Should You Bother With Loyalty Cards?

Written by Karen Bryan

loyalty cardIs it really worthwhile signing up for a loyalty card with various UK retailers? In order to answer this, I’ve examined how much money I’ve saved by using four loyalty cards over the last 12 months.

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We have a Tesco superstore close to home where we do about 40% of  our supermarket shopping.  We also buy the majority of the fuel for our car at Tesco. With the Tesco Clubcard loyalty card you get 1 point for every £1 spent on most items in the supermarket, 1 point for every £2 spent on fuel,  plus all sorts of confusing Tesco Clubcard vouchers with money off and extra points. One Tesco Clubcard point equals 1 pence earned in vouchers.  I estimate we spend £1,000 in the supermarket a year, so with the basic 1% bonus, along with some money off and extra points vouchers, I estimate a saving of £50 a year. Our £800 spend on Tesco fuel saves us a pathetic £4.00.

he Boots Advantage loyalty card is a lot more generous, offering 4 points for every £1 spent where 1 point is worth one penny; that’s a 4% bonus. However, Boots generally has higher prices than stores like Superdrug and SemiChem, so I don’t buy much there. I spend around £100 a year at Boots, so that’s £4.00 of savings.

The Superdrug Beauty Card is another 1 point for £1 spent loyalty card offering. I’ve seen it as high as 5 points for each £1 spent, but never when I’ve made purchases there. With a Superdrug annual spend of £200 that’s £2 of savings.

Nectar claims to be the UK’s most popular loyalty card. I mainly associate it with Sainsbury’s, again not really the cheapest supermarket, and we don’t have a store near where we live. You get 2 points for every £1 spent in a Sainsbury’s store, 500 points equate to £2.50 for instore spending, so it’s still a 1% bonus. I’ve also collected points recently when at Homebase (2 points for every £1 spent) and Expedia (200 points for a hotel booking (although it’s 600 at present). I reckon I’ve collected £12, mainly from Expedia hotel bookings.

So my total saving from these four loyalty cards is £72 for the year. At least I’m only buying things I’d buy anyway. However it’s making me wonder if I can be bothered to carry the cards around. I can’t fit them all in my purse. I wonder if there could be a simpler way, such as giving you a pin once you register for the loyalty card, which you enter during the payment process enabling your points to be allocated electronically to your account.

I’m sure you could earn a lot more points on a loyalty card if you purchase the majority of items at a limited number of stores. However I don’t think that will save you money, if you are paying higher prices for the items which you buy.

It seems much easier to earn 3% cashback on shopping by paying with my Aqua Reward Credit Card (up to a maximum of £100 a year) than to bother with loyalty cards. You can also save quite a bit of money by shopping through the links on Cashback sites, e.g. are currently offering 12% cashback on Expedia hotel bookings.

5 Responses to “Should You Bother With Loyalty Cards?”

  1. Interesting to see how much (or little!) loyalty cards actually save people over the course of the year. Thanks for highlighting this.

  2. Tesco is the largest store in my town and I do use my clubcard, but there is no way I would ever shop there just to get the points. I regard the points as a bonus if I happen to shop their. I bought my Acer laptop from Tesco about 3 years ago and there was a double points offer running at the time. That bagged me a lot of points. That is an example of how I would sensibly approach loyalty cards.

    For regular groceries, I shop all over town, having built up a knowledge of certain products and prices. I do not mind walking the extra 2 miles to save a few pounds because I like exercise and listen to podcasts while I’m doing it!

  3. […] Help Me To Save, Karen asks whether we should bother with loyalty cards. I have to admit that I have a wallet full of them. Every little helps, as someone once […]

  4. I strongly dislike these cards, but they seem to be the way of things today. If you don’t have one you loose out. I keep them all on a key ring in the car so I don’t need to thicken my wallet.

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