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5 Essential Rewards Programs for Canadian Students

If you’re anything like me, spending as a student is all about how much money can be saved. Flyers, coupons and online promotions are all great, but there’s no better feeling than heading to the cash register to scan your card, and finding out you’ve gotten $10 off your bill – simply by swiping your rewards card. While many rewards programs scare off young people by using complicated lingo and targeting older customers, I’ve broken down 5 easy-to-use rewards programs that will save you big bucks in the long run!

Air Miles

The Air Miles loyalty program is my go-to rewards program. The handy little blue card can be used around the country, with its many partners. You can collect Air Miles points while doing daily tasks such as getting gas or getting your groceries. Overall, this card is multipurpose: and a card you can use at many retailers, hotels, and businesses across Canada. This card is accepted at Sobeys, Holiday Inn, LCBO, Hudson’s Bay, Rona, Metro, Staples and Shell. Best of all – you choose how to spend your rewards. Miles can be used for Cash Miles in-store, or Dream Miles to purchase online items or even concert or plane tickets! You can pick up your own Air Miles card at many stores where the card is accepted, and the online signup process only takes a few minutes! 


Plum Rewards

Many students don’t know that Chapters and Indigo sells university and college textbooks. If you choose the right time to buy, sometimes you can use promotions or discounts on purchases. Their Plum Rewards program is amazing, because you accumulate points on all purchases. As textbooks are expensive, you can collect many points from purchasing them. This means you may be able to redeem points towards future purchases, and help save you tons of money in the long run! You can pick up a free Plum rewards card the next time you visit your local Chapters or Indigo. 


When I hear “Scene”, I automatically think of getting points at my local theatre. This is true – Scene members earn a free movie for every 10 they see at Cineplex Theatres. However, Scene cards can also be used and redeemed at restaurants as well! Harveys, Swiss Chalet, Milestones and East Side Mario’s all accept Scene cards. You can also collect bonus offers by using your Scene card. Check out the Scene website to sign up for free, and get 250 Bonus Points for signing up!


Hello, coffee lover! While Starbucks doesn’t have a physical reward card, all of the information you need is right at your fingertips! The Starbucks app lets you load all of your physical gift cards onto your phone. This means you can use the gift card you forgot at home for those last minute trips to Starbucks. With each purchase using a gift card, you earn 2 stars per $1. When you reach 150 stars, your next drink is free! Points can accumulate faster than you think due to weekly Starbucks app promotions. Today for example, I can collect 20 bonus stars if I make a purchase after 2 pm. Starbucks Rewards has kept things simple – your account, payment and points are all neatly located in the app. Download the free app today from the App Store or Play Store.

PC Optimum

This is another great card you can use often in your daily life. Similar to Air Miles, you can use your PC Optimum cards at various locations. Esso gas stations, Shoppers Drug Mart, and President’s Choice grocery stores such as Loblaws all accept these cards. You can pick one up the next time you are at a participating store. Even better – many come with a mini card you can attach to your keychain for maximum convenience.

This may seem like a lot to juggle, but joining legitimate rewards programs can be exciting and satisfying. When people tell me that these points seem insignificant, and will never add up, my reply is always the same: “What have you got to lose? If you’re making the purchase anyway, you might as well take 10 seconds to swipe a card and earn some points!” Go get those deals!

Hilary is a third year student at McMaster University, majoring in English while pursuing a concurrent Certificate in Leadership & Cross-Cultural Literacy. Outside of school, she loves to sing, cook/bake, and spend time with family and friends. Her happy places include the grocery store & outdoors (most likely hiking)
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