Best Canadian Loyalty Rewards Programs
Are you a loyal customer of certain brands? Whether it’s flying often with Air Canada or doing much of your shopping at Hudson’s Bay, the best way to get something in return for your preferences is by taking advantage of a loyalty program.
But before you sign up, consider the real value of the points you’ll earn; what you can redeem them on, which locations and brands are participating, and other caveats that aren’t immediately obvious. Most importantly, make sure you’re not signing up for a loyalty program based purely on your familiarity with the program’s name.
For your convenience we’ve listed each category that we cover in the table below, along with one program from each category.
|Loyalty Program||Best Program||Special Feature|
|Travel rewards||Air Miles||Earn and redeem for flights and cash|
|Movies||Scene+||Free movie tickets and concessions|
|Vehicles and gas||Petro-Points||Savings on gas, car washes, and in store purchases|
|Retail and shopping||Hudson’s Bay Rewards||Earn points and get deals at HBC brands|
|Groceries||More Rewards||Exclusive deals for BC residents|
|Credit card rewards||Amex Membership Rewards||Earn on all spend, concierge service|
In This Article:
Best Loyalty Programs for Travel
Air Miles was founded in 1992 and accordingly has a significant number of Canadians—over 11 million at last count—who rely on it to make travelling easier and less expensive. Those with an Air Miles credit card from BMO or American Express will earn Miles from their everyday spending, which they can then redeem for flights and other rewards. The Air Miles network of destinations is impressively large, and the primary redemption path for Miles is through its Dream Miles site, which offers flights for a number of airlines, hotels, vacation packages and travel experiences. Cardholders can also redeem their Miles for cash via the Air Miles Cash program, which converts 95 miles to $10 spendable right at the register (in participating partner locations).
Sign up if you frequent Air Miles partner merchants, e.g. Ace, Foodland, Sobeys, IGA, Hudson’s Bay, Metro, Shell, Starbucks, etc.
Coming in a close second is Aeroplan, a smaller (5 million members) but equally robust frequent flier loyalty program. Those with an Aeroplan credit card from TD, American Express, or CIBC will earn points on their everyday purchases and an accelerated rate of points for certain categories like gas or groceries. You can also earn points without a card by shopping at Aeroplan partners—though if you make purchases at these partner brands with an Aeroplan credit card your regular rate for earning points is doubled. As for redemption, Aeroplan points can be spent on Air Canada flights (or any other airline in the Star Alliance), entertainment, gift cards, rental cars, and more, though like Air Miles the value of points generally goes down when redeemed outside of travel.
Sign up if you typically fly with an airline in the Star Alliance, e.g. Air Canada, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, United, etc.
With WestJet-branded credit cards, not only will you earn WestJet Dollars from common purchases and from WestJet partner stores, but you’ll climb to new WestJet Tiers the more you spend. This makes it a great program for those who fly often, as WestJet Gold and even Silver status offer boosted earnings, special privileges like lounge access, free checked bags, and more. When redeeming WestJet Dollars earned with a WestJet RBC credit card, you’ll enjoy zero blackout dates and exclusive member fares that give you excellent return when redeeming WestJet Dollars. One of the most sought-after perks from WestJet is its annual companion voucher, offered to some members who can use it each year to cap the fare price of a companion travelling with them.
Sign up if you travel at least once a year with a partner/friend/significant other/family member.
RBC Rewards (Avion)
RBC’s Avion loyalty program is offered via a greater number of credit cards compared to WestJet, which is merely a partner of RBC. Instead of restricting cardholders to a single airline, the RBC Rewards points they’ll earn can be spent flexibly on booking travel through its Orbitz-powered website, which may provide a wider selection of destinations and fares. From short to long haul and across worldwide destinations, RBC has six tiers in which there is a minimum fixed redemption price. There are also no seating restrictions or blackouts, and these points can be spent on taxes and fees as well. For travellers who demand a loyalty program with features and many ways to earn and redeem on travel, Avion is a great choice.
Sign up if you don’t have loyalty to any single airline and would rather use an Orbitz-powered booking tool with a variety of options.
