87 What's in Your Wallet I talked about how I have the PC World Elite Mastercard. It's a pretty amazing card, giving 3% cash back in points when shopping at most Loblaws owned stores including Shoppers Drug Mart.
The thing was that when you shopped at Shoppers you could also swipe your Shoppers Optimum loyalty card to get additional points.
The Optimum points have a tiered redemption structure which makes the effective cash back at the lowest tier 1.25% and scaling up to 1.36%, 1.58%, 1.7%, with 1.79% being the maximum effective cash back redemption tier.
The change that's going to occur is that all existing points on both systems will merge into what will be called PC Optimum points. In simple terms, all your points will be worth the same before and after the merge. If you had $30 of PC points and $20 of Optimum points, you will have $50 of PC Optimum points after the merge on Feb 1 2018.
Finally, on the new system, with the PC World Elite Mastercard you will continue to earn 3% cash back in points when you shop at most Loblaw stores, but at Shopper's Drug Mart you will get an additional 1.5% in points. This doesn't really equalize for the Optimum points users that regularly racked up point in the higher redemption tiers, but its an average compromise to make a simpler and linear system.
Additionally, instead of a minimum redemption of $20 or 20,000 points, the new minimum is $10 or 10,000 points. Making it easier for the customer to feel the benefits of the loyalty program.
The Benefits of Loyalty
Loyalty points with a credit card or on a standalone basis can be very lucrative if you have a tendency to shop or eat at the same places over and over again.
This is exactly me and my wife. Once we find a place we like to eat, you can almost bet we will eat there at least once a week for 3 or 4 weeks in a row. It's not like we are trying to spam our life with the same food, we just get these cravings that seem to last a month. Back in blog post #98 the Korean restaurant (Seoulicious) we ate was the first of 3 times in 2 weeks. Sadly they don't have a loyalty program.
See it's not like we are only going back because of a loyalty program. While we do make some decisions based on loyalty points, it's usually commodities that drive us to a final decision based on points, like buying gas for a rental car.
But the Japanese BBQ place (Gyu Kaku) we like to go to has an app where we can record our points. This place is definitely not a commodity, it's actually really good. The effective cash back in points is 10%. Places like Starbucks give you about 10%-20% cash back in points as well depending on what you redeem your free drink or food on.
When I see people that clearly go to Starbucks every day using cash or credit to pay for their drinks it really befuddles me. It's not that hard to get a rewards card. It takes 2 seconds for the cashier to get a gift card, load it with your cash or credit and get you started. It costs nothing more to you but to say yes. You're actually throwing away 50 cents every time you buy a drink without using your points card.
The same goes for people buying groceries from Loblaws or NoFrills, when asked if they collect points they say no and then go ahead and pay with cash. My foot starts to shake at this point. It just wants to pick itself up and kick them. You could be giving up over $100 a year by not collecting points at just the grocery store.
Don't make me kick you. I'm kidding.... but seriously get the points card.
Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something change optimist, and personal finance guy. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.