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The following article appeared in the July 2009 issue of The Collector, a publication of the Canadian Tire Coupon Collectors Club. It is an original work of the author, Brent W.J. Mackie. All rights reserved. © Copyright 2009 Brent W.J. Mackie.


It Pays To Buy Gas Here™

Canadian Tire “Money” and Canadian Tire Gas Bars

By: Brent W.J. Mackie

Everyone knows that when you purchase fuel at your local Canadian Tire Gas Bar, you earn Canadian Tire "Money". Most people do not think about how much Canadian Tire Money can be earned on these purchases, or how to maximize this earning. Even fewer people are aware of the changes made in recent years to the amount of Canadian Tire Money given out on fuel purchases.

In the Canadian Tire retail stores, Canadian Tire Money is earned as a percentage of the total pre-tax sale. At the Gas Bar, you earn Canadian Tire Money based on the quantity of fuel purchased, not the monetary amount. See figure 1 for the current amounts of Canadian Tire Money earned on fuel purchases.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Canadian Tire Money earned on Gas Bar purchases (since 2007)

Canadian Tire also issues "Bonus" coupons in their weekly flyers, at the cash registers in their retail stores, from their website, and during special promotions. These coupons multiply the amount of Canadian Tire Money earned on fuel purchases at the Gas Bar. The multiplier rates vary from 4x through 12x. The lower multiplier rates (4-6x) are the most common and appear regularly. Higher multipliers (7-9x) are somewhat more rare, but do occur reasonably often. The highest multipliers (10x and 12x) are almost exclusively reserved for special events or promotions including new store openings, significant sale events, etc.

Tip #1: Watch for special events and pick up these high-value multiplier coupons.

When high-value multiplier coupons become available, take advantage of them. Use a gas can to get an extra 10 or 20 L of fuel. You will especially want to do this if the price of fuel is particularly low at the time. If you do not drive a lot and can often go for more than a week or two between fill-ups, consider skipping a fill-up during a week when only a 4x multiplier coupon is available so you can take advantage of the more valuable 6x, 8x or even 10x coupon the following week.

Tip #2: If you can, wait until high-value multiplier coupons are available before filling up. Use a gas can for extra fuel during a 4x week so you can wait for the 8x coupon next week.

Canadian Tire Financial Services (CTFS) also offers several MasterCard products including the Canadian Tire Options Mastercard. The Options MasterCard allows users to collect their Canadian Tire Money electronically as "Money On The Card". Another benefit to using the Options MasterCard is that you will automatically receive the highest posted multiplier without requiring a coupon. The main drawback that CTCCC members will notice is that you accumulate Canadian Tire Money electronically and not in the form of the coupons we all know and love.

Paying cash with no multiplier coupon to buy gas will earn the base rates. As an example, on a 40 L cash purchase with no multiplier, you will get $0.15 in Canadian Tire Money. If you had a 4x multiplier coupon available from the Canadian Tire website, you would get $0.60 back. If you used your Options MasterCard, you would get $0.90 in "Money On The Card" because the weekly flyer has a 6x multiplier coupon.

Tip #3: Use your Canadian Tire Options MasterCard so you don’t have to find current coupons all the time.

Figure 1 shows the amount of Canadian Tire Money that you get for various quantities of fuel purchased. There are several "tiers," each of 10 L except for the lowest tier that is 20 L (10-29.9 L). You will earn the same amount of Canadian Tire Money on a 30 L purchase as you will on a 39 L purchase. In today's economy, we all want to make our dollars go farther and get as much as we can for our money. How do you maximize the amount of Canadian Tire Money earned on fuel purchases?

To get the most Canadian Tire Money for your purchase, you want to maximize the amount of Canadian Tire Money earned per litre. In the example above, it is obvious that you earn more Canadian Tire Money per litre when you buy 30 L than you do when you buy 39 L. It should also be obvious that you earn more per litre at 40 L than at 49 L. But do you earn more per litre at 40 L or at 30 L? What amount of fuel do you need to purchase to get the most Canadian Tire Money per litre? The answer lies in a little bit of math and a chart to illustrate the data.

