So many of us use various loyalty rewards programs such as Airmiles when making frequent rewards purchases at local retailers. Over the years, I have personally spent hundreds of dollars per month on groceries, earned rewards points on every purchase, and then redeemed my Airmiles for all sorts of cool rewards from electronics to power washers, from blenders to movie passes, from airline tickets to car rentals. When combined with a credit card like AMEX and MC, I earn double Airmiles on the same purchases. (Each Airmiles reward point has an approximate redeemable value of $1 per 8 Airmiles. For example, a 4-pass movie package valued at $60 is 495 Airmiles, or 8.25 miles per dollar in value.) Loyalty rewards can really add up over time for patrons, while generating brand loyalty for retailers, which is why stores offer such patronage discounts.
One such retailer is Safeway / Sobey's (I will refer only to Safeway hereafter to mean all brands owned by the parent company). In addition to accepting Airmiles, they also offer other reward programs such as a simultaneous discount on fuel purchases made at the Safeway gas bars. Here is how the program works when you buy groceries at participating stores.
Spend $50 – $99, Save $0.04/L
Spend $100 – $149, Save $0.05/L
Spend $150 – $199, Save $0.07/L
Spend $200 – $224, Save $0.10/L
Spend $225 – $249, Save $0.12/L
Spend $250 or more, Save $0.15/L
Fuel Discount Program
When buying groceries, you are automatically issued a one-time use fuel discount coupon redeemable at the Safeway gas bar. On the maximum allowed discount of $0.15 on up to 60 litres, that is a potential $9.00 savings on fuel. If you purchase $250/wk of groceries for a family of four, and then fill a tank once a week, that is a savings of $9/fill x 52 fills = $468/yr.
15% Customer Appreciation Day
Another program offered monthly at Safeway, is the customer appreciation day which is offered on the first non-holiday Tuesday of each month. On purchases over $50, you can elect to receive 20x Air Miles OR an additional 15% off your entire grocery bill, allowing you to save even more. I ALWAYS take the cash discount, as it works out financially better in the long run!
Tip: If you can bulk buy the first two week's worth of monthly groceries on this day (and leave just 2 shopping days at regular price for the rest of the month), on a $500 once per month purchase (before taxes) you will save $75/mo or $900/yr. (No, you don't get 15% off for buying the whole month's worth of gift cards on this day, I already asked. The discount applies only to groceries. You can pay for the order with gift cards though).
If you have a Gold Airmiles card account (which I do) you will earn 1 Airmile for every 15 dollars you spend at any merchant. Our family of 4 would thus earn $250 x 52 weeks = $13,000 / 15 miles/$ = 867 Airmiles rewards points per year. [This has an approximate $105 cash value when redeemed in Airmiles rewards.] PLUS, you will earn bonus Airmiles on numerous products purchased in-store at all times when showing your card. I won't speculate on those numbers here for the sake of simplicity.
AMEX / MC
If you buy the same groceries with an AMEX personal or business credit card, you will earn 1 Airmile for every $15 spent. With a BMO M/C, you earn 1 Airmile for every $20 spent. Assuming you use an AMEX card like I do, you would earn an additional $250 x 52 weeks = $13,000 / 15 miles/$ = 867 Airmiles rewards points per year. [This also has an approximate $105 cash value when redeemed in Airmiles rewards.]
Finally, you make a purchase at the gas bar using your AMEX Airmiles Reward Card and you apply the coupon code earned from Safeway groceries. My tank requires about 60L to fill completely. For a family of four, net of the fuel discount (assuming fuel is at $1.449/L for premium, after applying the $0.15 savings for $1.299/L), you would pay $77.94 per fill x 52 weeks = $4052.88/yr. That would earn an additional 270 Airmiles rewards points. [This also has an approximate $33 cash value when redeemed in Airmiles rewards.]
Gas Bar Coupon Tip: A review online I read from a former gas bar employee suggested that used coupons can be saved and reused up to 99 times by changing the last 2 digits of a coupon code. This, he said, is a staff trick for when a still unexpired coupon is not being accepted by the machine. Thus, save your $0.15 coupons for unlimited fill-ups before the coupon expires.
So here is the standard total savings when you combine ALL the above offers over the course of the year.
$468/yr - Cash Savings from Safeway Fuel Discounts
$900/yr - Cash Savings from 15% off Customer Appreciation Days
$105/y - Cash value of 867 Airmiles from rewards card used at Safeway.
$105/yr - Cash value of 867 Airmiles from rewards when using an AMEX card at Safeway.
$33/yr - Cash value of 270 Airmiles from rewards when using an AMEX card at Safeway Gas Bar.
By using all these loyalty rewards strategies, you stand to
SAVE $1368 Cash + $243 in Cash Value = $1611/yr
DOUBLE YOUR AIRMILES REWARDS
So here is how you can DOUBLE your Airmiles rewards yet again at many retailers who also sell gift cards for in-store purchases.
This example will be for Safeway but the concept may work elsewhere. Here is how you DOUBLE some your Airmiles and assure that you ALWAYS earn the full $0.15 fuel discount coupon.
One of the downsides of buying most of my groceries once a month to earn the 15% cash discount, is that the order always comes to well over the $250 threshold, but I only get one $0.15 fuel discount coupon. If I spend $400 in one order but broke it up into two purchases, I could theoretically earn a $0.15 and a $0.07 coupon on that $400 order. Today, I had to purchase a mid-month round of groceries from Safeway which I do frequently after the major purchase on Customer Appreciation Day. It came to only $39 which would have entitled me to no coupon. So, I had the bright to utilize the above strategies in a unique way to both guarantee that I always qualify for the full $0.15 coupon, AND double my Airmiles rewards at the same time!
Here is the strategy.
Purchase a re-loadable Safeway gift card for $250 using your AMEX Airmiles card + show the Airmiles Rewards card. That earns you Airmiles of $250/15 = 17 miles for the rewards card PLUS another 17 Airmiles for paying by AMEX = 34 Airmiles (when using both cards).
Purchase your groceries using the newly-loaded gift card. They will also ask you again for your Airmiles rewards card with this purchase. Over the course of the month, as you use the card, the full Airmiles value will be doubled. For example, let's assume it was all used immediately for exactly $250, you'd earn another 17 Airmiles on the new purchase paid for by the gift card you just purchased!
Total value of the transaction is thus 34 Airmiles (not 17) + 17 bonus Airmiles for using AMEX = 51 Airmiles valued at $51 / 8.25 = $6.18.
By using a repeating strategy of ALWAYS paying with an AMEX card to reload your gift card with $250, getting Airmiles on the purchase immediately, then paying for future orders with the gift card + showing Airmiles card a second time, you can boost your total rewards points by 50%-100%, depending on which payment card you pay with. This is equivalent to triple Airmiles on each purchase.
I hope you enjoyed this simple strategy to save $1611 per year AND triple your Airmiles points at the same time.
"Learn from History; Reap the Rewards" - Coach James.