One of the loyalty programs in Canada that I was the least familiar with is Choice Rewards.  When I recently discovered Choice Rewards, I thought it was a hotel rewards program.  That’s not the case at all.

Choice Rewards was started in 1996 by CUETS Financial, the largest issuer of MasterCard’s for credit unions in Canada with 375 credit unions across the country.  CUETS Financial is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MBNA Canada.

Earning Choice Rewards Points

The Choice Rewards program claims to be one of the easiest and most flexible loyalty programs in Canada.  Points can be collected with a Choice Rewards MasterCard account, a Choice Rewards Global Payment MasterCard or Member Card debit card.

Cardholders earn Choice Rewards points anytime and anywhere they make a qualifying purchase with their Choice Rewards MasterCard credit card ($1 = 1 point), Choice Rewards Global Payment MasterCard card ($1 = 1 point) or linked Member Card debit card (10 points for a purchase of $20 or more).

A maximum of 100,000 points per year can be earned using the Choice Rewards MasterCard or debit card options.

Earn Points Faster

Choice Rewards participating merchants can offer their customers additional points.  Retailers can set their own bonus point schedule: one point for every $2, $5, $10, or $15 spent.  Retailers can also issue bonus points per transaction or per dollars spent over a specific time period.  There are 100 participating merchants in Alberta alone.

Redeeming Choice Rewards Points

The Choice Rewards MasterCard offers a personalized points program that lets you choose the rewards that suit your tastes.

Travel

  • Air – Redeem your points for tickets on virtually any airline, international and domestic, and fly at anytime – with no blackout dates.
  • Packages – Choose from great hassle-free vacations from the world’s best tour partners.
  • Hotels – Use your points to plan the perfect weekend getaway at a golf/ski retreat at luxury properties around the globe.
  • Cars – Exclusive rental car options.
  • Deals & More – Exclusive deals available along with cruise options.

Merchandise

Shop the online merchandise catalogue and claim your rewards.  Redemption levels start at just 2,500 points.  Use your points to reward yourself with:

  • Brand name merchandise – Choose from hundreds of items, including gift certificates shipped free right to your door.
  • Charity Donations – Support two national charities, the Canadian Cancer Society and the United Way of Canada – Centraide Canada.

I usually prefer to redeem points for gift cards to get the most out of my rewards.  I checked out the Choice Rewards catalogue to see how far my points would take me.  They had the following options available for gift card rewards:

  • $100 Pottery Barn gift card – 10,830 points
  • $100 Ticket Master gift card – 11,725 points
  • $50 Apple iTunes gift card – 6,160 points
  • $50 Whole Foods Market gift card – 6,275 points
  • $50 Sears gift card – 6,275 points

Assuming you’re earning points at a 1:1 ratio, it would cost you just over $6,000 to earn a $50 gift card.

Compare that with Air Miles rewards, where it costs $20 to earn 1 Air Mile.  At that rate, you would need to spend $8,750 to earn a $50 gift card with the Air Miles program.  Of course, you can earn bonus Air Miles at participating merchants and can use an Air Miles credit card to earn rewards faster.

Final Thoughts on Choice Rewards

Choice Rewards is a pretty neat loyalty program for credit unions, but the earning potential is limited.  You can only accelerate your earnings by shopping at participating merchants who are offering bonus points.  Otherwise, cardholders are simply earning 1 point for every $1 spent.

The Choice Rewards catalogue offers a wide variety of merchandise and travel options, and the points actually go pretty far.

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