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PC Optimum Insiders Review: Are the Extra Perks Worth the Cost?

PC Optimum Insiders Review: Are the Extra Perks Worth the Cost?

PC Optimum has long been one of the top retail store loyalty programs in Canada. If you frequent any PC partner retailers, such as Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, and more, and you’re not a PC Optimum member, you’re missing out on some great savings.

If you’re already a PC Optimum member, you can increase your rewards even further by signing up for PC Optimum Insiders, an annual subscription program.

PC Optimum Insiders: Key Features

  • $119 plus taxes annually
  • 10% PC Optimum points on all PC products
  • 5% travel rewards on PC Travel bookings
  • Free shipping on online purchases from joefresh.com and shoppersdrugmart.ca
  • Free PC Express grocery pickup

What Is PC Optimum Insiders?

Formerly known as just PC Insiders, PC Optimum Insiders is a subscription-based loyalty rewards program that builds on the free PC Optimum platform. For $119/year plus taxes, you get a whole range of added benefits. The most notable might be the 10% back in PC Optimum points on all purchases of PC branded products. But that’s only the start.

Old vs. New PC Insiders

Aside from a slight tweak to the name, PC made a few other changes when they relaunched the program as PC Optimum Insiders in September 2020. If you were a member of the old program, here is a quick reminder of some of the fundamental changes:

PC Insiders - Old Program
PC Optimum Insiders - New Program
$99 Travel Credit (PC Travel) 5% points on PC Travel purchases
Annual Fee $99
Annual Fee $119
Annual giftFirst Year Welcome Gift
200 points on select PC products100 points on more than 12,000 PC products

How to Join PC Insiders

Becoming a PC Optimum Insider is easy if you’re already a PC Optimum member. Head to the PC Optimum website, scroll down on the homepage and select “Learn More” when you reach the Insiders section. From there, select “Subscribe Now”. You’ll need to enter your PC Optimum email and password. If you aren’t currently a PC Optimum member, select “Create a PCid” instead to create an account.

How Much Are PC Optimum Points Worth?

Loyalty rewards programs can often be confusing, with a complicated points system. One of the things I appreciate about PC Optimum is that they keep things simple, and easy to understand. With PC, 1000 points are worth $1, 5000 points equal $5, and so on and so on. Because you can only redeem in multiples of 10,000 points, it’s best to visualize it this way:

  • 10,000 points = $10
  • 20,000 points = $20
  • 30,000 points = $30
  • 40,000 points = $40
  • 50,000 points = $50

PC Optimum Insiders Benefits

Here’s what you get with a PC Optimum Insiders subscription. Afterward, I’ll share my thoughts on whether the program is worth the extra cost, and who I think it’s best suited for.

10% PC Optimum Point Bonus

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the program is that you get 10% back in PC Optimum points on all PC braided product purchases. If you spent $100/week on PC products, it equates to $520/year in additional PC Optimum points. Even a $25/week spend gets you $135 worth of points, which is enough to cover the cost of the annual subscription. Here is a list of stores where PC products are sold:

  • Real Canadian Superstore
  • Atlantic Superstore
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Loblaws
  • Zehrs
  • Valu-Mart
  • Extra Foods
  • Provigo
  • Maxi
  • Independent
  • Fortinos
  • Pharmaprix
  • No Frills
  • Wellwise
  • Bloor Street Market

Free PC Express Grocery Pickup

Regular shoppers pay up to $5 to arrange for grocery pickup through PC Express. As a PC Insider, you get this for free. Depending upon how often you shop for groceries, the savings on this perk alone can be significant.

Free Shipping

When you shop online at joefresh.com and shoppersdrugmart.ca, you get free shipping with no minimum purchase amount. Standard shipping is $8 for orders under $50 from both locations, making this a nice perk – if you’ll take advantage of it.

10% Back on Joe Fresh Products

In addition to the 10% on PC-branded product purchases, Optimum Insiders get 100 points on every dollar spent on clothing from Joe Fresh. Joe Fresh offers affordable fashion collections for the whole family. Their clothing is available in over 1400 retail locations.

5% in Points Booked Through PC Travel

PC Travel is a full-service travel agency that can accommodate bookings for flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages. Now, PC Optimum Insiders get 5% in PC Optimum points when they book travel through PC Travel. This is a huge benefit, and you can stack rewards if you book using a rewards credit card.

Other Benefits

Other benefits include a PC Products Welcome Box for first-year members, insightful content like recipes and cooking tips, an early look at new PC products and services, and dedicated member support.

