PC Points and Optimum Points: A Happy Marriage?

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Last updated on October 18, 2021 Comments: 5

It looks like 2017 has been a year of change for many Canadians using debit and credit cards. First there was the Air Canada-Aeroplan breakup; then PC Financial suddenly became Simplii when PC Financial and CIBC terminated their relationship; now PC Mastercard users’ PC points are changing to PC Optimum points on February 1, 2018. What’s the point of it all?

PC Financial recently announced that as of February 2018, its popular PC Plus program and Shoppers Optimum points are merging to become one overarching rewards program: the PC Optimum program. Existing points that consumers have accumulated from both programs will be automatically converted to the new rewards scheme at full value. In the words of the PC Financial website: “You’ll continue to earn points with your PC Financial® Mastercard® as you do right now, except your points will be called PC Optimum points instead of PC points.”

Financial experts have been predicting a possible merger of the two programs ever since the massive food retailer Loblaws bought Shopper Drug Mart in 2014. Clearly the changes will affect a lot of Canadians. According to a Financial Post article, Jim Noteboom, senior vice-president of loyalty and consumer insights at Loblaws states that “more than 19 million active members make up the base of the two current programs, with at least 50 per cent of members enrolled in both.” So, what does this union really mean for Shoppers Optimum collectors and PC Mastercard holders?

More Options, More Flexibility

According to PC Financial, of course, the change is entirely positive. “We’re bringing the very best of Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus together,” said Uwe Stueckmann, senior vice president of marketing in a press release. He noted that PC Optimum is “the future of loyalty programs for Loblaw companies…harnessing both the power of PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum across the unified network of our stores coast to coast.”

Whereas once PC Mastercard holders could only redeem PC points at Loblaws-affiliated grocery stores like Zehrs and No Frills, and Optimum points could only be redeemed at Shoppers Drug Mart stores, members of both programs will be able to earn and redeem points interchangeably with the new PC Optimum program. According to the company’s website, PC Optimum collectors will be able to earn and spend their points at nearly 2,500 locations across Canada.

There will also be changes in the redemption threshold level. Presently, the minimum threshold for PC Point redemption is 20,000, which can be redeemed for $20 toward your grocery bill. As of February, when PC Points become PC Optimum Points, program participants will only need a minimum 10,000 to redeem for $10 toward their grocery purchase.

Point accumulation at Loblaws-affiliated stores varies based on any special promotions or special personalized offers. Generally, however, point accumulation for goods not on promotion depends on what PC credit card you have. PC Financial® World Elite Mastercard® holders get 30 points per $1 spent at Loblaws stores, PC Financial® World Mastercard® holders get 20 points per $1, and those using the basic PC Financial Mastercard get 10 points per $1. If you want to take your rewards even further, there are a few things you can do to maximize your PC Optimum points, such as using a PC Optimum card, participating in special earning events, and more.

A Few Snafus

Of course, when you look past PC Financial’s PR, it won’t be a 100% seamless transition. To start with, there’s a discrepancy in the redemption threshold between PC Points and Shoppers Optimum points. Shoppers Optimum points program participants currently only need to redeem 8,000 points for $10 worth of Shoppers items. To make up for the higher point value needed to redeem points, PC Financial reports that Shoppers Drug Mart customers will now get 50 percent more points for nearly every $1 they spend at Shoppers stores.

Things are a little more complicated for Quebecers. In that province, Shoppers is known as Pharmaprix and according to PC Financial, the Pharmaprix Optimum program will be terminated on January 31, 2018. Program members will have only 90 days to use their Pharmaprix Optimum points or they must convert them (at their current value) to PC Optimum points. As of May 2, 2018, Pharmaprix Optimum points will no longer be honoured.

The Final Verdict

While not many of us relish change, we also don’t like having dozens of loyalty and rewards cards piling up in our wallets. For this reason, as long as redemptions at both Loblaws stores and Shoppers continue without any hiccups, it may be a welcome development overall to have two points programs merge into one program and one card.

