How does the SAQ Inspire program work?

To the point Here's how to earn and use SAQ Inspire points, take advantage of promotions and save when shopping at SAQ with gift cards!

Despite a very captive clientele in Quebec since it is – almost – the only place where Quebecers can buy alcohol from, this program represents a way for the SAQ to better understand the expectations of its customers.

Moreover, the SAQ Inspire program has seduced Quebecers since in 3 years, out of 5.6 million potential alcohol buyers in Quebec, there are 2.1 million subscribers!

Find out more about the SAQ Inspire program in this introduction:

  • How to register for the SAQ Inspire program
  • How to earn and use SAQ Inspire points
  • How promotions and the SAQ Inspire profile work
  • How to get 4 to 5% off at the SAQ with gift cards
  • My opinion on this program

How do I enroll in the SAQ Inspire program?

In a SAQ branch

All you have to do is ask an advisor to register you (or at checkout). In exchange for your email address, you will receive an SAQ Inspire card.

You will then be invited to complete your online profile on the SAQ Inspire website. You will get 300 bonus points when you customize your profile.

On the SAQ website

You can also register online on the website.

In order for you to have a profile that corresponds to your tastes, the SAQ allows you to personalize it. You are then asked several questions – it takes 2 minutes and earns you 300 points.

The following are examples of questions:

personal profile 2

You can request an additional SAQ Inspire card when you register. By linking them to a single account, it allows two people from the same family for example, to earn points to the same account when they visit an SAQ branch.

How do I earn SAQ Inspire points?

Earning rate

For every dollar you spend in an SAQ branch, you get 5 base points on your Inspire card.

Purchases Points Value
$1 5 points 5 cents
$100 500 points 50 cents
$200 1,000 points $1

As you can see, this is not necessarily the way you will be able to earn the most points. The return rate is only 0.5%!

We’ve seen better… but it’s already better than nothing!

Accelerated Earning

Promotions displayed on product labels allow you to earn more points – known as bonus points on certain products.

For example, on certain bottles, you can earn 500 – 750 – 1,000 – 2,000 – 3,000 additional bonus points. You can find these products in this flyer. This therefore amounts to a kind of subsequent discount on the purchase of a future product.

The return rate made available through accelerated earning is then more interesting. Let’s say you buy a $15 bottle with a 1,500 points bonus ($1.50). Your return rate is 10%!

It is interesting to see that the bonus points apply even on bottles which already have a promotional discount.

For example, on the purchase of the bottle of Laurent-Perrier Brut champagne below, you get:

  • 3$ off the regular price
  • 3,000 bonus points (or $3)
exemple laurent perrier saq

This means a total promo amount of $6 (immediate + future) on a bottle that usually costs $64, or 8.9% off ($6 / ($64 + $3)).

You can also earn X times the number of points normally earned for certain purchases or product categories.

An example of how you can earn SAQ Inspire points through promotions

Here’s how many bonus SAQ Inspire points you can earn on a sample purchase:

points bonis saq jm 2

Let’s analyze the value or points when you buy those 2 bottles, and the promos you can add up:

Purchases Luigi Righetti Amarone
(SAQ 00976183)
La Chèvre Noire
(SAQ 00237875)
Cost $31.60 $ $29.20 $22.75 $51.95
Excluding taxes $25.40 $19.79 $45.19
Basic points 127 99 226
Bonus points 3 000 2 250 5 250
Promotion 1 500 1500 3 000
Total 4 627 3 849 8 476
Points value $4.63 $3.85 $8.48
% return 15.86 % 16.92 % 16.32 %

Getting a 16.32% return by adding up the different promotions is really good!

And again: I don’t take into account the fact that this purchase was paid with a SAQ gift card, bought in a grocery store with my American Express Cobalt™ Card, which allows me to earn a minimum return of 5% since the purchase allows you to get 5 points per $ as we will see below!

carte cadeau 2017

Special rule for SAQ Dépôt

At SAQ Dépôt, you can only earn 500 points per transaction, or a return of $0.50, regardless of the number of bottles purchased.

To maximize your return at SAQ Dépôt, you know that you need to purchase 12 bottles in order to get a 15% discount.

saq depot 1 1

The advantage of SAQ Dépôt is that it accepts SAQ gift cards, like all SAQ branches (except the website). So if you shop there, use a card you paid for at the grocery store with:

How to use SAQ Inspire points?

What is the value of SAQ Inspire points?

1,000 SAQ Inspire points correspond to a $1 rebate.

So you’ll need 20,000 points to buy a $20 bottle.

What is the minimum threshold for using SAQ Inspire points?

You must have a minimum of 1,000 SAQ Inspiration points to apply them to your payment at the checkout.

For example, if you have 2,350 points, these give you $2.35 that you could use on your purchase.

Here is an example of how to use SAQ points:

echange de points saq

I used 23,260 points to save $23.26 on this purchase of about $86.

In fact, I had $62.74 left on my $100 card that I had in my wallet … and rather than use a credit card giving me 1-2 points per dollar, I preferred to empty my SAQ Inspire account! This is called being strategic!

It is not possible to use your points to purchase SAQ gift cards.

How does the SAQ Inspire profile and promotions work?

Being a member of the SAQ Inspire program allows you to be notified of promotions, often targeted according to YOUR preferences. The program has been in existence since the end of 2015, and in just a few years, the SAQ now knows its users much better thanks to SAQ Inspire.

