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What’s your point?

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So I finally got my Scene card replaced.

I lost it quite some time ago, and I always found it irritating that I had to make a phone call—rather than fill in on some kind of online form—to get it replaced. So I didn’t bother. I don’t really go to Cineplex theatres all that often. I don’t like them. They’re tacky and crowded. Most of their movies play either too early, or too late. (6:45 or 10:00? These are my choices?) After charging me too much, they play too many commercials and movies. (The “pre-show”, they call it. Ha!)

But, if you want to see 3D or big-scale epics—and I sometimes do—they’re the only game in town.

And it would niggle at me that I’d have to say “No” to the “Do you have a Scene card?” prompt. So, having formed the plan to see The Social Network this weekend (review soon, but in short, it was good) I made the phone call and a new card is on its way. So someday, I may earn a free movie. At the theatre I hate going to.

Apparently Canadians are world leaders in having and using loyalty cards. Why just shop, when you can shop and earn points?

In fact, points accumulation is our cornerstone of our family budget. We have a joint MBNA TravelRewards card, and we use it as much as possible. Because we have family in Timmins, and it’s far to drive there, but expensive to fly. But with this card, a mere 15,000 points gets you there by air, for only the cost of the taxes on the ticket. Yes, it has an $85 annual fee, but trust me, we save quite a bit more than that on each ticket. And yes, the interest rate on it is appalling, so it’s absolutely critical to pay it off in full each month. But so far, that’s not been a problem. And the points have also taken us to Boston and San Francisco.

But why stop there, eh? (That would hardly be Canadian.) So despite the resulting bulging wallet, I also carry:

  • Air Miles card. Though I get the majority of my Air Miles by paying my Primus phone bill, and few more from shopping online through their portal, I still carry the actual card around in case of stops at LCBO. Of course, I don’t use these points to travel—they accumulate far too slowly for that. Mostly, I cash them in for gift cards to Chapters or iTunes. Which take three weeks to arrive, and then you have to go through the bother of redeeming before you have any actual free stuff in hand. Kind of an exercise in patience, this card.
  • Shopper’s Optimum card. Because I do go to Shopper’s semi-regularly. I don’t have much strategy here. I usually just wait until it gets to $10 off, then cash that in the next time I spend at least $60 there. I have no idea if that’s a wise approach.
  • Club Sobey’s, because it’s the nearest grocery story to my house, and actually, points accumulate pretty fast on this puppy, at least if you spend as much on food as we seem to. Strategy here is to redeem $15 once it reaches $30 off. (Because it’s faster to get from $15 to $30 off again than to start from $0.)
  • Beat Goes on card. A retro card, matching the retro products they carry (physical CD, LPs, and DVDs): Made of paper, you get a stamp with each purchase; when it’s full, you get a free CD or DVD.

Then there’s all those stores who track your points for you, at the store, sans plastic. Meaning that I’m currently also accumulating points at:

Is that a lot? Am I a points queen, completely typical, or just a lightweight?

Apparently, I don’t see much of a downside to these reward programs. I did hear that those who are savvy about using points credit card (meaning they always pay them off, but also accumulate enough points to get rewards) have a slightly inflationary effect for everyone else who doesn’t do that. That is, prices rise slightly for all to helping pay for my rewards. Umm, sorry about that, I guess.

And yes, there probably are times I’ve selected a particular product or even store because I get points there. But I don’t think it’s out of control yet.

Then, finally, the whole privacy issue. But really, given how much Google, for example, knows about me, what’s the big deal about Sobeys Inc. knowing that I buy food? Or Air Miles thinking I’m a wino with a modest phone bill and occasional online shopping habit? And Cineplex? They must think I haven’t been to a movie there in three years, when the Social Network caused me to break my fast.

One thought on “What’s your point?

  1. I HATE all these points cards and such. The only one i bother with is Scene because i don’t have to do anything to get the points other than use my debit card, which i do all the time. We rarely go to the actual cinema to see a film, but at least when we choose to, we never have to pay to get in anymore! Jon gets Scene points too, so between the two of us, we have bazillions of points (slight exaggeration). I have an Air Miles card but never use it – i even say i don’t have one when asked at the LCBO even tho it’s right there in my wallet. The only other card i use is the Chapters Indigo rewards thingy. And that expires next month – not sure i’ll buy another one. I only got that one because they were having a special offer last year, with added discounts or something (and the card was half price). It would be nice to have a credit card that collected air miles, but we’re too indebted as is, plus the interest rates on our cards from Scotiabank are so great, i don’t want to switch, so meh.

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