Author Bio

Bridget Casey
Bridget Casey is the award-winning entrepreneur behind Money After Graduation, a Canadian financial literacy website aimed at 20 and 30-somethings. She holds a BSc. from the University of Alberta, and an MBA in Finance from the University of Calgary. She has been featured as a millennial financial expert by Yahoo! Finance, TIME Magazine, Business Insider, CBC and BNN. Bridget was recognized as one of Alberta's Top Young Innovators in 2016.

Article comments

Pat says:

It’s a good program but if you need assistance, PC Optimum is the worst for support.
PC Optimum ONLY saves previous transactions for 45 days.
It makes it very difficult to consolidate your Mastercard statement with the points. PC Optimum lumps two or three transactions together so you have no idea whether you receive the points or not.
It’s their word against yours.
In today’s world, it’s amazing how something so badly is allowed to continue. Loblaws should look into this. I have read a lot of complaints about this, and still, nothing has been done or changed.

Neda says:

PC optimum card only works for shoppers for other places you cave to call customer service to add missing points it’s common complaint but customer service team pretending just happened this time and there’s no problem with card and system at all
For Gas and Nofrills and super store I always have to call.
Very annoying

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi Neda,

Thanks for the post. We’ve had a few other readers come by and give the same opinion about PC Optimum. Though it’s been a couple years since PC Points turned into PC Optimum points, and PC added a ton of merchant support via the merger, the network for this card is still a bit immature. Telling customer service agents to pretend that it’s just a “temporary” problem that some eligible purchases don’t automatically collect points is an unproductive, short-term solution. It would obviously be better if the card didn’t have issues at all, and if you’re unwilling to stick with it until PC has put their operations into order, then allow us to suggest an alternative card.

We’ll go opposite end of the spectrum for this recommendation. While the PC card is difficult to collect points with, even on purchases that are eligible, a card like the BMO CashBack World Elite won’t have this problem. You’ll simply get 1.5% cash back on everything, no ineligibilities (except cash advances and cash transactions of this nature) and no worries about where or how you’re spending: just peace of mind and constant cash back. Let us know if there’s another solution you’d like to explore. You can send us an email at [email protected] with a more detailed personal financial picture you don’t want to post here, which will help us provide more suitable card alternatives.


Sri says:

Looks like PC optimum points is a scam. whenever there is an offer on Gas, I buy it. But i have to call customer care to get my points otherwise we don’t get any points. last week there was an offer 10,000 points on $40 purchase of gas. i still did not get points, i am still fighting for those. I will never ever go again to superstore and never use pc optimum. Whenever I called customer service they hangup the call. waste of time. I am planning to contact media and local news channels.

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Sri,

We’re sorry to hear that you’re frustrated with PC Optimum, and their personalized offers to cardholders. If you were offered a special bonus for purchasing gas, then we’re sure you’ll receive it, but we understand that when (not if) you get your points is the bigger issue. Unfortunately, we’re unfamiliar with the specifics of how personalized offers works with PC Financial, and really only delve into the differences between their credit-card-based perks and benefits, and how they stack up to similar cards from other issuers.

For further assistance with your issue, keep trying the PC Financial customer service line. Calling at peak hours might result in more missed connections, so try giving them a ring in the morning or after work. Otherwise, if you’re completely done with the card and want to find a replacement, we can make a couple suggestions to you for cards that give bigger gas discounts. The Triangle World Elite Mastercard, for example, is an amazing deal for people who fill up at Canadian Tire specifically. It gives 3.00% back in Canadian Tire Money on grocery purchases, 4.00% back on Canadian Tire purchases, and you’ll save 7 cents per litre on premium fuel and 5 cents per litre on other fuel types. Canadian Tire money can then be spent at Canadian Tire, making it a great option for gas-focused individuals like yourself.