The BEST Reward Points Program in Canada - and how to max them out for more FREE stuff.

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by Robin
optimum points

Last year we were able to give our daughter a laptop for Christmas...for free.

Every two months or so we get $300+ worth of groceries and household items...also for free.

We've figured out how to maximize the free stuff we can get with our favourite reward points system and that's what today's post is all about!

Sadly, this post is only for our Canadian readers - it's a program only available in Canada.

Canadians, keep reading to learn how you too can max out your free stuff with our favourite rewards points program.  And while we loudly profess our love and devotion to PC Optimum Points - know that this post is not sponsored - no one's paying us to talk about this - it's truly us in our authentic points nerd state.

What are PC Optimum Points?

PC Optimum Points are the loyalty reward program of the Loblaws chain of stores in Canada. You get them on pretty much everything you buy in their stores.  You can't get Optimum points on tobacco, alcohol, lottery tickets, gift cards nor prescriptions in most provinces. (This list is not exhaustive; see the whole list in section 7 here.)

How to get THE MOST free stuff for your PC Optimum Points:

1)  Save your Optimum Points for the BIG EVENT

Pretty much every time you shop at a PC store the cashier will ask you if you want to use your points. Don't do this!  You want to save them for the Big Event. You'll get 50% more free stuff by waiting. More on this soon.

 Here's one of our sample hauls. We paid $31.08 for all this!
Notice near the front of the photo there are big-ticket items like OTC meds, probiotics and vitamins.
Pretty much the rest of the haul is grocery items we needed for the week ahead.

2) Link your Optimum Points to one family account

You'll accumulate points more quickly as a team.  Ed and I have ours paired. If you have friends or family who couldn't be bothered with their points (apparently people this wacky exist!) - ask them if they'd use your points card.

3) Download - and use - the PC Optimum app

This is the easiest way to keep track of what offers are coming up - often there's a random 20X points event midweek - it's easiest to track this with the app.

4) Sign up and Load your offers

Don't forget to load your offers every week. Forget to do this and you kiss your bonus points goodbye!

Right now the offers start on Thursdays.  I find the best way is to subscribe to the emails - they send a message with a simple "load your offers" button in it. One click and you're done.

best shoppers points
Every week: Load Your Offers.  
There are weekly PC Optimum bonus point offers - but they don't load automatically. You must do it manually.  It's not too hard: make sure you sign up for the emails - then click the Load Your Offers button.  Done.

5) Use PC Optimum MasterCard for all your purchases

best mastercard canada
Earn more points with the PC Optimum World Elite MasterCard. Ed and I both have one - and they're linked to the same Optimum points account. Above are the bonus points earned with this card.

 But only use a credit card if you're are going to pay it off each month - otherwise you're paying interest and in the end, you'll lose more money than points would give you.

6)  Go to the stores with Optimum Points - but NOT if they're more expensive

- NoFrills generally has the best grocery prices
- if gas is the same price at Esso and another station - choose Esso and get 3 cents a litre in points.

shoppers drug mart optimum points
You'll get more points shopping at the stores that you can redeem them in - above. But, don't feel like you HAVE to shop there all the time. If there's a better deal elsewhere - go there - but make sure you use your Optimum Points MasterCard.

7) You'll get the most points at Shoppers Drug Mart any day -but especially on 20X points days

As you can see in a photo above - you get more base level points at Shoppers with the PC MasterCard every day.

More importantly - there are often 20X points events at Shoppers.  I have never seen offers remotely like this at other Optimum points stores.  (Don't forget - you're saving your points for the Big Event - so you get about 50% more - so a 20X points event turns into 30X points in value!)

shoppers drug mart optimum points
Bonus Points Days.  These are important for your strategy.  They often happen on Saturdays - but there are mid-week ones that you'll find out about when you load your offers. 

This is how you can accumulate points even faster - so that you have enough points when the big event comes.

Shoppers carries lots of grocery items - some stores more than others.  We've priced matched many of them and they're comparable to our nearby Zehrs (another Loblaws grocery store).  For example, milk is the same price at both stores. Or so it seems.  At Shoppers, you get more baseline PC points - plus there's often Bonus Point offers to get you into Shoppers to pick up milk.

Shoppers also carries a lot of big-ticket technology items.  If you're in the market for something like a laptop, camera or game console consider buying it here during a 20X points event.

Here's an example, two years ago my mom bought the kids a Nintendo Switch for Christmas - Switches NEVER really go on sale, right? Well, she bought theirs during a 20X points event and got about $100 in points. (Now, save those points for the Big Event - and it's more like $150!).

8) Plan your Big Event

shoppers spend your points event
Bonus Redemption Event. THIS is what you're waiting for. Save your points for these - don't let them trickle away.  
They seem to happen about every two months or so.
If you have 200,000 points - you'll cash out for $300 (instead of $200 if you did it any other time). That's 50% more free stuff.

Now don't just waltz in and start dumping all the things into your cart.  You need a Bonus Redemption Event Strategy!  Here's ours:

a) Don't go on Friday.  

We did this once and never again!  On Friday nights the new sales flyer cycle hasn't started - and the store has been cleared of the sales price tags from the current week. So you're really shopping blind. We still got free stuff - but we didn't double down on sales as easily. Not as fun or prosperous.

b) Prepare ahead.

Before you leave, use the Flipp app to see what items are on special - that's what you want to stock up on! Buying sale items will max out your free stuff haul.  Click on the stuff that's on sale - it will be circled in the app and make a handy list for you right on your phone to use in the store.

max out optimum points with flipp
Before you go to the Redeem Your Points Event - or anytime you shop really - check what's on sale and make your list. I do this with the Flipp app. Simply tap on the image of the sale item and it populates into a list by store.

c) Stay focused in-store.

Use a calculator to keep track of the value of the items you've placed in your cart.  Stop when you hit the top amount you have points for. (We usually just use Ed's brain to keep track - and then we end up going over by $20 or $30 - no big deal really - but not free!)

d) Look for deals that aren't in the flyer.

Swing by the grocery area while you're there. Shoppers (like grocery stores) can offer big discounts on produce, meat and baked goods to help clear them out fast.

9) Celebrate Your Achievements!

top loyalty programs in canada
Here's the value in stocking up on sale items at a Redeem Your Points event. Here we got $300 of free stuff with our Optimum points - PLUS we saved $112.21 by choosing things that were on sale. That's about $400 worth of things we need for FREE.

We usually pull out our receipt and total our savings, like you see above. And then we cheer and high five and fully embrace our nerdiness.

Or on rare occasions, we spread it all out on your dining room table and take a photo! (We had to take our photo quickly - the kids had friends over in the basement and we DID NOT want them to see what nerds we are. So far they don't have a clue.......Ha! Not true - they totally know.)

 Celebrate! You just got a major corporation to give you hundreds of dollars worth of free stuff.

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