These days employers need to offer their employees more than just a salary and benefit plan. Even in a soft job market, companies need to retain their talented people by creating a rewarding environment that keeps their employees motivated. That’s why gift card rewards are becoming more popular as an incentive program for employees.
They’re often perceived as better value than cash, and can be purchased in as little as $5 or $10 increments, which is perfect for a quick “thank you” to your staff.
Related: Redeem Air Miles For Gift Cards
Best Gift Card Rewards
If you’re looking for the best gift card rewards for your employee incentive program, consider these options:
If you are setting up a corporate incentive program with gift card rewards you probably want to limit your choices to the stores that offer a broad range of items. For apparel, that means sticking with a unisex clothing store that appeals to both men and women.
Stores like The Gap and Old Navy have a wide range of clothing for men, women and children and are available in most large communities. For an even broader selection you can try a department store like The Bay (HBC Rewards) and Winners.
If you have the capability to offer gender specific gift card rewards then try Mark’s Work Wearhouse for men and Lulu Lemon for the ladies.
Home and Garden
Another area where gift card rewards would come in handy is in the home and garden centres. Canadians love shopping at places like Home Hardware, Home Depot and of course, Canadian Tire.
These stores are great all year round, from garden supplies in the spring to Christmas decor in the winter. Your employees will definitely find something worthwhile at a home and garden store.
Books, Music and Movies
Sometimes the best gift card rewards are for entertainment items that your employees might not typically purchase regularly for themselves. For books you can try Chapter’s in-store or online gift cards.
Apple has revolutionized the music industry with iTunes, which make for great gift card rewards that can be purchased almost anywhere. For movies, Galaxy Cinemas dominates the theatres across Canada and their gift cards can be purchased in-store or online.
Related: Cineplex SCENE Rewards Card
No gift card rewards list would be complete without including some of Canada’s favourite restaurants. Some of the best Canadian restaurants include The Keg, Moxie’s, Earl’s, Olive Garden and Red Lobster. While employees will certainly have their preferences as far as dining goes, these chains are known for their quality food and service.
Add Gift Card Rewards to your Incentive Program
Offering your employees an extra bonus in the form of gift card rewards will go a long way towards creating a positive culture at your company. Gift cards have a high utility and hold a lot of perceived value in the eyes of the card holder.
The recession has been hard on companies and employees alike. Bonuses were eliminated and wages were frozen.
Keep your employee satisfaction at a high level by offering small gift card rewards as an incentive for great performance or for outstanding loyalty. Even a $5 gift card for Tim Horton’s coffee is a great and affordable way to say thanks to your employees.
What are some other great gift card rewards out there?
Since I need to purchase gas on a regular basis I like to earn free gas rewards with a loyalty program like Esso Extra points. With Esso Extra you earn 1 or more points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases at Esso stations.
I’m always a big fan of using rewards cards for necessity items like groceries and gas. I already use my PC MasterCard to earn PC points that I redeem for free groceries, and I collect Air Miles rewards to redeem them for products like free gas rewards.
Related: Best Gas Rewards Cards
Earning Esso Extra Gas Rewards
The Esso Extra points program is a great way to earn gas rewards. Here’s how the Esso Extra program works:
Just swipe your Esso Extra card every time you make a purchase at an Esso station – at the pump or in the store. You can earn 1 or more points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases at Esso stations. If you aren’t already a member you can sign-up to earn a bonus of 200 Esso Extra points
Put the Speedpass on your keychain and you can pay instantly for everything you need at Esso stations while automatically earning Esso Extra points every time.
- The Speedpass is free and accepted at thousands of Esso stations across the country
- No need to dig out your reward credit cards, cash or loyalty card. Just point your Speedpass at the reader when you’re ready to pay
Link your Speedpass to Esso Extra and you’ll earn 1 or more Esso Extra points for every eligible dollar you spend at Esso stations. For a limited time when you sign-up and use your Speedpass for the first time, you can receive 500 Esso Extra bonus points.
RBC Royal Bank Esso Visa Card
As with most loyalty programs, you can earn Esso Extra points faster by using an affiliated credit card. The RBC Royal Bank Esso Visa Card will earn you 2 or more Esso Extra points for every eligible dollar you spend at Esso stations. Earn 1 point per dollar everywhere else Visa is accepted. Esso Extra membership is automatic when you sign up, and there is no annual fee.
Related: CIBC Petro Points MasterCard
You can earn 4,500 bonus Esso Extra points when you apply and make your first purchase. That is enough points for $25 in free gas rewards.
Redeeming Esso Extra points
You can redeem your Esso Extra points for free gas rewards, car washes, Esso gift cards, lottery tickets and other in-store rewards.
- 1,800 Esso Extra points will get you $10 in free gas rewards or Esso gift cards, and 8,500 Esso Extra points will get you $50 in free gas rewards or Esso gift cards.
- 499 Esso Extra points will get you one full car wash, and 599 Esso Extra points will get you one luxury car wash.
- 160 Esso Extra points will get you $1 lottery ticket, and 3,200 Esso Extra points will get you $20 in lottery tickets.
You can redeem your Esso Extra points easily in-store or online.
Fuel is a monthly expense that the majority of us have to deal with, and with rising gas prices it’s nice to be able to subsidize your fuel costs with free gas rewards from a loyalty program like Esso Extra. That being said, Esso Extra is not the most lucrative rewards program out there.
Related: Petro Points Reward Program Review
If you are just earning 1 Esso Extra point for every dollar spent and it takes 1,800 Esso Extra points to earn enough to redeem for $10 in gas rewards, that’s less than 0.6% return on your money spent.
For serious rewards cards junkies, there are better options than the Esso Extra loyalty program. The good news is that you can also collect Aeroplan miles at Esso stations as an alternative to Esso Extra points.