I have written a few times about how I use a few Customer Appreciation Points systems (specifically Aeroplan, PC Points and Petro-Points), and I have used these rewards a fair amount over the time I have been a member of these plans (I have been a member of Aeroplan since 1987). My view on these programs is, if you are going to be using these services (either Credit Card or Flying) then the advantage of using them is obvious.
I was talking with a co-worker on Friday and he made a very odd statement that he didn’t join one of these programs because, “… he couldn’t be bothered…”. This statement really confused me, so I did not comment much other than, “… well I use them and have got a lot of use out of them…”.
Joining every point system will cause Wallet Bloat which we have already discussed (and yes a lot of the space taken up in my wallet is for various Points Cards), and I may be a member of a lot of Points programs, but I don’t keep track of them, I only really worry about my Big 3 (Aeroplan, PC Points and Petro Points).
It used to be you could transfer Petro Points to PC Points, but that stopped a while ago (that was cool because you ended up getting double points from one purchase).
Arguments like, “It’s a pain in the tush to use them”, is fine, I am not espousing joining every Customer Appreciation system, but I am saying you should check out whether you can take advantage of these programs.
For a while I had an Aeroplan CIBC Visa, but I got rid of that because they charged me a lot of money for the privilege of using the card, and given that Aeroplan’s system is becoming less advantageous, due to:
- Increased service charges
- Flights becoming much more expensive in terms of points, when I started all flights to Toronto from Ottawa were 15,000 miles round trip, that has doubled at the least, so my points keep having less value.
- Lack of availability at peak times
I am a customer of Aeroplan, but I am becoming a less satisfied customer every year.
Anybody else have any opinions on Customer Appreciation Points systems?
“Couldn’t be bothered”. With our card we pay for stuff and MBNA MC sends us $50 cheques periodically. We don’t go out of our way in the least – we don’t have to shop at certain stores, we don’t need to “redeem” anything. A 5 year old could work this system.
My point exactly!
I’m really nervous about these systems. I do use single-store cards for point tracking, but wouldn’t do so for AirMiles or other omnibus cards. If you use your AirMiles card for everything (Food, Gas, Entertainment etc.), then some unknown number of people have an astonishingly clear picture of your life. There are very few security restrictions on the data, and the whole point is that they can resell it. While your bank has fairly tight restrictions on who can see this info, AirMiles does not.
For the 5 minutes (or less) that it takes to sign up, it makes no sense to not use points rewards, particularly when there are no membership fees.
My favourite points program has to be Pharmaprix (Shoppers Drug Mart). The points really add up and can be redeemed for significant amounts. They also have great promotions…
Besides Shopper’s optimum, which gives me maybe 10$ a year and my rewards Visa, I don’t bother with these anymore. I tried PC points for a while, and it just didn’t seem to add up to anything significant. If I’m not getting a decent payback, I’m not going to do their market research, as you put it.
I use them, I like rewards for spending money. I figure if I can get something more in return, I should take advantage of that.
For example, my wife and I flew to NYC this year, almost for free. For those that don’t like points programs, I would like to hear their argument to that. I agree BCM, you don’t need to be a member of hundreds, only focus on a few programs and get your rewards faster 🙂
Mark, My Own Advisor
I’m all for rewards that are useful, such as airmiles, or grocery store points that give you free groceries, but I dislike loyalty cards that are required for sale prices. Why should groceries cost 5x as much unless you have my address and telephone# on file?
Good point, any system should not make you an easier target for telemarketers!
Our PC point and cashback from our Amex card pay for Christmas each year. We get $500 cashback (the maximum reward) from Amex to pay for gifts and we get a few hundred pc points which covers Christmas diinner and the extra food and baking that we need for entertaining during the festive season. Reward programs work out really well for us.
See that is what I figured I would hear, why wouldn’t you take the benefit, if you could?
I was not a fan of AirMiles when they first came out: I figured I wasn’t going to do market research for companies, thanks. Then my bank switched their no-fee credit card to an AirMiles card and I figured ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’.
Now I’ve gotten into the habit of using my credit card for all my gas purchases and one of our regular grocery stores also gives them out, so they are racking up more quickly than they used to.
BTW, did you know that there is a website where you can print out all your points collector bar codes onto one card? That should slim down your wallet a bit. 😉