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LCBO Ends Partnership With AIR MILES: Are Shoppers in Store for Something New?

March 9, 2021
3 mins
A husband and wife taking the groceries in from the car

Ontarians will no longer earn AIR MILES for their wine, beer and liquor purchases at the LCBO, as the 24-year partnership comes to an end on March 31, 2021.

AIR MILES Collectors can continue to earn rewards at LCBO locations and online via the retailer’s website until the end of the month. Members can also redeem Cash Miles for LCBO eVouchers through the AIR MILES Reward Program.

Although customers will no longer earn Miles at the LCBO, any eVouchers ordered before the April 1 deadline will continue to be accepted by the alcohol retailer.

The LCBO gave no reason for its decision to end the partnership in response to questions from RATESDOTCA and did not respond to questions regarding rumoured plans to implement an internally-managed rewards program.

In a statement, the LCBO hinted about something new for shoppers later this year.

“Providing a rewarding, personalized experience continues to be a critical component of our strategy to deliver an engaging, integrated customer experience,” the LCBO said in a release. “Details on a future loyalty program at the LCBO will be introduced in the coming months.”

Does this mean the LCBO will offer rewards of its own or will it partner with another popular loyalty program? Shoppers will have to wait to find out.

AIR MILES Collectors can still earn Miles on their beverages of choice through participating grocery stores like Metro and Sobeys, albeit with less variety than the government-owned locations.

What does this mean for LCBO customers?

Currently, AIR MILES Collectors earn one Mile for every $30 spent at the LCBO in a single transaction, excluding taxes and deposit fees. Often customers can earn AIR MILES bonus Miles with select items and receive anywhere from 15 to 45 Miles for an eligible purchase.

Customers may earn more rewards if the LCBO offers a proprietary retail loyalty program. If the retailer were to provide a similar offering to the PC Optimum program, for example, members would see a more significant return on spending and possibly better bonus events.

AIR MILES Collectors earn roughly 0.033 in rewards for every $30 they spend at the LCBO. PC Optimum members earn approximately 0.067 points for every $1 they spend at Shoppers Drug Mart. Members earn far more rewards and spend less money.

However, AIR MILES customers get better value for Miles when redeeming rewards. AIR MILES Dream Miles, typically used for travel, have a value of around 0.712. AIR MILES Cash Miles, generally used for merchandise or cash-equivalent options, have a value of 0.105. Whereas cardholders can cash in 1,000 PC Optimum points for $10, making points worth 0.01.

The PC Optimum program also offers tailored deals and bonus points for each member — something you might see from a future LCBO program.

Keep in mind, customers who use retail programs are usually limited to how they redeem rewards. A loyalty program like AIR MILES offers more flexible redemption options ranging from vacations to kitchen appliances or vouchers for food delivery. Retail programs generally offer free merchandise from their locations or points toward purchases.

While it remains to be seen how the new program will benefit shoppers, earning any type of rewards on purchases can mean more money in your pocket.

Hayley Osmond

Hayley Osmond is an editor and writer in the personal finance space, where she uses her eight years of media and marketing experience to bring content to life. She specializes in money products, including mortgages, home and auto insurance, and credit cards. Hayley holds a Broadcast Journalism diploma from Sheridan College and was awarded the Shaw Media Journalism and Media Award for graduating at the top of her class. Her work has appeared in Global News and diverse digital corporate training materials behind the scenes.

Hayley is passionate about making complex subjects, such as home buying and financial literacy, concise and intriguing. Her work has garnered media coverage from The Globe and Mail, blogTO, Yahoo! News, and CityNews 680 and has been syndicated across other publications.

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