/ Money

Are loyalty cards worth the hassle?

Tesco clubcard

With some supermarkets changing the awards on their loyalty cards, are they something you’ll still carry around in your wallet or are they now just not worth the effort?

Loyalty cards seem to split opinions. On one hand, they offer something for nothing, delivering discount vouchers in exchange for shopping that you probably would have done anyway. However, they’ve still been labelled a waste of time in this very community in the past.

The Tesco Clubcard and Nectar Card are the most popular, sitting in millions of wallets across the UK.  On the surface, both cards only offer points worth 1% of your total spend. For some, that’s not worth the wallet space they take up. Yet, if you save up your points throughout the year, you should at least have enough to pay for a Sunday roast.

Loyalty bonuses

A free roast dinner is the least you can expect if you‘re a basic loyalty card user. There are actually many clever methods for maximising the points you earn, multiplying their value and getting even more rewards for your loyalty.

Fancy getting your hands on a half-price Hudl? Or a range of perfumes and fragrances at a 75% discount? Maybe you fancy a ticket to Thorpe Park or Alton Towers for just £12? There are a bunch of possibilities if you play the loyalty card game well. We have some tips in our loyalty card guide to this effect, but if you have any of your own tips I’d love to hear them.

A free lunch? Worth the data

Sure, many supermarkets have been reducing the rewards associated with these cards.

Sainsbury’s will soon be halving the Nectar points handed out to shoppers – and there’s been a storm in a teacup over MyWaitrose cardholders being required to buy a snack if they want to sit in a cafe with their free hot drink.

Concerns about your personal data remain, but for me the benefits are still worth the effort of finding and scanning this free piece of plastic.

Are you a keen user of loyalty cards? Do you make the most of the rewards on offer? Or are you concerned about the data you’re giving away?

Do you think loyalty cards are worth the hassle?

No (57%, 179 Votes)

Yes (39%, 124 Votes)

Don't know (4%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 315

Loading ... Loading ...

Waitrose loyalty card is the only one I enjoy using. Relaxing with a free cappuccino and newspaper at the end of shopping is very welcome. I also get a discount on some featured products as a little extra. The Tesco system of money off specific products just drives me crazy. I have to check if I have a voucher for any of the products I’m buying and then see if the vouchers are in date. The only vouchers I welcome receiving are the £3 off a £30 shop or £6 off a £60 shop type. That is a straightforward discount on the products you are buying. What I really want is lower prices without any gimmicks. The lower prices should apply to everyone and not just those who are clever at using the supermarkets various loyalty schemes.

I completely forgot about getting a free cup of coffee with my Waitrose loyalty card – thanks for reminding me Figgerty!

Earlier this month, Waitrose introduced a requirement to buy something to qualify for a free coffee. That does not seem unreasonable.

I wish that there was a Waitrose near where I live.

Oh really wavechange, I wasn’t aware of that! It seem’s you’re right:


“we will be asking myWaitrose members who wish to enjoy their free tea or coffee in one of our Cafés to also purchase a treat – such as a sandwich, cake, biscuit or piece of fruit. This change will enable us to continue to offer our customers the enjoyable service they expect”. – That’s understandable.

However, you can still get a free cuppa if you were to use the self-service machines when you’re shopping – That’s what I tend to do 🙂

You can still claim a free coffee if you take it away. However, I’ve never understood the wish to drink coffee on the move – if it’s any good. You need to sit down and relax with it.

Perhaps Waitrose could set aside an area for simply drinking coffe. I take it if you buy a cup of coffee (as opposed to claiming your “free” one) you don’t have to buy food to be allowed to drink it at a table?

It keeps me fueled while pushing the trolley around the supermarket aisles, Malcolm. Haha – I have to say, food shopping isn’t an exciting chore..

The prerequisite for enjoying supermarket shopping seems to be two X chromosomes, Andrew. :

Even those who meet this requirement are sometimes not too keen.

I’m with Malcolm on sitting down for a coffee. If I was standing I might spill some of the precious fluid.

We use Waitrose almost exclusively yet I’ve never got anything remotely useful at all out of the loyalty card. I’ve no desire for a cardboard cup of milky coffee, I’d rather have the money instead. and the paper comes through the door at home, so can I have the money for that too, please?

Jane Frost says:
14 February 2015

i only like the Boots card.

I’m just so fed up of having to find the cards..and I just love it in Aldi when it’s just so simple to get past the till. And it’s cheaper as a result.

This article starts with “Loyalty cards seem to split opinions. On one hand, they offer something for nothing,”

That is simply wrong.

1. Who do you think pays for the administration of the scheme and the hardware and software to scheme needs? You do by paying higher prices than you need to.

2. I see people are “saving up their points” How stupid! You should use them as soon as you can. £100 a year ago would have bought you much more than £100 today. Food price inflation has been ridiculously high for over 2 years now. Which? has already reported on high prices and less quantity: does nobody pay attention?

