personal finance

Getting the most from loyalty cards


There are plenty to pick from, from the biggest supermarket schemes to individual retailers.

The companies benefit from the schemes as they provide them with information on our shopping habits and encourage us to become frequent customers.

In return, make sure you benefit from the schemes too by using the points you build up. Here are three of the best-known schemes on offer and how you can squeeze value from them.

Save money on your grocery shopping. 

Nectar

You rack up points at a wide range of stores, getting two for every £1 spent in Sainsbury’s, Homebase and BP petrol stations. Each point is worth half a penny. However, this will fall to one point for every £1 at Sainsbury’s from 11 April 2015. You can also earn points shopping at nectar.com with hundreds of brands, such as Apple and easyJet.

At present, you need to spend £500 to qualify for 1,000 points, worth £5. Special in-store promotions enable you to double, triple or quadruple points. You can also earn double points by booking hotels and packages with Expedia.

Spend points at Sainsbury’s, or with other partners, such as Argos or Vue cinemas. They may be worth double if used towards meals or days out, so check online.

Save money on your energy bills.

Tesco Clubcard

You earn one point for every £1 spent in-store or online, or £2 spent with partners Esso and Eon. Points are worth 1p each, so you’d need to spend £250 in Tesco to get a £2.50 voucher. You receive vouchers every three months to use towards your shopping.

You can boost your points by swapping them for rewards, such as meals and day trips. These often double or quadruple their value, and can be particularly handy for families with kids to entertain.

Look online to find out what’s on offer. You can also stretch points by using ‘clubcard boost’ offers at particular times of the year, such as Christmas.

Where to get discounts for the over-50s.

 

Boots Advantage

If you’re a regular shopper at Boots, this is definitely worth signing up for. It gives you four points for every £1 you spend, making it more rewarding than supermarket schemes. Provided you use points within three years, these can be used to buy items in-store.

Anything you buy using points must be purchased outright. However, you cannot use points towards some items, such as prescriptions, mobile phone top-ups or Boots insurance.

You can also use the scheme to earn one point per £1 at a wide range of brands on the Boots Treat website.

Use your card at ‘extra offers kiosks’ to find out what personal offers you can apply for. Also download the smartphone app to see offers that can be redeemed in-store.

If you’re over 60, sign up to get 10 points for every £1 you spend on Boots-branded products. Alternatively, there’s a parenting club to give greater discounts towards baby products.

Can I keep goods delivered to me by mistake?

Your consumer questions answered 

My supermarket loyalty card account has been hacked and £100-worth of points was spent in a store 50 miles away that I’ve never visited. But the supermarket has said there’s no guarantee I’ll get my points refunded

If you think you have been hacked, report it to Action Fraud. You’ll be given a police crime reference number and your case will be forwarded to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, who’ll decide whether there is enough information for a police investigation. A refund will depend on the supermarket. Sainsbury’s Nectar Helpline team, for example, would review the account to identify any unusual activity, redemptions that don’t fit in with your normal shopping behaviour. ‘If we find this we would refund the points and if it’s less clear we’d investigate further,’ said a spokesperson. Mark Peacock, of Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards, notes, ‘If the details were stolen from your end, you don’t have much of a case. If the breach happened at the supermarket’s end, you can argue they were negligent in failing to prevent it.’

By Jo Carlow, consumer rights journalist

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