How the PC Optimum program works

Hyder Owainati
by Hyder Owainati September 18, 2020 / No Comments

President’s Choice entered the world of loyalty rewards programs back in 1998. Two decades, one merger, and billions of dollars in points earned later, and its now-rebranded PC Optimum loyalty program has become one of the largest in Canada with an estimated 16 million members.

The popularity of PC Optimum boils down to the program’s simple redemption process and huge network of affiliate retailers.

Between Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Esso – PC Optimum has some of the largest grocery, pharmacy, and gas station brands in the country under its umbrella, letting you earn points and save at 4,500 locations coast-to-coast.

Quick facts about PC Optimum

PC points value
  • 10 points = 1 cent (1%)
  • Must be redeemed in 10,000 point increments ($10 value)
Where you can redeem
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Loblaws-banner grocery stores (including No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, value-mart, Zehrs, The Independent Grocer, Fortinos, and wholesale club)
  • Read more
How to earn
  • PC Optimum Loyalty Card: 1.5% at Shoppers Drug Mart and 1% at Esso/Mobil
  • PC Financial Mastercards: Up to 4.5% at Shoppers Drug Mart; 3% at Loblaws-banner stores and Esso/Mobil; and 1% on all other purchases
  • PC Money Account: 2.5% at Shoppers Drug Mart and 1% on all other purchases
  • Read more
Best features
  • Great savings on groceries, pharmacies, and gas at PC partner locations
  • Easy to use / points values are simple to calculate
  • Points never expire
Maximizing points
  • Earn additional points with personalized offers
  • Get a paid PC Insiders membership
  • Read more

How to earn PC Optimum points

There are three ways you can collect PC Optimum Points – as a PC Optimum loyalty member, holder of one of three co-branded PC Financial Mastercard credit cards, or with the newly-announced PC Money Account.

1. PC Optimum Loyalty Card

As a loyalty cardholder, you’ll earn points when – and only if – you shop from a retailer that is affiliated with PC Optimum.

Collecting points as a loyalty member is easy and involves scanning either the PC Optimum app, a PC optimum key tag, or a loyalty card right at the sales counter or self-serve kiosk. In some cases, you can collect points by providing the phone number that’s linked to your PC Optimum account (which can come in handy if you forget your smartphone or wallet back home while shopping).

Across Canada, there are over 4,500 retail locations that are affiliated with the PC Optimum program including:

  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Loblaws banner grocery stores: Loblaws, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstores, The Independent Grocer, Zehrs, Fortinos, wholesale club, and valu-mart
  • Esso and Mobil gas stations, and
  • JoeFresh.
PC Optimum Loyalty Card
Shoppers Drug Mart 15 PC points per $1
Loblaws banner stores Only on personalized offers / in-store promotions
Esso / Mobil gas stations 10 PC points per litre
Joe Fresh Only on personalized offers / in-store promotions
Everywhere else 0 PC points

While the PC Optimum Loyalty Card offers great rewards when shopping at stores partnered with President’s Choice with no financial or banking commitments, it puts a low ceiling on the number of PC Optimum points you can earn.

2. PC Financial credit card

With a PC Financial Mastercard, you can unlock a ton more PC Optimum points on your everyday shopping. That’s because PC credit cards will earn you bonus points for every dollar spent at stores affiliated with the PC Optimum program (e.g. Loblaws, Esso, and Shoppers Drug Mart) as well as a minimum of 10 PC Optimum points per dollar everywhere else you swipe your card.

All PC credit cards have no annual fees, and when applying, PC Financial will pair you with one of three cards based on your income and credit score.

Credit card Details 
PC Financial Mastercard (APPLY)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Shoppers Drug Mart: 25 PC points per $1
  • Groceries: 10 PC points per $1
  • Gas: 30 PC points per $1 at Esso and Mobil
  • Everywhere else: 10 PC points per $1
  • Eligibility: No specific income required
PC Financial World (APPLY)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Shoppers Drug Mart: 35 PC points per $1
  • Groceries: 20 PC points per $1 at Loblaws banner stores
  • Gas: 30 PC points per litre at Esso and Mobil
  • Everywhere else: 10 PC points per $1
  • Eligibility: $60,000 annual income
PC Financial World Elite (APPLY)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Shoppers Drug Mart: 45 PC points per $1
  • Groceries: 30 PC points per $1 at Loblaws banner stores
  • Gas: 30 PC points per litre at Esso and Mobil
  • Everywhere else: 10 PC points per $1
  • Eligibility: $80,000 annual income

Earning points with a PC Financial Mastercard is easy and happens instantly every time you tap, swipe, or key-in your pin or credit card number. Keeping track of your points is simple too. You can link your card to the PC Optimum mobile app or view how many points you’ve earned every month on your card statements.

The points earning potential of a PC Financial credit card far eclipses that of a basic PC Loyalty Card.

To put the numbers into perspective, let’s assume you spend a monthly average of $400 on groceries at Loblaws-banner stores and $100 at Shoppers Drug Mart.

  • Over the course of a year, that would add up to at least 78,000 PC points ($78 value) with the entry-level PC Financial Mastercard; 138,000 PC points ($138 value) with the mid-tier PC Financial Mastercard, or 198,000 PC points ($198 value) with the PC Financial World Elite.
  • In comparison, a PC Loyalty Card would earn you a minimum of just 18,000 PC points ($18 value) over the same period.

