PC Optimum is my absolute favorite rewards program and it continues to surprise me how few people realize just how lucrative this program can be with very little effort. This post has been over a decade in the making, and after having the same conversations over and over every November for 11 years, I decided it was time to make it official.
It’s time for you to learn how to make the most of your PC Optimum points.
Disclosure: While I have worked with both Shoppers Drug Mart and President’s Choice/Loblaws many times over the years, this post is in no way sponsored. But it will give you a little insight into why I’m always so happy to partner with them when the opportunity arises. However, there are a couple of referral links included in this post. If you sign up for a product using one of my referral links, I may earn bonus points.
Shoppers Optimum + PC Points = PC Optimum!
Here in Canada, PC Optimum points are the result of a wonderful points marriage. Back in 2018, the much-beloved Shoppers Optimum points program from Shoppers Drug Mart merged with President’s Choice/Loblaws PC Points program to have a baby – PC Optimum points.
But before that fateful day on February 1, 2018, I had spent 9 years learning how to optimize the Shoppers Optimum program. Often times when programs merge, the resulting new product is a bit of a disappointment but in this case, the opposite happened (at least in my opinion). The merge made the program so, so, so, much better.
In 2018 when the two programs merged it meant that the points I earned while buying my groceries, I could now use at Shoppers Drug Mart and vice versa. This was an important change because it meant you could buy groceries and earn points that you could then redeem at Shoppers Drug Mart on bonus redemption days (more on that in a minute).
Get those points!
If you are reading this, you are likely already a PC Optimum member. In which case, you should know that each week they email you your personalized offers. When you get that email you need to click to load offers in order for them to be active and tied to your PC Optimum account.
Each time you swipe your PC Optimum card at checkout, the system tracks your purchases so it can provide you with offers on the things you purchase the most. Not all of your offers will be for things you regularly purchase, but many of them will be. Since they are personalized, take a look at your offers each week, and if you have a points offer for something you use a lot, but maybe weren’t planning to purchase that week you can either stock up early, or save the offer for the following week.
Those offers can go a long way to help you collect points, but the most important offers to keep an eye out for are the “spend ________ and get _______” offers. For example, you may get an offer for Atlantic Superstore that is “Spend $125 in one transaction and earn 10,000 points”. Many of us spend $125 in one week on groceries anyway, but let’s say you normally spend $100. If you know you are going to get those bonus points, you might double up on a few weekly purchases (snacks, pantry items, frozen food etc.) to take advantage of the offer and then spend a little less the following week.
Sometimes I don’t see those offers for weeks or more at a time, other times I get them on back-to-back weeks and can really clean up. Just keep your eye out and take advantage of them when you can.
Finally, I’m going to circle back to Shoppers Drug Mart. If you want to get more points FAST, hit up a 20x the points sale. If you watch the flyer and your personal offers, these come up pretty often. As do “spend ____ and get ____ points” offers. My two nearest Shoppers are about 20 minutes from my house so I don’t get there often, but when I do I try to take advantage of as many offers as I can.
Having said that I want to make something very clear. It is a very, very, rare occurrence that I buy something just to get bonus points. Most of the time I earn my points strictly from my groceries by watching for those “spend & get” events.
PC Optimum Insiders
If you are like me and find yourself using PC Express a lot, you should really look into purchasing a PC Optimum Insiders membership. This is a paid membership (think of it sort of like a Costco Membership), but one of the big perks is that all PC Express pick-up fees are waived. The membership costs $119+tax/year, but if you consider the weekly cost of PC Express pick up fee ($3-$5 depending on the time and day of the week) you are spending at least $156/year (based on 1 weekly pick-up during a $3 fee timeslot) just on fees.
For me, the PC Insiders membership is a no-brainer for that reason alone, but it gets even sweeter when you look at how that membership will impact your points balance.
With PC Insiders, you get 10% back in points for all Joe Fresh purchases and on every PC product, you purchase. We buy a lot of PC products, so this perk really adds up quickly.
