Shoppers Drug Mart/ Pharmaprix Optimum Program Review

Arguably the most popular rewards card program in Canada, the Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum Program has proved to be invaluable for me. I absolutely love it, even with the recent cutback from July 1, 2010 (in case you didn’t know, they increased the amount of points you would need to redeem the same amount of money- “less for more”).

With 1200 stores across Canada (and growing), I suppose the company needed to increase its bottom line what with the recent legislative changes to generic medications that came into effect. This cutback on points doesn’t really matter to me, since I’m a SC.TO holder and would like to see them increase their earnings and profit margin. I suppose it was about time, almost seemed like they were giving money away.

I love the Shoppers Optimum program, and not only because I’m a SC.TO shareholder.

Here’s how the Shoppers Optimum Program works:


The key to the Shoppers Optimum program’s success, in my opinion, is that it is so ridiculously easy to use.  None of this online redemption stuff, or having to wait for your reward in the mail etc.  just pure, unadulterated, instant gratification (something that us Generation Y’s are accustomed to).  You collect your points, and when you want to use them, you just tell the cashier.  That’s it.

Essentially, carrying that card around with you is pretty much like having cash for Shoppers Drug Mart. So don’t lose it :)

So how many points for one dollar?  You get 100 points for every dollar you spend.

Here’s how much you can redeem:

  • 8000 points gets you $10
  • 22,000 points gets you $30
  • 38,000 points gets you $60
  • 50,000 points gets you $80
  • 95,000 points gets you $170

Assuming that you only obtain points at a $1 to 100 points ratio, the return percentage is:

  • 8000 points= 1.25%
  • 22,000 points= 1.36%
  • 38,000 points= 1.58%
  • 50,000 points= 1.70%
  • 95,000 points= 1.79%

It makes sense to hoard your points until you reach the top two levels and then redeem them, otherwise you get less return on the money you spent.

Now, you might be thinking… What? I have to spent $9500 to get $95 worth of stuff at Shoppers?

Yes, you would if you didn’t take into account the bonus points and the 20x the points events and other promotions.  So with the basics in mind, let’s examine how we can obtain points on an almost exponential level.

20x the Points Event

  • The event seems to happen more often now that they have changed the redemption levels.  It used to be just every two months or even less frequently, but now it seems to be happening quite regularly, like almost every other week or at least monthly.
  • This event usually lasts for anywhere from 1-3 days, and usually falls on a weekend, like Saturday and Sunday and a holiday Monday.
  • You get 20x the points you would get normally.
  • Have to spend $50 usually to get the 20x the points.
  • Spending $50 before tax would equal 10,000 points.
  • If you do this 5 times ($250) you would accrue 50,000 points= $85 redemption
  • Hence, the % return will go from 1.70% to 34% you spend $250 and you get $85 back.
  • How sweet is that??

Tell a Friend Event

  • This can easily be the fastest and most spend-free way you can get points
  • If you sign up for their email notifications and newsletters, you often be “in” on the events, namely the Secret Points events (even the cashiers at Shoppers Drug Mart aren’t notified about these events!)
  • In the Secret Points Events, you register online and refer a few of your friends to refer their friends (pretty much like a very short pyramid scheme)
  • For each person that you refer and buys $20 worth of stuff through the link on your email, you get 5000 points (for a max of up to ten friends)
  • When you yourself buys $20 worth of stuff, you get 5000 points.
  • So if you spend $20 and you have lots of friends who like the Optimum Program as much as you do, you could potentially get 55,000 points just for having 10 friends that spend $20.
  • The potential return for this event (taking the 50,000 points redemption choice and if you referred 9 friends) would be 425% (if you spend $20 you get $85 back)
  • Sometimes they change the amount, like spend $30 you get 8000 points was the most recent promotion

Bonus Redemption Days

  • I usually hoard my points with the above two events and spend them when they advertise a bonus redemption day.
  • This promotion usually last a weekend as well, and is definitely not held simultaneously with the above two events (otherwise I think there would be complete pandemonium and chaos!)
  • You get more bang for your buck but would need to have enough points to be at the top two levels
  • If you redeem 50,000 points, instead of $85 you get $100 ($15 extra)
  • If you redeem 95,000 points, instead of $170 you get $200 ($30 extra)
  • These happen quite infrequently, like every 2-3 months.  The last one was in September and I think the one before that was in the summer.

