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Sep 23

Loyalty Cards: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Reading Time: 13 mins

It used to be that loyalty cards were just about collecting points when you spend. Those points would then accumulate and be converted into money off vouchers. Alternatively, the points would accumulate as a cash value which could then be knocked off your shopping. 

These days, loyalty cards do so much more. You can still collect points, but you can also unlock discounts, get money off deals and earn exclusive rewards. However, it can be so confusing to work out which cards offer the best deals. Is it worth shopping around to get the best out of different cards, or should you stick with your favourite shops and benefit from being a loyal customer? What about cards which don’t offer points but give you rewards instead – are they worth it? 

Below we round up some of the most popular loyalty cards and apps, as well as what to look out for and how to get the most out of your shopping. 

 

Supermarkets

Tesco Clubcard

loyalty cards

CARD or APP: Both

POINTS: 1 point for every £1 spent in store, and every £2 spent on fuel. Points can also be collected via Tesco Bank and Mobile. 

VALUE: 150 points is worth £1.50. Vouchers can be spent in store but Clubcard vouchers are worth even more if spent with Clubcard partners – this is probably what they are best known for. Clubcard boasts over 300 partners – from restaurants to theme parks and hotels. 

BENEFITS: Another benefit is that a lot of in store promotions are now only available to Clubcard members. Another good reason to sign up. 

EXTRAS: For regular shoppers who want to save even more, you can get Clubcard Plus for £7.99 a month. With Clubcard Plus you can get 10% off two big shops a month, 10% off most Tesco branded goods and F&F in-store.  

VERDICT:

Tesco Clubcard Vouchers really cover all bases – from money off your shopping to member only promotions but they come into their own when used to pay for days out and meals. You can turn 50p worth of Clubcard vouchers into £1.50 worth of reward partner vouchers to spend at Prezzo or Zizzi, for example. Used this way, it is one of the most generous schemes around. 

Sainsbury Nectar

Loyalty cards

CARD or APP: Both

POINTS: 1 point for every £1 spent in store, online or on Sainsbury’s fuel. 

VALUE: 500 points are worth £2.50, which can be spent in store or online.   

BENEFITS: Weekly personalised offers.

EXTRAS: You can also collect and spend points with Sainbury’s big brand partners. They include Argos, eBay, Sky Store and Vue. Most partners give customers 2 points for every £1, but some offer more. Check out the website for more information. 

VERDICT:

Even if you don’t often shop at Sainsbury’s, it’s worth getting a Nectar card for the points you can earn from Sainsbury’s partners. Make sure to check where you can earn points. They mount up and you can spend them in so many places it really does make sense. 

Asda Rewards

loyalty cards

CARD or APP: App 

REWARDS: Customers can collect ‘Asda Pounds’ by buying Star Products or completing Missions. 

VALUE: Star Product and Mission earnings (the ‘Asda Pounds’) are collected and displayed as a total sum in your Cashpot. The balance can be converted into vouchers to spend in store. 

BENEFITS: There is sometimes the option of converting a portion of your Cashpot balance into a Boost voucher, which increases its value by a certain percentage. 

EXTRAS: Asda also has a Christmas Savings Card. In the run up to Christmas shoppers can add a few extra £s into a ‘savings’ account. 

VERDICT:

Only really worthwhile if you are a regular and loyal Asda customer. If you do your weekly shop there you will benefit from the app. Otherwise, there is probably not a lot to be gained.  

Co-op Membership 

loyalty points

CARD or APP: Both – it costs £1 to join.

REWARDS: The Co-op loyalty card doesn’t give you points, you earn money back on your purchases. Members can also choose 2 money off vouchers per week, which are added to their card or app. 

VALUE: 2p for every £1 spent on selected Co-op products and services.

BENEFITS: Co-op matches the money back you earn and gives the same amount to support community organisations and local causes.

EXTRAS: The loyalty scheme offers exclusive membership deals and personalised offers,  as well as discounts on Co-op services such as insurance and funerals.

VERDICT:

The weekly money off vouchers are useful for small shops and the rewards do mount up. Co-op is particularly good for those with a social conscience as you are giving money to good causes every time you use your card. 

