The other day I was paying my bill at Longo’s and the cashier asked me if I’d like to redeem some of my Longo’s points. I had been collecting them since their promotion was launched but I’d never bothered to find out what, if anything, they were worth. I said sure, and was pleasantly surprised to get $50 off my bill. As I unloaded the groceries at home, I began to wonder what each of the chains in my vicinity had to offer grocery shoppers.
Many of these chains also offer short term promotions and rewards. For example in 2014, Sobeys has a program for collecting points towards discounts on Jamie Oliver merchandise. I won’t be covering those types of programs here: I’m just interested in the “I bought my groceries and they swiped my card and here’s what I can or might get.”
Some of these stores also offer credit cards that earn points. I’m not covering those here either.
Why Only South-Central Ontario Grocery Reward Information?
I should have realized that grocery stores do things differently across Canada. After all (thirty years ago anyway) in Calgary you could buy potato chips in boxes and strawberries in bulk but in eastern Ontario you had to buy chips in bags and a collection of strawberries that contained ripe perfect, unripe and bruised fruit all jammed into one plastic container.
So when I started researching, I realized this article would explode into a massive mess of contradictory offerings if I tried to cover all of the provinces and territories.
And to be honest, I also don’t know the names of all of the common and popular grocery chains in various places. Maybe I’ll be able to do a follow-up sometime of other provinces. In the meantime, my apologies to those living elsewhere!
What Rewards Does Fortinos / Loblaws / Real Canadian Superstore s Offer?
It appears that what Loblaws now offers is a PC Plus Program. This is a free card or a free app.
You will be sent personalized offers to earn points. You have to load the offers and then buy those items at the store. When you make your purchase you earn points.
The points can be redeemed to get $ off your next bill. There is no incentive to accumulate lots of points before redeeming.
The minimum redemption is 20 000 points for $20 off your bill.
You must redeem points in groups of 10 000 if you redeem more than 20 000. You can’t redeem 25 000 points, for example.
Your points are forfeited if you don’t use your account for two years. I was surprised by that.
Frankly, this sounds like a bit of a pain to me. The offers are not automatically loaded: you have to remember to do so.
What Rewards Does Longo’s Offer?
Longo’s has a free Thank You Rewards card. You swipe the card when you are paying for your purchases.
You earn 50 Thank Your Rewards points for every $25 you spend per week at Longo’s.
So, for example, if you spend $48 on a Wednesday and $3 on Thursday, you will get 100 points. But if you don’t spend that $3 till Monday, you’ll only get 50 points.
As with many other stores, you can earn “bonus” points by purchasing various products.
The Thank You Reward points can be redeemed for cash off your next purchase. As with Sobeys, there is an incentive to waiting to redeem your points. For example
- 2200 points saves you $10 off your bill, so each point is worth about 0.45 of a cent.
- 4000 points saves you $20 off your bill, so each point is worth about 0.50 of a cent.
What Rewards Does Metro Offer?
Metro doesn’t run its own reward card. Instead it accepts a free AIR MILES Collector Card.
You can earn AIR MILES at a rate of 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent. They also offer bonus AIR MILES on certain purchases.
If you enroll, you will probably get offered special AIR MILES coupons customized for your Metro store.
You can use the AIR MILES a few ways, including
- You can enroll in the AIR MILES Cash program.
You can redeem 95 AIR MILES for $10 off your grocery bill.
That makes each AIR MILE worth about 10.53 cents.
- Or, you can save your AIR MILES to redeem for “Dream Rewards” including flights, admission tickets for events and merchandise.
Metro has been connected with AIR MILES for a long time. I remember when the Dominion stores first brought in AIR MILES cards. A friend of mine signed up for one but refused to give their name because they thought gathering the marketing data on them would be creepy. I don’t know whether they ever got any rewards, though!
What Rewards Does P.A.T. Offer?
P.A.T. has a free rewards card. It only applies if you pay cash or debit. I’m still trying to check the details on how or whether you redeem points.
They sell the best brand of pork Grand-Peres, though, so that’s a pretty big reward in itself!
What Rewards Does Sobeys Offer?
Sobeys has a free points card called Club Sobeys that is swiped when you buy your items. In September 2014, you get 1 point for every whole dollar spent (before taxes.) They also give bonus points on various items.
Points can be redeemed
- to take dollars off your grocery bill, or
- you can use them to get rewards from their catalogue, or
- you can also have all of your points converted to Aeroplan miles, if you want.
It’s worth understanding how the cash rewards work. You get more $ per point if you wait till you have quite a few points to redeem.
- 725 points will get you $5 off your bill so 1 point is worth about 0.69 of a cent.
- 3200 points will get you $25 off your bill so 1 point is worth about 0.78 of a cent.
- 12500 points will get you $100 off your bill so 1 point is worth about 0.80 of a cent.
I met one person shopping at Sobeys who saves their points all year to pay for their extra Christmas groceries.
What Rewards Does Starsky Offer?
Starsky has a free Starsky Loyalty rewards card that offers instant savings. Shoppers receive a 2% discount on all regularly-priced items.
Items that are on sale do not qualify for the discount.
That’s pretty sweet! You just swipe your card to save money immediately.
What Rewards Does T&T Offer?
I’ve seen various contests at T&T where based on the total amount you spend, you get more tickets to enter in the draws. I haven’t seen any type of loyalty card program yet though.
Which Grocery Store Has the Fastest Rewards?
Based on my research, and as of September 2014, it looks like Starsky offers the fastest reward. They give you a cash discount off your bill immediately. No collecting or redeeming points.
Which Grocery Store Has the Highest Rewards?
That one is really difficult to determine. Because several stores offer “bonus” points on various goods they sell, the highest reward may vary depending on what you like to purchase and how often.
Based only on base points per dollar spent in the store, though, as of September 2014, it looks like it might be best to spend your money at Starsky.
Not including the effect that bonus points might have on your shopping, and assuming everything you need to buy at Starsky is not on sale, four of the grocery stores rank like this:
To get $1 back
- From Starsky, spend $50 on regularly priced items
- From Longo’s, you need about 200 points which takes about $100 of spending
- From Sobeys, you need about 125 points which takes about $125 of spending
- From Metro, you need about 9.5 AIR MILES which takes about $190 of spending
But then you also have to check on the total cost of your usual grocery purchases at each store. It’s no good getting $25 back every 6 months if you spend $50 more than you need to during that same period than you would purchasing the same goods somewhere else.
Not to mention if you can buy your groceries at one store without driving but at another store you have to drive 7 km to get there and another 7 km home, you should really factor in the cost of gasoline if you’re trying to compare savings. Argh! I have no interest in doing that!
How Do I Use Grocery Shopping Rewards?
I sign up for the free programs and then shop exactly the way I did before. I don’t care if they offer me 1000 points for buying 2 loaves of bread if I only want one I only buy one. I don’t want to buy some strange brand of pasta just to get more points. I still won’t buy bagels or facial tissues unless they are cyclically at the lowest price, even if I could earn a zillion points.
The grocery stores probably don’t like shoppers like me very much. But they still get all sorts of marketing insights into my buying habits for free when I swipe my card, so tough.
Is there a different grocery chain near you that offers rewards to customers? Please share the details with a comment. Or feel free to comment on whether you take advantage of any of the rewards described in this list!