Travellers who don’t like to be restricted when it comes to airlines, seat and flight selection, or points expiration will appreciate Aventura, the travel rewards program from CIBC. Among CIBC’s best credit cards are a few cards that earn Aventura points in common spending categories like gas and groceries. Redeeming points for travel is relatively easy, entailing a partial redemption model that only requires you to have 80% of the minimum fixed points necessary for any particular airfare tier (there are five tiers). Then you can buy the remaining points you need at a low fixed price of a few cents per mile. CIBC’s Payment With Points is also a convenient feature, allowing you to redeem points for cash toward your statement.
Sign up if you want flexible air travel with the option to use your points against your monthly balance.
Best Loyalty Program for Movies
For 9 million theatregoers around the country, no rewards program is more useful than Scene+. A number of Scotiabank credit cards and chequing accounts earn Scene+ points for spending on everyday purchases, with accelerated earn rates for spending at Cineplex theatres. Scene+ points can be redeemed for travel rewards, merchandise, gift cards to popular retailers, restaurant discounts, or a Scotiabank account credit—but they usually get their highest value when redeemed for movie tickets at Cineplex theatres, with a general admission and 3D ticket redeemable for 1,250 points; and an UltraAVX, IMAX, Prime seat, D-Box, or VIP ticket redeemable for 2,000 points.
Sign up if you’re a movie buff who often goes to Cineplex for the latest showings and wants discounts on tickets and food.
Best Loyalty Programs for Vehicles and Gas
Over 4.5 million Canadians earn Petro Points whenever they fill up their tanks or make an eligible purchase, at a rate of 10 points per litre or per $1 spent. Petro Points is one of the more involved loyalty programs out there, with several retail and financial partners that let customers earn more at certain places and on credit purchases. For example, linking your Petro Points account with an eligible RBC credit card (though it usually comes linked by default), Hudson’s Bay account, or CAA account nets you an extra 20%. You can have a regular Petro Points card, however, which only requires that you present it during your purchase. With your Petro Points you can get direct discounts on gas, car washes, gas station purchases, and other automotive-related perks from participating locations.
Sign up if you want to earn points from everyday expenses, boost your earnings when linking other programs, and get free gas, car washes and more.
Esso offers two related programs, the first being its excellent Esso Extra and the second a partnership deal with PC Optimum, via PC Financial credit cards. Esso Extra members earn points when they spend money at Esso and Mobil gas stations, both at the pump and in the store (gas, snacks and merchandise, car washes, gift cards, etc.). Using a PC Financial credit card with the Esso program also loops in the PC Optimum loyalty program, helping to earn extra Esso points and PC Optimum points at participating locations (over 2000 across Canada) on top of the base. Redeeming both types of points is simple and quick—members just use the Speedpass+ app.
Sign up if you frequently fill up the pump at Esso and Mobil, and want to get exclusive deals and points that reduce these expenses.
The recently renamed Triangle Rewards program was originally called Canadian Tire, which many Canadians are already familiar with as it’s one of the longest-running loyalty programs in the country. Triangle Rewards is still administered under the Canadian Tire group and is therefore suitable for those who fill up at Gas+ or buy from other Canadian Tire or affiliated brands such as Essence+, Mark’s, SportChek, L’Equipeur, Atmosphere, Sports Experts and others. Apart from personalized exclusive offers, members get Canadian Tire Money on all spending and the ability to redeem their CT Money on similar expenses (gas, items in the station, merchandise from partner stores). You’ll earn even more if you get a Triangle Rewards Mastercard, which also helps you earn CT Money everywhere you shop.
Sign up if you go to Gas+, Mark’s, Atmosphere, and other brands to shop or fill up, and want to earn CT Money that reduces these bills.
The Canadian Automobile Association provides over 6.2 million Canadian members with a package of benefits including automotive insurance, emergency roadside service, and even a rewards model whereby they can save at certain places and earn points. Most members pick and choose a la carte insurance or coverage. With over 165,000 partner locations in CAA’s roster, it’s easy to find places making a special offer or giving discounts to members, saving up to 30% at the likes of Best Western hotels, NAPA Auto Parts, and even in online shops. For example, a current promotion offers members 20% off lunch at any East Side Mario’s as long as they go in September or October. National Bank also has a couple credit cards that offer the ability to earn CAA points as well, and other issuers’ travel credit cards rely on CAA to provide insurance.
Sign up if you want various insurance and protective benefits, such as roadside assistance, travel insurance, vehicle coverage and more.