3. Is anyone here old enough to remember “Green Shied Stamps”? This was the father of the loyalty card.

4. Your Loyalty Card gathers information and then targets you with offers on goods you buy regularly. However, these goods are the ones with a good profit margin: The store is not helping you, it is maximising its profits, and you are paying for it.

5. Look! I have a scheme: you send me £10. I return £9 and give you 10 points. When you have 100 points, I send you £1. That is how it works.

Save East Coast Rewards says:
15 February 2015

Some loyalty schemes are good. East Coast Rewards was one of the best, but the new operators of the East Coast Mainline, Virgin/Stagecoach, are replacing it with Nectar in March.

Because of this I’ve set up a campaign to encourage them to keep East Coast Rewards, Twitter: @SaveECRewards – Nectar is extremely poor in comparison. For example, East Coast rewards will get you a free standard ticket after spending £255 on rail travel. The same spend on Nectar is worth £2.55, barely enough for a sandwich. High spenders can earn 4 free First Class tickets after spending £1500 on standard class rail travel (or £1000 on first class rail travel). The equivalent on Nectar would be a poor £15 return on the £1500 spend.

Even just looking at supermarkets, Nectar is terrible, Tesco Clubcard allows you to transfer to a good rate to BA Avios or Virgin Atlantic. Nectar just gives you money off things based on 1% of total spend (soon to be dropping to an even worse 0.5% when Sainsbury’s reduces their earning rate).

To observe some of the psychology behind the subject, log onto http://www.dailymail.co.uk – Read One Grumpy Column by Tom Utley – Why I keep falling for devishly ingenuous supermarket offers that actually pick my pocket – 9th May 2013.

There is nothing ‘free’ from supermarkets as ultimately it’s all about market research and footfall.

If a Tesco card could be assigned to a local food bank I would have one. It is pathetic in Tesco stores to walk past a nearly empty bin of food apparently donated for the poor.
Is this the best that this multi-billion pound company can do?

I was with Sainsbury’s Mobile before it went bump. Due to its demise I was promised double Nectar Points from January 2016 until July 2016 on all my other spending – we mainly use Sainsbury’s for our shopping. I haven’t seen one extra point awarded yet, after 5 months. I’ve spoken to Customer Services and he said I should send all personal statements to him via email as proof I haven’t received the points. Two points to be raised here (forgive the pun). Firstly, due to the Nectar web-site design it’s not possible to copy and send all those statements in bulk. Secondly, sending personal details by email is about as secure as tethering a psychotic rhino to a tree with a rubber band!
I’ve also contacted Sainsbury’s via an on-line form (twice) and was told I would receive a reply within a few days – it’s now been a few weeks, not days. Not only have the promised points scalped off into thin air but so have the promised responses. Apparently the ‘Customer Services’ name is a misnomer too – as that’s also disappeared.

An update on our M&S Sparks card. This week’s card offers saved £7.03 on items we were already intending to buy. Perhaps worth reconsidering its attractions?

Not my down-thumb, Malcolm. I’ve neutralised it.

We are reconsidering using the M&S Sparks Card but the weekly offers, at the moment, do not appear to give the benefits you are getting. It might depend on track record and ours is weak because we do not shop there much either on-line or in store. When the weather gets better we shall make a few 60-mile round trips to Norwich at the weekends when these offers seem to be valid, but at £11 to park for the day I shall take some convincing of their value!

Thanks John – I had not seen the 👎🏾 but thanks for the 👍🏾 . Strange what upsets people.
There is no point in spending £41 (£0.50 a mile plus parking) to save £7.03. luckily we have just a 10 mile round trip and free parking ( 👎🏾 anyone?).

My sons are enamoured with Waitrose and Ocado – home delivery with the latter – and seem to get both good quality and some good offers. I wonder if M&S will do home delivery one day? I do think you spend less – more considered purchases and resistance to the impulse buying that goes on in store.

Having done an Ocado last week, and been enticed by saving £12 if I spent £180…. Not really, I usually ignore any where I have to spend more than £70 to get money off!!!

But as we were out of wine, I decided to try some on offer and ended up with £86.48 savings on offers plus my £12 off so I saved £98.48. Ocado also let me know my shop was £24.12 cheaper than if I had shopped at Tesco! 🤑

But as I actually spent £234.20 I didn’t really save anything at all. 🙄

I only do a big shop every 4 – 6 weeks, and 61 of the 82 items I bought were on special offer.

I might disagree with the impulse buying though. I often check through their new products and if I find anything I like the sound of might get it if on special offer or add it to my favourites to try next time it is on offer.

But we did pick up 42 points for flashing M&S Sparks in BP !!!

Our M&S bill also gave two vouchers, each £5 off a £40 spend. We bought a £10 meal deal that included a chicken – normal price £7.01, – a large trifle (favourite with the grandchildren), mixed vegetables and a bottle of wine .