Iceland Bonus

loyalty points

CARD or APP: Both  

REWARDS: Iceland don’t offer points but their loyalty card acts like a savings account. For every £20 you save, they add a £1 bonus. It works by letting the cashier know how much you want to save and they upload it to your card or app. So if you save £2 a week, you could have £109 in a year.  

BENEFITS: You can spend from your Bonus Card in store or online – just let the cashier know how much you want to spend.  Iceland say this makes it easier for people to budget and save. There is no minimum or maximum amount you can save per shop. 

EXTRAS: Exclusive Bonus Card prices and free home delivery on orders over £25 instore on £35 online. Card holders also get special offers and treats on your birthday. 

VERDICT:

Best for very loyal Iceland customers, rather than those who pop in occasionally. The savings element of the card is a different take on the usual loyalty schemes – it could work particularly well in the run up to Christmas. 

Lidl Plus

loyalty cards

CARD or APP: App

REWARDS: Lidl don’t offer points. Customers who have the app get 4 money off coupons a week, released on a Thursday. At the time of writing, coupons included 15% off chocolate bars, 15% off tinned fish and 10% off Manuka Honey.  

BENEFITS: Using your Lidl Plus app also means you earn cash back (similar to the Iceland Bonus card) – spending £100 gives you £2 credit, £200 gives you £10 credit. 

EXTRAS: Each time you shop you get a scratchcard offering the chance to win £20 off your next shop. There are also discounts from partners –  such as 3 month Kids Pass membership and up to £150 off bookings with Loveholidays. 

VERDICT:

Even with the temptations of the centre aisle, spending £100 in Lidl regularly is a tall order so the savings aspect is not as attractive as other stores points schemes. The coupons are also time limited. However, the scratch card is fun and adds a bit of excitement to your weekly shop. 

MyMorrisons 

loyalty cards

CARD or APP: Both (Morrisons relaunched their loyalty scheme in May 2021) 

REWARDS: Morrisons no longer give points but send you personalised offers on the things you buy most often. Rewards are either in the form of money off vouchers for regular items or money off your whole shop.  

EXTRAS: Every time you scan your digital card, you have the chance of winning a Basket Bonus which can mean anything form £5 off your next shop to a bunch of flowers or a treat from the bakery. 

VERDICT:

Customers who are signed up to the loyalty scheme receive their coupons digitally – which is fine for those who regularly use apps, potentially less so for those who don’t or can’t afford a smart phone. The Basket Bonus is a good way to keep customers using their cards, with a good range of surprise prizes. 

M&S Sparks

loyalty cards

CARD OR APP: Both 

REWARDS: You can’t earn points with a Sparks card, instead you get perks such as personalised offers, the chance to win a free gift and the chance to get your shopping for free.

BENEFITS: The money off vouchers are worth having – offers can be anything from 15% off bread, 20% of underwear to 10% off clothing. They change fairly regularly but you don’t always know when they are going to be uploaded.

VERDICT:

The jury is still out on the Sparks card. Lots of shoppers would rather collect points and get money off vouchers to spend as they please, rather than being directed towards specific savings. Another major downside is that you have to remember to load the offers you want to use onto your Sparks card. The cashiers can do this for you but they don’t always ask. However, the savings to be had – when they are available and loaded onto your card – are definitely worth having. Overall, it’s worth carrying the card or downloading the app, just don’t forget to check it regularly.  

MyWaitrose

loyalty cards

CARD OR APP: Both (You can also get a key fob version) 

REWARDS: You can’t earn points with a MyWaitrose card. Instead, you get regular money off vouchers (to use on your whole shop), personalised vouchers based on your shopping habits and the occasional freebie. 

BENEFITS: MyWaitrose card holders get 20% off the meat and cheese counters every day and 20% off the fish counter on Fridays. They also get money off extras like dry-cleaning and a free magazine.

EXTRAS:  Card holders used to get a free newspaper and a free hot drink. Waitrose no longer offer the free paper and have paused the free hot drink. The website says they are working to bring this perk back. 

