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: Nectar, Boots Advantage Card, Tesco Clubcard, myWaitrose and M&S Sparks. This is what we found:


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.

Nectar has over 500 online partners, including Argos (Sainsbury’s bought Argos in 2016 and since then has been opening hundreds of concessions inside its big stores), Apple, Topshop and House of Fraser.

How many points you collect with these online partners depends on the brand, though with most of them you can collect two points for each £1 you spend. To get points shopping with these partners, you must first access them via nectar.com.

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).

You can keep and eye on your account online or via an app (available via iTunes and Google Play) where you can view your points balance at anytime, get rewards and updated weekly offers catered to you.

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

Boots Advantage Card

Unlike Nectar, the Boots Advantage Card rewards you for shopping solely with Boots and you can only use points to spend 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 (available via iTunes and Google Play).

SAVVY TIP: if you are 60 or over, you can sign up to More Treats to get 10 points for every £1 you spend as well as £25 off glasses at Boots Opticians and extra points at Boots Hearingcare.

Boots Advantage Card launched in 1997. It has 14.6 million active members, of which around 90% are women.

Points per pound: four points for every £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, Odeon and Senior Railcard.

SAVVY TIP: so, for example, £2.50 worth of vouchers gets you £10 to spend at Pizza Express; £3.50 worth of vouchers gets you one adult ticket at the Odeon and £15 of vouchers gets you a Senior Railcard for one year.

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 app, which is available to download via iTunes.

SAVVY TIP: You can collect one extra Clubcard point for every £4 (£4 minimum) you spend via the Tesco Pay+ app at Tesco and Tesco petrol filling stations until 31 December 2018. So where you would normally pick up four points, you’ll now get five.

In June 2018, Tesco will be revamping its Boost scheme where you can swap Clubcard vouchers for rewards worth up to four times as much with partners such as Prezzo and Café Rouge. The shake-up was supposed to happen in January, but Martin Lewis asked Tesco to rethink the changes. Customers will get three times the value of their vouchers with over 100 partners.

Tesco Clubcard launched in 1995 and has over 17 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).


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.

myWaitrose is probably best known for allowing customers a free tea or coffee after their shop, and if they buy a selected newspaper the store will also take the cost off the rest of the shopping if they spend £10 or more.

SAVVY TIP: Waitrose has recently announced that in autumn 2018, it will be removing takeaway coffee cups from all its stores. It will still be offering customers a free hot drink but they will need to bring their own reusable cup.

myWaitrose members can pick up a free copy of Waitrose 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 tapas making, cupcake decorating and more.

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

SAVVY TIP: in February 2018, Waitrose closed its ‘Pick your Own Offers’ scheme, whereby shoppers could pick 10 products from a list and get 20% off them. Customers complained that they found it too confusing.

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

Points per pound: N/A.

M&S Sparks

For every transaction you make in store or online at M&S and using you Sparks card, you receive 10 sparks for every £1 spent (some products may be excluded from the scheme including baby milk products (0-6 months) 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. M&S raise £5,000 for charities every day.

If you donate unwanted items to the M&S Shwop (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 publish online.

You can check your balance online, on the app (download via iTunes and Google Play), in-store or by asking one of its customer assistants who will help using an in-store device.

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).

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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