I’m a loyal SAQ customer, and I must admit I’m pleasantly surprised by the various well-targeted promotions I’ve been offered!

New arrival at SAQ

Depending on your purchase history, you can be notified directly of a new arrival that may be of interest to you!

nouvel arrivage saq

My SAQ Inspire extra offer

4 times a year, for 7 days, you benefit from a personalised offer.

Recently, I was able to earn many SAQ Inspire bonus points for purchasing a bottle of champagne during the promotional period!

offres extra saq 1

My SAQ Inspire purchase history

A feature I love: it helps you remember which bottles you bought!

Each time we taste a bottle of wine, we enter it in the app and add it to different lists we have created:

  • Barbecue
  • Fondue / Raclette evening
  • Do not buy again
historique achat saq 1

Soon, it will be possible to rate the bottles or indicate whether they were purchased for our personal consumption or offered as a gift!

My SAQ Inspire purchasing profile

Little by little, based on your purchases, your SAQ Inspire purchasing profile will be built up!

Do you mainly buy Argentinean wines in the Aromatic and robust category? The SAQ will offer you wines that match YOUR tastes!

Some would say it’s intrusive. Personally I am happy to have these tools; the guidance they provide is valuable!

profil achat saq 1

How can I save money at the SAQ with gift cards?

Did you know that it is possible to earn more points at the SAQ with gift cards by using certain credit cards?

Why use a credit card that will only earn you 1 or 2 points per dollar at the SAQ when you could earn double or triple that amount whn you purchase gift cards?

SAQ gift cards are easily found in:

  • Grocery stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Gas stations
  • Drugstores

You can often get bonus points with certain credit cards in those places!

5X The Points On For Cobalt Cardmembers!

Earn 5% in travel points at the SAQ with gift cards

Two credit cards allow you to earn up to 5 points per dollar for the purchase of SAQ gift cards in certain stores.

The American Express Cobalt™ Card allows you to earn:

  • 5 points per dollar in grocery stores (Métro, Super C)
  • 5 points per dollar in convenience stores (Couche-Tard)
  • 2 points per dollar at gas stations

That’s between 2% and 5% in points for the purchase of SAQ gift cards! Here is the current welcome offer for this credit card :

The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card allows you to earn:

  • 5 points per dollar in grocery stores (Métro, Super C)
  • 3 points per dollar at gas stations

That’s between 2% and 3% in points for the purchase of SAQ gift cards! Here is the current welcome offer for this credit card:

Earn 4% in cash back at the SAQ with gift cards

The Scotia Momentum® VISA Infinite* card allows you to earn:

  • 4% cash back in grocery stores
  • 2% cash back at gas stations

That’s between 2% and 4% cash back for the purchase of SAQ gift cards! Here is the current welcome offer for this credit card:

Always have an SAQ card handy!

I almost always have an SAQ gift card in my wallet.

And on the rare occasions when I did not have any, instead of using the wrong credit card, I prefer to use my SAQ Inspire points!

Simple and effective as you have seen above!

Saq Cobalt giftcard

My opinion on the SAQ Inspire program

As a points & miles addict, I am always surprised when I go to an SAQ branch and I hear that people in front of me do not have an Inspire card .

In 2019, 72% of SAQ sales were linked to an SAQ Inspire account and 60% of SAQ clients are members of the program.

These are impressive rates that mean two things:

  • More than one-third of SAQ clients are not members of the program.
  • SAQ Inspire members represent the bulk of sales (more regular customers).

But this is true in many circumstances: at Jean Coutu with AIR MILES, at Métro with Metro&moi or at Provigo with PC Optimum.

Membership in all of these programs does not cost the consumer anything, but provides him rewards. On the other hand, in exchange, the consumer “offers” to the managers of these various programs valuable data on his consumption behavior.

And the SAQ program has been expertly put together because it applies to a very specific field (the sale of alcoholic beverages) and not a generalist one, as other programs can be.

saq inspire pastilles

Those responsible for data analysis and market segmentation are certainly satisfied, as it is possible to target a consumer in a granular way.

Some will say that the SAQ program “conditions our purchasing behaviour” and that it would encourage an increase in alcohol purchases!

profils dachats

As with everything, you have to know how to balance things out. As far as I’m concerned:

  • Have I been drinking more alcohol since the SAQ Inspire program was introduced? No; I drink “better”, though.
  • Are my purchases conditioned according to the SAQ points promotions? Not really: I’m not going to buy a wine because it’s on special offer, I’m going to buy a wine because I like it or because I want to try it!
  • Has the SAQ built a personalized profile based on my alcohol consumption? Certainly. But just between you and me: with thousands of choices available in the store, and my limited knowledge of oenology, I’m quite happy to be able to rely on recommendations based on MY tastes and MY past purchases.
  • In short, have I left “part of my private life” in the hands of a crown corporation? Probably.

So it’s up to you to see where your level of acceptance is in this regard! If you would like more information on the background of the SAQ Inspire program, I recommend this article by Maxime Johnson (L’actualité): Inspire, la mine d’or d’informations de la SAQ.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
Jean-Maximilien Voisine
Jean-Maximilien is an expert in Canada and France about Loyalty programs, Credit cards and Travel. He is the Founding President of Milesopedia.

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