07 Sep, 2013
Making the most out of the PC Plus loyalty program
Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!
I had a change of heart when I started to think about the stores we were supporting on a regular basis already. I also saw the benefits when we booked our trip to Canada’s Wonderland this summer. The points we had accumulated on our RBC card allowed us to book a pretty nice hotel for only $17/night. (That is not a typo!)
Call it a sign of the times, but I decided I could trade off some personal info in exchange for some great deals.
PC Plus is not a credit card (although Loblaw’s has one of those too), it’s a loyalty program. And this, my friends, IS COUPON CLIPPING OF THE FUTURE.
You need an email address to sign up (which may be a barrier for some people). I signed up at my local Loblaws and I received a set of cards right away: a business-card size card and a smaller one I attached to my key fob. I recommend downloading the PC Plus app too, which has been a great way of keeping track of new point offers that come along every week. It’s linked to my account and I can also ask the cashier to scan it if I’ve forgotten my card.
There are essentially three ways of accumulating points:
- In-store points. These are displayed on small white cards near the price of each item. I actually find them hard to see sometimes, so it’s smart to pay attention. Everyone who is enrolled in the program can get these points.
- Digital points. These are points that are tailored to your past purchases and don’t apply to everyone. You’re notified by email which products can earn you points.
- Earned points. I haven’t quite figured this out yet, but they appear in a separate tab in the “offfers” section on the app. These seem to be extra points I earn. It must kick in after a certain dollar figure is reached, but I don’t know what that is. I’ve received these earned points for things like oranges and milk, which I appreciate, because I buy milk every time I’m at the store.
The program is pretty simple really: 1,000 points is worth $1 and you can redeem them as soon as you hit 20,000 (or more, but in increments of 10K only).
What I appreciate is that I can earn points on whole foods (like chicken, vegetables, fruit etc) that I buy anyway and aren’t traditionally subject to coupons. And I’m often surprised at the extra offers that I find in my Inbox. For example, a couple weeks ago they gave me 20,000 points ($20!) for spending over $85, which is very easy for a family of four to spend in one visit.
The points can accumulate fairly quickly, especially if Loblaws is your regular grocery store. Since we’ve enrolled in PC Plus in July I’ve redeemed $120 worth of points. And there’s twenty bucks sitting there waiting to be redeemed next time I shop. Not bad eh?
There are 16 items on my personal points list this week (remember, they’re tailored to my past purchases). These include:
- PC Free Run eggs (900 points)
- No Name honey (1,000 points)
- 1,000 points for every $5 spent on PC yogurt
- 1,000 points for every $5 spent on fresh fruit
- Tropicana juice blends (800 points)
- And if I spend $125 in the store this week they’ll give me 12,000 bonus points.
I have a few tips for you if you’re using PC Plus and want to save some money on your grocery bill:
If your spouse ever does the shopping, make sure they are carrying a card that is linked to the family account. In our house, I have the mini fob card and Mark carries the regular sized card. There’s also a copy of the card on the app.
Plan your menus around the biggest point earners that week. And don’t forget about school lunches. If fresh nectarines are on the points list, buy these for lunches instead of apples or oranges.
Related to this, pay close attention to the fact that these are single use offers. I had an offer for 200 points for every $1.00 spent on pork in the meat department. I did a small shop early in the week and bought a package of ground pork for a recipe I was making that night. Later in the week I went back to get ribs for a weekend BBQ, but I didn’t get the points because I already used my one time offer on that small package of pork earlier in the week! Had I really taken the time to think about it I should have bought it all in one shot in order to get all the points.
But don’t be so focused on point accumulation that you ignore actual prices. There’s no point overpaying for something just because you’re being offered a few points in exchange. This is especially true if you’re comparison shopping between brands. For example, there were two different brand names of coconut popscicles. One had a great point value and the other one didn’t, BUT the one with the points cost almost twice as much and the points didn’t make up for the difference. So I left it there.
Pay attention to that weekly email and make sure your offers are “loaded” before you head out to the store. If your offers aren’t loaded you won’t get any of the points. If you’re using the PC Plus iPhone app, update your offers before you hit the store. Internet access from the depths of the store can be iffy.
It’s worth noting that you can’t earn points if you go through the self-checkout. Apparently it works at the self-checkout now. Yay!
Are you collecting PC Plus Points? I’d love to hear about any other tips or tricks you may have!
Update November 17: The PC Plus points program finally rolled out at the Great Canadian Superstore. This makes points collection a lot more convenient for me. And I’m up to 99,200 points! That means that I’m well on my way to my goal of earning a totally free grocery shop at Christmas. If I have leftover points I’ll spend them on gift cards as stocking stuffers. (YES. You can do that!)
Update December 23: I did it! I saved enough to cover the bulk of our holiday groceries. If I hadn’t bought a prime rib roast on sale I would have made it. (Oh well, that roast netted me 3800 points!) Here’s my receipt:
Update December 31 - Lesson learned: always check the receipt! I did a medium-sized grocery shop at Valu-Mart (where PC Plus points are in play) and the cashier didn’t really know what she was doing. She scanned my card (or seemed to scan it), I paid for my groceries, and looked at the bill. There were no points listed at the bottom even though I knew a handful of products had points attached to them. I asked her if she scanned the card, she said she did. There happened to be another cashier standing there and she also told me the card had been scanned (basically making me feel like I was wasting their time). It was clear to me that it didn’t scan so I went to customer service and showed them the bill. She agreed there were points missing. She was able to add the missing points on the spot, which was great.