VERDICT:

Waitrose is a viewed as a high-end supermarket and as such has a smaller share of the market. Customers tend to be loyal – without the pull of a loyalty card or lots of money off deals. The MyWaitrose card is worthwhile even if you only do occasional treat shops there, you can still get your money off the fresh food counters and use your personalised money off vouchers. 

  

High Street – Beauty

Boots Advantage Card 

Loyalty cards

CARD or APP: Both 

POINTS: 4 points for every £1 spent.  

VALUE: 1 point =  1p (so for every £1, you earn 4p). 

BENEFITS: You can spend your points at any time, as long as you have enough points to cover the whole transaction. In other words, you can’t use your points to pay a bit towards your total shop, they has to pay for everything you’re buying. You can still pay for a couple of items with your advantage card and the rest with cash or your bank card. 

EXTRAS: Advantage card holders receive a free health and beauty magazine and there are often lots of offers on, meaning you can earn extra points when you buy certain brands or spend a certain amount. Over 60s can earn 8 points per £1 on many Boots own products too. 

VERDICT:

One of the best known loyalty cards, with Boots advantage it really does pay to shop. Points accumulate quickly and are worth more than most other loyalty schemes. 

Superdrug Health & Beauty Card 

CARD or APP: Both 

POINTS: 1 point for every £1 spent.

VALUE: 1 point = 1p. Points can only be used in multiples of 100. So 100 points = £1 off, 200 points = £2 off, and so on.

BENEFITS: Unlike the Boots Advantage Card, you can use your Superdrug points in combination with cash. So, if you’re shopping comes to £7.45 and you have 500 points, you can use those points to knock £5 off your total bill, then pay the remaining £2.45 in cash. 

EXTRAS: Members get free standard delivery on online orders over £10 (non-members have to spend £15 to get free delivery). You also get special discounts every Thursday and a birthday treat. 

VERDICT:

You don’t get as many pennies for your points as you do with a Boots Advantage Card, but the Superdrug card does allow you to use your points to knock money off your shop. This is a big plus point for us.  

 

High Street – Books and Stationery

Paperchase Treat Me 

CARD OR APP: Card  

REWARDS: As the website says – no points, just perks! You get a £5 credit on your card for every £50 you spend (limited to one reward per transaction). New customers also get 15% off their first shop. 

BENEFITS: You can earn money off your shopping, get extra perks at the end of month and a £5 birthday gift voucher. You can also get a free delivery upgrade online, on orders over £30. 

EXTRAS: When you buy 7 greeting cards within 12 months, you’ll get one free. 

VERDICT:

Perfect for anyone with a stationery fetish but not so much if you just buy the odd card or pen. Treats are only redeemable for a month after they are activated, which is a minus point, however it’s worth having for a free £5 voucher on your birthday.  

Waterstones Plus

CARD OR APP: Both 

POINTS: Earn a Plus Stamp for every £10 you spend.  

VALUE: 10 Stamps = £10 to spend in store, in the café or online.

BENEFITS: Get an exclusive treat every year. 

EXTRAS: Loyalty card members are notified first about offers and sales, as well as exclusive events. 

VERDICT:

It’s a generous reward scheme. Even if you only bought a couple of paperbacks or one hardback a month at Waterstones, you could still effectively get £10 a year back! This could get you a free book. For anyone who loves reading, this is always going to be worth it. 

 

High Street – Clothing

TXMaxx Treasure

 

CARD OR APP: Both 

REWARDS: Collect ‘keys’ every time you shop. Rewards are not based on how much you spend, but on how often you visit a TXMaxx or HomeSense store, you can also collect  ‘keys’ online. Collect 5 keys and then choose a reward.

BENEFITS: You can collect up to three keys per day – one from each of the stores and one online. Rewards can be an item, a chance to win an experience or a trip or you can donate to charity. 

VERDICT:

Another card that rewards you for frequency rather than the amount you spend, you can accumulate keys pretty quickly and earn your rewards. There is no minimum spend, so for dedicated customers, you could visit a store a day and earn a reward a week! Worth having. 

