How to get the most out of your points before the PC Optimum launch

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As the Feb. 1 launch date for Loblaw’s new loyalty rewards program PC Optimum approaches, some points collectors may be wondering how to maximize the value of their accumulated points.

In November, Loblaw announced the merger of the Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus points programs into one that can be collected and redeemed at participating Loblaw’s locations including Shoppers Drug Mart, Pharmaprix, Loblaws, and No Frills. When the switch to the new PC Optimum program happens in February, the company says its customers’ existing points will automatically transfer at their “full value,” or the amount they were worth under the existing program.

CTVNews.ca talks to a loyalty program expert to find out if the transition will be as seamless as promised and whether consumers should be storming the nearest Shoppers Drug Mart to redeem their points before February.

According to the PC Optimum website, any current PC Plus points will be carried over to the PC Optimum program at a ratio of 1:1, which means 10,000 PC Plus points will become 10,000 PC Optimum points.

While that’s quite simple, the conversion rate for the Shoppers Optimum program is a bit more complicated.

For Shoppers Optimum users:

Patrick Sojka, founder of RewardsCanada.ca, told CTVNews.ca that Shoppers Drug Mart customers who prefer to accumulate a lot of points to redeem at a higher reward level will be earning less, relatively, if their collecting habits stay the same under the new PC Optimum program.

On the other hand, less prolific points-collectors will get more value for the points they collect under the new program.

That’s because, for Shoppers Optimum members who have only collected the minimum 8,000 points required for redemption, the conversion rate is 1.25, or 0.125 cents for every dollar spent.

Collectors at the highest reward level of 95,000 points or more will have their points converted at a rate of 1.79, or 0.179 cents for every dollar spent.

Under the new PC Optimum program, Loblaw promises a simpler process with just one conversion rate for all reward levels: all collectors will get 15 points for every $1 spent on eligible products, or 0.15 cents for every dollar.

So shoppers who typically just collect the minimum 8,000 Optimum Points before redeeming them for $10 worth of products at the checkout, will benefit under the new program because their points will be worth 0.15 cents each after the switch, compared with 0.12 cents now.

On the other hand, customers who prefer to stockpile points to redeem them at the highest reward level may not fare as well because the points they’re collecting now are worth 0.17 cents each, while points collected after the switch will be worth 0.15 cents each.

How to maximize your points:

But Sojka says that doesn’t mean people with a big Shoppers Optimum points balance should rush out to redeem it before Feb. 1.

“What I’ve been encouraging them to do right now is to try and earn as many points as possible because those points will retain their value,” Sojka told CTVNews.ca. For collectors with balances in the highest rewards bracket, points acquired until the end of January will still be converted at the more favourable 1.79 conversion rate.

For maximized benefits, Sojka advises Shopper Drug Mart customers stocking up on points this month and after Feb. 1 to take advantage of the retailer’s bonus points events, weekly specials and personalized deals.

Consumers can check how much their Shoppers Optimum points are worth in the new system on a calculator offered on the PC Optimum website.