July 2, 2014 12:09 pm

Reward miles for Tim Hortons coffee instead of flights? Some say yes

Coffee cups sit at a Tim Hortons in Oakville, Ont. on September 16, 2013.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Canadians can buy a coffee with a credit card almost as easily as with cash these days – why not make one specifically to do just that?

Tim Hortons Inc. just has.

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The country’s largest coffee chain introduced on Wednesday a new loyalty program wrapped inside a Visa credit card. Partnering with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, or CIBC, Tims will start offering “Tim Cash” rewards to customers who make purchases with the new CIBC-issued credit card.

The “cash” can be redeemed to get coffee, doughnuts and other Tims menu items.

But is Tim Cash more appealing to consumers than, say, Air Miles or other rewards programs that can be used to get a wider range of products and services?

For many, the answer’s yes – at least, many who were asked by Global News at a local Tim Hortons location in northeast Toronto.

“I think that’s a terrific idea,” Ewa Perry, a 71-year-old retiree, said.

Perry currently collects Air Miles and for the past few years has exchanged them for gift cards for Christmas presents, or to buy groceries.

“I come here often enough, I might,” Sefanit Yehdego, 39, said after ordering a double double–which happens to be the actual name of the new card (the CIBC Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card).

She’s concerned though the new credit card could encourage her to use credit more often than cash though. “Then again, I might use my [credit] card more,” she said.

Purchases with the new card aren’t restricted to Tim Hortons locations, of course, but Tims and CIBC say the card offers “first-of-its-kind technology” that lets users access their credit or reward points when using the card to make a purchase at one of Tim Hortons’ 3,610 locations.

READ MORE: Can a chicken sandwich turn around a sales funk at Tims?

Tim Hortons says cardholders will earn one per cent in  Tim Cash on all purchases made on the card, so for every $100 spent on the card, users will receive a $1 credit.

Double Double not for everyone

Still, the promise of free coffee isn’t a big enough draw to get some to switch cards or loyalty programs.

“Me personally, no,” Raul De Freitas, a 54-year-old empty nester with a handful of coffees in a tray, said.

De Freitas mixes up his coffee tastes, sourcing from a variety of java purveyors, like Starbucks, MacDonald’s and others.

That said, “I think you’ve got a huge audience here,” he added.

READ MORE: Loyalty programs raise game amid tight competition 

He suggested new Canadians as well as young families could be interested in the card, customers who may see more value in getting a Tim Hortons sandwich, which carries a far lower point threshold than, say, an appliance or a flight.

“If you asked me this question 10 years ago, I would be all over it. I was a Tims freak,” De Freitas said.

Raising his kids who are now grown up, he worked out that going back a few years ago, he spent $2,000 annually at the chain. “I would even ask myself that; why aren’t they giving me some points for this,” he said.

James Zikos, 47, was asked if he’d switch over to an all-Tims loyalty program, a question met with a blunt, “No.”

“Coffee is coffee, I can get it anywhere,” Zikos said, carrying a medium regular in his left hand.

Zikos  said he’s quite content carrying on collecting Aeroplan points, which he used in the spring to go to Jamaica.

Tims and CIBC first made the announcement in February, but the wraps are now ready to come off the new loyalty program.

Unseating Air Miles as the country’s biggest loyalty program is certainly a tall order based on the informal survey conducted Wednesday.

“If I had to choose one, I’d probably choose the Air Miles,” Perry said. “Can’t I have both?”

The new CIBC Visa card whose loyalty program is for true Tims lovers.

Tim Hortons/CIBC

© Shaw Media, 2014

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