Figure 2 shows the amount of Canadian Tire Money earned per litre of fuel purchased. As seen in the previous examples, you earn more Canadian Tire Money per litre at 30 L than you do at 39 L and more at 40 L than at 49 L. What you likely did not expect is the very high returns at 10 L. This is the "sweet spot" where you can earn the most Canadian Tire Money per litre of fuel purchased.

Figure 2
Figure 2: Graph of Canadian Tire Money earned per litre with a 10x multiplier coupon

Let's go through a practical example: your car is nearly empty and you know from experience that you can fit a little over 30 L in the tank before it's full. This week is one of those rare times when a 10x multiplier coupon is available. You pull up to the pump and get 38 L of fuel. After paying and surrendering your coupon, you are rewarded with a whopping $1.00 in Canadian Tire Money (10x the base amount of $0.10 for 30-39.9 L). The guy at the pump beside you read this article before you did, so he's going to try and get the biggest bang for his buck. He also only needs 30 L or so. But instead of making a single purchase, he makes three purchases, each just over 10 L. On each purchase, with his Options MasterCard (meaning he doesn't need the multiplier coupon), he will get $0.50 (10x the base amount of $0.05 for 10-29.9 L). With three identical purchases, he gets a total of $1.50 in Canadian Tire Money representing a bonus of 50% more than you got on your single purchase. He also only had to purchase 30 L to get that.

Tip #4: To maximize your Canadian Tire Money, buy fuel in separate purchases of 10 L at a time.

Figure 3
Figure 3: Canadian Tire Money earned on Gas Bar purchases (up to 2007)

Original Rewards, Different Strategy

Once upon a time, the rewards offered by Canadian Tire Gas Bars were somewhat better, and the strategies for maximizing your Canadian Tire Money were different. Around the beginning of 2007, Canadian Tire made two changes to the rewards offered at Gas Bars. The first change was the amount of Canadian Tire Money offered for each of the various tiers. See figure 3 for the original rewards offered up to 2007. The second change was that the first tier changed from "20-29.9 L" to "10-29.9 L". This change was much more interesting.

The effect of this change was that the graph of Canadian Tire Money Earned per litre added the tall spike between 10 and 20 L (see Figure 2). Without that spike, it would have been most economical to buy as much fuel in one purchase as you could as long as you could hit a multiple of 10 L. For example, if your car could take 55 L, purchase 50 L in order to hit the high point of the next spike without sliding down the slope again. Prior to this change, it would have been a smart idea to bring along a large 20 L gas can so you could get an even better amount of Canadian Tire Money per litre. If you bought 60 L with a 10x coupon, you would have received $4.00, or 6.67¢ per litre. If you bought 70 L with a 10x coupon, you would have received $5.00, or 7.14¢ per litre. The "sweet spot" was the highest multiple of 10 L that you could get.

Canadian Tire and Sobeys

In mid to late 2004, Canadian Tire and Sobeys (a supermarket chain in Ontario) teamed up to provide a coupon for 2.5¢ per litre redeemable at any Sobeys store. A 60 L purchase with a 10x multiplier coupon would have earned $4.00 in Canadian Tire Money, plus $1.50 off at Sobeys. This represents a total savings of $5.50, or 9.17¢ per litre! Over the course of this promotion, they modified it so that instead of being valid for 60 days, the Sobeys coupons were only valid for 30 days, and they also implemented a minimum $30 purchase at Sobeys before you could redeem any coupons. All in all, however, it was a lucrative reason to buy gas at Canadian Tire. This promotion ended in early 2007.

Now you know a bit of the recent history of Canadian Tire Gas Bars and Canadian Tire Money, and you have a few tips to help you get the most Canadian Tire Money from your purchases. Even with the reduced rewards, it still does pay to buy your gas at Canadian Tire!

It Pays To Buy Gas Here™ is a trademark of Canadian Tire Corporation.