MBNA Shoppers Optimum Mastercard

  • I already have a master card and I personally don’t think this card reaps that many benefits (extra 25 points doesn’t really cut it for me), so I would rather have a no fee travel reward card personally
  • You get 15000 points upon your first purchase
  • You get 25 extra points for every $1 you spend at Shoppers Drug Mart
  • They give you the option of picking your colour, from pastel blue, purple, green, red, lavender, or silver

Other Bonus Points and Tips

  • Sometimes they send you cards in the mail or advertise that if you bring your prescription over, you get get X number of points
  • If you have prescriptions and they are paid out by your extended health or by your provincial government anyway, fill them at Shoppers because then you can get free Shoppers money on behalf of your extended health or provincial government
  • edited 21/10/2010**** note**** Shoppers has expensive dispensing fees (what it costs you to have your pills filled from the pharmacist), so hopefully this does not negate the benefits.
  • They often have some bonus point offers in the form of coupons, or cut outs from their Glow beauty magazine e.g. if you buy Cover Girl mascara, you can get 2000 points
  • They have opened up a new boutique shop called Murale and you can redeem your points there too (has higher end cosmetics, similar to Sephora)

Other PF Bloggers Agree!

The Shoppers Optimum Program has been mentioned by a slew of other Canadian PF bloggers. Check out what they have to say too!

Okay that’s it for my mega post!

My Canadian readers, are you a huge fan of the Shoppers Optimum Points program like I am?  What’s your optimum points collecting pattern or technique?  Any tips you would like to share?

About

Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

53 Responses to Shoppers Drug Mart/ Pharmaprix Optimum Program Review

  1. Thanks very much for the mention, it is definitely appreciated!

    I worked very hard on putting together my guide to the Shoppers Optimum program but because of that it is a bit lengthy. It seems you have put together a very nice summary of the program in this blog post – nice work!

    I’m definitely a raving fan of the program like you are :)

    • @SavingMentor- You’re welcome SavingMentor. I could totally tell you worked hard at putting your guide together- it’s awesome- you deserve some recognition!

    • I’m A HUGE FAN of the Optimum card and Mastercard. We redeem the $170 a few times a year, and THIS WEEKEND we’re redeeming $170X2 (except we get the extra $30X2 so it’s $400 worth of Shoppers stuff.)

      We don’t go crazy – we buy stuff we need, and some fun stuff too. The points build up fast.

  2. Great review as always.

    I am not a member but is it easy to refer members.

    If not bounce me an email, and I will sign my wife and I up.

    You deserve some bonus points for a great post!

    • @Steve Zussino- I’m surprised you’re not a member! I don’t think you can get points off of just referring people to be members OUTSIDE of tell a friend events. But thanks for the offer anyway, very kind of you :) Hope I’ve inspired you and your wife to get in on the action!

    • @Jenn@Paying Myself- Thanks for sharing that- I had no idea. I assumed that it would be across all provinces. Ontario’s profit margins must be much larger compared to BC then.

  3. I definitely get in on the 20x and bonus redemption events.

    I didn’t know that they give points for prescriptions in other provinces! That would have been lovely.

    • @Taylor- Hello! Yeah, I know they do so here in BC, but I thought it was across the board! Too bad they don’t have it in all provinces.

  4. Thanks for the link to my post! Greatly appreciated :)

    I think if you buy on a 20x or 15x the points event, it’s worth it. Hoard up your purchases up to $50 worth on those days and rake in the cash.

    Otherwise, shopping there on a regular basis (unless you have the Mastercard or Visa that gives you Optimum points) is not really worth it.

    I get my points from PC Financial instead, to use on groceries…

  5. My wife loves the Shopper’s Optimum Card and used it to accumulate points almost as religiously as you seem too. Until we had a baby, and she doesn’t seem to make it over there as often.

    Now, like Fabulously Broke said, we shop at Superstore and collect PC Points with our PC Financial MasterCard. Same idea, you can redeem points at the checkout, and they have bonus points for certain items.

    Not as rich as the Shopper’s rewards program, but probably better value for money spent when you consider that Superstore is a full scale shopping centre in itself.

  6. I recently checked my Shoppers Optimum card balance and it’s currently, 36, 000. Which equals to around 50$. I was wondering can I literally buy something from the store without having to use any money at all? Can I just pay with the Shoppers Optimum Card?

    • @laura- yes you can! That’s the beauty of it. You can just say that you want to use your points. Though I would try and save up until you hit the $75 mark though. You get more bang for your buck that way. But you still have to pay for taxes though!

  7. One more benefit to having the Shoppers Optimum Credit Card is that on the 20x your points day, if you pay with your optimum credit card you get 25x your points.

    Last 20x points day I got 34,000 bonus points, plus 22,000 “credit card bonus points”

    I didn’t know this until the teller pointed it out to me.

