A guide to loyalty cards – five loyalty cards

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How many loyalty cards do you have in your wallet? One, three, five… more? It wouldn’t surprise me if you had more as many high street stores offer customers a loyalty card. But are they really worth it? And what benefits do you get from loyalty cards?

Five loyalty cards

We’ve looked at five loyalty cards and compared what they offer: Boots Advantage Card, M&S Sparks, myWaitrose, Nectar and Tesco Clubcard. This is what we found (in alphabetical order):

Boots Advantage Card

The Boots Advantage Card rewards you for shopping solely at Boots. You can spend the points that you’ve earned in Boots’ stores or at boots.com.

You collect four points for every £1 you spend on almost any product in store and online. One point equals one penny.

Boots will regularly send you personalised offers, which you can find in your Advantage Card account online or via the Boots app, which is available to download via iTunes and Google Play.

SAVVY TIP: if you are 60 or over, you can sign up to their Over 60s Rewards scheme to get 10 points for every £1 you spend. You can also get 25% off your first pair of glasses at Boots Opticians and extra points at Boots Hearingcare.

Boots Advantage Card launched in 1997. It has 14.4 million active members, of which around 90% are women.

Points per pound: four points for every £1.

M&S Sparks

For every transaction you make in store or online at M&S using you Sparks card, you receive 10 sparks for every £1 you spend (some products may be excluded including baby milk products and lottery tickets). You also receive a bonus of 10 sparks for every transaction.

Sparks points don’t translate into cash and cannot be spent in store. However every time you use your Sparks card in store, online or via the app, you collect Sparks. The more sparks you collect, the more you ‘unlock’ tailor-made offers, invitations to events and the chance to win experiences as well as priority access to the M&S Sale and new season previews.

SAVVY TIP: you can choose a charity from a list of ten and whenever you use your Sparks card, M&S will donate money to your charity on your behalf at no extra cost to you. In February 2019, M&S announced that they had donated over £5 million to their 10 partner charities.

If you donate unwanted items to the M&S Shwop, where items are resold, reused or recycled by Oxfam, you will receive 50 Sparks. You will also receive 25 Sparks for every product review you write that M&S publishes online.

You can check your balance online, on the app, which is available to download via iTunes and Google Play, in-store or by asking a customer assistant in store at the check-out desk.

M&S Sparks launched in 2015. The youngest of the group, it has six million members. 

Points per pound: 10 Sparks for every £1 (but these don’t translate into cash).

myWaitrose

With the myWaitrose loyalty card, you don’t collect points, instead, you get the chance to get things free, save money on your shopping and win exclusive prizes when you shop at Waitrose & Partners.

myWaitrose is probably best known for offering customers a free tea or coffee after their shop and a free selected newspaper with a £10 or more spend.

SAVVY TIP: In autumn 2018, Waitrose & Partners removed its takeaway coffee cups from all its stores. You can still get a free hot drink when you shop at Waitrose & Partners but you need to bring your own reusable cup.

myWaitrose members can pick up a free copy of Waitrose & Partners Food magazine, which features recipes and articles from the world’s best chefs and food writers. Members can also get 20% off fish from the fish counter every Friday.

Members can get 10% off day courses at Waitrose Cookery Schools. These include learning about pastry and bread-making, local food trends and more.

Waitrose & Partners also offer myWaitrose members free access to The Good Food Guide (an annual independent review of the best restaurants, pubs and cafes across the UK) online from desktop or mobile device.

SAVVY TIP: in February 2018, Waitrose & Partners closed its ‘Pick your Own Offers’ scheme, where shoppers could pick ten products from a list and get 20% off them. Customers complained that they found it too confusing.

Waitrose & Partners launched its loyalty card myWaitrose in 2011. It has seven million members.

Points per pound: N/A.

Nectar

You collect one Nectar point for every £1 qualifying spend in Sainsbury’s stores or online and one Nectar point for every litre of fuel purchased in Sainsbury’s fuel stations.

SAVVY TIP: there is a list of Sainsbury’s goods and services that Nectar points are not available on here.

On 2nd October 2019, Sainsbury’s revamped its Nectar scheme and introduced bonus points on personalised offers via a new app, which is available to download via iTunes and Google Play, and website. You’ll still get one point for every £1 you spend at Sainsbury’s but you’ll also be able to choose personalised bonus offers every week on things you buy at Sainsbury’s and at partner retailers, such as Argos (Sainsbury’s bought Argos in 2016 and since then has opened hundreds of concessions inside its big stores), eBay and Next.

SAVVY TIP: how many points you collect with these online partners depends on the brand, though it’s usually one, two or three points for each £1 you spend.

If you don’t have a Nectar card, you can register online or through the Nectar app. You can use your physical Nectar cards in store and any existing points will be saved on the Nectar App to be used for rewards. You can keep an eye on your points balance via the app and online.

There are lots of ways to spend your points and you can do so straight from your card by swiping it at Sainsbury’s, Vue Cinemas and Argos or you can spend them online at nectar.com on things like holidays, hotels and days out. Nectar points can be spent in blocks of 500 (£2.50).

SAVVY TIP: the Nectar browser extension (powered by Yahoo!) is an extension that sits on your browser and allows you to collect Nectar points when searching the web. You can find out more about this at nectar.com.

SAVVY TIP: if you have a Sainsbury’s banking product, on top of your usual Nectar points, you’ll get two points for each £1 you spend in Sainsbury’s using a qualifying credit card. If you have a qualifying insurance product, you’ll get double Nectar points. Nectar offers also stack up if you have more than one product. For example, if you have both a qualifying credit card and an insurance product then you could get four points per £1 you spend in Sainsbury’s.

Nectar launched in 2002 and is the biggest loyalty scheme in the UK with 20 million active cardholders. At the beginning of 2018, Sainsbury’s bought Nectar from Canada’s Aimia for £60 million.

Points per pound: one Nectar point per £1.

Tesco Clubcard

With Tesco Clubcard you can collect points on food, fuel, fashion and more, in store and online. These points can be turned into vouchers to save on your shopping at Tesco or can be used to save you money with hundreds of its Reward Partners. These partners include Pizza Express, Cineworld and Senior Railcard.

SAVVY TIP: so, for example, £0.50 worth of vouchers gets you £1.50 to spend at Pizza Express and £10 worth of vouchers gets you a free Senior Railcard for one year, which usually costs £30.

You need to collect a minimum of 150 points to receive a voucher (per collection period). Every 150 points equates to £1.50 in vouchers. After that, every 50 points turns into 50p worth of vouchers and anything left over is carried into the next collection period.

SAVVY TIP: Tesco has a cut-off date before every statement. The weeks between the cut-off dates for each statement is known as the collection period.

Vouchers are sent to you in the post, or you can manage them online or via the Tesco Pay+ app, which is available to download via iTunes and Google Play.

Tesco Clubcard launched in 1995 and has 16 million users in the UK. In July 2017 it launched a contactless card.

Points per pound: one point for every £1 spent (or one point for every £2 spent on Tesco fuel).

Related articles:

Discounts for over 60s – where can you save money?

Understanding your credit card rights under Section 75

Getting a refund from your credit or debit card through ‘chargeback’

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