Showing posts with label Program News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Program News. Show all posts

Friday, July 1, 2022

Scene+ redemption rate for groceries will be a great 1,000 points for $10

Today sees Scene+ revealing a few more details on the upcoming partnership with their new co-owner Empire Company Limited. The Atlantic Canada based corporation that operates grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor and convenience stores announced last month they were leaving the AIR MILES program to become part of Scene+

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Scene+ scores big at the expense of AIR MILES - watch for grocery earning and redeeming to come soon to the program!

In a very unexpected move, news came out today that Empire Company Limited, the parent corporation of Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, IGA and numerous other grocery and drug stores has become a co-owner in the Scene+ program. This will mark the end of the grocery empire's involvement with the AIR MILES program. AIR MILES has counted Safeway and Eastern Canadian Sobeys stores as decades long partners and gained western Canadian stores which were aligned with Aeroplan after the Safeway takeover. Empire has now counted three major Canadian loyalty programs as partners! Over the coming months these stores that have currently been part of the AIR MILES program will move over to Scene+ starting no less than in the company's own backyard, Atlantic Canada.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Car Rental redemptions have returned to AIR MILES and they retain great value!

When the revamped AIR MILES launched in fall of 2021 one redemption that disappeared, temporarily that is, was car rentals. We are happy to tell you that is option is back, based on a tweet from AIR MILES the car rental option returned on January 19, 2022. The car rental option has been added to the AIR MILES Travel Hub which is the same portal you can use to book hotels.  In the past incarnation Car rentals had typically been one of the best and most valuable redemption options in the program and we'll test it out to see if it still is.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

IHG Rewards announces changes to the program starting with the elite status tiers

Earlier today we brought you the new global IHG Rewards bonus points offer and in that post mentioned the hotel chain has more news that was released today. That news is about changes coming to the IHG Rewards program in March and today they only revealed the first of the program's updates and that is to the elite status portion program. The changes in elite status include renaming the Spire tier to Diamond, adding an additional tier, changing the qualification requirements and adjusting the bonus points earned by elite members.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

PC Optimum now the official loyalty program for Esso as Esso Extra is retired

Yesterday marked the end of an era as a long running gas station loyalty program in Canada, Esso Extra was officially retired. The gas retailer has now implemented PC Optimum as its official loyalty program. First announced in June 2021 the switch to offering only loyalty program came as a bit of a surprise at that time but as Esso offered customers a choice of earning Esso Extra points or PC Optimum points on purchases the data must have shown more people choosing the latter. Now as of this week, that's your only choice for earning extra loyalty rewards at Esso stations!

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Rewards Canada's Top 10 Most Popular Posts for 2021

This year on the Rewards Canada blog we managed to publish over 800 posts - a new record since launching this part of the site in 2009. A lot of those posts were very popular with our readers as they saw a lot of traffic but out of all them which 10 came out on top? Read on to find out!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Last minute loyalty program laundry - check for expiring miles and points, vouchers and more

With just a week left in 2021 now is a good time to double check if you have any points and miles that will be expiring at the end of this year. For the most part, the majority of loyalty programs have extended the pause on points and miles expiry into 2022 however there are a select few that are not. The biggest program I can think that is not extending points expiry after December 31, 2021 is World of Hyatt. There are others as well which I list further below in the post.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Great news! Quebec drops the mile/point value retention from proposed bill

Last week we detailed the news of Quebec's proposed Bill 791 which would make points expiry and points devaluation illegal. Good news is that on May 2nd, the Quebec government seems to have forgone with Bill 791 and are moving ahead with Bill 134 which no longer stipulates the points devaluation.

Overall this is great news as had Bill 791 actually been passed, loyalty programs would have found ways around the retention of mile and point value. Namely by not participating in Quebec like mbna chose with their Alaska Airlines credit card or by adjusting the earn rates on miles and points.

It does appear however that the mbna Alaska Airlines credit card is still available in Quebec at this time despite mbna telling us otherwise as when you go to the application page there is no stipulation that it is not. I'm going to reach out to mbna once again to see if I can get further clarification on what they told me last week.

As to expiry, Quebec will match Ontario with the law if and when the bill passes. Seeing that most programs removed their expiry rules after the Ontario bill passing the Quebec bill is more of a protectionist move for possible future changes to programs. It is possible other provinces may follow suit but with our two most populous provinces having the rule it is very unlikely loyalty programs will ever put in place expiry rules for the provinces and territories outside of Ontario and Quebec.

Thanks to our twitter follower @YulflyMontreal for letting us know about the new Bill 134!

Friday, April 28, 2017

What is going to happen to loyalty rewards in Canada if Quebec passes Bill 791 and programs have to retain point/mile value?

