Tim Hortons Rewards: The best and worst value items

TORONTO, ON- JANUARY 10  -  A tea is passed to a customer at the thrive thru. Fight for 15 and Fairness holds a rally outside  the Tim Hortons location on Lawerence Avenue East in Scarborough in Toronto. Rallies are being held in other Ontario cities Wednesday where franchisees have scrapped paid breaks and  fully covered health and dental plans in response to the increase in minimum wage in Ontario.  in Toronto. January 10, 2018.  Tim Horton's corporate parent is Restaurant Brands International.        (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
A tea is passed to a customer at the drive thru in Toronto. January 10, 2018. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Tim Hortons kicked off its revamped rewards program last week. Now, instead of getting a free item on every eighth visit, customers will get 10 points for each visit, and can earn towards different products. While the original program rewarded loyal customers with a coffee, tea or baked good, the new program allows customers to redeem for more items, including breakfast and lunch sandwiches, cold beverages like Iced Capps, or even a box of Timbits.

But with the new system comes some added complications for the average consumer. With such a wide variety of products now available, it can be a somewhat daunting to ensure you’re getting the most value from your points.

The good news is, I’ve done the math for you, and have determined which items you can select to get the most value out of your points — and which ones to avoid.

The Rewards Program

Under the new program, there are six different points tiers you can redeem at: 50, 70, 100, 140, 180, 220. You can only redeem at these points values if your card is registered and you’re using the Tim Hortons app on your phone; otherwise, you’ll continue redeeming for a coffee, tea, or baked goods (excluding bagels) automatically after acquiring 120 points.

To select your reward, go into the app and select the type of reward you would like to redeem for:

An example of how to set the reward goal in the Tim Hortons app. (Yahoo News Canada)
An example of how to set the reward goal in the Tim Hortons app. (Yahoo News Canada)

Once you reach that amount of points and you make a purchase with one of the items in your selected reward tier in your order, you’ll automatically redeem your points for that item.


The Methodology

To determine the best value items, I created a list of all the possible items that can be obtained through the program, which you can see under the Terms and Conditions on the company’s Canadian webpage. I then went through the app to figure out all of the sizes available for each item, if applicable, and what it cost. All prices were based on the prices from my local Tim Hortons in Toronto — prices do vary by market, but generally remain consistent relative to other menu items, so while the price may be different where you are, the value compared to other menu items should remain the same. I was unable to find the Fruit Chill or Large-size sandwiches in my market, but if you find the prices for those at your local Tim Hortons, please let me know in the comments.

Each price was then divided by the number of groups of 10 that went into that tier’s point value (that’s definitely not the mathematically accurate way to explain that, but I am a humble rewards points enthusiast, not a mathematician). For example, if the price of the item was $2.99 and it was available for 70 points, I calculated 2.99/7. This gave me the value per 10 points for the item.

I then compared the value per 10 points for each item across all tiers, and determined which was the highest and the lowest.

The Best Value Rewards

If your value per 10 points is $0.27 or greater, you’re getting good value for redemption. Much like Starbucks’ rewards program, your best value is generally an extra large coffee or tea, as they have the highest cost but are redeemed at one of the lowest tiers. For all products, you can redeem your points for any size, although any add-ons like whipped topping or an espresso shot aren’t included.

These are the items with the highest points-to-cost ratio:


5) Item: Fruit Smoothie or Creamy Chill (Large)

Cost: $4.39

Reward Cost: 140

Value per 10 points: $0.31

These relatively new menu items for Tim Hortons turns out to be good value for your points, even if you redeem for a Medium instead (at a value per 10 points of $0.26). If you have been on the fence about trying a Tim Hortons smoothie or milkshake, you can at least do it without paying now and still get good value for your points.

4) Item: Coffee/Tea (Extra Large)

Cost: $2.19

Reward Cost: 70

Value per 10 points: $0.31

If you were a Rewards member before the switch to the revamped program, redeeming for a coffee or tea remains the same value. Since all sizes cost the same in reward points, going for the largest will get you the best point value (and one of the best point values overall).

3) Item: Hash brown

Cost: $1.59

Reward Cost: 50

Value per 10 points: $0.32

For all the people who add a hash brown alongside to their morning coffee, this one’s for you. Available for redemption at the lowest tier, it only takes five visits to earn enough for a free hash brown and get good value for your points.

2) Item: Specialty Bagel

Cost: $2.29

Reward Cost: 70 points

Value per 10 points: $0.33

This little revelation is great news for anyone keen on Four Cheese bagels — you can redeem your points for one and get terrific value for it. It should be noted though: if you want to add cream cheese or peanut butter, that will cost extra.

1) Item: Cinnamon Roll

Cost: $2.49

Reward Cost: 70

Value per 10 points: $0.36

The best value item you can redeem for may not be available everywhere, but if you’re keen to get the most value for your points, you want to find a cinnamon roll. It’s the best value item by a full cent more than the next highest item.

The Worst Value Rewards

Interestingly, the worst value for redemption primarily exists in the 140-point tier. There are some good value products to be had for this amount, but as you’ll see, the dollar value on many of them are very low, and in many cases cost more than the products in lower-point tiers.

A box of Tim Hortons timbits sits isolated on a white background.
A box of Timbits. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada - July 30, 2011. (Getty)

5) Item: Box of 10 Timbits

Cost: $2.39

Reward Cost: 140 points

Value per 10 points: $0.17

Remember when 20 Timbits cost a toonie? Those days are long gone, and this reward tier isn’t your best value either. In fact, for only 10 points more, you can get three doughnuts instead (what’s the ratio of Timbits to a doughnut, anyway?).

4) Item: Classic Tea Biscuit

Cost: $1.19

Reward Cost: 70 points

Value per 10 points: $0.17

If you’re going to redeem for a baked good at the 70 point tier, this isn’t the one to get, as every other baked good is worth at least $0.21 per 10 points.

(Dis)honourable mention also goes to Oatmeal (regular size), which is also valued at $0.17 per 10 points in the 140 point tier.

3) Item: Tea Latte (Small)

Cost: $2.09

Reward Cost: 140 points

Value per 10 points: $0.15

If you absolutely must have your London Fog, go for the Large instead to get some better value from your points, although at a value of $0.19 per 10 points, you’re still not going to maximize your point potential.

2) Item: Frozen Lemonade (Small/Medium)

Cost: $1.79/$2.19

Reward Cost: 140 points

Value per 10 points: $0.13/$0.16

This summer mainstay is delicious, but won’t get you very good value. The Large size is moderately better at $0.18/10 points, but you’d be better off getting a Fruit Smoothie or Creamy Chill for the same points, instead.

1) Item: Single Espresso

Cost: $1.29

Reward Cost: 140 points

Value per 10 points: $0.09

The double espresso isn’t much better, with a reward value of $0.14, making it another of the lowest value rewards, although still not as bad as a single. It’s a little perplexing why the espresso is in this rewards tier aside from all the other espresso beverages being in this tier, too.

Of course, it doesn’t matter what’s highest and lowest value items are if they’re not something you’d be interested in buying, anyway. A deal is only a deal if you were going to buy that item in the first place, right?

Have you figured out any hacks with the new Tim Hortons reward system? Let us know in the comments below.