This PC Optimum Member Review is for Canadian shoppers trying to decide whether or not another loyalty program is worth paying attention to. Since the PC Insiders Membership program has a fee, I figured it would be worth sharing my thoughts on the program to help you decide whether or not it’s worth it to sign up.
Overall, I find that PC Optimum is more than worth the effort it takes to collect and redeem the points.
All about PC Optimum points
PC Optimum is Loblaw’s customer loyalty program in Canada. Customers who register with the loyalty program get a membership card and access to the online membership portal. There is also a PC Optimum app for smartphones.
How do PC Optimum points work?
Loyalty program members earn points by buying certain items. Some items are advertised in flyers, on shelves, or online as points bonus items. There are also “personalized” offers shown in the PC Optimum app. While grocery locations do not have a flat earning rate per dollar spent, members do earn base points at select locations such as Shoppers and Esso/Mobil.
The bonus points from select promotional offers and the base points from Shoppers/Esso/Mobil are combined together in one points tally per member. Members can then redeem their points for free groceries or other merchandise.
PC Optimum points value
Every loyalty program’s points have a certain “value” per dollar. In some programs, one point is worth one dollar of merchandise. In the PC Optimum loyalty program, you need to redeem 1,000 points to get one dollar worth of free merchandise.
10,000 points = $10 dollars CAD
Because PC Optimum only redeems in 10K increments, the minimum redemption is 10,000 points (for $10 off of a bill that’s greater than $10). Just remember that PC Optimum points per dollar is 1,000 points per dollar.
How to earn PC Optimum points
There are five key ways to earn PC Optimum points:
- Personalized Offers: member-specific earning opportunities that can be “loaded” on the website or in the app
- Promotional Offers: offers for all members that are advertised in flyers (don’t have to be “loaded” to your account).
- Base Points Per Dollar Spent: only at Shoppers and Gas Stations
- Earn 15 points for every dollar spent at Shoppers
- Earn 10 points per liter and 10 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at Esso
- PC Financial Payment Cards: include a points-back reward (similar to base points per dollar spent, but you need to apply for and use their card).
- PC Insiders: paid loyalty program upgrade
The majority of your PC Optimum points are going to come from special offers and bonus points. You don’t automatically get points just for every dollar you spend at the majority of retailers (and the base points earn rate is relatively low at the places where it exists). See their terms for more details.
Also, be sure to check out your eyes out for special deals. They will have days where you get tons of extra points for purchasing specific items, like PC Blue Menu items, or something like “25,000 points when you spend $100.”
As you consider the ways to earn points, remember that you need to redeem 1,000 points to get one dollar worth of free merchandise. Think of the amount of points you get back in terms of a discount. If you’re getting 10 points/dollar at Esso, you’d need to spend $100 to get 1000 points. And those thousand points are only worth a dollar in redeemable value. So you’re getting $1 off your $100 purchase…not exactly a huge savings.
Examples of how to earn PC Optimum points
Consider the flyer ad above. This is a good example of the kind of special offer that can earn you quite a few PC Optimum points. In this example, members earn 3000 points for $30 spent on fresh poultry. So, you’re earning 1000 points per $10 increment or earning 100 points per dollar spent. This is obviously a higher earning ratio than the base points at Shoppers or Esso.
So let’s say you spend your $30 and earn your 3000 points. These 3000 points are essentially worth $3 in redeemable value. So you got $3 off your $30, or 10% off (in redeemable points).
Ok, on to the next example…
The offer above gets you 500 points for every dollar spent on ginger. Remember that PC Optimum can be redeemed at 1,000 points per dollar. So, for every two bucks you spend on ginger, you’re getting one dollar back in points. That’s essentially a 50% off sale on ginger.
Let’s compare this to base points at Shoppers. I could spend a dollar on ginger during this bonus offer and get 500 bonus points. Or, I could spend $34 at Shoppers and get 500 base points. The points add up either way, but it does pay to pay attention to promotional points offers.
But there is a better time to earn points at Shoppers on regular purchases… enter… The Points Multiplier Event:
Points multiplier earning events
So during the points multiplier event advertised above, your base point earning rate of 15 points for every dollar spent turns into 300 points for every dollar spent. Now we’re talking. This is not quite as good a return rate as the ginger promo, but better than the chicken promo above. And it works on a much wider variety of products!!!
