A lot changed since CIBC announced it was ending its nearly 20-year relationship with PC Financial owner Loblaw and rebranding the online bank as Simplii Financial in response to a trend toward digital banking.

But one thing that stayed the same was the PC Points loyalty program and the PC Financial Mastercard credit cards.

Well, at least until recently, when we learned that Loblaw and Shoppers merged their points programs and are now called PC Optimum. Another topic altogether.

As an original PC Financial bank customer, I was sorry to see the end of the relationship but relieved to hear the Mastercard program would stay – because there’s a lot to like about its offerings if you’re a diehard loyal Loblaw grocery store shopper and simple value if you’re not.

Which card suits you best?

President Choice offers three cards – all with similar features, except that rewards per dollar spent and a few perks get added if you can qualify for a more premium card based on your income or spending levels.

All cards gear their bonus PC points rewards toward purchases made on President Choice affiliated brands and partners like:

  • Loblaws,
  • Your Independent Grocer,
  • Real Canadian Superstore,
  • Shoppers Drug Mart,
  • Esso, and
  • services like PC Travel and PC Mobile.

…if you’re already a regular shopper, then these cards offer you an immediate and easy way to collect 1-3% reward for free since all these cards have no annual fees.

Points World Elite Mastercard World Mastercard Mastercard
Annual Fee None None None
Points on in-store purchases 30 20 10
Points on Shoppers Drug Mart purchases 45 35 25
Points on Esso fuel purchases (per litre)* 30 30 30
Points on purchases at PC Travel 30 20 20
Points on purchases everywhere else 10 10 10

*These totals include points earned as a regular PC Optimum member.

Point simplicity

One advantage of these credit cards is the simple mental arithmetic associated to the PC point values.

With the base level Mastercard, spend $100 dollars and get 1,000 points which is equivalent to $1 in PC points. Or put another way:

Every $1 spent = one penny reward back to you.

In a world where various loyalty programs offer a myriad of point value schemes – often masking the true value of a point – it’s refreshing to be able to quickly convert spending into hard currency without having to bring out a calculator to discover that a million points is equivalent to a fraction of a penny.

Related: When A Travel Rewards Card Is Worth It – And When It Isn’t

So what’s in it for you?

Those points can be redeemed anywhere President’s Choice products are sold. And thankfully they made the point values across the three cards and conversion easy to understand…

As simple as one, two, three, in fact.

  • Base Mastercard: $1 spent = one penny = 1%
  • World Mastercard: $1 spent = two pennies = 2% (PC affiliated brands only)
  • World Elite Mastercard: $1 spent = three pennies = 3% (PC affiliated brands only)

It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Check out below for what you might be able to redeem them for across the three card options.

Annual Spend World Elite Mastercard World Mastercard Mastercard
Points 3% Value Points 2% Value Points 1% Value
$12,000 360,000 $360 240,000 $240 120,000 $120
$24,000 720,000 $720 480,000 $480 240,000 $240
$36,000 1,080,000 $1,080 720000 $720 360,000 $360

At a base level, a monthly spend of $1,000 totalling $12,000 a year could earn you $120 in PC points. Not bad. But nothing to get excited about either.

That same minimum spend could earn you $360 if you qualify at the 3% reward level. Obviously higher rewards are possible, but keep in mind:

That the 2-3% reward levels are only applicable on purchases made at stores where President’s Choice products are sold.

I don’t know anyone who spends $24,000 a year on groceries. And even though you can buy clothing, toys and other household items at many Real Canadian Superstore outlets – it would probably be a stretch for many Canadians to reach those upper point value accumulations.

Income and spending

Like other competing cards, the President’s Choice Financial Mastercards offer bigger rewards for higher incomes or spending.

And while the average Canadian might have difficulty meeting the personal income or household income threshold – the minimum annual spend of $15,000 needed to qualify for the World Mastercard is not out of reach to get upgraded to the 2% PC points redemption level.

Requirements World Elite Mastercard World Mastercard Mastercard
Minimum personal income OR $80,000 $60,000 None
Household income OR $150,000 $100,000 None
Minimum annual spend $25,000 $15,000 None

Additional benefits

The bonus points are nice but the higher level cards also offer a few additional features as noted below.

The one I like best is the free additional cards.

Where other card companies charge you for additional cards – PC Financial gives you up to four free ones automatically – all of which link back to your points and can quickly generate the required spending.

Benefits World Elite Mastercard World Mastercard Mastercard
Emergency replacement card or cash advance Y Y Y
Up to 4 free additional cards Y Y Y
Free Purchase Assurance in case of theft, loss or damage in the first 90 days Y Y Y
Free Extended Warranty doubling the manufacturer’s regular warranty for up to an additional year Y Y Y
24/7 Concierge Y Y
Travel emergency medical insurance Y
Car rental collision/loss damage waiver insurance Y
Identity Theft Assistance Service Y
Plus a $150 travel bonus.
Only 200 gift cards left.

Are PC Financial Mastercards worth it?

It depends.

On the surface the potential points accumulation at the 2-3% levels looks good.

Indeed it is good.

But you have to remind yourself you can only get those points if your purchases are made at a participating store offering PC products. If it’s not, then you’re earning the base 1% only.

Which is fine for a no fee credit card. But achieving the top end rewards is unrealistic unless you’re an ultra loyal President’s Choice products shopper and can double dip at Shoppers/Esso/etc. in order to hit that 2-3% redemption mark.

So keep it as a backup no fee card that rewards you a simple and free 1% reward but look elsewhere for your primary card.

PC Financial credit card alternatives

If you’re shopping for a primary credit card and want to max your rewards when buying non-PC products, these 3 cards are solid alternatives.

MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard

The MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard is one to consider if you spend around $500 on your gas and groceries monthly.

This card will give you:

  • 5% cash back on all gas and grocery purchases (up to $500 spent in your first 6 months),
  • 2% cash back on all gas and grocery purchases (up to $500 spent monthly), and…
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

While it does have an annual fee of $39 a month, it comes with credit card concierge service, and 8 different types of travel and purchase insurance (including price protection – a rare credit card insurance coverage).

However, if you do not have the $60K income to qualify for the above card and you want $0 annual fee ‒ then the MBNA Smart Cash Mastercard could be a better fit.

The insurance isn’t quite as comprehensive (though still decent for a no fee card) and there is no concierge included, but you’ll still be raking in some cold hard cash.

  • 5% cash back on all gas and grocery purchases (up to $500 spent in your first 6 months),
  • 2% cash back on all gas and grocery purchases (up to $500 spent monthly), and…
  • 0.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card lets you choose 3 categories where you can earn 2% cash back – 0.5% on all other purchases.

The good news? You’re not tied down with the 3 categories for life: you have the flexibility to change your top 3 categories are your spending habits change. It’s the only credit card in Canada that lets you do that.

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite has a $99 annual fee, but it can’t be ignored right off the bat – and here’s why:

  • You get 4% cash back on groceries and gas all the time – can’t be beat if you have a large family and a minivan.
  • And as for other purchases? You get a generous 2% return on spending on recurring bills and drugstore purchases and a still good 1% on all other purchases.
  • Plus, you’ll earn 10% cash back on everything you spend in the first 3 months (up to $2,000 spent.)
  • You get 9 types of insurance coverage that includes extended warranty, purchase protection, travel accident, emergency medical, trip interruptions and more.
  • And the kicker? The annual fee is waived for the first year.

Not convinced? Read this detailed review.