H&M  

CARD OR APP:  App 

POINTS: £1 = 1 point 

VALUE: with 0-299 points you can get reward vouchers and offers. Once you’ve got 300 points you become a Plus Member which gives you access to even better benefits and offers. 

BENEFITS: Get 10% off your first purchase when you join. 

EXTRAS: Members get free delivery on orders over £20, free Click & Collect and 25% off on your birthday. Plus members get free delivery on all orders, surprise offers and unique access to special collections. 

VERDICT:

Even if you don’t shop at H&M regularly it’s worth having the app on your phone and collecting points when you shop. There are no real disadvantages, and you get perks just by being a member.  

Urban Outfitters – UO Rewards

loyalty cards

CARD OR APP: App 

POINTS: There are lots of different ways to earn UO points – check out the website for a full list. You get 75 points for signing up, 50 points for downloading the app, 50 points for subscribing to the email and 30 for enabling push notifications. And that’s just for starters. You also earn 25 points when you make a purchase. 

Entry level members get some perks, but it only takes 300 points to become a Silver Member and 600 to reach Gold. Considering you get 230 just for joining the scheme, you’re already well on your way to Silver. 

VALUE: £5 voucher for every 100 points.

BENEFITS: All members get early access to the sales and new collection launches, as well as member-only competitions and bonus point days. There is a long list of perks – again check out the website for all of the details. 

EXTRAS: Current extra perks include Denim Days – earn 10 bonus points when you shop for jeans and the same when you shop Urban Renewal (the vintage arm of the brand). 

VERDICT:

As loyalty schemes go, UO Rewards really does reward you for being a loyal customer. You can earn points by shopping for any items (from scrunchies to coats) so the points accumulate without breaking the bank. The perks are good value too. 

 

Coffee Shops

Costa Coffee Club

loyalty card

CARD OR APP: Both 

POINTS: £1 = 5 points (collect in store or at Costa Express machines).

VALUE: 5 points = 5p, so to earn a £1 you’d need to spend £20.

BENEFITS: You can order your coffee in advance using the app and you can earn sometimes bonus points when you buy a drink or snack.

VERDICT:

Points are only active for 12 months and you have to spend an average of £60 before you’ll earn enough for a free drink, but if you are a regular customer it makes sense to download the app or swipe your card.  

Starbucks

loyalty cards

CARD OR APP: App 

POINTS: You can’t earn points at Starbucks, it’s stars. £1 = 3 stars.

VALUE: For a free drink you’ll need 150 stars.

BENEFITS: Once you reach 450 stars you become a gold member and can get extra shots of expresso, dairy alternatives, and other extras for free. Gold members also get a free drink on their birthday.

VERDICT:

It’s not a very generous scheme – you have to spend at least £50 to get a free drink. There are better loyalty schemes out there, but if Starbucks is your coffee shop of choice, you’ve nothing to lose by earning your stars. 

Caffe Nero

loyalty cards

CARD OR APP: Both (you can transfer stamps from your card to the app in store).

POINTS: Get a stamp every time you order a drink (made by the barista).

VALUE: 9 stamps =  a free drink. 

BENEFITS: Get an additional stamp if you use a reusable cup. You can also add money to the app meaning you can still buy your coffee if you’ve nipped out and forgotten your bag or wallet. 

VERDICT:

One of the better coffee shop loyalty schemes – it’s simple and you only need to buy 9 drinks (to get 9 stamps) before you get your freebie. 

 

There are hundreds of loyalty cards, apps and schemes out there these days. Most of them are free and don’t cost you anything to use. However, these are loyalty schemes – they pay you back for being loyal. To get the most out of any of them, pick one or two for each of your needs or shopping habits and try and stick with those. You are far more likely to get the benefit this way. If you shop all over the place and use all the loyalty cards available, you will still get points and rewards – it will just take a lot longer. 

What to look out for? To get the most out of your cards, keep an eye on the app or website and see when bonus offers are running. There’s nothing more frustrating than completing a big shop and then realising you could have saved money if you’d used your card or uploaded an offer.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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Joanne
Joanne
2 months ago

Interesting run down of the loyalty cards.

Vicky
Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  Joanne

Thanks Joanne. Have you got any you use?

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