A lot changed three months ago when 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 are merging their points programs they’re now calling 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:
- 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|
|Points on in-store purchases||30||20||10|
|Points on Shoppers Drug Mart purchases||30||20||10|
|Points on Esso purchases||3||2||2|
|Points on purchases at PC Travel||30||20||10|
|Points on purchases at PC Mobile||30||20||10|
|Points on purchases everywhere else||10||10||10|
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.
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|
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|
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|
|Travel emergency medical insurance||Y|
|Car rental collision/loss damage waiver insurance||Y|
|Identity Theft Assistance Service||Y|
Are PC Financial Mastercards worth it?
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.
Note: President’s Choice typically offers a small 20,000 PC point signup bonus for new customers. Apply between September 1 to November 30 and get an additional 10,000 points after the first purchase for a $30 bonus.
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 Rewards Mastercard
The MBNA Rewards Mastercard has no annual fee, a straight-up 1% return on spending on anything you you buy. Not only that, you have options on how to redeem your rewards:
- direct deposit,
- statement credit,
- merchandise rewards,
- charity, and even…
Then there’s that 5K sign-up bonus points and 7 types of insurance coverage (including 90 days of purchase protection, 1 year extended warranty, $1M travel accident, $200K for rental car accident and more).
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 a 5% cash back on ALL your purchases (capped at $300) for the first 3 months.
- Then 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.
- 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.