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The 10 best loyalty programs for teens and tweens

There have been a lot of changes recently to some our our favorite rewards and loyalty programs in Canada. The Scene program, Shopper’s Drug Mart and Ivivva have all made changes to their programs. Read on for an update to this post, which was originally published last year.

If your teen is earning money and doing some of their own shopping, you may want to suggest they enroll in some well-known reward and loyalty programs at their favorite stores.

These programs can help your teen save money by offering discounts, free movies, complimentary services and, yes, even free flights!

The key, according to Patrick Sojka from Rewards Canada, is knowing the ins and outs of the program and knowing both the earning and redeeming side.

Sometimes it can take a while for reward points to add up, so it’s a good idea to get them started early.

In some cases it may make sense to simply add your teen to the family account and have them pad the card for you when they’re shopping. But, getting teens their own loyalty cards can help teach them about the value of a discount and a little financial planning too.

In this day and age, where teens seem to want or need things “immediately,” it’s a good idea to have them set a reward goal and work up to that over time.

With some help from Rewards Canada, I came up with this list of the top 10 Canadian reward programs for teens and tweens.  Sojka is quick to point out that teens are still an “under served” market when it comes to loyalty programs, but gradually more retailers are recognizing the spending power of the average teenager. Get your teen to focus on a couple of retailers or brands where they shop most frequently and let the earning begin.

  1. The Student Price Card (SPC)  – This is a card that all teens, aged 13 and up, should have in their wallet. It costs $10, but your teen will easily earn this back in savings from a wide variety of retailers including 10% off at American Eagle, Urban Outfitters, Little Burgundy, Marble Slab and many more. This card basically runs for the school year, with an expiry date of July 31st and new ones available August 1st. Bonus tip: Teens get a free SPC card if they get the BMO debit (or Mastercard) card.

“If a kid spends 200 dollars a year at American Eagle, there’s $20 off right there…just in one store. It can definitely be a big saving,” says Sojka.

2. Scene – This is perhaps one of the most popular rewards programs for teens, age 14 and older. It’s a real bummer that the Scene program was dropped by Sport Check last fall. I know lots of teens love Sport Check for sports and clothing purchases. However, other participating retailers are mostly restaurants such as Harvey’s and Swiss Chalet. Once they accumulate 1,000 points, they will receive a free movie. Scene members also receive an automatic 10% off of concession items. 10 movies and your 11th movie is free!

Bonus Tip: If your teens gets a Scene Scotiabank card, they earn Scene points on all debit purchases too.

3. Starbucks   If your kids enjoy Starbucks as much as mine do, then the Starbucks Rewards card (or app) is a smart idea. For starters, the Starbucks Rewards program gives you a free drink on your birthday, in addition to free in-store refills on coffee and tea. It also offers you the convenience of paying with your phone, instead of cash, at the register. You earn 2 stars for every $1 spent and after you collect 300 stars, you’ll be upgraded to Gold Status where you can cash in 125 stars for free food and drink. You must be 13 or older to participate in the program.

4. Plum Rewards – This is a free rewards program from Chapters/Indigo open to teens aged 16 and older. It offers bonus rewards on your birthday and your Plum anniversary. You earn 5 points for every dollar spent.  Redeem points in-store, online or through the app. Indigo has way more than just books these days, have you noticed? It also carries cute stationary, pillows, mugs and Swell water bottles to name a few. Plum Rewards members also have the chance to win unique “experiences” such as free advance movie screenings and 20% off concert/show tickets, chances to win trips and meet authors. Right now, Plum members have the chance to win tickets to advance screenings of the movies LEGO Batman and Before I Fall.

The VIP Insider Program – This program from Sephora gives you a free gift on your birthday. Every dollar you spend earns one dollar. You can use your points to redeem services, one of a kind experiences and samples. Here are some examples of what you can cash in for: 100 points for mini nail polish, make-up Forever mascara, lipstick and hydrating cream.

6. PC Optimum – President’s Choice and Shopper’s Drug Mart reently combined their program into the PC Optimum program. I think this is a good move for teens who may purchase cosmetics/make-up at shoppers AND love the clothing line Joe Fresh at Superstore. This way, they can earn PC Optimum points faster. If you haven’t done it already, go to Shoppers to get your new card, then download the PC Optimum app and you can add your PC points to this account. 

7.  Air Miles  — This program recently dropped the minimum age requirement from 18 to 16, which is a win for teens, although some would like it even younger. Air Miles is the largest and most popular reward program in Canada, and has many participating retailers. Your teen can choose to save up for a free flight (which might take a while) or use the cash option at stores such as Starbucks, Cineplex and Kernels popcorn.

8. Aeroplan – the great thing about Aeroplan is that you can sign your kids up once they turn two. Shop through the Aeroplan e-store to earn miles and at all FYI Doctor locations in Canada ( for eye exams, glasses and lenses).

“You can slowly start building up the balance. At two years old, you can take them on one flight a year and by the time they’re 18 they have earned a free flight for themselves in North America,” says Sojka.

9. Esso Extra Card – If your teen is driving and purchasing their own gas, then consider the Esso Extra card. It is free to join and there is no membership fee. You earn Esso Extra points when buying fuel, which can be redeemed for free gas, car washes or in the convenience store.

Bonus Tip – if your teen is also an Aeroplan member, you can swipe your Aeroplan card at the pump and receive air miles with the purchase of gas.

10. Girl Crew Card – Well, there have been lots of changes at Ivivva. Last year, it closed all but three of its stores across Canada. The West Edmonton Mall location is still open…for now. The Girl Crew program is still in effect, but now it’s complicated to use your 15% discount, that she gets for being a member of a participating team or dance studio. Here’s what you need to do: either call the store and order over the phone and have your Girl Crew discount applied that way OR you can go to Lululemon stores and order there where they will scan your card and apply your discount. They are working on a smoother transition for this program, but that’s the latest.

As Canadians, we love our rewards cards!! The average Canadian has between 6 – 11 rewards cards in his/her wallet. We are members of all the programs above – so bring on the freebies and the discounts!

 Let me know where your teen is shopping and earning loyalty rewards. Are there any programs that I’ve missed?

Michelle
 

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