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January 12, 2022

A truly rewarding loyalty card?

By James Havers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

We Canadians are a loyal lot. While other countries have only learned to embrace loyalty programs over the past 10 to 20 years, we've been stashing away our Canadian Tire money - the country's first foray into any kind of rewards program - since their inception in 1958.

That's not to say all rewards programs are created equally. Some people love Canadian Tire money. Others can't throw them away - or donate them - quickly enough. The same goes for programs like Air Miles, Aeroplan, HBC Rewards, Shoppers Drug Mart's Optimum card, Petro Canada's Petro Points, etc.

I've collected all of the above - and more. But for all the work dragging these cards around in my wallet and offering them up to cashiers whenever the opportunity arose, I can't say I've received a single thing for my efforts. For example, I've been accumulating Air Miles points for about five years now, and just received notice that for all that work I now have enough points for a free movie rental. Am I the only one that finds this a waste of time?

So it was with a hint of skepticism that I signed up for the SCENE card last summer. The pitch - a free movie after 10 visits and 10 per cent off concession purchases - won me over. As a movie lover suffering high ticket and concession prices mostly in silence, I really couldn't lose.

So after six months I've already scored a free movie (in a theatre, no less), along with ample discounted pop and popcorn.

That either says a lot for this card, or for the woeful state of the country's loyalty programs. You decide.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...