The coming weeks could see drastic changes in the loyalty landscape in Canada. Earlier this year new legislation was proposed in Quebec that followed in the foot steps of Ontario. The Ontario legislation covered the expiry of loyalty points and was passed so that points and miles earned from programs would not expire based on time but could due to inactivity. Quebec is now wanting to do the same but are going a step further, they want to make it illegal for programs to change redemption rates (ie mile/point value) from what you get when you sign up.

Excerpt from Bill 791:

187.6. Before entering into a rewards program contract, the merchant must inform the consumer of the conditions applicable to obtaining and using rewards points.
187.7. Subject to any applicable regulations, any stipulation of or amendment to the contract providing for an expiry date on the rewards points obtained by the consumer is prohibited.
187.8. Any stipulation providing that the merchant may retroactively change the value of the rewards points accumulated by the consumer is prohibited.”

Line 187.7 is essentially the same as Ontario's bill however line 187.8 goes that step further. It does not allow programs to change the value of reward points accumulated. This means programs cannot change redemption rates as that effectively changes the value of the rewards points accumulated. We saw last year the conclusion of a class action lawsuit against TD in Quebec when they changed their reward redemption rates in the TD Travel Reward program. TD settled and let Quebecois keep the old better redemption rates until August 31, 2017 whereas the rest of Canada had to book at higher rates. Then there was the whole AIR MILES debacle in 2016 and the risk of rates going higher with them since they aren't expiring miles and you can see why Quebec has added this line into the legislation.

This is why the mbna Alaska Airlines MasterCard will no longer be available in Quebec as we know that Alaska Airlines will want to change redemption rates in the future. But what does this hold for existing members of Mileage Plan and all other programs? What is Aeroplan going to do? Quebec is huge for them - they could get rid of Classic Flight rewards and go strictly market fare but that would kill their membership base in the province. Then there is AIR MILES, Shoppers Optimum and scores of other programs. How are programs going to deal with not being able to change the value of the points and miles earned by their consumers in Quebec? This is huge. It looks great for the consumer in the way that you won't have to worry about your points devaluing through redemption but the programs need to stay alive and changes every few years were the norm. So we'll pay for it somehow and the logical option is changing the earn rate. Will we see lower earn rates on credit card spend? Will we see AIR MILES earning go from 1 per $20 spent at merchants to 1 per $25? By changing earn rates you aren't changing the value of your point or mile which means if and when this bill passes don't be surprised if we see earn rates drop over time.

Remember this is just Quebec at this time proposing this law  however it is setting precedent for other provinces. There is nothing stopping Ontario from amending theirs to include point value retention as well and after having two provinces with reward program rules in place it won't be long before we see other provinces follow suit.

Monday, March 13, 2017

AIR MILES program enhancements coming on April 3

AIR MILES just sent out a press release announcing some changes to the program or as they call it 'enhancements'. Are they enhancements? Yes they are. Are they anything to get excited about? No, not really. Here are excerpts from the press release on the upcoming changes:

Beginning April 3, AIR MILES will be introducing the following enhancements to the Program:
  •  The online merchandise rewards catalogue will be fully accessible to all Collectors, while our most engaged Collectors will be able to access an enhanced tiered pricing structure.
  • Up to 40% of our merchandise will now be available for purchase using credit card and Dream Miles. This “Cash and Miles” feature gives Collectors the ability to attain the rewards they want even faster. 
  • We are expanding our customer service with 24/7 support on Facebook and Twitter. 
Greater rewards for all Collectors
The online merchandise rewards catalogue will now be available to all Collectors. We are also introducing tiered pricing for our most engaged Collectors, enabling them to get rewarded even faster. The more engaged Collectors are with the Program, the more they get out of it. All Collectors will continue to enjoy our already exceptional pricing, while our Gold Collectors will now receive up to 10% off all merchandise, and Onyx™ Collectors will receive up to 20% off.

More choice
The ability to use credit card and Dream Miles is a feature that has been popular with AIR MILES Collectors, because those with lower Miles balances can use fewer Miles to get the rewards they want. We have expanded this option to apply to up to 40% of all merchandise products available in the online merchandise rewards catalogue. As part of this expansion, and in an effort to simplify the rewards categories, we are integrating the current “Member Pricing” products into this option.

A commitment to extended customer service
In an effort to be more responsive to our Collectors’ changing expectations for service, we will be introducing 24/7 customer support through our Facebook and Twitter accounts

We have to give it to AIR MILES that they are trying. They dug themselves into a huge hole last year and are now ever so slowly inching their way up the walls of that hole. First it was the apology letter from earlier this month and now it is these changes. Granted these aren't huge changes, they are better than nothing but do they make the program more appealing? Not really.

