More options, more flexibility

According to PC Financial, of course, the change is entirely positive. “We’re bringing the very best of Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus together,” said Uwe Stueckmann, senior vice president of marketing in a press release. He noted that PC Optimum is “the future of loyalty programs for Loblaw companies…harnessing both the power of PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum across the unified network of our stores coast to coast.”

Whereas once PC Mastercard holders could only redeem PC points at Loblaws-affiliated grocery stores like Zehrs and No Frills, and Optimum points could only be redeemed at Shoppers Drug Mart stores, members of both programs will be able to earn and redeem points interchangeably with the new PC Optimum program. According to the company’s website, PC Optimum collectors will be able to earn and spend their points at nearly 2,500 locations across Canada.

There will also be changes in the redemption threshold level. Presently, the minimum threshold for PC Point redemption is 20,000, which can be redeemed for $20 toward your grocery bill. As of February, when PC Points become PC Optimum Points, program participants will only need a minimum 10,000 to redeem for $10 toward their grocery purchase.

Point accumulation at Loblaws-affiliated stores varies based on any special promotions or special personalized offers. Generally, however, point accumulation for goods not on promotion depends on what PC credit card you have. PC Financial® World Elite Mastercard® holders get 30 points per $1 spent at Loblaws stores, PC Financial® World Mastercard® holders get 20 points per $1, and those using the basic PC Financial Mastercard get 10 points per $1. If you want to take your rewards even further, there are a few things you can do to maximize your PC Optimum points, such as using a PC Optimum card, participating in special earning events, and more.

A few snafus

Of course, it wasn’t a 100% seamless transition. There’s was a discrepancy in the redemption threshold between PC Points and Shoppers Optimum points. Shoppers Optimum points program participants currently only need to redeem 8,000 points for $10 worth of Shoppers items. To make up for the higher point value needed to redeem points, PC Financial reports that Shoppers Drug Mart customers will now get 50 percent more points for nearly every $1 they spend at Shoppers stores.

Things are a little more complicated for Quebecers. In that province, Shoppers is known as Pharmaprix and the Pharmaprix Optimum program was terminated on January 31, 2018. Program members had 90 days to use their Pharmaprix Optimum points or they convert them (at their current value) to PC Optimum points. As of May 2, 2018, Pharmaprix Optimum points will no longer be honoured.

The final verdict

While not many of us relish change, we also don’t like having dozens of loyalty and rewards cards piling up in our wallets. For this reason, it was a welcome development overall to have two points programs merge into one program and one card.

Bridget Casey is the award-winning entrepreneur behind Money After Graduation, a Canadian financial literacy website aimed at 20 and 30-somethings. She holds a BSc. from the University of Alberta, and an MBA in Finance from the University of Calgary. She has been featured as a millennial financial expert by Yahoo! Finance, TIME Magazine, Business Insider, CBC and BNN. Bridget was recognized as one of Alberta's Top Young Innovators in 2016.

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