These days, getting the most out of credit card rewards requires getting creative. It’s not enough to rely on your card’s standard points-per-dollar or cash back rate — you need to take advantage of special offers that bolster the number of points earned. One way I’ve boosted my earning potential is by linking my debit card and credit cards to Drop, a loyalty program that tracks your spending and awards points can then be redeemed for gift cards at hundreds of popular retailers and restaurants.
Here’s how it works: upon signup, you choose five core retailers where you’ll be able to earn Drop points. Each Drop point is worth $0.001 (1,000 points = $1), with rewards starting at 5,000 points. Note that once you choose these retailers, you can’t change them — be sure to choose the ones you visit most, and that aren’t entirely location dependent.
When I signed up, I selected the LCBO (Ontario’s liquor store), McDonald’s, Ritual, Starbucks, and Uber. Over time, new offers will come up, either as an ongoing offer or as a one-time offer with an expiry date. For example, I now also get points at Frank and Oak, Foodora, and The Body Shop. I’ve also taken advantage of a one-time offer at Metro.
Drop’s main benefit is that you earn additional rewards (Drop points) for spending you’re already doing, on top of whatever rewards you earn through your credit card. I already use Uber and Ritual and already go to the LCBO, so I don’t need to change my habits to really benefit.
Each retailer offers a different number of points per dollar spent. For example, I earn 15 points per dollar spent with Ritual, and five points per dollar spent at the LCBO. Drop points get you gift cards to major retailers and restaurants, everything from Starbucks and Swiss Chalet, to Amazon, Zara and MEC. Like many rewards program, the key is taking advantage of the bonus offers and being smart about where and how much you spend. Nonetheless, earning rewards is still very achievable. In the nine months since I signed up, I’ve redeemed $45 in gift cards.
How I use Drop
Using Drop is great way to supercharge your travel credit card or cash-back credit card. I’ve connected my two credit cards (Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card and Scotiabank Gold American Express) to maximize my earnings. With the Tangerine card, I get 2% back in three categories — recurring bill payments, restaurants and groceries — whereas with the Scotiabank Gold American Express card, I earn 4% back on gas, groceries, entertainment and restaurants, and 1% back on all other categories.
Below is the breakdown of my April and May Drop activity and earnings combined with my credit card cashback and rewards earned. In April, I earned an additional $.90 using Drop, or 0.73% cash back.
|Drop %||Credit card cash back %||Overall % back|
Below are the results for May, where I earned $12.58 from Drop, or 4.24% back. Combined, my overall cash back for the month of May at the merchants listed below was 5.32%, vs only 1.56% with just my credit card. This was definitely one of the better months I’ve had with Drop.
|Merchant||Category||# of points||$$ spent||$ value of Drop points||Credit card cash back %||Cash back earned||Total value earned|
|Frank and Oak||Shopping||5,890||$117.80||$5.89||1%||$1.18||$7.07|
|Frank and Oak||Shopping||3,333||$66.67||$3.33||1%||$0.67||$4|
Your mileage will vary based on your spending habits. As with most rewards programs, the more you spend, the more you earn, but the key is to take advantage of one-time offers (the categories listed as Bonus) and spend at the merchants that will net you the most rewards. For example, at McDonalds, I earn 4% back with my Scotiabank Gold American Express card, plus 20 Drop points per dollar spent. In the past I’ve also taken advantage of one time offers such as 1,500 bonus Drop points for spending $50 at Metro (where I already buy my groceries) and 20,000 bonus Drop points from Foodora.
Another way to earn a small number of points is by unlocking the Drop Supercharge bonus. After you’ve visited one of your chosen Drop merchants five times, you get to play a game of snake for the chance to earn 100 or so bonus points (I usually come in around 133).
The bottom line
The app is a little slow and there was a period where my old Chase card stopped working, and I lost roughly $10 in points, but these kinks are to be expected from a new product. Take note: like the popular budgeting app Mint, using Drop technically breaches your credit card user agreement. If using a third-party app results in fraud or loss, you’re responsible. Overall, I really like Drop for its simplicity in earning points. Because it’s free to use, it’s great way to supercharge your credit cards and get more rewards on spending you’re already doing.
Want to give it a try? Sign up for Drop.