Just one week ago, I treated you all to my opinion of Canada’s best gas rewards program. Part 1 of the series focused on the big gas chains – companies like Esso, Petro Canada and Shell, among others. I wasn’t really impressed with many of the rewards, save one small chain. Do you want to go back and read the awesomeness? Then check out part 1.
It was a good post, possibly an epic post. Hell, it was quite possibly the greatest thing you’ve ever read. But it’s a good thing you stuck around for part 2, because this is where all the good deals are happening. It turns out that there are all sorts of grocery stores that also sell gas, and they give much better rewards that stand alone gas stations do. Ready to save some money, you cheap bastards? Of course you are.
For those of you unfamiliar with the whole Co-op concept, first a primer on the chain located mostly across the prairies, but also into western Ontario. Everyone buys a membership to the store, which makes them, in theory anyways, part owner. All the stores band together, using their collective buying power to get deals from suppliers. The store keeps track of your purchases, using your member number. Every year, you’re eligible to collect your percentage of the profits, based on how much you bought. My former boss at a competing grocery chain liked to compare the whole system to communism, even going as far as nicknaming them “the reds.”
But what about their rewards? I’m going to look at Calgary Co-op, since it’s the biggest group within the group. At first glance, the 5 cents per liter payback looks outstanding. But because it’s a dividend paid back to owners, it is a taxable benefit. Plus, it’s entirely up to the company what percentage of that payback they want to actually pay out, and what percentage they want to keep as retained earnings. Last year, Calgary Co-op actually paid out about 2.5 cents per liter. It’s a pretty good rewards program, but not outstanding.
There aren’t really that many Canadian Tires that sell gas, at least in my neck of the woods. There may be more down in the eastern part of Canada, but what do you expect, research?
Canadian Tire’s rewards program is basically divided into western and eastern parts of the country. Anywhere west of Kenora Ontario gets 5 cents per liter worth of Canadian Tire money, straight up. The only annoying part is actually having to handle Canadian Tire money. Meanwhile, anywhere east of Kenora they give you a base rate of approximately 0.4-0.5%, and then give out multiplier coupons either in the flyer or at the till in the main stores. 5x multiplier coupons are common, turning that piddly 0.5% reward into a respectable 2.5% reward. You can really ramp up the rewards if you use their credit card.
I should note, as is the case with all the big store rewards, (except Co-op, they give you a cheque) the rewards are only redeemable at the store that issues them, and never for more gas. So before you start filling up at Crappy Tire, ask yourself just how much you want a bunch of credit you can only spend there.
Does anyone else call it Crappy Tire, or is it just me? Comments, people!
Costco gives you nothing. And you have to pay a membership to get gas there. Sure, they have cheap gas, but no rewards makes Nelly sad. (I was going to add an emoticon there, just for kicks, but then I realized that every time a blogger uses one, a regular baby turns into a crack baby.)
Next up is Canada’s largest retailer and owner of the stores so nice they call them super, Loblaws. (Note: the stores are not actually very nice.)
Loblaws has a very straight forward gas rewards program, giving back anywhere from 3.5 cents (in rural locations) up to 7 cents (urban locations) per liter in Superbucks, redeemable in the store. If you can find a location that pays 7 cents per liter, you can accumulate some pretty decent rewards pretty quick. If you combine it with a PC Mastercard, you rewards will add up even faster. Even at 3.5 cents, this program is a winner, assuming you buy groceries. But not smokes.
Yeah, I know. 7-11 is probably better suited for part 1. I forgot it, okay? It’s not my fault there’s only like 8 across Canada that still sell gas. (Note: that last author’s estimate is wildly inaccurate) Anyhoo, they give back $1 in 7-11 cash for every 30L worth of gas. Meaning, with every 60L fill up, you could walk out of there with a large slurpee. It’s probably a good thing my 7-11 doesn’t have gas.
You can get some outstanding rewards for filling up at Safeway, assuming you become a member of their club program and you buy your groceries there. It’s free, so I’ll allow it.
If you don’t bother to buy your groceries at Safeway, you can still present your club card for a 3.5 cent per liter discount. The beauty of Safeway’s program is that your discount gets taken right off at the pump. If you have $100 worth of grocery purchases on the card, you can use them for an additional 3.5 cent discount. You can either use your discount at the time, or save it up to get a free tank.
Safeway is an expensive chain. They offer some good gas rewards though.
If you’re searching for rewards, you should be buying your gas at grocery stores. They give the best rewards, you’ll probably be going there anyway, and they usually have decent prices because they’re trying to use gas to draw you in. Safeway is a pretty good bet, so is Loblaws. There’s no Safeway in my town, so I guess I’m stuck getting approximately $3.50 in free groceries every week. Not bad for doing something I needed to do anyway.
Ah, who am I kidding? I’d probably spend it all on chips.