Tim Hortons Rewards Program Review:Tim Rewards
We have spent some time over our last reviews looking at the customer loyalty programs of several of Canada's largest financial institutions. Structured in the form of credit card rewards programs, the bank loyalty programs that we've seen reward customers for using their bank credit cards to make purchases by awarding points based on the value of each purchase, which can then be redeemed for rewards such as travel, merchandise, and gift cards.
We're sticking with this focus on customer loyalty programs in today's review, but we're stepping outside the financial sector for a moment and into the retail sector to take a look at the rewards programs of a different, and uniquely Canadian, institution: Tim Hortons!
Yes, Tim Hortons has a customer loyalty program too. So if you're one of the millions of Canadians that can't go more than a day or two without stopping into your local Tim Hortons for a coffee, a donut, or some Timbits, keep reading to find out how the money you're already spending there can earn you free drinks or delicious food the next time you stop by.
Tim Hortons Rewards Overview
The Tims Reward program has existed for some time now. In its original form, customers would simply scan their Tim Hortons reward card or the Tim Hortons app on their mobile device after each visit, and they would receive a free coffee, tea, or baked good after seven visits. But Tims Rewards recently underwent a substantial change that, while adding a bit of complexity to the program, ultimately expands rewards offerings to loyal Tim Hortons customers.
How to earn Tim Hortons rewards
Even after the recent changes, the Tims Rewards program is still a customer loyalty program designed to entice customers to visit Tim Hortons locations more frequently by rewarding customers with a set number of points per visit. Customers then redeem those points for free items from Tim Hortons' menu.
As of this writing, Tim Hortons customers earn 10 rewards points per visit, provided the customer spends at least 50¢ each time and each visit is at least 30 minutes apart. Interestingly, this means, of course, that Tims Rewards points are not necessarily tied to the amount of money a customer spends per visit. In other words, customers earn the same 10 points per visit whether they spend 50¢ or $50.
How to redeem Tim Hortons rewards
Earning rewards is the simple part. We mentioned earlier that the new Tims Rewards program is remarkably more complex than it was in its prior form. Well, here's where it starts to get complicated.
When the Tims Rewards program was first introduced, customers earned the same reward (a free coffee, tea, or baked good every 8th visit) whether they "registered" their rewards card not. By registering, we mean linking the physical rewards card with the Tim Hortons app.
Previously, customers could simply scan their physical Tims Rewards card each visit and work up to their reward regardless of whether they also had an online rewards account or not. Now, however, to get the most of the Tims Rewards program, Tim Hortons requires customers to link their physical rewards card with a Tims Rewards account by signing up for an account with an email address through their website or through the Tim Hortons app.
Failure to link one's physical rewards card with an online rewards account results in that customer only being eligible to redeem his or her rewards points for a coffee, tea, or donut instead of being able to redeem points for an expanded menu of items. What is more, members with an unlinked rewards account must accumulate 120 points for their reward, whereas that same reward (coffee, tea, or donut) costs just 70 points for members who have linked their physical cards to their Tim Hortons app.
But there is a second layer of complexity to the new program as well. Customers must pre-select the type of items they wish to redeem their points for. Tim Hortons advertises a total of 14 different rewards levels, each of which allows the customer to redeem points for a different class of menu items. To see all 14 levels of the rewards menu, a customer must register for a rewards account. But Tim Hortons did release the following information, which should help give some context to the new program.
- 50 points: For 50 points, rewards members can receive a free hash brown, classic donut, specialty donut, or a cookie.
- 70 points: For 70 points, rewards members can choose between brewed coffee, tea, Dream Donuts, bagels, or baked goods.
- 100 points: For 100 points, rewards members can choose between premium beverages such as hot chocolate, French Vanilla coffee, or iced coffee.
- 140 points: For 140 points, rewards members gain access to signature menu items such as the Classic Iced Capp®, other frozen beverages, espresso drinks, or a box of 10 Timbits®.
- 180 points: For 180 points, rewards members can receive a free breakfast sandwich or bowl of soup.
- 220 points: Finally, at the very top of the rewards menu are lunch sandwiches, BELTs, farmers breakfast sandwiches, and chili.
Because customers must pre-select their rewards level, customer can apply rewards points only for items within that level. In other words, if a customer pre-selects the 100-point level, he or she would not be able to redeem points for any other menu item besides the items in that level. The benefit, however, of using the Tim Hortons app to pre-select a rewards level is that the app will automatically apply rewards points to any purchase made from that level, provided there are enough points in the customer's account to cover the price of the item.
Tim Hortons rewards points value
Recall that Tim Hortons awards points based on number of visits, not amount spent per visit. Thus, one customer could spend $10 in a single visit, while another spends just $2. Yet both would receive the same 10 points for that single visit. For this reason, it's impossible to assign an exact value in real-world purchasing power to a Tims Rewards point because each customer will likely have spent a different amount of money to accumulate the same number of points.
To illustrate, let's assume the two customers above both make five trips to their local Tim Hortons and spend the same amount each time. The first customer will spend $50, and the second customer will spend just $10. Both customers will earn enough rewards points for a free brewed coffee, but the first customer spent five times as much real money to earn the same reward.
Getting the Most Out of Your Tim Hortons rewards
Tim Hortons made a calculated call when it decided to link rewards points with number of visits and not the amount spent per visit. On the one hand, this creates a sort of backward incentive for customers to spend as little as possible per visit in order to maximize the value of their rewards points. After all, if a customer can earn 50 points by spending $2.50 or the same 50 points by spending $250, the customer doesn't have much reason to spend much more than the minimum necessary to accumulate enough points for their desired award.
But on the other hand, running a successful retail operation is all about getting customers into a store. Once inside, customers are likely to browse around, see something that they like that they didn't necessarily come into the store looking for, and make an impulse purchase. This is especially true in food service establishments, where delicious sights and smells are likely to entice hungry customers to purchase more than the bare minimum once inside.
However, despite its added complexity, the new and improved Tims Rewards program provides loyal customers with access to a wider range of menu items than the original program. For this reason, and because points are linked to number of visits and not to amount spent, the best way to maximize the value of your Tims Rewards points is to make frequent trips to your local Tim Hortons for small things like a donut or a coffee, pre-select a premium rewards level, then use the points you accumulate making many small purchases to cover the cost of a more expensive item.
The new Tims Rewards program is not as simple as the original one, but it ultimately provides customers with more choices. So long as you're comfortable sharing your email address with Tim Hortons to register an online rewards account, Tims Rewards is a great way earn free items from one of Canada's most iconic brands.
- How do I log in to my Tim Hortons rewards account?
The easiest way to access your Tims Rewards account is through the Tim Hortons mobile app.
- How do I contact Tim Hortons rewards?
Customers can contact Tim Hortons via telephone, social media, or through the dedicated contact portal on Tim Hortons' website.
- Are Tim Hortons rewards points transferrable?
It does not appear Tims Rewards points are transferrable between accounts at this time.
- Do Tim Hortons rewards expire?
Yes. Tims Rewards expire after 12 months.
- How do I check my Tim Horton's rewards balance?
Customers can check their Tims Rewards balance online or through the Tim Hortons mobile app.