The Loblaws Company points program, originally called PC Points, has been around since 1998. Initially one could only earn points at a select few Loblaws grocery stores. In the spring of 2013, the program expanded to include other stores under the Loblaws banner throughout Ontario as a trial run, and subsequently expanded to all provinces in November of 2013.
When the revamped program first rolled out, there were some technical glitches as the new program is largely digital now and minor issues go with the territory. Some customers experienced the app crashing at checkout, and some lost points as opposed to gaining them. However, the customer service for this program is fast so a quick call in will get any issue resolved.
Why You Should Join
The PC Plus program gives you points for things you are most likely to buy. By swiping your card on every visit, the program learns your buying patterns and begins to adjust its offers to best suit what you would actually purchase. In turn, those points can be used to purchase just about anything in the store.
This program significantly closes the gap on the lack of coupons for fresh produce. You can actually earn points on fruits and vegetables and can redeem points for them as well. Users can also specify dietary restrictions such as “vegetarian”, which would keep the program from offering you points on meat, making sure the focus is on what you prefer. This is currently the most personalized grocery loyalty program available.
How Do I Join?
Joining the program is free and easy. If you already have a PC Financial account (debit or credit card), simply register your existing account online. If you do not have a PC Financial account at this time, you can pick up a card in the store either at the cash or in the PC Financial booth. Then, go online to the PC Plus website and register your new points card.
You also have the option of downloading an app for your mobile device. The mobile device comes with a digital version of your physical card's bar code, eliminating the need to pull out your card at the cash. Simply open the app, and turn your device sideways. Your app will automatically display the bar code, and the scanner at the cash has the ability to scan this right from your phone.
It’s important to note, that if you use your PC Financial bank card or credit card to join the program you don’t actually need to show your PC Plus card at the checkout. You can actually use your bank card as the points card. You can even show you bank card to earn the points, but actually pay for your order with a different card or in cash. For instance, you might want to do this to earn points on a different credit card in addition to your PC Plus points.
Earning PC Plus Points
100 PC points is equal to 10 cents. You can earn points in various ways:
- Personal offers emailed to you weekly.
- Offers posted in-store on specific products identified by a special points shelf tag.
- By using your PC Plus debit or credit card.
If you pay for your purchases at a Loblaws store using your debit card, you earn 5 points per dollar spent. You earn even more points with the PC Financial MasterCard: 10 points per dollar spent anywhere, and 20 points per dollar spent at a Loblaws banner store.
You can double or triple-up on the points as well . Let’s say you get a personal offer for something that already has an in-store offer tied to it. In that case, you would earn the sum of both point offers combined. When checking out at the store, let the cashier know you collect PC Points, and either hand them your card or show them the bar code via your digital device. They will scan it for you, and all points are automatically calculated and added to your account.
When your weekly offers arrive, typically on Fridays, you must either log in to your email or your app and choose which offers to add to your account. It is a good idea to just load them all so you don't miss out on any points. It’s quicker and easier, plus there is no penalty for loading an offer and not using it.
Even if you don’t have the app and you forgot to load your offers, you can still use your smart phone to load your offers while you are in the check-out line at the store. Simply click the link sent to you in your weekly offers email, sign in to the website, and click the load all offers button. It only takes a minute and that way you won’t miss out on any points if you forgot to do it in advance.
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Redeeming Your Points
You can begin to redeem your points once you reach 20,000 points. 1000 points is equal to $1, and therefore at 20,000 points you will be able to take $20 off your grocery bill. After the first $20, you are then able to redeem in 10,000 point ($10) increments.
If your total bill is $31, you can redeem 30,000 points and only pay $1.
You can log into your account to find out how many points you have. Additionally, the cashier will tell you at checkout, and you will see your balance printed on your receipt.
How To Make The Program Work For You
Typically, Loblaws stores have prices that are a bit higher than some discount grocery chains. The trade-off is that they also typically have better quality produce, meats and bakery items. These items tend to last longer than items purchased at other stores.
Ideally, we want the best of all worlds: quality food, points on our purchases, and the lowest possible price. Currently, of all the stores participating in PC Plus, only Real Canadian Superstore (RCSS) price matches. Therefore, if you wish to have your cake and eat it too, you will need to shop at RCSS and take advantage of their price matching policy.
To get the most out of the PC Plus program, collect your flyers and look for the best prices on items you would typically purchase. Then wait for your personalized offers to come in on Friday. Finally, look for matchups - such as apples being on sale for $1 a pound at Food Basics, and having an offer of 200 points for every $1 spent on apples. Given that 200 points equals $0.20 in savings, you would be purchasing good quality apples for $0.80 per pound. A fantastic deal! Stock up on apples, making apple pie or applesauce and make them last.
Loblaws will be quite happy to offer you apples again in the near future seeing as they are now aware that you enjoyed that offer. Continue the same buying patterns and you will very quickly collect enough points for a redemption.
Watch for in-store offers as well. In addition to offers printed in the flyers, stores will have offers not advertised throughout the store. It is a good idea to take a quick trip through all the aisles and look for these offers. You never know what you might find.
One time I was able to purchase 20 cans of soup resulting in 20,000 points earned. I completed my first order, which was just the soup, and the points were applied immediately. Then, right afterwards, I used those same points to purchase $21 worth of additional items. So, in total, I was able to purchase $41 worth of stuff for $21 and then I donated half the soup to my local food bank.
Using Coupons To Improve Savings
Some of the offers you will see are linked to the number of that particular item you buy, and not to the amount you paid for them. Using coupons on these items will still get you the same number of points as you would have had you spent real money instead of using a coupon. You can also use coupons on items you purchase when planning to redeem your points. Your points are put towards your after-tax total, which stretches your points even further.
Also noteworthy: on occasion, you can even earn points when you spend points. Unless an offer specifically states that points are earned when you spend X dollars on an item, you will still earn points if you purchase the item using points.
You can earn points at any of the following locations across Canada:
- No Frills (new)
- Provigo Le Marche
- Real Canadian Superstore
- Loblaws Great Food
- Loblaws City Market
- Atlantic Superstore
- Bloor Street Market
- Extra Foods
- Your Independent Grocer.
Rules And Restrictions
As with any loyalty program, it is important to understand what rules and restrictions come with the program. In order to sign up for the PC Plus program, you must be 14 years of age and a resident of Canada.
This directly from the PC Plus website:
You can redeem your points for just about everything available at participating stores, excluding tobacco, alcohol, lottery tickets, or any products or services prohibited by law or as we determine from time to time. In certain provinces, you will also be prohibited from redeeming your points on prescription medication, over-the-counter medication and milk. Third party retailers, including The Mobile Shop, the cleaners and Wine Shop, are also excluded from the program.
Is PC Plus Worth It?
The PC Plus program is a difficult one for other retailers to compete with, due to its highly personalized offers, the ease of collecting points and the variety of items you can redeem for. Savvy shoppers know to combine savings and points collection by price matching at RCSS stores. It seems Loblaws has found a way to attract many new customers to their stores.