Maximize PC Optimum Points – Playing the Points Game
Like many Canadian households, one of the biggest monthly expenses for our family is groceries. For example, in 2018, we spent $714.98 per month ($8,579.76 for 2018) on groceries. As a result, Mrs. T and I are always looking for ways to reduce our grocery bills while still serving high-quality food every day (we eat mostly organic nowadays). When it comes to grocery shopping, we primarily shop at Costco and Superstore. When I did the Costco vs. Superstore price comparison, I simply compared the prices between Costco and Superstore. One thing I didn’t really consider is the additional PC Optimum points you can get from shopping at Superstore. As we shop more and more at Superstore, I have found that if you are a frequent shopper at Loblaws stores like Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, or No Frills, the PC Optimum points can really add up quickly! So far this year we have redeemed over $350 worth of PC Optimum points. No wonder that the PC Optimum program is one of the most popular loyalty programs in Canada!
Being a numbers nerd, I am always trying to figure out ways to maximize points earn rate. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I have been figuring out ways to maximize PC Optimum points.
PC Optimum Program – Some Background Information
The PC Optimum program was introduced in February 2018 after the merge of the PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum programs. The new program had a bumpy beginning but it works pretty well nowadays.
With the PC Optimum program, you can do the following:
- Earn points on the food and products that you buy the most.
- Earn 15 points per $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart.
- Redeem 10,000 points for $10 worth of goods at any Loblaws stores. The redemptions must be in incremental of 10,000 points (i.e. $10, $20, $30, etc).
- You can redeem up to a maximum of 500,000 points or $500 in a single transaction.
Strategies to Maximize PC Optimum Points
Through my own research and a bit of trial and error, I have found a few ways to maximize PC Optimum points and the PC Optimum points earn rate.
1. Take Advantage of the Weekly Offers
When you sign up for the PC Optimum program, you will start getting weekly emails with personalized offers. Basically, Loblaws tracks what you are buying and will provide offers on food items and products that you buy most. The weekly offers go out on Thursday mornings and offer extra points for buying that week’s special products at any Loblaws stores. These offers are valid until Wednesday of the following week.
For example, we buy a lot of avocados from Superstore (Mrs. T and I are millennials after all, we need our avocado toast, ha!), so we often get an offer for 200 points for every $1 spent on avocados. Since 10,000 points can be redeemed for $10, this offer translates to 20% off avocados.
2. Shop at Shoppers Drug Mart
One thing I have noticed is that every week, there are many bonus personal offers for shopping at Shoppers Drug Mart. A couple of very popular offers I get almost every other week are “Get 20,000 points for spending $50 or more at Shoppers Drug Mart” and “Earn 20x the points for spending $50 or more at Shoppers Drug Mart.” Usually these bonus personal offers only last one or two days so you need to take advantage of these flash bonuses.
Another thing to note is that you earn 15 points per every $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart on almost all items. This is not the case for all the items at other Loblaws stores (for example, you don’t earn points on every dollar you spent at Superstore).
Having said that, we don’t usually shop at Shoppers Drug Mart as we find the prices a bit higher. Therefore, we typically don’t take advantage of these PC Optimum bonus offers at Shoppers Drug Mart. If you do shop at Shoppers Drug Mart regularly, this is a great way to increase your PC Optimum points earn rate.
3. Check Weekly Flyers for Bonus Points
In addition to the weekly personalized offers, the weekly flyers also offer bonus points. A frequent offer on the weekly flyers is “Get 20,000 points when you spend $250 or more in a single transaction.” Superstore and No Frills also have weekly offers on specific items such as “Earn 200 points for every $1 spent on bulk food,” or “10,000 points for every $20 spent on Fleecy liquid, Fleecy sheets, Palmolive dish liquid, Irish Spring, or other Colgate products.”
The beauty of these weekly bonus points is that you can stack them on top of your personalized offers. For example, a few months ago, I earned 29,2000 points ($29.20 worth) with a purchase of $76 worth of bulk food from Superstore by stacking two promotions on bulk foods (2,000 points per $10 spent on bulk food and 200 points per $1 spent on bulk food). That’s an earn rate of 38.4%, pretty awesome!
4. Tweak Your Weekly Offers
From time to time, the weekly personalized offers will have items that you never buy. I suspect this is probably a way for Loblaws to promote specific products to targeted shoppers each week. For example, this week I received an offer for “400 points for every $2 spent on Old El Paso Products”, but we never buy Old El Paso products. When you get offers on a product that you are not interested in buying or do not buy often, you can simply click on the offer and choose “Don’t show again.” By doing this regularly, the smart PC Optimum algorithm that some computer programs wrote will learn and show you other product offers that you are more likely to buy.
If you get an offer this week that you are unlikely to purchase, you can click on the product offer and choose “Save for next week.” This will save an offer for later. For example, if we have tons of bananas at home and we get an offer for bananas this week, I would then save this offer for next week. Please note, you can only save up to four offers for the next week and not all offers have the option to save it for later.
This means that it’s always a good idea to strategize your weekly shopping. We like to shop on Sundays and group all the offers together. For the offers that we didn’t use for a particular week but plan to purchase the item later, we would save the offer until next week.
5. Buy No Name Products
This tip is based on my personal experience and is not 100% proven. Whenever we buy a new No Name product, we almost always get a weekly offer on the same product the week after. Once we use this weekly offer (i.e. purchase the No Name Product that week), we would start seeing the same offers regularly week after week. I think this is a way for Loblaws to promote its own products rather than big brand products.