Adding Up the PC Optimum Insiders Benefits

At the end of this article, I’ll give you my final thoughts on the PC Insiders program, but here’s a realistic example of how the benefits could add up for PC Optimum Insider members. Remember, the annual fee is $119 plus tax.

Let’s say you are a family of four. You do almost all of your grocery shopping at a PC retail partner, like a Loblaws or a Real Canadian Superstore. You do your main shop every second week, and you opt for the PC Express pickup. You also take at least one family vacation per year, which requires booking flights, hotels, and a car rental.

Grocery purchases

$50/week spent on PC products = $260 worth of PC points annually

Grocery pickup

26 times per year = Estimated savings of $78 (regular pickup fee is $3-$5)

Travel booking

Book $2000 of travel through PC Travel (conservative estimate) = $100 in PC Optimum points

Total estimated annual value = $438

In this example, the net benefit of becoming a PC Optimum Insider would be approximately $300, once you factor in taxes.

PC Financial Rewards Credit Cards

One of the best ways to accumulate PC Optimum points more quickly is by using a PC Financial Rewards Mastercard when you shop. Here is a brief overview of the three rewards credit cards offered by PC Financial, along with their PC Optimum earn rate:

PC Mastercard

The no-fee PC Mastercard isn’t a no-frills credit card. In addition to earning PC Optimum points, you Free Extended Warranty, Free Purchase Assurance, and access to Mastercard Global Service, which replaces your Mastercard and offers a cash advance in an emergency.

Type of Purchase PC Optimum (Points Per Dollar)

  • Grocery stores: 10
  • Shoppers Drug Mart: 25
  • Esso/Mobil: 30
  • PC Travel: 20
  • All other spending: 10

PC World Mastercard

The PC World Mastercard is a no-fee card that offers the same benefits as the PC Mastercard but adds a concierge service and a higher Optimum earn rate. A minimum annual income threshold is required to qualify for this card ($60,000 individual/$100,000 household).

Type of Purchase PC Optimum (Points Per Dollar)

  • Grocery stores: 20
  • Shoppers Drug Mart: 35
  • Esso/Mobil: 30
  • PC Travel: 20
  • All other spending: 10

PC World Elite Mastercard

The PC World Elite Mastercard is the flagship credit card offering from PC Financial. It’s still a no-fee card and has the same standard interest rate as the other two cards, 20.97% for purchases and 22.97% for cash advances. This card stands out in the PC points earn rate, which is higher in three spending categories.

Type of Purchase PC Optimum (Points Per Dollar)

  • Grocery stores: 30
  • Shoppers Drug Mart: 45
  • Esso/Mobil: 30
  • PC Travel: 30
  • All other spending: 10

If you combine any one of these cards with a PC Optimum Insiders subscription, you’ll multiply your earnings by stacking rewards every time you shop. Also, with no annual fee for the credit card, you only have to worry about the PC Insiders membership fee once per year.

Pros and Cons of PC Optimum Insiders

While we can forgive longtime PC Insider members for not feeling as enthusiastic about the changes made to the program, there is a lot to like about PC Optimum Insiders. You need to use the benefits to make the $119 annual fee worthwhile.

That means frequenting Joe Fresh and Shoppers Drug Mart, taking advantage of the PC Express service, and buying lots of PC branded products when you go grocery shopping. Being partial to PC Travel helps too. This pros and cons list should help summarize both the good and bad of PC Insiders.

Pros

  • 10% rewards on PC-brand grocery store purchases
  • Free PC Express pickup
  • 5% back on PC Travel spending
  • Ability to stack rewards using a PC Optimum credit card

Cons

  • Loss of valuable benefits for existing members (old PC Insiders program)
  • PC Travel website has limitations (there are better options)
  • Rewards are limited to PC retail partners

Final Thoughts on a PC Optimum Insiders Membership

As with any fee-based loyalty rewards program, PC Insiders is worth the $119 subscription fee as long as you take advantage of its main benefits: shopping for PC products, using the free grocery pickup via PC Express, free online shipping, and booking travel through PC travel. If you regularly use at least a couple of these services, it won’t take long to make your money back.

While some of the feedback around the program changes has been negative, I don’t see it so cut and dry. Yes, the subscription fee has increased, but you can benefit from the new program depending on where you spend your money. For example, if you regularly spend on travel (flights, hotels, car rentals, etc.), it won’t take long for the 5% bonus to outstrip the previous offering of a $99 PC Travel credit. A $5000 annual spend on travel will get you $250 in Optimum points, more than double the value.

The bottom line is that this program can be beneficial for people loyal to the PC brand. If you aren’t or don’t have a PC retail store near where you live, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

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