The mahjong pieces are starting to fall into place at the Scene+ loyalty program.
On the one hand, the company is stealing the Sobeys partnership right out from under the nose of the ailing Air Miles program. On the other hand, Scene+’s main partner and major shareholder, Scotiabank, is fighting hard to carve out a space for itself in the increasingly-competitive Canadian loyalty market.
What this means for you is pure profit. The Bank of Nova Scotia is making it clear in no uncertain terms that they plan on supercharging its suite of credit cards to be far more attractive to consumers.
Scotia Amex Gold: 6x Scene+ Points at Sobeys Grocery Stores
I’ve already covered the changes coming to Scotiabank’s credit card portfolio on July 1, 2022. These include, but are not limited to:
- An increased earn rate of 2 Scene+ points per dollar spent on gas and groceries for the no-fee Scotiabank American Express Card
- The abolition of that awful 2.5% FX fee on the $399-a-year Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card
- The addition of mobile device insurance to the no-fee and Platinum Amex cards
Turns out, these upgrades are not all that’s in store for the Amex-powered Scotiabank portfolio. Starting October 1, 2022, there are exciting changes coming to both the baseline red card and its higher-class cousin, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card.
As we can see, the earn rate of the Gold card is moving up to a whopping 6 Scene+ points per dollar spent at participating Sobeys-affiliated grocery stores: Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés TradItIon, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op.
The basic “red” Scotiabank American Express Card is also getting a slight improvement. Its increased earn rate of 2 Scene+ points per dollar spend, coming on July 1, 2022, will be further enhanced to 3 Scene+ points per dollar spent at that same list of Sobeys-affiliated grocery stores.
This is great for moviegoers and travel enthusiasts alike, because it means that Scene+, a program excellent for attaining both, is trying to eat market share from its competitors by incentivizing you to use their products.
The earn hike they’ve detailed will make the Scotiabank Gold American Express card one of the most competitive on the market, especially when one considers that it also offers no foreign transaction fees.
The inability to transfer points to competitive partners like Aeroplan does make the American Express Cobalt Card, which earns 5 MR points per dollar spent, a tad more powerful in my eyes. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact the new Scotia Amex Gold earn rates are pretty fantastic indeed.
|Credit Card||Best Offer||Value|
|45,000 Scene+ points||$525||Apply Now|
|12,000 Scene+ points||$170||Apply Now|
|70,000 Scene+ points||$161||Apply Now|
Scotiabank Visa Cards: Up to 3x Scene+ Points at Sobeys Grocery Stores
However, the love doesn’t stop with Scotiabank’s Amex cards. Their co-branded Visa cards which earn Scene+ points will also be receiving a similar set of upgrades. Let’s take a look:
While it’s unfortunate the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite will see its annual fee rise from $139 to $150, this can easily be offset by getting a card for free in the first year.
Alternatively, you could open a Scotiabank chequing account which waives credit card fees, should you have the required liquid capital. Still, the 3 Scene+ points per dollar spent is a welcome addition.
As for the co-branded Scotiabank Scene+ Visa Card, it will no longer be a card to remove from the drawer only on movie night.
Instead, it will get to start earning 2 Scene+ points per dollar spent on the Sobeys suite of grocery stores, makes it a no-fee card with no income requirement that earns 2x on many commonly-frequented locales. Not too shabby.
A Beautiful Future for Scene+?
The reason that all these improvements to Scene+ co-branded credit cards are so exciting is because this program is now shaping up to be one of the most versatile in Canada.
The ability to bring your own travel to any Scene+ denominated card makes them much more powerful to keep in your wallet, as you can choose to spend points on whatever type of travel you desire at a flat 1 cent per point (cpp).
One feels obliged to ask the question: is this growth of Scene+ a sustainable future for the Sobeys–Cineplex–Scotiabank trinity?
The ability to burn at 1cpp on travel of your choice is doubtless a wonderful one, but the IT of the Scene+ app still isn’t perfect, and I’ve read or heard multiple complaints from fellow travel enthusiasts about the customer service (or lack thereof) being provided by the Scotiabank and Scene+ call centres.
I certainly wish success to Scene+ as it moves to surpass Air Miles and compete among Canada’s top loyalty programs, but it would be awful if this program followed the latter’s trajectory. The multiple devaluations of Air Miles have ultimately caused it to become one which customers have treated warily and partners have openly shunned, and so ought to be avoided.
One of the best ways to put Scene+ customers’ minds at peace now would be investing in superior customer service and IT, which simply isn’t something customers are observing at the moment.
The changes to Scotiabank’s credit card portfolio shows that they want a competitive edge on the market, and that the bank and Scene+ partners are prepared to work for their customers.
In particular, the Scotia Gold Amex increasing its earning rate to 6x Scene+ points at Sobeys-affiliated grocery stores makes it one of the best returns on grocery spending you’ll find on any Canadian credit card.
Here’s hoping that the story of Scene+ won’t try and make travel redemptions worth less, or jack the price of complimentary movie tickets. Until, then, I say go out and give Scotiabank’s revamped products a spin – some other financial institutions should be taking notes.
Until next time, may your points balances never run dry.