PC Insiders Review – Is the membership fee worth it?
A few readers pointed out the PC Insiders program when I published Does Costco cost more? Costco vs. Superstore vs. Walmart showdown a few months ago. These readers pointed out that with PC Insiders, one can earn 20% more for every $1 spend on organic products, Joe Fresh, baby diapers and formula, and other products, all for $9.99 a month or $99 annually, plus tax. PC Insiders program also provides PC Express online pickup for free.
Since we have been doing more and more shopping at Superstore, I was very interested in the PC Insiders program. The idea of earning more PC Optimum points and free PC Express pickups were quite enticing, but I was hesitant to pay money for a member subscription program.
Since we have two young kids, online grocery shopping has always seemed attractive to Mrs. T and I. We really liked the idea of shopping for grocery online then pick it up at our convenience. This would definitely save us a lot of time each week. But we weren’t 100% sure if we’d actually benefit from the free PC Express pickup that comes with the PC Insider program.
After a bit of back and forth, we signed up for PC Insiders when we received an annual fee waived offer from our PC Financial World Elite Mastercard. After being a PC Insider subscriber for two months, below is my honest and unbiased review of the PC Insiders program and whether the $9.99 a month or $99 annual membership fee is worth it.
PC Insiders Benefits
The PC Insiders program is available for No Frills, Loblaws, Superstores, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Joe Fresh. When you enroll in the PC Insiders program, you get many member benefits. The benefits are:
- $99 PC Travel credit via PC Travel website. Note: You only get this benefit if you are on the annual subscription.
- Earn 200 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent on PC Organics products, Joe Fresh purchases, PC Black Label Collection purchases, all brands of baby diapers and formula, and all luxury beautyBOUTIQUE products on shoppersdrugmart.ca.
- Free shipping at Joe Fresh and Shoppers Drug Mart
- No pickup fees at PC Express. Usually, PC Express pickup fees are $3 or $5, depending on the pickup time (i.e. $5 on busier time slots).
- Exclusive offers on PC Insiders Collection
- One surprise gift annually
As mentioned, if you sign up by paying the $99 annual membership (plus tax), you would get a $99 PC Travel credit. Therefore, you are almost breaking even. In case you are looking to sign up for PC Insiders, please use my referral code BL1611 to get 25% off the annual subscription when you sign up.
The $99 PC Travel credit can be used for flights, hotels, car rentals, even cruises and vacation packages. You can easily redeem the $99 Travel Credit by booking a trip with PC Travel. To get more points, if we use our PC Master World Elite Master Card, we would get additional PC Optimum points on the travel amount. We have not used the $99 Travel Credit yet but if Mrs. T and I decide to do another staycation in Vancouver, we can book a hotel with PC Travel and redeem the $99 Travel Credit.
For me, the most intriguing part of PC Insiders is the increased earn rate of PC Optimum Points. We have been more mindful on our food consumption in the last few years. We have also been purchasing more and more organic products. Naturally, when we shop at Superstore, we have been purchasing more and more PC Organics products. With PC Insiders, we are getting 20% in points whenever we purchase PC Organic products. When we combine the weekly PC Optimum offers, the weekly flyer offers, the 3% back on the PC World Elite Mastercard, on top of the 20% extra points from being a PC Insider, points do add up very quickly.
Comparing prices between Costco and Superstore, the PC Organic products usually are quite price competitive. The pricing gets even better when you consider all the PC Optimum points we can earn by combining weekly flyer offers, 3% back on the PC World Elite Mastercard, and the 20% extra points for being a PC Insider.
For example, organic bananas are $0.87 per pound at both Costco and Superstore. If we add the extra PC Optimum points we could earn, it would mean the organic bananas cost $0.67 effectively. Now I’m not saying this is always the case. For example, baby spinach cost $1.28 per 100g at Costco and $1.76 per 100g at Superstore. Even with the 20% and 3% extra PC Optimum earn rate, baby spinach would come out at $1.36 per 100g, slightly more expensive than Costco. In other words, we need to pick and choose which PC Organic products to purchase at Superstore, and also check the weekly flyer offers (i.e. you can potentially earn more PC Optimum points with the weekly offers and therefore reduce the overall price).
