PC Optimum: What the loyalty point program merger means for you

Loblaw to merge Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus loyalty programs on February 1. (The Canadian Press)
Loblaw to merge Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus loyalty programs on February 1. (The Canadian Press)

On Thursday, February 1st PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum rewards program merged to form the new loyalty program called PC Optimum.

According to the website, when the PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum programs become the PC Optimum program, there will be one loyalty card and one app for members, with all their points in one place. For worried collectors, the company says all points will be converted to PC Optimum at their current full value.

Loblaw announced they would be merging the two popular loyalty programs in Canada last year.

ALSO READ: PC Optimum launch runs into issues on day one

What does the merger mean for you?

The math for PC Plus collectors is easy, as the points will be converted one-to-one. So for example, if you have 23,000 PC Plus points they will be converted to 23,000 PC Optimum points. That equals $23, as it did in the old program.

The Shoppers Optimum program is a little more confusing as the points increase in value the more you collect. The tiered system means you get rewarded for hanging onto your points longer and cashing out at once.  Depending on your Shoppers Optimum level, here is how your points will be converted:

  • One – 21,999 points a conversion rate of 1.25

  • 22,000 – 37,999 points a conversion rate of 1.36

  • 38,000 – 49,999 points a conversion rate of 1.58

  • 50,000 – 94,999 points a conversion rate of 1.70

  • 95,000 or more points a conversion rate of 1.79

Who wins during in the conversion?

For low-level collectors like me, the merger is boon. As an example, I just checked my Optimum card balance: I currently have 29,573 Optimum points, the site says they are worth $30. When I plug my Shoppers Optimum value into the news PC Optimum calculator those same points are worth $38. That’s a 26 per cent increase.  There is also an advantage to those with more than 95,000 Shoppers Optimum points. Whereas under the old program points earned after 95,000 started at the bottom of the tier, now those points beyond 95,000 will all be worth the higher, 1.79 when converted.

Future Shopper’s bonus points days 

One of the biggest draws for Shoppers Optimum collectors is bonus collection and redemption days, where you can earn 20 times the points or redeem for more value. The spokesperson for Loblaw, Catherine Thomas, says these redemption days will continue at Shoppers Drug Mart stores. The new PC Optimum site states “You will continue to earn points with exclusive point’s events, like the Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix ’20x the points’ events.”

Drawbacks

The biggest drawback is after February 1st for big Shoppers Optimum collectors.  Under the old program if you waited to cash out at the top value of 95,000 points, every dollar you spent earned you 0.179 cents, for a redemption value of $170. But under the new program, every dollar spent will earn you 0.15 cents in redemption value, no matter how many points you have.  This is better for those collectors that liked to cash out small amounts at Shoppers, i.e.: 8,000 for $10, but it’s a disadvantage for customers who wait for the higher level of points to redeem.  Here are the Shoppers Optimum point’s value under old program

  • 8,000 points redeem for $10 off purchase

  • 22,000 points redeem for $30 off purchase

  • 38,000 points redeem for $60 off purchase

  • 50,000 points redeem for $85 off purchase

  • 95,000 points redeem for $170 off purchase

According to the conversion rate in the first chart, up until the 38,000 points level collectors are ahead in the new program, but after that, the old program (dollar-wise) served collectors better.

Loblaw spokesperson Thomas says they are aware for large collectors this is a devaluation.

“Canadians understand their loyalty programs, and we know that change can cause both excitement and concern,” says Thomas. “For any members who feel that the new program does not provide the same value as before, we’re happy to show them the ways to best optimize the program for maximum value.”

How PC Optimum will be collected

The way you collect points at each retail store won’t change. As it was in the old program, every dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart will earn PC Optimum points. This is not the case for Loblaw branded stores. PC Optimum points will only be earned on products offering bonus points.

Perks

One bonus of the new program is there are a number of new places to earn and spend your PC optimum points. According to the website, you can do this at 2,500 locations across Canada. As a collector of both programs, I have always struggled to spend $170 at Shoppers Drug Mart. Those points are much more useful to me at the grocery store.

On February 1st, you will also be able to get started by downloading the app or creating an online account. If you have PC Plus app, it will automatically be converted to PC Optimum. The Shoppers Optimum app, however, will no longer work, and will prompt you to sign up for the PC Optimum one when you sign in.

Canadians love their loyalty points regardless of where they are signed up. Bond Brand Loyalty, a marketing company that produces an annual report on the rewards program industry, estimates that collectors are sitting on $16 billion worth of unused rewards points. That works out to a value of $629 per collector. On average Canadians belong to 12 loyalty programs. The anticipation of this merger is further proof of how loyal Canadians are to their rewards programs.

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