For example, a few weeks ago I bought a bag of No Name non-sweet shredded coconuts to make our own granola. The week after, I got a weekly personal offer for “200 points for every $1 spent on No Name shredded coconuts.” I have been getting the same offer every few weeks.
Coincidence? I think not!
6. Buy Gas at Esso
Since we live right by the US-Canada border, we usually fill up in the US to save $20 or so each time. For people that don’t have the luxury of cross border fill-ups, you can earn extra PC Optimum points by buying gas at Esso. When you fuel up at Esso, you can earn 10 PC Optimum points per litre of gas. If you buy items from the Esso convenience store or get a car wash, you can earn 10 points per $1 spent. Given how expensive gas is nowadays, you can quickly earn additional PC Optimum points by fueling up at an Esso gas station.
7. Use a PC Financial Mastercard
For a while, we were using our Capital One Aspire World Elite Mastercard when shopping at Superstore. This card earns 2% for every $1 spent. After a bit of research, I found that one of the PC Financial Mastercards has a higher earn rate.
There are three PC Financial Mastercards you can apply with different earn rates for PC Optimum points. The best part about these Mastercards is that they don’t have any annual fees. The three options are:
- PC Financial World Elite Mastercard: You earn 30 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at any Loblaws stores (3% earn rate), 45 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart (4.5% earn rate), 30 points per litre at Esso, and 30 points per $1 spent at PC Travel (3% earn rate).
- PC Financial World Mastercard: You earn 20 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at any Loblaws stores (2% earn rate), 35 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart (3.5% earn rate), 30 points per litre at Esso, and 20 points per $1 spent at PC Travel (2% earn rate).
- PC Financial Mastercard: You earn 10 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at any Loblaw stores (1% earn rate), 25 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart (2.5% earn rate), 30 points per litre at Esso, and 20 points per $1 spent at PC Travel (2% earn rate).
Obviously the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard is the best one to hold and this is the card we use whenever we shop at Superstore or No Frills. By utilizing this card, we can earn an additional 3%.
8. Use Multiple Accounts for a Family
Since Loblaws try to entice people to shop at their stores, each member gets different weekly offers. Therefore, each member of a family can sign up for different PC Optimum cards to receive different personalized offers each week. You can then plan your weekly shopping accordingly based on the different weekly offers each family member receives.
This is a great way to further maximize your PC Optimum points earn rate but it will require a bit more planning and can be more time-consuming.
9. Sign Up for the PC Insiders Program
The PC Insiders program is a bit of a hidden secret. Basically it’s a paid membership program that provides some members-only benefits. I have written a review here on whether the PC Insiders program is worth it or not.
If you frequently purchase PC Organic products, Joe Fresh, PC Black Label Collection, baby diapers and formula, or beautyBOUTIQUE products, you may want to consider the PC Insiders program. Once you are a PC Insider, you can earn 200 PC Optimum points per $1 spent on the products that I mentioned above.
Since we regularly purchase PC Organic products, we figured that the $99 annual fee was well worth it. After four months as a PC Insider, we have earned an extra 118,600 PC Optimum points (or $118.60) that we wouldn’t have earned otherwise.
On top of the additional PC Optimum points you can earn by purchasing specific products as a PC Insider, every week, you can also get special deals. For example, as a PC Insider, I recently received two offers:
- Spend $25 for online pickup order get 5,000 PC Optimum Points
- Spend $75 for online pickup order get 15,000 PC Optimum Points
Before the offer expired, we put in an order online for $76 and picked it up the next day for free (PC Express is free for PC Insiders). By purchasing different products in the weekly personal offers and the weekly flyers, we were able to earn 52,000 Optimum points ($52 worth) alone. By using the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard for this transaction, we earned an additional 228 PC Optimum points. We were able to get 52,228 points for a $76 order, or an equivalent of 68.7% earn rate! I hope you see how quickly these PC Optimum points stack up.
How to Redeem PC Optimum Points
Finding ways to maximize PC Optimum points is great and all but how do you redeem PC Optimum points that you’ve earned? Fortunately, redeeming points is super straight forward. If you’re shopping at a Loblaws store, all you need to do is to tell the cashier that you want to redeem points at the checkout. Remember, you can redeem points in 10,000 increments ($10 worth) and the maximum amount is 500,000 points ($500) in a single transaction.
If you are using PC Express for online grocery pickup, it is easy to redeem points too. When you get to the store location and phone in, at Superstore, for example, simply tell the representative the amount of points you want to redeem for the transaction. The representative will take the amount off your bill.
Easy and simple! That’s why I have really come to like PC Optimum points.
After using the PC Optimum loyalty program for a year and a half, I personally really like the program. I think Loblaws did a really good job structuring the PC Optimum program to entice shopping at Loblaws stores. As you can see, there are many different ways to accumulate and maximize PC Optimum points. The points do add up pretty quickly as we have redeemed over $300 worth of PC Optimum points so far this year. That’s $350 worth of free groceries! It feels really good to go shop for a big cartload of groceries and only have to pay a few dollars because we redeemed points. Give PC Optimum points a try and see how quickly you can save on your grocery bills.
Dear readers, do you have any other tips and hacks to maximize your PC Optimum points?