I’ve always wondered if I get my money’s worth out of membership and rewards cards, so I’ve decided to track them for the upcoming year.
I am always pleased to get rewards money to spend, and no matter how slowly the points accrue, getting something for free is welcome! I do want to be watchful about a few things, though.
- If I am paying a fee up front, do the rewards offset the initial costs?
- Am I cashing in points at the right “redemption level” to get the maximum rewards?
- What is the cost of my loyalty? I might pass on a sale item at Superstore because I want to collect Air Miles for the same item not on sale at Sobey’s. Shopping elsewhere would net me better savings.
- I am mindful of the staggering amount of information these stores accumulate about me and my spending habits over a period of years. I am careful about signing up for automatic emails and notifications of upcoming sales.
Here’s an examination of the cards in my wallet:
Costco, $55/year membership – groceries, clothing, housewares, gifts. Benefit: saving when buying large quantities of groceries and cleaning supplies. This year I will estimate what I saved compared to buying the same items at my usual shopping spots, and see if it is over $55. (My card is not an executive membership card – they were just out of the regular cards the day I got mine!)
HMV, $3/year, 100 points for every $1 spent, at media store (CD/DVD/video games). Current balance 21,000 points. At 25,000 I could get 10 MP3 downloads, so it’s worth about the same as one iTunes album ($9.99). However, it will have cost me 2 years’ membership fees ($6)!
Air Miles, free. At my grocery store I get 1 point for every $20 spent. I just redeemed 350 points for a $40 gift card for the grocery store. I spent $7000 to get $40, equivalent to a discount of 0.57% on purchases.
Shoppers Drug Mart, Optimum Card, free, 10 points per $1 spent. The earliest redemption is 8000 points for a $10 gift certificate. So, I am spending $800 to get $10, equivalent to a discount of 1.25% on spending. My current balance is 40,000 – good for a $60 gift card (at this redemption level, it is equivalent to a 1.5% discount).
HBC, free, 50 points per $1 spent – 80,000 points nets me a $10 gift certificate – for The Bay, Zellers (department stores) and Home Outfitters. Therefore I need to spend $1600 to get $10, equivalent to getting a discount of 0.625% on purchases. My current balance is 193,000 points – close to getting a $25 gift card at 200,000 points – but this took several years! The HBC card wins for slowest points accrual despite spending $$ at their stores.
Chapters Plum Rewards, free, 10 points per $1 spent, 2500 points gets $5 gift card, for book store. If you cash in at this level, it is equivalent to getting a 2% discount on everything you buy. Current balance – unknown because I can’t register online – I will report after I next visit Chapters in person.
Staples Easy Rewards Card, free. I am still using an old Dividends card but Staples’ program is now called Easy Rewards. It seems that if I spend $2000 per year, and at least $300 of that in each quarter, I will get 4% back in coupons, up to $20 per quarter. This has yet to happen because my spending is under the $300 per quarter threshold.
There are also a few good loyalty deals in my area that don’t involve cards, points or giving out personal information. That is another post!
Can anyone recommend other high-value Canadian rewards cards? Or, you could just make me jealous with rewards perks I can’t get where I live 🙂