Tim Hortons new rewards program launched in March 2019 and was a (somewhat) smashing success.

There are currently 8 million members of Tim Hortons loyalty program, all earning free rewards on something that for many is purchased everyday. Getting a free coffee after 7 purchases can offer some great savings for the Tims lover.

And not even a year after its launch, Tim Hortons is refreshing its program, making it even better than before.

How do Tims Rewards work?

First, in order to start earning rewards, you have to get a reusable loyalty card or download the Tim Hortons app on your phone.

On every eligible purchase, you’ll earn 10 points. An eligible purchase is defined as one that is at least 50 cents, and made at least 30 minutes later than your previous purchase.

So what can you use your points for? Here’s the full list:

  • 50 points: hash browns, classic and specialty donuts, cookies,
  • 70 points: brewed coffee or tea, fream donuts, bagels and other baked goods,
  • 100 points: hot chocolate, french vanilla, iced coffee, potato wedges,
  • 140 points: iced cappuccino, frozen beverages, espresso drinks, box of 10 Timbits, yogurt, oatmeal,
  • 180 points: breakfast sandwiches, soups, and
  • 220 points: BELT, farmers breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, chili.

You can take the easy route, and after every 5th purchase treat yourself to a donut or cookie.

Or, save up for a lunch sandwich or farmers breakfast sandwich. The choice is yours.

It’s more flexible than the current system, where after 7 eligible purchases, you would get a free coffee, tea, or baked good (not including bagels), whether you wanted a free one or not. And while the most eligible expensive item was always your free item, depending on your exact order you may have wanted to wait to redeem.

Now, you can save up for a more expensive item, or get a free item after only 5 purchases. The choice is yours. And a free coffee is still only 7 purchases away.

However, you have to choose in advance what item you want for free. And, you don’t get to decide when you want to redeem your reward – your rewards are automatically applied when you purchase the item and have enough points to get the item for free.

If you don’t choose which rewards you want, you’ll automatically get a free item in the 70 point category.

You’re able to have up to 20,000 points in your account at once (though how you’re able to turn off the automatic redemptions is still to be seen).

Is it better than McDonald’s and Starbucks?

How do Tims Rewards compare to the competition? Let’s take a look at how the loyalty programs for other major Canadian coffee chains work.

Here’s a summary of how Tims Rewards compares to other coffee rewards programs:

Coffee Reward Programs Minimum spend for 1 reward
Tims Rewards $2.50 (5 purchases of at least $0.50)
McDonald’s McCafe $4.73 (7 purchases of at least $1.35 to get 2 medium coffees)
Starbucks Rewards $62.50 (150 Stars)
Second Cup Rewards $50 (500 points)

Tims Rewards vs. McDonald’s McCafe

McDonald’s runs a similar program. When you purchase any 7 hot beverages, you get one medium beverage for free.

This works by peeling the McCafe Rewards card off your coffee cup. Each cup also has a sticker on it, which you peel off and add to your rewards card. You can also download the McDonald’s app and collect your stickers electronically.

Once you have 7 stickers collected, a free medium hot beverage of any kind awaits you.

Bonus: You can double dip your rewards – collect the stickers and scan the app and you’ll get 2 free medium coffees after 7 purchases.

However, even with the option to double dip, you’re still spending more compared to Tim Hortons.

Winner: Tim Hortons

Tims Rewards vs. Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks Rewards operates more like a traditional loyalty program: earn 2 stars for every $1 you spend with your registered card.

Once you have collected 300 stars, you’ll be a Gold Level member. As a Gold Level member, you need 125 stars to redeem for one free food or drink item, or after spending $62.50.

Compared to Tim Hortons and McDonald’s, this isn’t nearly as good. These 2 chains would only require you to spend roughly $14 to get a free beverage (assuming each coffee is $2 on average). If you only spend $0.50 per purchase at Tims, you’ll get a free reward with only $2.50 spent.

So, while it’s not as easy to earn free rewards, Starbucks Rewards has other perks that the 2 other programs don’t have:

  • free coffee and tea refills on same-visit orders, and
  • a free treat on your birthday.

Winner: Tim Hortons

Tims Rewards vs. Second Cup Coffee Rewards

Second Cup also offers its own rewards program. For every $1 you spend, you will earn 10 points. 500 points will get you a free beverage of your choice.

To get your free beverage, you’d have to spend $50. An improvement from Starbucks, but still not as lucrative as the lower-end coffee chain rewards programs.

However, you’ll get access to exclusive bonus offers and be among the first to hear about product launches and events.

Winner: Tim Hortons

Credit cards to maximize your return

The best way to maximize your return? Adding a credit card that offers bonuses on restaurant purchases will give you even more rewards for your coffee and snacks.

A great feature of each of these cards is they all have no minimum income requirements.

Related: Score Free Amazon Gift Cards: 9 Easy Ways

American Express Cobalt Card

If you’re looking for the MOST rewards for any restaurant spend, the will do just that. (And yes, Tim Hortons does accept Amex cards.)

Earn 5 points for every $1 you spend on restaurants and groceries.

With each point being worth upwards of 1.75 cents when redeemed for flights using the Fixed Points Travel program, that’s up to an 8.75% return on your food purchases – unparalleled by any other credit card on the market right now.

Get the full details here:

Scotiabank Gold American Express

Another American Express card, the will also offer plenty of points for your tasty treats – earn 5 points per $1 spent on your restaurant, grocery, and entertainment purchases.

With each point being worth 1 cent when redeemed for any type of travel purchase, that’s a 5% return on three different categories.

Get the full details here:

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard

The will let you earn 2 points per $1 spent on restaurants, groceries & gas, on up to $5,000 spent per year on each category (you earn one point after that).

With each point worth 1 cent when redeemed for any travel purchase through MBNA Rewards, you’re getting a 2% return on 3 different categories.

If you’re looking for travel rewards, and don’t want the annual fee, this is the card you’ll want to consider:

Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard

Looking for a no fee option that earns cash back?

The will let you earn 2% cash back on all of your restaurant purchases if you make restaurants one of your 2 (or 3 if you have a Tangerine bank account) chosen spending categories.

Plus, you’ll get your cash rewards paid out to you every month, so you don’t have to wait to get your rewards.

Get the full details here:

Canadians are the winners today

With competition heating up in the coffee chain rewards over the past decade, Tim Hortons has upgraded its program, and made it more competitive than ever.

Tim Hortons is like a national icon for Canadians and, even though they’ve had some recent stumbles, this new rewards program is definitely a step back in the right direction.

If there’s one thing we know about Canadians: we love Tims and we love our rewards.

And those rewards now come quicker than ever.