By now, you are probably wondering how quick the extra points are adding up by being a PC Insider. Well, after being a PC Insider for over two months, we have accumulated an extra 55,800 PC Optimum Points just from purchasing PC Organics products and Black Label products. That’s an equivalent of $55.80 that we could use in the near future to reduce our bills at the checkout. If we continue our spending pattern, I would estimate that we would have earned an extra 300,000 points or $300 in the 12 months period. That alone would make the $99 annual fee worth it.
So I’m pretty convinced that the PC Insiders program is very worth it based on our grocery shopping habits.
Update: We recently received the surprise annual gift with a bunch PC Black Label products and a few recipes. After looking up these products online, I would estimate the value of the contents at approximately $20.
No pickup fees at PC Express
Since Superstore is about a 10-minute drive away from our house, I have been the one doing grocery shopping, usually after work or on the weekends. As mentioned earlier, Mrs. T and I have been looking at Superstore’s online grocery shopping (PC Express) as a way to save time, but we didn’t want to pay for the $3 to $5 pickup fee every time (pickup fee of $5 usually after weekdays after work and weekends, $3 at other times).
With PC Insiders, there are no pickup fees with using PC Express. We now order groceries online and then pick them up in-store at a time that is convenient for us. Mrs. T and I have found it really easy to select grocery items on the Superstore website. Thanks to our PC Optimum membership, the website displays the most frequently shopped items. Since we usually buy more or less the same things, we can quickly select the items we needed and check out. I’d estimate it usually takes us less than five minutes to pick out all the items we needed, select a pickup time slot, and check out.
When I arrive at Superstore, I would pull into a designated PC Express parking stall, call the PC Express number, give the representative the parking stall number, wait for less than five minutes, and have my groceries delivered right to my car. If I want to redeem our PC Optimum points, I just need to let the representative know during the phone call, and he or she would take the amount off our final bill. If I wanted, I could even stay in the car and wait for the staff to load the groceries in the car trunk.
I had my doubts about online grocery shopping before, but I am now a true believer in online grocery shopping. Using PC Express has saved me a lot of time because I no longer need to spend time walking around the store and pick up things that we need.
In two months, we have saved $34 in PC Express pickup fees and approximately seven hours. If I extrapolate that data, I would estimate that we’d save around $200 in PC Express pickup fees over a year and about 40 hours.
The game of maximizing PC Optimum Points
As I have calculated above, every 10,000 PC Optimum Points is worth $10. You can redeem the points in $10 increments at checkout. PC Optimum Points are earned through targeted weekly offers and in-store weekly promotions.
To earn more points, you can apply for one of the no annual fee PC Mastercards. We have the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard which gives us 30 points for every $1 spent at participating stores or 45 points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart. In other words, the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard gives us either a 3% or 4.5% return in stores like Superstore, No Frills, Loblaws, valu-mart, and Shoppers Drug Mart.
You can also double up on the offers too, as you can see from my tweet below. Points do add up pretty quickly.
Since I’m a math nerd, it’s becoming a fun game for me to figure out how to maximize PC Optimum Points each week.
PC Insiders is totally worth it
Is PC Insiders worth it? Absolutely!
Our experience with PC Insiders has been extremely positive. We have been thoroughly pleased with PC Insiders and the extra benefits we have received so far.
I used to think it’s crazy to pay a membership fee for a grocery loyalty program, but I am convinced that PC Insiders is completely worth it, especially when you pay the $99 annual fee to get the additional $99 PC Travel credit.
Again, if you are looking to sign up for PC Insiders, please use my referral code BL1611 to get 25% off the annual subscription when you sign up.
Are you a PC Insider? What is your experience so far?