The Only Loyalty Programs to Sign Up For

loyalty programs

When out shopping one thing I focus on is getting the most rewards from retailers when making purchases. My thoughts, if you’re already spending money at their retail location, you might as well get rewards for your loyalty. Loyalty programs are a dime a dozen and to be honest not all of them are worth the trouble. At the end of the day you’re giving up your personal information, and purchasing patterns to a retailer – you might as well get the most rewards possible.

What’s in my wallet (and what I would change);

Credit Cards – TD Aeroplan Visa, Canadian Tire Mastercard, AMEX Gold

Travel rewards – Aeroplan, Airmiles, British Airways, Starwoods Rewards,

Gas – Speedpass (Links to Aeroplan), Petro Canada

Other loyalty – Scene Points, Shoppers Optimum, Plum Rewards (Chapters)

Best Cards

TD Aeroplan Visa – I used this for all my purchases, allows me to double dip when purchasing flights and points on purchases where Aeroplan doesn’t offer points.

Starwoods Rewards – You may be wondering…why sign up for a loyalty program at a specific hotel chain. I signed up because this feeds points directly to my Aeroplan account. Check out the Aeroplan site to figure out bonus offers like these. Went on a work trip, stayed at a Sheraton – free points for me. Thanks.

Optimum – See below

Scene – Great card if you’re a movie lover. I don’t go often enough anymore, but this still deserves to be in this section. The only issue is this is such a narrow rewards program, you only get movies. Redemption rates are fast.

Cards to Ditch

Canadian Tire Mastercard – Originally got this card when I worked for the retailer and received a certain % off every purchase. I don’t shop their enough now to keep the card and should probably cancel it.

Petro Canada – I exclusively buy my gas at Esso because it links to my Aeroplan card, which means I shouldn’t keep this card any longer

British Airways – Not sure why I really signed up for this. I’ve taken 1 British Airways flight to Greece and never used it since.

Airmiles – Once I use up my points, since I previously collected using that program, I should likely get rid of it. There’s no point collecting Airmiles and Aeroplan simultaneously

The Only Loyalty Programs to Sign Up For

Shoppers Optimum

One of my favourite programs out there and it’s for a few reasons;

  1. Speed and ease of collecting
    • 20x the points weekends, bonus points and all of it connected through an excellent mobile platform
  2. Customized point offerings based on your purchasing patterns
  3. If you take advantage of bonus point coupons and 20x the points weekends – the points come fast

Strategies – Take a peak at bonus point coupons, the flyer & keep an eye on bonus point weekends. If you’re making a large purchase ie. Tooth whitening strips, electronics, an electric tooth brush, make sure you’re buying these on bonus point weekends + loading coupons. You’ll rack up the points no problem

Verdict – If you go to Shoppers for basic purchases all the time, you should be using the Optimum program. The only thing I struggle with personally is figuring out what to redeem my points for…

If you like the Optimum program…consider trying out PC Plus+. Similar look and feel and when combined with a PC Financial bank account or Mastercard you can rack up points pretty quick.

Airline Miles – Aeroplan or Air Miles

I’ve personally collected both Air Miles and Aeroplan at some point, lately Aeroplan has been my “airline” mile of choice. One important thing to think about is that you should focus only on one program trying to collect both will make it tough to reach your redemption goals.

Given I collect Aeroplan I’m a little biased now, but whichever you use make sure to follow these important tips;

  1. Without overspending – buy everyday items at retailers that support your airline miles programs
    1. Think about groceries, gas (Shell vs Esso). Esso for example has a Speedpass where you can also get bonus points
  2. When shopping online check out AirMiles Shops or the Aeroplan eStore, you can double dip using a credit card that collects miles + 1x to 10x the points through your collectors card by starting off your shopping experience at one of the sides mentioned
  3. Get a credit card that helps you collect points for your airline rewards program as well, it lets you do the “double dip” above – if possible avoid annual fees.

Verdict – I’m a little biased so I would pick Aeroplan, and I’m sure some Air Miles collectors may also consider switching after the recent “point expiry” debacle at the end of 2016.

Retailer Credit Card programs with Loyalty

As I had mentioned about every retailer having their own loyalty program, it’s also the case with credit cards that tie into their loyalty program.

  1. Infrequent shopper – If necessary sign up for a loyalty program, but don’t even consider a credit card. It’s not worth adding an extra card to your wallet and you won’t purchase enough from the store to get the most from their loyalty program.
  2. Frequent shopper – If you only have 1 credit card, adding a second isn’t a finance destroyer as long as you are good at managing your money. Signing up for a retailer credit card to get a massive boost on rewards points isn’t the worst idea and can help save you a ton of money if it’s a solid rewards program.

Warnings – Most retailer rewards credit cards have higher interest charges than credit cards you can get from the bank. If you purchase and pay off your card right away, go for it. But if you’re someone that holds a balance (which I never recommend, ever), I suggest you not sign up for more than 1 credit card, and definitely not a retailer card.

Loyalty Programs – The Verdict

Pick loyalty programs that actually provide you with benefits for giving up your personal information, purchasing patterns + your money/loyalty to that retailer. I regularly shop at Marshall’s and haven’t signed up for their loyalty card simply because they provide little to no rewards for doing so. Keep it simply and have about 2 to 3 programs max that you actually focus on to get the most points possible – Grocery/Drug and Airline a

What loyalty programs to you use? What has been the most memorable item you’ve redeemed for?



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