If you watched a movie in a theatre recently, there’s a good chance it’s owned by Cineplex — the chain monopolizes about 80% of Canada’s box office market share. This means less price competition and choice for consumers, but there is a way to wring value out of money spent on tickets and popcorn: Cineplex’s Scene program.
With a free Scene membership card, you’ll earn points when you purchase movie tickets, concession stand snacks, and movie rentals or downloads at Cineplex theatres or online. In turn, points can be redeemed for movie tickets and packages (1,000 points = one free general admission ticket, but read how the Scene rewards program works for full details on the points redemption structure), rentals and downloads, plus discounts at partner restaurants.
If you enjoy going to the movies and frequent Cineplex theatres (branded under Cineplex Odeon, Cineplex VIP Cinemas, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity/StarCité, Galaxy, Famous Players, and Cinema City), the Scene program is a great way to earn free movie tickets on money you’re spending anyway. Your local indie theatre scene may be on point, but you’ll probably head to a Cineplex if you’re seeing a summer blockbuster or the latest Star Wars installment — why not get your next tickets for free?
I’ve been collecting Scene points for almost a decade, but 2017 was my most fruitful year yet: I redeemed my Scene points for 10 free movies* with minimal effort and just a little bit of organization. Here’s how I did it.
I maximized my points-earning power
As with any rewards program, you’ll get the highest return by knowing the program’s ins and outs and maxing out the multipliers.
- Know the bonuses. New members will earn 250 bonus points when you use your Scene card to earn or redeem within 90 days of joining the program. You’ll earn 100 points for every general admission ticket purchased, 150 points per premium ticket, and 200 points per VIP ticket. For full details and timely offers and bonuses, see the Scene offers page.
- Add multiple Scene cards to your profile. Let’s say it’s date night and you buy two general admission tickets — that should earn 200 points, right? Unfortunately, buying multiple tickets under one card will only earn you 100 points total, not 100 points per ticket. If you frequent the movies with your significant other, you can add their Scene card to your profile (and vice versa) so you’ll each get 100 points per ticket.
- See movies with friends. You can also register a SCENEtourage — a group of 3-10 family members, friends, coworkers, etc. who are also Scene members — and you’ll earn 50 bonus points when you go to a movie together.
- Buy tickets online. When you purchase tickets through the Cineplex website or mobile app, you’ll get an additional 20 points.
- Cheap Tuesdays. Scene members save an additional 10% off on already discounted tickets. Cineplex admission prices vary at theatres across the country, but a Tuesday general admission ticket is around $5 cheaper — plus, you’ll still earn the full 100 points per purchased ticket. However, a free ticket still costs 1,000 points, so it’s not worth redeeming on Tuesdays.
- Earn at the concession stand. Show your Scene card at the concession and you’ll earn 10 points for every $1 spent on food or drink ($15 on popcorn and drinks = 150 easy points). You’ll also get 10% off your purchase.
- Earn at restaurants. Earn 1 point for every $3 spent at Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, Montana’s, Milestones, Bier Markt, East Side Mario’s, Kelseys, Fionn MacCool’s, D’Arcy McGee’s, Paddy Flaherty’s, and Tir nan Òg. Every 1,000 points can be redeemed for $10 off your meal.
I took advantage of the Scene Visa spending bonus
If you want to bolster your earning power, the Scotiabank Scene Visa card gives you 1 point for every $1 spent on the card, and 5 points for every $1 spent at Cineplex. If you spend $500 on the card in the first three months, you’ll get 4,000 bonus points — that’s four free movies. The card has no annual fee, and Scene points can be converted to Scotia Rewards points (and vice versa). I opened my Scene Visa card in August 2016, so that bonus and my everyday spending on the card were the meat and bones behind my 10 free movie tickets.
The Scene Visa can be used tandem with a Scene debit card, which links to eligible Scotiabank chequing accounts and gives you 1 Scene point for every $5 spent. It’s a lower earn rate, but the points do trickle in — I earned about 1,100 points over the course of the year with my Scene debit card. However, the monthly fees for these chequing accounts range from $8.95 to $17.45 (unless you maintain a minimum balance), which effectively wipes out at least one free movie ticket. I stopped using the Scene debit card when I switched to Tangerine’s no fee chequing account earlier this year, but it was a good supplement while it lasted.
I charged most purchases to my Scene Visa
To be clear, this was money budgeted to be spent anyway — groceries, clothing, gym membership — not shopping for the sake of shopping. Funnelling purchases through your rewards credit card is the best way to squeeze every possible point out of everyday spending, but it only works if you pay off your balance in full every single month. If you can’t, there’s no point in chasing rewards. Interest charges = value killer.
If it cost more than $20 it went on the card, with more expensive purchases made throughout the year giving me the biggest points boost (a bookcase in July, winter boots in November, my monthly transit pass). On average I earned a combined 850 Scene points a month with my Scene Visa and Scene debit card, but returns are highly individual. To see how the card gels with your lifestyle, plug your monthly spending profile into Ratehub.ca’s credit card rewards calculator.
The bottom line
Compared to the free flights, hotels, and vacation packages earned with travel credit cards, movies are an admittedly niche reward — why not just shell out $12.99? But movies in Canada are a niche market, and the Scene program is a straightforward and easy way to capitalize on the fact that you’re probably going to a Cineplex theatre anyway. Whether you see a dozen movies a year or just the occasional blockbuster, Scene makes it relatively easy to earn a free movie in a short period of time.
*If you’re curious, I saw Lion, Fifty Shades Darker, Get Out, Baby Driver, Rough Night, T2 Trainspotting, Battle of the Sexes, The Disaster Artist, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. My tastes are rich and varied.
- Points Guru Chronicles: How the Scene Rewards Program Works
- Review: Scotiabank Scene Visa Card
- A Guide to Scotiabank Chequing Accounts