Now that the school year is well underway, many students across the country are realizing what it’s like to “adult.”

And let me tell you – the struggle is real. And not just for students.

Adulting life is often cash-strapped, and as a result, it’s important to save money whenever possible.

Walking to class instead of paying for gas, ramen noodles instead of 5-star dining, and sharing a 1 bedroom apartment with several other people are all things that students have done to save a buck.

But what about customer loyalty programs?

There are many loyalty programs that provide students with valuable perks and rewards, as well as discounts that can definitely help with the bottom line.

Here are some of the best programs every student should consider joining:

1. Student Price Card (SPC)

The Student Price Card, aka SPC, is a Canadian loyalty program that is exclusive to students.

This card gives members various perks and up to 20% off at over 450 partners (in-store & online).

You’ll get access to valuable discounts on:

  • merchandise,
  • food,
  • travel, and
  • other services.

Here are a few of the places that accept SPC, just so you can get an idea:

SPC Discount Locations

Who can get an SPC Card?

Students of any age can get an SPC Card.

However, if you’re 16 or older, you may be asked to show valid student ID in order to be eligible to get the discounts.

Does the SPC card cost money?

Unfortunately, yes.

This card will cost you $10+tax every school year (from Aug 1st to July 31st). You can purchase your membership either online or at participating retailers.

I know… Why am I telling you to spend money in an article about saving money?

But if you do a lot of shopping at SPC partner locations, this could be the best $10 you spend all year.

Related: Why Every Student Needs An SPC Card

Is there a way to get an SPC membership for free?

Why, yes there is!

BMO actually offers 2 ways for you to score an SPC membership for free.

BMO student banking

If you’re a full-time student, BMO provides no-fee student banking, which includes a free annual SPC membership.

Plus, you’re given access to BMO Extra Deals within the SPC Card App.

BMO student credit cards

Credit cards can be a little scary, especially if you’ve never had one before, but there are plenty of pros to carrying this little piece of plastic around with you.

BMO also offers two different no annual fee credit cards that will give you your SPC membership for free.

Both their SPC AIR MILES Mastercard and their SPC Cash Back Mastercard will give you:

Both cards are great options if you’re itching to take that next step into responsible “adulting.”

You just need to make sure you don’t make any common credit card mistakes, and decide whether you want cash back or travel rewards.

Find out more details here:

Offer ends on October 31st, 2018.

2. AIR MILES

AIR MILES reward miles can be collected at more than 120 partner stores, as well as 140 online partners.

These partners include retailers who cover a nice wide range of services, including:

  • merchandise,
  • food,
  • travel,
  • financial services, and
  • many other services.

With this loyalty program, you can have 1 of 2 different account types: Cash Rewards or Dream Rewards.

While Cash Rewards are easier to redeem, the Dream Rewards can provide much better value if you redeem them for travel.

You just need to choose the reward account that suits you best. And if you can’t decide, you can go for a mix of the 2.

You can also change your rewards option at any time. However, once the AIR MILES have been deposited, you can’t transfer them from one rewards account to another.

How can AIR MILES rewards be redeemed?

Once you start stacking up some rewards, you’ll be able to redeem them in ways specific to the program you chose.

Cash Rewards

Cash Rewards can be redeemed in 2 different ways:

  • 95 AIR MILES for an instant $10 off your in-store purchase at participating reward partner locations, or
  • you can redeem AIR MILES online for eVouchers or eGift Cards.

Dream Rewards

Dream Rewards can be redeemed for quite a few more things:

  • travel (flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, vacation packages and more),
  • merchandise,
  • events & attractions, or
  • Dream sweepstakes.

Is there a cost to signing up for AIR MILES?

Nope, it’s a completely free loyalty program.

Not every store gives out AIR MILES though, so earning them isn’t always easy.

Is there a way to earn AIR MILES everywhere I shop?

There sure is!

Simply by adding an AIR MILES co-branded credit card to your wallet, you’ll be able to earn miles every time you make a purchase.

This makes the even more appealing. SPC and AIR MILES? Yes, please!

3. SCENE points

SCENE is the perfect loyalty program for movie buffs.

These points can be earned mainly at Cineplex, but there are a number of other ways you can rack up these rewards, including:

  • banking with Scotiabank,
  • eating out at CARA restaurants

But also through: Carrot Rewards, Fanxchange, or The Rec Room.

How can I earn SCENE points at the movies?

Earn SCENE points on your movie ticket, digital downloads from Cineplex.ca, and on food or drinks purchases at Cineplex.

You can also save an extra 10% on the already discounted Tuesday movie tickets just for being a SCENE member.

Which restaurants will give me SCENE points?

There are a good number of restaurants that give you SCENE points when you eat there:

SCENE Dining Partners

How will Scotiabank help me earn SCENE points?

Scotiabank has a number of ways to help you earn your SCENE points faster.