An earn rate of 300 points per dollar spent is like getting 30% off the cost (although you don’t really get it “off”, you get it back in points). You’re basically getting 30% off your purchase when you shop during a multiplier event. You just have to be smart about how you spend your points! (more on that later…)
Just remember that it’s critical to review the flyer and/or the PC Optimum app before you go shopping (or in the car when you get there!)… I live in a small town where a lovely human delivers free newspapers to our houses which include sale flyers. For when I’d just rather use my phone, I find the Flipp app quite good for viewing flyers (and price comparison).
Other notes about earning PC Optimum points
ALWAYS scan your PC Optimum loyalty card when shopping in person. I put the little plastic card on my keychain. You can also use the virtual card in the PC Optimum app or Apple Wallet. It’ll also pay to try out online shopping for some things you usually buy in person. Every purchase makes a difference with this points program! So don’t forget your card (or phone)!
Extra points for eligible purchases will be awarded automatically when you scan your card or use it while logged in online. You should see your earned points within two weeks in the PC Optimum app.
Do you need the PC financial credit card? (PC Financial Mastercard/PC World Elite Mastercard)
You certainly do not need to have the PC Mastercard to make the PC Optimum Program worth it! In our household, we use the cash envelope budgeting system instead of credit cards… So we don’t earn points this way. The bonus offers are enough to make the program more than worth it.
It is true that you’ll earn additional PC Optimum points if you use a PC Mastercard. If you love loyalty program credit cards, this might be a good option for you. I just can’t give you specifics on it because we don’t use it!
How to redeem PC points
You can redeem PC Optimum points for just about any merchandise at Loblaw banner stores. The usual loyalty program restrictions apply (so you can’t redeem your points for gift cards….sad….). But you can redeem for groceries and makeup and magazines and kids clothes.
When thinking about how to redeem PC points, it’s important to think about what you can’t save on other ways. I like to redeem my points for grocery store items I need that don’t really go on sale. It’s important to remember that you don’t earn points when you redeem points… So don’t redeem a bunch of points on something that will usually earn you a bunch of points!
PC Optimum points redemption events
Sometimes there are time-limited events in which PC Optimum boosts the value of your points. These are good times to redeem points for merchandise.
Something I’ve also heard others do to save money during the holidays is they save up their points until the holidays, like Christmas for example. Since they know they will be buying a ton of groceries, they wait to redeem them so they can save the most money possible. So whether you wait until a redemption event or until a big grocery shop, they’re both good ways to save cash!
In the example above, you’re encouraged to spend a big chunk of points because their value is increased. Instead of your 100,000 points getting you $100 off your purchase, you’re getting $150 off. As the ad above so helpfully states, that’s an extra $50 off…. just for shopping during the event.
Redeeming Points in 10,000 Increments
You can only redeem points in 10,000 point or $10 increments. So for a $45 total purchase, you can only redeem $40 worth of points during that transaction. This is irritating because you’ll almost always have to pull out some change to pay for the last few bucks. They will get SOME money out of you lol!
The PC Optimum app
The PC Optimum App is a key part of the success of this loyalty program. Get the app, sign into it, and make sure the offers are “loaded”. I used to have to manually click them. Now they often seem to “load” automatically. Get familiar with the app and use it while you’re making your grocery list.
Since a lot of the items that earn points can be a bit more pricey, like the PC Blue Menu, PC organics products, or items from the PC Black Label Collection, another thing I like to do to save cash while earning points is to order my groceries online. This way, you can see the cost per unit, making it easier to plan as you go and track costs.
If you have a PC Optimum insiders membership, then you’ll get free PC express pickup too! This could save you over an hour of grocery shopping.
Is PC Optimum worth it?
So, is PC Optimum worth it? …
Becoming a PC Optimum member is worth the time and effort. My PC insiders membership review is decisively positive. There are about a million loyalty programs out there, but this is a favourite of Canadians for good reason. We love loyalty programs, especially those where we can redeem for stuff we actually need. Like food.
I’ve been pretty happy with my experience with Tangerine Banking. Check out my review here (and get my Tangerine Orange Key, too).