Canadian Tire money
Canadian Tire money, officially Canadian Tire 'money', (CTM) is a loyalty program operated by the Canadian retail chain Canadian Tire. It consists of coupons, issued by the company, which resembles real banknotes. It can be used as scrip in Canadian Tire stores, but is not considered a private currency. The notes are printed on paper similar to what Canadian currency was printed on when they were printed on real paper, and were jointly produced by two of the country’s long-established security printers, British American Banknote Company (BABN) and Canadian Bank Note Company (CBN). Some privately owned businesses in Canada accept CTM as payment (see history below), since the owners of many such businesses shop at Canadian Tire. In Canadian Tire stores, CTM is accepted for Canadian money at par.
History and dynamics
A recognizable facet of CTM is the man featured on the face of each bill. According to Canadian Tire representatives, the fictional character represented is referred to as "Sandy McTire" and sports a tam o' shanter and a stylized waxed moustache. He is based on no specific individual but is assumed to represent a thrifty Scotsman, the 1950s everyman of blue-collar Canada.
It was introduced in 1958, and was inspired by Muriel Billes, the wife of Canadian Tire's co-founder and first president, Alfred J. Billes, as a response to the promotional giveaways that many gas companies offered at the time. It was only available at Canadian Tire gas bars but was so successful that, in 1961, it was extended to the retail stores as well, and has become the most successful loyalty program in Canadian retail history. Customers can use Canadian Tire Money to buy anything in the store. (Older coupons state that they are redeemable at Canadian Tire stores and gas stations; however, coupons produced during at least the last 15 years lack this wording and are therefore redeemable in the stores only.)
It can also be used to cover the sales tax on the purchases, since it is accepted as cash after the taxes are calculated. Also, even if a purchase was made entirely in these coupons, it is also considered as a cash purchase and more coupons will be calculated and paid out.
In Ontario, the Retail Sales Tax law and Bulletins state that the "coupon must be reimbursed by the franchisee". By submitting them to other merchants, the merchants were in essence breaking Ontario law when they failed to include the discount in the value of the goods being calculated for being taxed. Some merchants were accepting Canadian Tire Money as a discount, but then were not calculating and remitting the sales taxes, as required by law, and then were getting fined for the practice; this is an ongoing issue.
In 2012, Canadian Tire began a pilot program to make its money "plastic", to make it into a more manageable and trackable loyalty program. The new plastic loyalty card can earn points at more than twice the rate of the traditional paper money. According to customer service in July 2017 the rate on purchases made with the Canadian Tire "Options" card on in-store products is 4%. The reward rate for purchases at other stores is 0.8%.
In 1958, five different denominations (composed of 5-cents, 10-cents, 25-cents, 50-cents, and $1) were issued. The revision of 1962 included the introduction of four lower values (1 to 4 cents), and 12 higher denominations, including 35 and 60 cents. A sequence of six denominations was introduced in 1985 including the 3-cents, 5-cents, 10-cents, 25-cents, 40-cents, 50-cents, and $1. A $2 note was added in 1989, and the 3 cents was dropped in 1991.
CTM coupons are now produced in 5-cent, 10-cent, 25-cent, 50-cent, one-dollar, and two-dollar denominations. In addition, Canadian Tire Money can be earned electronically on Canadian Tire credit cards such as the Canadian Tire Options MasterCard. The latter can be used wherever MasterCard is accepted and earns Canadian Tire Money no matter where it is used to make a purchase, anywhere in the world. CTM is treated as real currency by the franchise and cannot be directly exchanged for real Canadian currency for customers. If an item bought with Canadian Tire Money is returned the customer receives either Canadian Tire Money back or is given the amount on a gift card. If an item is bought with cash or card and is returned for a refund the customer receives the refund less the value of the CTM issued on the item unless the CTM is also returned.
On December 2, 2009, as part of an advertised deal, Canadian Tire had handed out the first Canadian Tire coin, redeemable with the purchase of at least $40 of merchandise. Another similar deal followed in 2010 (coinciding with the 2010 Olympic Winter Games), with a three coin winter collection. The coins can be spent in the same manner as conventional CTM.
Usage beyond Canadian Tire
- In late 2004 in Moncton, New Brunswick, several customers at a Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce ATM were dispensed a total of 11 bills of Canadian Tire money instead of real bills. They were compensated by the bank.
- Culturally, Canadian Tire money is sometimes referred to by comedians: perhaps as a national version of "Monopoly money", perhaps invoking a pejorative comparison of the value of Canadian dollars against U.S. dollars, or perhaps as a misunderstood exotic element of Canadian society (cf. Ron James' comedic reference to the person depicted on the bill as "our king"). In the 2009 Trailer Park Boys movie Countdown to Liquor Day, Jim Lahey offers Julian $700 in Canadian Tire money for his trailer.
- In the mid-1990s, a man in Germany was caught with up to $11 million in counterfeit Canadian Tire money. It was recovered before he left for Canada to redeem it. An Armenian man from Georgia also had similar ideas about counterfeit scrip, and was caught with over 45 million in counterfeit coupons.