You could sign up for a Scotiabank SCENE debit account, get a prepaid reloadable SCENE visa card, or you could apply for the or the .

These cards have no annual fee and will give you SCENE points everywhere you shop – not just at the locations mentioned above!

How do I redeem SCENE points?

SCENE points can be redeemed a few different ways.

Reward Number of points needed
Cineplex general admission movie 1,000 points
Cineplex premium movie admission 1,500 points
Cineplex.ca digital download 1,000 points = $10 discount
Cineplex concessions 500 points = $5 discount
Food at one of the above-mentioned restaurants 1,000 points = $10 discount

Be sure to check out all the ways you can redeem your rewards here.

Is SCENE a free program?

Yes, there’s no cost to joining this program.

You can easily join online and before you know it, you’ll be sitting in front of the big screen, eating buttery popcorn, and earning free movies along the way.

Related: How To Earn SCENE Points Fast Using The Scotiabank SCENE Visa

4. Grocery Rewards

Who can pass up free food?

Not many people I know.

Thankfully, rewards can be earned and redeemed at many grocery stores.

If you’re getting tired of ramen and peanut butter sandwiches, there are grocery reward programs that could help you out.

PC Optimum

A favourite among Canadians, these points may be earned at all Loblaw banner grocery stores and Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix locations.

That means if you shop at any of these locations, PC Optimum has you covered:

PC Optimum Partners

How are PC Optimum points redeemed?

10,000 PC Optimum points can be redeemed for up to $10 worth of free stuff at any participating store (even online).

Plus, you can save your points for up to a maximum of $500 off any one purchase.

So whether it’s groceries, cosmetics, or household products, you have lots of options for spending your points.

Related: 3 PC Financial Mastercards Reviewed and Compared

5. Restaurant Rewards

As much as students complain about being poor, they still eat out an awful lot.

Don’t worry though, there are restaurant reward programs that will help stretch your limited dollars.

Here are a few of the most popular restaurant rewards programs:

Restaurant Reward Program
Papa John’s Pizza Papa Rewards
Domino’s Pizza Piece of the Pie Rewards
Quiznos Toasty Points
Subway Subway MyWay Rewards
McDonald’s McCafe Rewards
Second Cup Coffee Co. Second Cup Rewards
Starbucks My Starbucks Rewards

6. Gas Rewards

Nobody should pass up earning rewards for gas purchases.

Thankfully, there are a number of gas reward programs in Canada which are free to join.

Some of these programs are specific to a particular fuel company, while others utilize more common rewards programs.

There are also some programs that run regular promotions offering bonus points for things like AIR MILES, or even offer a bonus when paying with particular credit/debit cards.

Below is a summary of popular gas rewards programs as of October 2018.

Gas Station How to Earn Rewards
Petro Canada * Collect 10 points for every litre of fuel purchased and 10 points for every dollar spent in-store or on a car wash.
* Every 1,000 Petro-Points = $1 off fuel, in-store purchases, or car washes.
ESSO * PC Optimum members can earn 10 points per litre on fuel, and 10 points per dollar on eligible convenience store or car wash services at Esso.
* Esso Extra: Earn 1 or more points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases at Esso.
Irving * Earn 1 AIR MILES reward mile for every 20 litres of any grade fuel purchased in a single transaction at participating Irving locations.
Shell * Earn 1 AIR MILES Reward Mile on a 15-litre fuel purchase in a single transaction.
* Earn 1 AIR MILES Reward Mile for every $10 spent on eligible products in participating locations for a maximum of 10 reward miles.
Ultramar (Atlantic Canada only) * On any single fuel purchase instantly save 1 cent/L on the first 25 litres, and 2 cents/L on the next 10 litres.
* Instantly save 3 cents/L for the remaining purchase and an extra 1 cent/liter if purchasing supreme fuel.

7. Travel Rewards

For students who have further to travel, are filled with wanderlust, or just want to head somewhere fun for spring break, there are many ways to earn travel rewards.

Aeroplan, for instance, is a popular rewards program among Canadians, despite the on-again and off-again relationship they’ve been having with Air Canada.

If Aeroplan’s uncertainty doesn’t seem appealing to you, there are at least 7 alternatives that we can think of.

There are even ways you could potentially travel for free… without having to mooch off the parents.

Related: The Best No Fee Travel Sign Up Bonus Available Now

8. Credit Card Rewards

Last, but not least, credit cards can provide:

Many banks offer credit cards marketed specifically for students and often have relaxed qualification criteria for those with new credit and low incomes.

Just because you’re a student, though, doesn’t mean you have to take any old card you can get.

Premium credit cards with better rewards and benefits, on the other hand, are typically restricted to those with higher incomes.

Just be sure to do your research and find the card that suits you best.

Let us know what you think

Do you regularly use any of these rewards programs?

Do you have any other money saving programs or apps you can share with our readers?

We would love to hear from you in the comments below.