The first change that sees the online merchandise rewards being available to all collectors confirms they held awards back. Of course AIR MILES stated that those more engaged in the program saw more rewards and had more options but we all know that was not the case based on our experiences last year. Nonetheless, the entire catalog should now be visible to everyone. No more pulling levers behind the scenes trying to engineer redemption, we hope. Along with this there will now be discounts on that merchandise if you are a Gold or Onyx collector of up to 10 and 20% respectively. If you redeem for merchandise this is good news however if AIR MILES has and will increase the redemption rates on merchandise as we expect them to this only really means that the elite members may just be getting the merchandise at the old redemption rates. It all depends on what the reward pricing is and will be.

The second change sees them expand the cash+miles option for rewards. We've already seen this where some merchandise was able to be redeemed for with fewer miles as long you paid a cash supplement. Cash+miles is becoming more and more popular in the industry to provide more redemption options, especially for those who don't collect as many miles and points as others. In some programs (like hotel reward programs) this type of redemption option can provide great value but what we have seen in the AIR MILES program is that it does not seem to provide very good value. Once again however if you don't have too many miles and want to use them up, using them for a small discount on some merchandise may make sense for you.

Finally the third change is the 24/7 support on Facebook and Twitter. A good move. The more help collectors can get the better. They should also look at expanding customer service hours via the phone. In our experience from call in radio shows, there is good portion of Canada's older population who collect and use AIR MILES but aren't going to go the online route for help. They rely on mail and phone. We heard a lot of complaints from this group so hopefully AIR MILES does not ignore them.

That's it in a nutshell! We'd love to hear all your thoughts on this latest news from AIR MILES! Feel free to comment below or reach out to us on social media and email.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Carlson Hotels Club Carlson changes coming on March 15 - another devaluation for the books

The recent spate of airline and hotel program devaluations hasn't stopped as Club Carlson sent out emails to their members today detailing changes coming to the program on March 15. Some of the changes are positive but most are negative hence our titling of this post! For Club Carlson's details on these changes see here

Positive Changes
- You will now be able to redeem for a variety of room types instead of only standard rooms

- Award nights will now count towards elite status qualification

- Food & Beverage purchases will now earn Gold Points if they are charged to your room during a stay

- Enhanced gift card redemption variety - Some of the new cards available for Canadian members include Esso, WINNERS, Cineplex and WaySpa

- (Not a change) Category 1-6 redemption rates stay the same but 115 hotels Worldwide are moving up a category while 67 are going down 1 or 2 categories. In Canada only 2 properties are affected, the Radisson Hotel & Suites, Fort McMurray is going from Category 5 to 6 while the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Calgary-Airport is moving from Category 5 to 4. The Ft. Mac site is obviously due to the immense demand for hotel rooms in the Oilsands city while the Calgary move could possibly be attributed to the changes happening around the Calgary Airport whereby hotels south of the airport have been essentially cut off with a direct route by the construction of the new airport runway. Once the tunnel underneath the runway is complete and the circuitous route eliminated we may see this hotel move back up unless the onslaught of new hotels being built around the airport keeps its occupancy lower. The category changes do not take affect until May 1st. For a complete list of category changes please see here

Negative Changes
- The introduction of a Category 7 for award nights - 70,000 Points will be required for stays at hotels in this top end category:
Radisson Royal Hotel, Dubai
Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Hotel, Paris Trocadero
Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel & Thalasso, Cannes
Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan Hotel, Paris Eiffel
Radisson Blu Hotel Champs Elysees, Paris
The May Fair
Plaza on the River, London
art’otel, Amsterdam
Radisson Royal Hotel, Moscow

- The online booking bonus of 1,000 to 3,000 Gold Points is being removed and will only be offered on a promotional basis. This is a major negative change, this bonus while somewhat antiquated was a huge benefit to Club Carlson members.

- Elite bonuses for Gold and Silver Elite members are being reduced from 50% to 35% and 25% to 15% respectively. Another hit in the points earning department when combined with the online booking bonus removal

With the introduction of a 7th award category, the removal of the online booking bonus and reduction in elite tier bonuses you can tell that Club Carlson's generosity over the past few years with their huge acquisition promotions has hit them dearly in the books. They are obviously looking to cull the number of points they are awarding and making sure more of those points are burned when redeeming at their top end hotels.

If you have any plans of redeeming for those top 9 hotels (or any of the other 115 moving up) you should really look at booking by April 30th to ensure you don't end up using more points for those stays and likewise for the 67 moving down if you can wait to redeem until May 1st you should do so.

What are your thoughts on this latest program change news from Club Carlson. I know for me I am at least happy they are giving a proper heads up when compared to last year when they did not! Are you going to look elsewhere to stay for something as little (or potentially big if you have a lot of Carlson stays) as the removal of the online booking bonus or will you just keep on trucking with Club Carlson despite these changes?