Recommended Read: Best Credit Cards for Gas in Canada
Best Loyalty Programs for Retail
Hudson’s Bay Rewards Program
The HBC Rewards program is for those who love to shop at Hudson’s Bay—a historical presence in Canada open since 1670. Members can earn rewards in the store or online at thebay.com, and they are sorted into three tiers depending on how much they spend: Hudson’s Bay Rewards, Rewards Plus, and Rewards VIP. The rate of points earned per $1 spent scales upward from 1 to 1.5 to 2, along with other perks, like unlocking different point multiples when spending at partner brands. Points are redeemed at Hudson’s Bay or online at a $10 minimum, and they’re also convertible to Air Miles.
Sign up if you shop often at Hudson’s Bay or thebay.com, and want to get early access to new deals, extra savings and even Air Miles.
Canadians who shop at Indigo bookstores will appreciate the Plum Rewards program, which is free to join and has no membership fees. Valid across the country’s 92 Indigo stores (also online) and many smaller locations such as Coles or Chapters, Plum members earn points on the dollar and can redeem them in-store using their smartphone app. The app also notifies users of special limited-time and member-exclusive offers, and members with a smartphone receive free Wi-Fi in all Indigo locations. Given that Plum Rewards costs nothing to join and there are promo periods offering 10x rewards on purchases, it makes a lot of sense to join and download the app even if you don’t buy books often
Sign up if you like to go to Indigo to read and relax with free Wi-Fi, but also to buy and save up points over time for future book discounts.
Best Loyalty Programs for Groceries
More Rewards is a great loyalty program for Western Canadians, offering points redemption for BC ferry rides, Canucks tickets, nights at Best Western and Sandman hotels, Save-On-Foods discounts and gift cards. To earn rewards, members just need to show their loyalty card or give their membership number at a participating store, such as Save-On-Foods, which is popular for grocery shoppers who also want special in-store deals as well. That means More Rewards grants the ability to earn points on what is already a discount when shopping for food, as well as extra Petro Points.
Sign up if you’re a BC resident who likes to take the ferries or see the Canucks, stay at local hotel chains and shop at Save-On-Foods.
Though it’s been years since the merger of PC Points and Shoppers Optimum, the PC Optimum loyalty program warrants a fresh look given its value to fans of both programs and stores. Millions of Canadians who need to save on their daily essentials rely on PC Optimum for deals at Shoppers Drug Mart, Provigo, Pharmaprix, Loblaws and other stores, including Esso and Mobil stations across Canada. You’ll also be able to earn points for shopping online, and you can maximize your PC Optimum point earnings with a PC Financial credit card, where you’ll boost the rate that your PC Optimum points come in and get extra services like travel insurance and a rental car collision and damage loss waiver. The best thing about PC Optimum points is that they can be spent directly at the register, for instant discounts on frequent expenses.
Sign up if you shop at the big grocery brands like Loblaws, Provigo, or Pharmaprix and want direct savings.
For Quebec shoppers who frequent the Metro grocery chain, Metro&Moi gives members the ability to earn ‘m’ points on their purchases for each $1 spent, which can then be redeemed at the register or online. Members can spend points instantly in increments as small as 500 or wait three months to get their quarterly reward cheque via the app and the mail. The app is connected to a physical Metro&Moi card which can be preloaded with coupons you find on your phone, making it very easy to earn and spend points as well as take advantage of members-only deals. This is likely the reason why over 1.5 million Metro shoppers participate.
Sign up if you’re a loyal Metro shopper who wants to receive coupons directly to their phone and save on each $1 spent.
Best Credit Card Loyalty Program
American Express Membership Rewards
American Express Membership Rewards are earned on each $1 you spend on an Amex credit card and can be redeemed for merchandise, travel experiences and accommodations, gift cards and even Amazon.ca purchases. Amex cards are known for excellent added-value features, like concierge services for ticket and dinner reservations; advance access to high profile events in Canada; complimentary room upgrades; and traveller and shopper protections.
Sign up if you want to earn flexible rewards points with each purchase, and get stellar customer service concerning events, purchases and more.
Is There a ‘Best’ Loyalty Program?
There’s no “best” loyalty program for all—but there are programs that you will be more individually suited to.
Finding the best program for you just takes a bit of contemplation: what brands are you already loyal to, and can you get rewarded for it? The list above includes the biggest Canadian loyalty programs, and we’re willing to bet that no matter who you are, one of them can help you capitalize on the product and service affinities you already have.