    • @Camille- I didn’t know this too! They don’t even disclose that in their credit card information sign up page I think. That’s actually pretty damn awesome. So you got 56,000 bonus points already that day?? That’s a lot of points!

  8. Hi,

    Thank you VERY much for writing this insightful and informative review of the Shoppers Optimum points redemption and bonus points events. I was wondering, do they ever combine the two events, so that you have a bonus points AND bonus redemption at the same time?

    I have reached the top tier of the rewards, with 95 000 points, and I would like to buy a netbook (or other big ticket item). When’s the best time to redeem for it? During one of these events?

    Again thank you VERY much!!!

    Charles

    • @Charles- Thank you for reading Charles! No, I haven’t ever seen that they combined the two events. They’re being very innovative with their events, I must say, now they have “scratch” cards to see how many $ off you get from your $75 purchase.

      Yes, I would say the best best time to redeem it is during one of these events. You should keep an eye out for the flier. And make sure they carry the netbook all the time and not just seasonally (sometimes some stores have them and the smaller stores don’t).

  9. Excellent overview of the Shoppers Optimum card program!
    Although I do find overall prices higher than other discount chains,
    the program is very generous provided you shop mostly for items on sale during 10x / 20x points events.
    Not overly impressed with the “Spend Your Points” events given that fewer items seem to be on sale during these weekends and at price levels which I’ve seen discounted even lower during other non-redemption weeks.

    • @david simmons- I agree David- the skeptic in me always think that when you get more bang for your buck in spend your points events, the sales might not be as good. They are good for redemptions for things like electronics or make up, make up rarely goes on sale anyways (the higher end stuff anyway). Call me a sucker for marketing, but I like the “look and feel” of a Shoppers Drug Mart store. We have another big chain called London Drugs here and often they have cheaper stuff when a sales on, but their store is kind of messy and crowded-feeling.

  10. [quote]So how many points for one dollar? You get 100 points for every dollar you spend.[/quote]

    I think that you only get 10 points for every dollar you spend on a regular day (in Ontario at least)

    • @jerod- you know what I think you’re right! That mist have been a typo. I’ll fix it right away- thanks for pointing that out. I’ll also like to add that come July, in bc at least there will be no more points to be collected on prescriptions, not even with air miles or shoppers points.

      • With reference to Jerod’s comment here and yours back to him, as of March 4, 2012 (a year and some later), your information above here still says that you get 100 points for every $1 spent. Could you correct it now? Thanks.

        • I’m glad I read the comments! The article still says you get 100 points per dollar and I was scratching my head over the enormous amount of points this would yield…

  11. Still a great deal though and great review. Just means you have to plan out when points are on for 10x or 20x the points.

    With that being said, when you have the Credit Card that gives you 25 point. (10 from optimum and extra 15 from Credit Card), It could turn out to be a lot more useful when buying anything at shoppers only. Everything else you can buy with your travel card.

    If I spend $200 now on a x20 day with the credit card I should be able to get 100,000 points, which is worth $170 dollar….which is crazy awesome only paying $30 for $200 worth of product.

  12. That reminds me. You mentioned above that the card gives you an extra 25 points with the Credit Card I don’t think you get an extra 25 points. I think you get a total of 25 points (I click the link to the Credit Card and it said 15 points + 10 when you show your optimum card). The Math above still is good though.

    $200 x 20x the op point x 25 point / dollar spent = 100,000 points

  13. I think on the 20X your points day if you pay with the optimum credit card you get an extra 5X your points, for a total of 25X your points that day.

  14. Really…..I just applied for mine so I wasn’t sure on all the benefits.

    So then if you get 5x then the math would be —

    25x the points day x 25 points per dollar spent x $200 spent—would equal 125,000 points. They are give away stuff at that amount.

  15. Themain key to all the rewards and saving money which has not been mentioned yet . . . .is not to spend more money on things you don’t really need. Sometimes you might spend more just to get reach the $50 minmum in order to get the gift card or $75 to get the 20X the points. When the credit card bill comes in, you see you spent more than you could afford on things you didn’t really need just to get the points to get more stuff supposedly free. It an be a vicious cycle if you are not careful and this is marketing technique the experts know more about than the average consumer. Buyer beware. Spend within your means!

    • @Rose- excellent point Rose! I am guilty of that, for sure. That’s why whenever there is a 20x the Points event, I ask myself if theres anything I really need. If I don’t have anything I need, I usually skip it.