From Sept 2020 to Sept 2021 I saved $182 in PC Express and shipping fees (with Joe Fresh and Shoppers Drug Mart), and earned an extra 249,000 points (which is equal to $249 during a regular redemption) through the 10% back on PC and Joe Fresh products. That’s a total of $431 in savings for something that cost me $119 + tax.
Still haven’t tried PC Express? Get 25,000 PC Optimum points on your first order of $75+ when you use my referral link: https://www.talkable.com/x/QI43hq if you use my link and place a qualifying order, I’ll also get 15,000 bonus points – it’s a win-win for everyone!
Other ways to collect points
You can also earn points when you purchase gas at ESSO, and there is a whole suite of PC Financial products (referral link) that can also help you earn points faster.
Want points without spending money? The PC Health app offers points for completing challenges which not only add to your points balance, but also your overall wellness – whoop!
Enough talk of points, let’s take a minute to explain why you even want them – to redeem them of course!
The every day redemption level is 10,000 points = $10. So when looking at points, think of 1000 points = $1 as your base level.
You are always responsible for the taxes on the products you are buying, so keep that in mind when you are heading in to redeem points.
Keep in mind, you are not able to use points to buy gift cards, stamps, lottery, tobacco, prescriptions, etc.
BUT! You absolutely can use points to buy things like a NINTENDO!
Fun fact: I’ve purchased two Nintendo systems at Shoppers Drug Mart using points! In 2009 I got my Nintendo Wii for the cost of tax, and earlier this year I bought a Nintendo Switch for $20 + the tax on $399. After saving my points for only five months.
But as you’ll learn in a minute, there are times when your points are worth more – and that is when you want to shop!
Shoppers Drug Mart Bonus Redemption
Throughout the year, Shopper Drug Mart has special promotions called Bonus Redemption Events. During these events, your points are worth more, making these ideal times to redeem.
A recent bonus redemption promotion offered these redemption levels:
- 50,000 points and get $65 off (an extra $15/30% increase in value)
- 100,000 points and get up to $140 (an extra $40/40% increase in value)
- 200,000 points and get up to $300 (an extra $100/50% increase in value)
As you can see, the more points you have, the higher the value.
During January – September, anytime I want to redeem points I wait for a bonus redemption weekend.
But come October everything changes.
Listen up, because this is the most important part of this post.
MEGA Bonus Redemption
Every year at the end of November/beginning of December Shoppers Drug Mart has a MEGA BONUS REDEMPTION event. It is the BIGGEST redemption event of the year and you will want to save your points for this event!
This event normally happens after Black Friday. In the past couple of years, it has been the weekend immediately following Black Friday, but in other years it has been the first week of December. Since Shoppers Optimum and PC Points merged it has always been the weekend of Black Friday so we can probably count on it being that weekend again this year.
The reason you want to save your points for this event is that it is M E G A and it is the best value of the year for spending. Lucky us – it happens at Christmastime! This means for the past 11 years I have purchased the majority of my Christmas gifts using points (aka free + the cost of tax).
I looked up the redemption levels from the past three years (since the merging of Shoppers Optimum and PC Points), and I hope we can expect the levels to look similar again this year.
In 2019 and 2020 they were redeem:
- 70,000 points and get $100 (an extra $30/42.8% increase in value)
- 130,000 points and get $200 (an extra $70/$53.85% increase in value)
- 250,000 points and get $400 (an extra $150/60% increase in value)
And in 2018 they were redeem:
- 70,000 get $95 (an extra $15)
- 140,000 get $200 (an extra $60)
- 300,000 get $450 (an extra $150)
As you can see, compared to the regular bonus redemption, come autumn, it is worth your while to wait for the mega bonus event to cash in your points.
But I have no points and it’s already November!
Are you reading this and it’s already November, you just got really excited about Mega Bonus Redemption and checked your points balance only to find you have only a few thousand points?
You’ve got two options. You can up your game over the next couple of weeks to take advantage of 20x the points offers and bonus point offers to top up your points ahead of the end of the month (you may be surprised how easy it is to collect points without spending a lot of extra money!).
