Wednesday, 23 May 2012

SCENE Loyalty Program: Part II

My last post about the SCENE program talked the kind of awards that could be redeemed and attempted to put a dollar value on each prize to see which one was worth the most for the least amount for points. I also talked about the how we could earn points. Today let's go over the other options to accumulate points so that we can collect points quicker. You'll be able to see free movies in no time.

Along with earning points with the SCENE card on purchases such as movie tickets and concession snacks, Cineplex teamed up with Scotia Bank to offer both a SCENE debit and credit card. When I was younger, I learned the idea that credit cards were pure evil. Everything from television shows and adults gave me lessons on how the little piece of plastic would ultimately leave people drowning in debt. However, now I see that credit cards are a great tool (if properly used of course) and getting one with perks is a nice bonus to having the liquidity that a credit card offers.

Before we talk about the credit card, let's talk about the debit card. Here's the skinny: 5 points for every $1 spent at Cineplex and 1 point for every $5 spent anywhere else. Just like with the plain old points card, you'll receive a kick-start of 1000 points (essentially a free movie) just for signing up. You can get an additional 1000 points by setting up a payroll deposit or 2 pre-authorized debits and/or pre-authorized credits.

Now let's look at how much you're getting back if this was a cash-back debit card. We'll use the movie ticket as the standard to determine the $/point conversion ($11.99 / 1000 points = $0.01199 per point earned). Consider the scenario where the debit card user only uses the card outside of Cineplex (1 points / $5 spent), how much money would the user have to spend in order to get a movie ticket?

1000 points / (1 point / $5 spent) = $5000 spent in order to earn 1000 points.

This means that when you spend $5000, you'll receive $11.99 (the cost of a ticket) back, or:

$11.99 / $5000 x 100% = 0.2398%

If the same calculation is done for money spent as Cineplex (5 points / $1 spent):

1000 points / (5 points / $1 spent) = $200 spent in order to earn 1000 points


$11.99/ $200 x 100% = 5.995%

So, we can say that the debit card gives you around 0.24% back on however much you normally spend and around 6% back on however much you spend at Cineplex. The 6% is obviously very large but most of the time you would be using your debit card elsewhere at the measly 0.24% cash-back but that's better than nothing; which is what you would get with most debit cards. Something to remember is that the percentages are only theoretical since the points are restricted to movie ticket redemption and other awards (which would also change the cash-back percentage depending on what prizes you're looking at).

Alright now on to the credit card. Again, just like the other two cards, you'll get points just for signing up. This time you'll receive 2000 points for getting the card. The credit card also has the same rate of 5 points/ $1 spent at Cineplex as the debit card. However, purchases elsewhere will earn 1 point/ $1 spent instead of the abysmal 1 point/ $5 spent.

Since this is a one to one conversion, it is easy to see that in order to get 1000 points, you would have to spend $1000. In terms of cash-back:

$11.99 / $1000 x 100% = 1.199%

This is slightly better than most no fee cash-back credit cards. Again, the fact that the "cash-back" is restricted to Cineplex merchandise should be taken into consideration along with the fact that the calculations change when a different prize is being redeemed.

The SCENE credit card was actually the first credit card that I ever got on my own. I quickly realized that I can pay for the majority of my purchases via credit and took advantage of that fact; I paid for my meals with credit and even put my phone bill on the card (just be careful when using credit cards and use them only if you have the money to pay it off). I accumulated points like it was nobody's business.

I eventually moved on to credit cards that actually gave me cash back. This is because personally, the movie tickets weren't giving me a return of 1.199%. Why? Well, the student union at my school offers to sell me Cineplex general admission tickets for around $10. This alters the calculations:

$10 / $1000 x 100 % = 1%

With 1% back, I could just use a cash-back credit card and not have the restriction of having to spend the cash-back at Cineplex. Also because I was able to buy discounted tickets, I usually ended up redeeming my points for the e-Gift Cards for food.

The SCENE credit card is a great starter card because it was easy to get approved for; even for a poor student like me. Getting a credit card early can help build your credit rating and may even help you get better cards later on. Of course you have to be mindful of the fact that if you don't go to the movies then all the hard-earned points would go to waste but considering the fact that many students can only get cards that give you absolutely no perks, this is definitely better than nothing.

-the Paperboy

Disclosure: Long Cineplex and no position in Scotiabank as of writing.

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