  16. Thanks for a great article and overview of the Shoppers’ Program! It’s nice to hear that there are other Points-enthusiasts in the world. :)

    I do, however, think there is an error in some of the math above – and it’s one that Shoppers frequently uses in their advertising (which makes me so angry!), so it’s easy to miss:

    You mention that:
    “Spending $50 before tax would equal 10,000 points.
    If you do this 5 times ($250) you would accrue 50,000 points= $85 redemption
    Hence, the % return will go from 1.70% to 34% you spend $250 and you get $85 back.”

    The issue is that with this system, while it’s true that you do spend 250$ and get 85$ in credit, you do not get 85$ back. Getting 85$ back implies that your total amount spent is 250 – 85 = 165$, which is consistent with the 34% return that you listed (85/250 = 34%). However, if I were to go to Shoppers to do this, I would not be getting 85$ back on my 250$ purchases (equal to spending 165$ on 250$ worth of products), I would be spending 250$ (initially) for what will eventually be 335$ (250$ spent plus 85$ “free”) worth of products. This means that the return I receive through the program is NOT 34%, but rather 25% (85/335 = 25%).

    It’s still a great program, of course, but their marketing is, I think, intentionally misleading – I often see their ads saying something to the effect of “spend 50$ and get a 10$ gift card – which is like saving 20%!” but it’s not true. You have still spent 50$, but you have received 60$ in product for that 50$ (once the gift card is redeemed), so instead, you have a saving equal to about 17% (10/60 = 16.6%). I hate their false advertising in those campaigns!

    But I do love getting my facewash for free. :) So, just be aware of what you’re really getting for those points, and make sure it’s still worth it for you.

  17. Is it possible to receive points from items purchased with points? For example, you buy a mascara with your points, will you receive points for the mascara? Great post :)

    • From my experience :) (because I just cashed out on 95,000 points yesterday and got $200 worth of beauty products), you still can get points for items you purchased. You can even use bonus point coupons or get bonus points on the items you purchased too.

    • @Gwen- Great question. Okay, for a 20x points day, let’s say you spend $50. You will get $50 x 10 x 20= 10,000 points. The 2000 bonus Cover Girl points will be added ON TOP of that. At least that’s what happens in my own experience.

  18. In provinces like BC where you do get points on prescriptions, do you get 20x the points on bonus days or are prescriptions excluded? I’m really trying to figure out the best way to get to 50,000 points before their bonus redemption Dec. 3rd. :)
    My husband has really expensive prescriptions (that we get reimbursed for later thankfully!) so I was thinking of stocking up on them.

    • @Carolyn- Well, I think it depends because I’m sure they jack up the prices on the 20x the points day. The 20% off on Seniors Day won’t give you points. They probably jack up the prices on seniors day too! So I guess it depends on if you want points or if you want cash immediately back..

  19. Hello,
    Could someone there tell me how to correct an error that has been made? We have had the Ptimum card for several years and I know we did have points on it. We made a purchase on Feb. 17, 2012, of a stair chair lift. It cost $2500 and we were to have Optimum points on it from that purchase. When I went to make another purchase the other day, I found we had zero(0) points on the card. Could you tell me what is the next step? I believe the purchase was posted on Feb. 21 as it was a long weekend here. Thanks. Please forward if appropriate.
    Rhonda Campbell

    • @Rhonda Campbell- Sometimes I think it takes some time for the optimum points to show up. I know when I do the bonus days, it doesn’t show up (the secret bonus) for a few days to weeks. Have you tried calling the POptimum program?

    • Call 1800 Shopper and they can make sure that your card is linked to your optimum card. They should be able to fix it… Fingers crossed!

  20. I am always a VIP member but don’t be misleading. The spend your points days aren’t a bonus. For instance when I redeem my 95,000 and they say I get 30$ free (170$+30$) it’s not really free. The tax on 201$ is over 27$. So you actually pay less in tax and it’s cheaper to redeem on the lower levels hence less tax. The reason they only give bonus dollars at the top two tiers is because of the tax. The trick is redeeming on lower levels. And it’s not free no matter how you do the math, you’ve paid for it in excessive pricing and purchases.