Remember, you can use my referral link and get 25,000 bonus points pretty fast by signing up for a PC Insider’s membership for $119 + tax. I never recommend buying things just to get the points, so I only recommend the PC Insiders if you already use PC Express, as the cost savings on grocery pick-up alone will pay for the membership.
Haven’t tried PC Express? Remember they have an offer right now where you can get 25,000 bonus points simply for placing your first PC Express order of $75 or more! That’s 25,000 free points just for trying the service. Give a try by clicking here (remember, that is my referral link so I will get a bonus of 15,000 points if you try PC Express with a $75 order. Just want to be totally clear that I’ll get a little something for introducing it to you).
Or, you can make the choice right now not to worry about the mega redemption and instead start spending a couple more seconds each week to make sure you are taking advantage of relevant offers, so you will be ready to redeem in 2022!
But I like using my points for groceries…
I totally get that. And from January-September I think it’s more than ok to just use your points to offset the cost of your groceries if that is what you want to do. But if you have a decent amount of points ahead of the holidays, I urge you to take a stroll through your nearest Shoppers Drug Mart. Most stores have a pretty decent grocery section and you can probably get a lot of the things you buy at the Superstore at Shoppers Drug Mart. Prices may differ, but Shoppers frequently has great sales on things like eggs, butter, chocolate chips, etc. (you know, key ingredients in that holiday baking you want to do).
Of course, there is also another option – use *some* of your points at the Mega Redemption event to get a taste of how delightful it is, and save the rest for your groceries.
It’s been my experience (and the experience of those I’ve drawn over to the Darkside over the years) that once you go Mega Redemption you never go back – ha!
Tips for Bonus and Mega Bonus Redemption
Have a plan. Unless you are purchasing a big-ticket item, you might be surprised how quickly you get overwhelmed trying to spend that much. Especially if you are doing more than one redemption (yup! you can do more than one redemption, you just need to check out each one separately). If you are buying stocking stuffers you will definitely want a list of ideas, and you’ll want to keep a general running total of the cost of what it in your cart.
I like to reach my limit and then add one or two extra items to my cart to surpass my limit in case something I’ve picked up is on sale and I didn’t realize it. You need to be over your PC Optimum points amount to redeem. For example (on a normal redemption day), you can’t redeem 100,000 points if you have less than $100 worth of product before tax.
Keep it simple – go virtual
Afraid the in-store shopping is going to be too stressful? (trust me, it can happen!) You can also take advantage of these promotions on the Shoppers Drug Mart website and app. Shop from the comfort of home and check out when you are ready. An added bonus of shopping this way is you can see what your subtotal is, so it’s easy to make sure you are buying enough to redeem. One big drawback of the online option is you really don’t get to shop grocery, but if the majority of your list is beauty, personal hygiene, electronics, etc. online might be the way to go.
I’ve been known to do both. Submit one order online for everything that I could find on the site, and then go to the store to do a second redemption for more grocery-based items.
If you are ordering online, make sure you go through Rakuten (referral link) for additional cashback. It lists Shoppers Drug Mart as “Shoppers Beauty” and the cashback is normally 1%, but will likely be higher during Black Friday/Cyber Monday (which is very likely when the Mega Bonus Redemption will be held). May as well save a few more cents as you go!
Make the most of your PC Optimum Points
I hope this post has been helpful. I know it is long and full of a lot of info, but truly, this program and specifically the Mega Bonus Redemption has allowed me to splurge on a lot of things I would never have purchased otherwise.
Oh and one last thing… Unless the flyer says “It’s our biggest redemption of the year!” or something similar, it’s not the BIG event. I swear, they always have one or two bonus redemptions in the month/weeks prior to the MEGA and a lot of people get tricked into using their points early.
TRUST THE PROCESS. If it’s mid-November or earlier, you haven’t missed it. DO NOT SPEND THOSE POINTS.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
If you cash out your points on a bonus or mega bonus redemption event, I would love to see what you get! Tag me on Instagram at suzi.fevens or drop a comment below!