Sunday, May 15, 2011

Shoppers Optimum: how to "optimize" your savings!

I'm a big fan of points programs. Why not get back money or free stuff on purchases you were going to make anyway? That said, some points programs offer such paltry rewards that there's almost no point in being a member. But at the opposite end of the spectrum, other programs offer you the opportunity to REALLY work some serious rewards. Shoppers Optimum is one of them.

For my non-Canadian readers, Shoppers Optimum is the loyalty program offered by Shoppers Drug Mart, the number one provider of pharmacy products & services in Canada. So this post won't be directly applicable to you, though you may generalize some of my tips below to programs available to you.

The day-to-day earnings offered in the program are nothing to write home about. You get 10 points for every dollar spent and redeem them at a rate of between $1 and $2 for every $100 spent. However, if you work the frequent special event days, you can redeem points at $30-40+ for every $100 spent. That's pretty win. I first signed up to the Optimum program about 6 years ago, and I've redeemed at least $600 worth of free products since then by shopping on point event days.

Since I started workin' this program, I've come up with the following guidelines to optimize savings - in other words, not just rack up and redeem a plethora of points, but do so in a sensible fashion and acquire only those items that I truly want or need:
  • First and foremost, shop only on major point event days, assuming it makes practical sense to do so. There are two main types of point events: earning events and redemption (or "Spent Your Points") events.

    • Earning events either offer you a multiplier (e.g., 20x the points) or a set amount (e.g., earn 10,000 points) and always have a minimum purchase amount (e.g., $50). The best earning events are 20x the points on almost everything in the store, or a set amount of points which works out to 20x the points or better if you spend exactly the minimum purchase amount. For example, a recent event allowed you to earn 18,500 points for spending $75 or more. Spending exactly $75 worked out to almost 25x the points, which is the best earning event I've seen! (So yup, I worked that bad boy.) Shoppers will offer other earning events, but don't fall for them. Shop the 20x (or more) earning events ONLY!
    • Redemption events allow you to redeem points for more than the standard saving level amounts For example, another recent event offered the option to redeem 50,000 points for $100, which is $15 more than the standard savings of $85 at this level. These events usually require you to spend a large number of points at once. All redemption events are good, however occasionally Shoppers will offer an extra $10 or $15; keep your eye out for these!

  • Sign up for the Shoppers Optimum mailing list. This will keep you posted on when major point and redemption events are coming and also notify you of secret events (i.e. earning or redemption events which are not publicized.)

  • Keep a running list of products you need (or would be good to stock up on). You want to ensure that each time you go on a Shoppers' spree, you're purchasing items you really want or need. If you routinely end up grabbing miscellaneous items to meet a required threshold, you're essentially cancelling out your savings. This is an important point and requires organization and self-restraint!! It's easy to convince yourself in the moment that you'll use that peppermint foot scrub that's also 50% off, but in practice it'll probably sit in your cupboard until it goes bad. If you need to buy something else to meet a level, stock up on an item you regularly use.

  • If you're not brand picky, get the things you need on special. Specials stack with point events, and Shoppers always has great deals (often 40-50% off or more).

  • If you're shopping during an event which involves earning or redeeming for a set number of points, keep a mental calculation of how much you're spending as you shop. You want to just *barely* exceed the level, as additional money spent above the level does not earn or redeem additional points.

  • Higher redemption levels offer better bang for the buck. However, only redeem at a higher level if you can readily spend that amount on items you need or want.

  • Finally, if an event comes up and you don't need anything (or much of anything), IGNORE IT! Otherwise you end up with stuff you don't need or want, or you end up hoarding an excessive amount of products taking up space waiting to be used.

I hope this was helpful! If you have any other tips (for Shoppers Optimum in particular, or points programs in general) feel free to comment!


  1. Great tips, thanks! I used to have a Shopper's Optimum Visa (back before they switched to MC) and I racked up the points on it! I don't get points nearly as quickly now, but I find that they do still add up, even with just day-to-day shopping.

  2. @Nikki - NP! I use my PC Mastercard for most purchases and that adds up quickly too. Just had a free $90 grocery bill tonight which was nice! My PC card also stacks with Optimum (and other programs) so I get a li'l back on there when I'm getting a LOT back through Shoppers directly. Yay for free stuff! :)

  3. Hi! It sounds like this program is wonderful, too bad I do not live in Canada!

    Thanks for linking up with Super Stalker Sunday hop and putting our button on your blog. There are so many wonderful blogs participating, I hope you've found a few that you enjoy. Be sure to join us again next week!

    Emily from Nap Time Is My Time