  21. It amazes these people managed to become such a big chain. If they were nice to people, I could understand the fact they are so overpriced and their staff has no clue about anything.
    Their customer service has been getting worse every passing year and the only thing that used to be somewhat attractive was their Glow magazine. It used to havve nice articles but now all you see is adds or “articles” that shamelessly promote a certain product.
    Their staff doesn’t care at all and their prices aren’t worth the 2% or less retun you might eventually get if you shop frequently enough.
    You used to be able to give a tel # if you didn’t have your card on you and now you can’t.
    Your points expire after so many months so you gotta remember to carry it everywhere, since you never now when you’ll need something from the drugstore. They used to let you go back to the store within 48 hours and get your points but now you get a one-time chance to call they 1-800 and get the points from your last purchase.
    Also, if you shop late at night, you gotta watch what you do. I have been to a store just before they closed, bought a bunch of items that seemed well priced, paid the bill even though it sounded high ( I was too embarassed to make a fuzz before paying – big mistake) just to realize, once I got to the car and they locked their doors, that everything was at least double what the sign said – turns out they posted their “tomorrow’s sale” prices just before I walked in and I was stuck with a pile of things that weren’t that great a deal.
    It wouldn’t have been a ig deal had their staff not been so awful in every store I have been to. I am not the confrontational type and I hate feeling like I gotta put up a fight for things I should be able to take for granted. If a sign says $1, it’s $1 not $2 and there should be no arguing and making the customer feel bad. I will pay my bills with no problem, as long as they are what I was supposed to pay – no more.
    And now you gotta actually redeem your points to get Glow, instead of just having a certain number of points accumulated. I redeemed most my points even though the magazine isn’t what it used to be and it has been over 5 months I have been waiting for an issue. Shoppers won’t give me my points back and they can’t seem to figure out when I can expect to receive my first issue. They keep “looking into it”. All I know is that I redeemed enough points for 12 issues but I might receive 7 or even less.
    I gave up and cancelled my card today. They are too expensive, too rude, too unhelpful to be worth another minute on the phone trying to figure out where my points went or another trip to the cashier to see why I was charged more than the price listed.
    There’s a Shoppers drugmart accross the street from my new place but I rather go to a smaller, friendly pharmacy a little further. If you see me there I’m using the post office or I have lost my mind.

  22. I love SDM. The optimum program pays for over $400 of our xmas shopping every year. Yes, we pay the tax but we would pay that anyway. Yes, their prices are higher but we only shop on sale and at 20x point day events and then stock up on things we need and use.We are frugal and thrifty and I track our expenses and there are good deals available there. The staff know by now that if there is a spend $50 and get bonus points I will be there with a list and spend between $50 and $51 before taxes to qualify : )

  23. To Lily,
    Re: mispriced items at Shoppers. From Mrs. January.com
    The Scanning Code of Practice is a code that many stores follow. It promises the customer accurate price scanning at the register on all non-ticketed items. If an item scans at a price higher than the shelf price, the customer gets it for free (or $10 off if the item is more than $10).

    Don’t expect cashiers to let you know about this (even though there is usually a sign right by the register that mentions it). Make sure you point it out or you will most likely miss out on your SCOP deal. If you buy more than one identical item, you are entitled to the first item free and the following items will be adjusted to the lower, correct price.

    Stores that follow the SCOP: Shoppers Drug Mart, Jean Coutu (NB and ON only), Lawton Drug Stores, London Drugs, Lovell Drugs, Pharma-save (BC and Sask), Pharma Plus, Safeway, Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills, Fortinos, Sobeys, Metro, Thrifty Foods, Costco, Co-op Atlantic, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Toys r Us, Rona, WalMart, Giant Tiger, Best Buy/Future Shop, Home Hardware, Thrifty Foods and many other independant stores.

  24. I know I’m a little late to the party, but I wanted to add a few things that I discovered that will increase your points without spending more.

    When you arrive to your 20x the points day, use your Shoppers Optimum credit card (if you have one) to buy a Shopper’s Drug Mart Gift Card for the amount you plan to spend ($50 or $75). Other gift cards don’t give you the points, but this one does. Be sure to pay for it and have it activated before you buy anything. Before you’ve even started shopping, you’ve already earned points!

    The other tidbit is to use coupons. Use as many as you possibly can. For example, if the store has Pepsi on sale, and you usually drink Pepsi, make sure you have a few coupons to bring the cost down even more. Also keep your eye open for items that have bonus points on them- like buy two of such and such, get the third free, or half off, or whatever. Use coupons for those items.

    Let’s say you have $50 worth of stuff before taxes and BEFORE coupons. This will still get you the points. Even though the cashier will say it doesn’t, do it anyway. Say your coupons bring your $50 down to $30. Using your card, pay the $30. Then check your receipt. It will show you
    the massive points you just earned.

    Sure you now have a Shopper’s Card with $20 still on it, but you’ll use that for milk anyway, right? (It’s the cheapest place in my town for milk.)

  25. Am I the only one that stalks the net for bonus codes? When you update your profile and add a bonus code you can get 2000-4000 points… daily… they do take a few weeks to credit though

Leave a reply

Headline Name: Email: subscribed: 0 We respect your privacy Email Marketingby GetResponse