Based on the example above, that works out to a value gap of at least $60 every year. Add to that the additional 10 PC points per dollar you would earn with a PC Financial Mastercard on all your other purchases and the gap widens even further. Finally, you can also take advantage of personalized offers and in-store promotions, and these bonuses will stack on top of the rewards regularly offered by your credit card.

The PC Financial World Mastercard and PC Financial World Elite stand out in particular for being among the best no fee credit cards in Canada for their high earn rates on essential everyday purchases like groceries (2%-3% return per dollar), gas (3%), and pharmacies (3.5%-4.5%).

Just like with any credit card, there are some financial considerations and obligations you’ll need to account for when carrying a PC Financial Mastercard. You must make at least a minimum payment on time every month, and if you don’t pay back your balance in full, you’ll owe interest on anything you carry over at an annual purchase rate of 20.97%, cutting into your rewards. The best way to use this card is to pay it off completely every month, otherwise, you’ll want to consider a PC Loyalty Card or the PC Money Account (covered below) instead.

3. PC Money Account

Recently announced on September 14, the new PC Money Account is a rewards-oriented bank account that comes paired with a prepaid card (which for all intents and purposes, functions like a debit card).

PC Money Account
Shoppers Drug Mart 25 points per $1
Everywhere else 10 points per $1
Interac e-Transfers Free
ATM fees
  • $0 at PC Financial ATMs
  • $1.50 at non-PC Financial ATMs in Canada

At 25 PC points per dollar spent at Shoppers Drug Mart and 10 PC points on all your other card transactions, the PC Money Account’s points-earning potential is almost on par with that of the entry-level PC Financial Mastercard covered above. That’s impressive for a chequing account, especially when considering even the best bank accounts usually only earn an incremental amount of interest.

It’s still worth noting the PC Money Account doesn’t earn as many points at Esso/Mobil gas stations as the entry-level PC Financial Mastercard. And the PC Financial World and PC Financial World Elite Mastercards rack up points two to three times faster compared to the PC Money Account. But all things considered, the PC Money Account is definitely a stand-out in the Canadian bank account arena.


How to redeem PC Optimum points

The great thing about PC Optimum is that it has a straightforward redemption process – you can redeem 10,000 points for $10 off groceries or merchandise from PC affiliated retailers.

Your points can be redeemed at nearly 2,500 locations from retailers including:

  • Loblaws
  • No Frills
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Real Canadian Superstore
  • The Independent Grocer, and more.

In addition, you can use points online for groceries with PC Express, makeup and health products from beauty.shoppersdrugmart.ca, and on eligible deals from joefresh.com.

While in-store, just let the cashier know that you would like to redeem some points when you’re ready to pay and they’ll let you know how many points you have available. If you’re at a self-serve kiosk, all you’ll have to do is follow the instructions on the screen to save.

Note that you can only make redemptions in 10,000 point increments and points can’t be used to cover taxes, fees, or gift cards. Points also can’t be redeemed for straight cash, meaning you can only redeem points for purchases from retailers that are associated with the PC Optimum program.
 

 

PC Optimum points value

  • 10,000 PC Optimum points are worth $10
  • 10 PC Optimum points = $0.01 (or the equivalent of 1%)

Since you’ll earn a minimum of 10 points for every dollar spent with a PC Financial Mastercard or PC Money Account, and it takes 10,000 points to redeem $10, PC Optimum works out to be kind of like a 1% cash-back program. However, there are many ways to boost your earning potential.


PC Optimum personalized offers

If you download the PC Optimum app and register your account, you’ll regularly receive what are known as “personalized offers.”

Updated every Thursday, these offers let you rack up bonus points on the purchases you make the most. Buy baby food on the regular? Expect personalized offers on other baby products like diapers. Personalized offers usually expire within a week, and, depending on the offer, may only be available when you shop from particular PC affiliated stores (expiry and other details can be found in the app under the “Your Offers” tab). Your personalized offers should automatically load onto your account through your app, but you can also manually load offers by signing up for email alerts.


How to maximize PC Optimum points

  • Get a PC Financial Mastercard or PC Money Account to earn points on all your everyday purchases – not just when shopping from stores affiliated with PC Optimum.
  • Monitor and take advantage of weekly personalized offers by viewing the “Offers” tab in your PC Optimum app. Also, hold on to offers for longer by clicking “save for next week” to ensure they don’t expire before you can use them.
  • Hunt for discounts and special offers by searching the “Flyers” tab in your PC Optimum app.
  • Be a strategic shopper. If there’s a big points offer on one of your favourite non-perishable items – like a specific cereal brand or paper towels – use it as an opportunity to stalk up and buy in bulk.
  • Keep a lookout for “Points Days” events. PC affiliate stores occasionally run limited-time promotions that let you earn up to 20 times the points on several items in-store.
  • If you and a family member or spouse both collect PC Optimum points, consider linking your accounts. That way, you can pool your points to redeem sooner while still receiving unique personalized offers based on your individual spending patterns.
  • If you sign up for a paid subscription to PC Insiders, you can earn 200 points per $1 on a range of items from PC Optimum stores including all brands of baby diapers and formula, PC Organic products, JoeFresh, and more. That works out to an impressive 20% return. You’ll also get free shipping and grocery pickups with PC Express, Joe Fresh, and Shoppers Drug Mart as well as a $99 travel credit with PC Travel. Sure, the subscription costs $9 monthly or $99 annually, but you can stand to save big if you regularly shop from PC Optimum stores.

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