How long does it take to earn a $100 benefit in your favourite Canadian rewards program? Whether you squirrel away your points for large-ticket items like dream vacations or redeem regularly for practicalities like appliances and gift cards, new research shows that coalition loyalty programs — where you can earn points, miles or other rewards currencies from a variety of merchants — provide the quickest way to reach your goal.

Loyalty marketing publisher COLLOQUY commissioned Environics Research Group to investigate all of the variables that allow programs to award members faster. Researchers created an algorithm to measure “time to reward” or how long it takes different loyalty programs to deliver a $100 benefit in various reward categories. The methodology was validated by Ken Wong, Professor of Marketing at Queens School of Business and Frank Pons, Marketing Professor at Laval University.

Depending on where you live, where you shop and what you shop for, it may take you three months to earn $100 through one program, but almost 49 months with another.

A closer look

The results, detailed in the report “Reframing the Conversation on Loyalty Programs in Canada,” showed that programs differ greatly. For instance, depending on where you live, where you shop and what you shop for, it may take you three months to earn $100 through one program, but almost 49 months with another.

The researchers also created a free online tool at www.compareloyaltyprograms.ca where you can find out which Canadian loyalty programs will get you to your rewards faster. Just answer a few questions about your shopping habits and the site will compare the top 22 Canadian loyalty programs in terms of the length of time it will take you to earn your desired reward.

“With Canadian households enrolled in an average of 8.2 loyalty programs, the number of points an individual can earn matters very little and will not keep them engaged in a program if there is no reward in sight."

Trust the numbers

Other highlights from the research include:

▣  Coalition loyalty programs earn travel rewards faster. Canada’s largest coalition loyalty reward programs – AIR MILES and Aeroplan – are the speediest. They’re also best if you’re looking for long-haul or short-haul travel rewards.

▣  Retailer co-branded credit cards and bank-issued credit cards, such as the Target RBC MasterCard and the Sears Financial Voyage MasterCard, tend to result in a faster reward time for both cash equivalent and merchandise rewards.

▣  When it comes to cash equivalent rewards specifically, the research indicates that popular loyalty programs like, Canadian Tire Money and the Shoppers Optimum card join the AIR MILES Reward Program and Aeroplan to offer a shorter time to reward.

▣  The ability to double-dip (earning points on both a loyalty card and its affiliated credit card) greatly reduces reward times, sometimes by months.

“What likely matters more is that their chosen loyalty programs will get them to their desired rewards in the least or most reasonable amount of time.”

Looking forward

“With Canadian households enrolled in an average of 8.2 loyalty programs, the number of points an individual can earn matters very little and will not keep them engaged in a program if there is no reward in sight,” notes COLLOQUY Research Director, Jeff Berry.

“What likely matters more is that their chosen loyalty programs will get them to their desired rewards in the least or most reasonable amount of time.”


  Jill Z. McBride
  Editor-in-Chief, COLLOQUY


editorial@mediaplanet.com