Value of points

In our consumer market right now, the trend is to reward consumers for buying. Point cards, reward programs, it amounts to the same: the more you spend, the more rewards you get. But how much reward do you get?

I’m thinking of buying an Ipad and I was wondering how my points can help. I am currently subscribed to Areoplan, Airmiles, Hbc rewards, Rbc rewards and Sears points. I’ve barely shopped at Sears, so lets forget that one. What can I get from the others?

  • Areoplan: It’s a new card, have one flight on it, Montreal-HongKong, worth about 2000$. I can cash in the card for 100$ at Futureshop.
  • Airmiles: Owned the card for several years, used it religiously on every purchase I could, and even some of my friends purchases. I’ve got enough points for a 50$ card at iTunes.
  • Hbc Rewards: Had the card for years, but I don’t shop at Hbc or Zellers often. However, everytime I do, I pull out the credit card/point card combo for max points. I can get a 25$ iTunes card.
  • Rbc Rewards: Had the card for only a few months, but I had to make several big purchases on it. I can get an impressive 50$ at Futureshop.

So pooling all my points, I can get 75$ at iTunes, and 150$ at Futureshop. This should help the iPad purchase pretty well. However, after such a careful study of all these reward systems, which is the best?

None of them is a clean winner. I can say that I’m impressed on the return rate of the Aeroplan card. Only one flight gets me a 100$ gift card, that’s almost a return rate of 5%. Airmiles is disappointing, but it always was. You need to purchase stuff in increments of 20$ and you’re limited in the places that give points. I’m sure Aeroplan suffers from the same limitation, it just has a higher return rate. Hbc rewards aren’t very rewarding, unless you’re a heavy consumer at La Baie or Zellers. My favorite has to be the Rbc rewards, you get points for everything you buy and the return rate seems around 0.5%. Not incredible, but a nice surprise at the end of the year.

There seems to be a lot of programs allowing you to convert points from one system to another. My advice is DON’T. You’ll always lose a lot of point value. For example, converting Hbc points to Airmiles loses you about 50% purchasing power. Avoid point conversion programs like the plague.

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About Alexandre Denault

Veteran software developer and holds a PhD in Computer Science. Avid computer enthusiast (geek) who has been dabbling with technology ever since his Dad brought home an 8086 computer.