Nine out of ten of us has at least one loyalty card, but are they a plastic menace or a golden ticket for those dedicated to reaping their rewards?
It’s time to own up. Until I started my research and surveying members months ago, I was one of the 7% without a loyalty card, but now I’m becoming an aficionado.
I remember getting a real buzz as a child, sticking Green Shield stamps into a book for my mum, and this feels a bit similar.
Because, the truth is that to really see the benefit of most of these cards you need to put a fair bit of time and effort into playing the loyalty game.
Here are some of the do’s and don’ts:
- Shop at the optimum time. For example, stock up when Boots has a mega Advantage Card points weekend (spend over £50), or gives you a double points voucher and has the products you need on a three-for-two offer.
- Research loyalty scheme partners that make your points go furthest. For instance, some Tesco Clubcard partners, such as Hilton and Mercure Hotels, Hampton Court Palace and the Eden Project, offer two to four times the face value of Clubcard vouchers. Check the company’s own offers as you often can’t combine them.
- Get points when you’d use partners anyway. If you buy white goods at Curry’s, why not get Nectar points at the same time?
- Combine discounts. For example, get a double discount when your myWaitrose Pick Your Own choice (20% off) is also on multi-buy.
- Don’t let points expire. Most points expire in one to two years on unused accounts. The bigger loyalty schemes can convert unwanted points to charity.
- Don’t let loyalty cards change your loyalties. For example, a myWaitrose Pick Your Own offer gives 20% off a 130g bag of wild rocket (mixed leaf) salad, taking the price from £1.99 down to £1.59. But if you usually shop in Asda, a similar 120g bag of watercress, spinach and rocket salad is £1 without any discounts.
Of course, with every loyalty card success comes frustration in equal measure.
I booked a Virgin East Coast Trains journey in January using my Nectar card with the promise that I’d accrue 1,000 Nectar points in the process.
Believe me, it took some doing, so where are those promised points now? I’ve seen hide nor hair of them. In my heart of hearts, I know there was probably something I missed – likely in the terms and conditions.
Then there was the time when I thought I’d get that mega-discount on hugely expensive electric toothbrush heads in Boots, but they were excluded from the dental promotion.
As for myWaitrose points – can I really be bothered to search for the right pack size and product to get the benefit of its Pick Your Own 20% discount on ten products? Or will I feel robbed if I don’t?
How do you feel about loyalty cards? Scourge or cash cow? And, if you’re an aficionado, what tips and tricks have you picked up on your plastic-fantastic journey?