Sipping a cup of Tim Hortons famous joe is arguably one of the most symbolically Canadian ways to start your day. Now, true coffee fans can show their patriotism through their payment method as well, with a new Tim Hortons loyalty credit card offering.

Teaming up with CIBC, the caffeine and doughnut peddler has released a no-fee rewards card. Dubbed the Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card, this plastic is designed to reward frequent Tim's customers with all the coffee, pastries and paninis they can eat. It's also leading the way in new credit card tech with a "two cards in one" system, featuring a button that toggles the card between Visa or Tim Hortons Loyalty functionality.

This card, which was originally meant to launch in May, is creating a lot of buzz, but does it really offer the most bang for your buck? Let's break down the features.

Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card details

Reward return: Average

This card offers one per cent Tim Cash rewards for every dollar spent. Translation: spend $100 to get the value of a free medium coffee. That may seem like an abysmal return, but keep in mind that those who use their card daily for gas and groceries could be earning two to three free perks weekly.

Points earned on the CIBC portion of the card are automatically loaded onto the Tim's rewards side as Tim Cash. As icing on the donut, if you will, cardholders will also earn a free 50-pack of Timbits for every 50 CIBC Visa purchases and a free baked good per every five purchases made on both the Tim Card and CIBC portions of the card per month.

However, consumers should really ponder whether coffee perks are truly practical; these rewards are quite limited as they can only be used at one retailer. Considering there are higher earning cash back options available that provide the full flexibility of cash and retailer choice, cardholders should ask whether these are rewards well spent.

Sign up bonus: Good

To sweeten the deal, cardholders will score a sign up bonus of $20 after the first $200 is spent on the card; at Timmy's bargain prices, that's a week's worth of breakfast. This $20 welcome bonus is automatically loaded onto the Tim Card portion of the card. CIBC is also offering a $400 cash gift if you open a chequing account, pay a bill, or send an e-transfer with the account and then use the account for two authorized pre-payments.

Pioneering new credit card tech

Developed by Pennsylvania-based Dynamics Inc., the technology in the card is the world’s first fully card-programmable magnetic stripe. The buttons light up to show whether Visa or the loyalty card has been activated.

“The technology built into this card is leading edge,” says Kevin Dove, spokesperson at CIBC. “Inside the card is an antenna to facilitate tap-and-go payments, a chip for larger purchases, two buttons to allow you to choose between using it as a credit or loyalty card and a battery to power the lights.”

The battery lasts for three years, the normal interval before credit cards are renewed. It’s certainly innovative from a technology standpoint, with CIBC holding the card’s patent in Canada. 

“Tim Hortons will be the only vendor in the quick service business,” says Dove. “But we could adopt it for other cards in the future.”

An American institution, Citibank, ran a pilot program stateside with a similar card but it has since been discontinued.

From TimBits to marketing tid bits

While the tech is novel from a consumer standpoint, one tech analyst says it offers a way for retailers to ensure consumers always have their loyalty card on hand - and collect a bit of data while they're at it.

"You have to watch what happens to your personal data because that is the payment that you are making as a consumer to be part of this digital age," said Tech Analyst Carmi Levy to CBC. "Every time you pull your card out, and you swipe it, they learn something more about your habits which they then use to tweak their offerings both at Tim Hortons and CIBC. You have no control over where that info goes and ultimately that is the way business is done today."

The card is available through all the regular CIBC channels but it is also available through the over 3,500 Tim Hortons locations in Canada.  

Andrew Seale

Andrew Seale is a freelance writer with an absurdly hyperactive mind and predilection towards the obscure and eclectic. He frequently shares his personal finance experiences and mishaps with TheDot readers but has also been known to profile business leaders ranging from financial savants to bootstrapped entrepreneurs. His work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Yahoo Canada Finance and News, Profit Magazine, The Toronto Star, Enroute Magazine, and on the back of napkins sometimes tucked into the pockets of strangers. He can be found at

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