/ Shopping, Travel & Leisure

Raw deal on holidays for Tesco Clubcard holders

Pig holiday

Putting Tesco Clubcard points towards money off a holiday sounds like a good deal in theory. But if you’ve done that with travel company Cosmos Holidays, we’ve found you might have been charged extra for your trip.

There’s no better coping strategy for dealing with the gloomy British winter than booking a holiday in the sun.

But if you booked that holiday through travel company Cosmos Holidays using Clubcard points, then you may have been charged more than if you’d just booked it normally.

Points meant paying more

Until recently, Clubcard customers were able to trade in £10 worth of points for £30 worth of Cosmos vouchers – but to use the vouchers you had to go to a separate section of the Cosmos site.

In November, we checked prices on 36 different package holidays and 33 of them cost more when booked through the Clubcard section of the Cosmos site than when booked normally. The site didn’t give us any indication that prices would be different.

The holidays we looked at in our snapshot research cost £1,159 on average through the regular Cosmos site. But the same packages cost £1,285 on average, before applying any vouchers, when booked through the Clubcard section of the site – a difference of almost 11%.

The worst offender was a 14-day holiday in Florida. It normally cost £1,685, but, even after applying a £30 voucher, we would have paid £1,903 on the Clubcard section of the site – an extra £218.

Who else is charging extra?

I own a Tesco Clubcard, and mostly use my points to get discounts on train travel. It’s always a nice bonus when a few months’ worth of food shopping has paid for a ticket back home to Manchester.

But until a Which? member contacted us to report this problem with Cosmos, I’d never considered that I might be offered a different price just because I’m using Clubcard points. Are there other companies out there doing this too?

We contacted Cosmos about this, and it said it was about to change its website so that everyone would be charged the same. When we asked why Clubcard holders had been charged more, Tesco said that sometimes Cosmos prices were lower because of temporary discounts, and that Cosmos previously wasn’t able to accept Clubcard vouchers as payment in these cases. We think Cosmos should have made this clearer on its website at the time.

If you’ve noticed that you’ve been charged extra when using Tesco Clubcard points – or any other loyalty card – let us and we’ll investigate further.

Dixter says:
18 December 2013

Clubcard savings. Lots of effort to “big up” the savings in ads and almost as much effort to sneak them back when you buy? Surprises me that Tesco are happy to have their brand associated with stuff that made me feel deceived. Cosmos and P&O. Is there a theme emerging here?

We used clubcard vouchers to get cheaper ferry travel on P&O to Ireland. My wife called up, went through the process and when it came to pay was told. Oh you cant pay for this with clubcards you have to go through a different price process. Guess what. The tickets were dearer in that process. £45 saving was reduced by 33% to £30.00. And that was after a load of postal processes that must deter plenty of folk. It all feels over-promised then awkward and feels deceitful to get the savings.


I have just looked at quotations from Irish Ferries for a return trip to Dublin for June 2014. If booked via the normal service for 4X4 and 2 passengers £285.00 If booked using Tesco vouchers, exactly same booking, £325.00. A 14% increase. I can find nothing on their website advising of any mark up. Add to that the postal issues mentioned above and the benefits start to erode greatly.


I am sure this sort of thing happens when you have discount vouchers/codes for hotels.
You are always asked to quote your discount code at the time of your booking before you are actually given the price of your stay.
Haven’t put this to the test but I’m sure someone may have noticed they could have got their stay at a similar price without the discount.
I might be being a bit synical but I’m sure these discounts are just bait.


My experience in July 2012 Tesco are well aware of the differences in prices when using Tesco clubcard vouchers against holidays but what really annoys me is that Tesco do not “prominently” display a link to the brochure that your vouchers will be based against and so when I researched an on-line Cosmos brochure for my holiday this was different to the link to their “adapted” on-line brochure resulting in a cost in excess of £315.

And although I see this as a rip off by Cosmos, Tesco are partly to blame for not highlighting this more prominently.

I don’t expect much to change but I think they should change their rewards site and put the links to the brochures alongside the Cosmos Logo on their reward site so there is no misunderstandings!.

(I should have cashed my vouchers in for Goldsmiths the Jewellers, bought some Jewellery and sold on e-bay and booked the holiday through their “non-Tesco influenced brochure” as I don’t think I would have lost over £300 that way).


In a similar vein, I find that buying car insurance through cash back sites such as Quidco are also inflated – making any savings in cash back negligible or worse than going direct to the insurer, or through a comparison site.

Clive Harrold says:
19 December 2013

We wanted to visit our children at the beginning of December 2013 so decided to use our Tesco Clubcard vouchers to book a hotel. When I contacted the dedicated number I was told that only a limited number of rooms were available to Clubcard offers – OK that seems reasonable. When I eventually got well down my list of preferrred hotels before there was any room available for the dates we wanted, I was told that the Clubcard rate for the room was £120 per night so for 3 nights I would need £120 of Clubcard vouchers for the required exchange value of £360. I decided not to proceed at that point and checked some of the search sites for other availability. I found a hotel much nearer the top of my preferrred list for £99 per night (no rooms available on Clubcard at this one) but also I found the hotel where I was offered a room under the Clubcard offer, exactly the same spec, for £95 per night.
This is not the only time I have come across this price differentiation if paying by Clubcard. We used to service my wife’s car at Nationwide Autos who were included in the Clubcard offers. When the time came for a service we obtained vouchers to the value of the offered service cost of £99, only to be told when the time came to pay, that the special discounted service did not apply to anyone using Clubcard vouchers and the full cost of £139.99 would be charged so we had to pay an extra £40 in addition to the Clubcard vouchers. When I queried this with their head office, I was told that they had to do this because Clubcard only reimbursed them for about 60% of the face value of the vouchers.
It all seems a bit cloak and dagger to me so we tend to simply use them on offers in store where you are not then embarrassed by being asked to pay more than you had expected.

John, Bristol says:
19 December 2013

My experience with Tesco clubcard vouchers and hotels is the same, on several occasions.
Typically you might be able to get the same hotel online at,say. £90 a night but when you have obtained your Tesco vouchers and ring up the charge is more like £130 a night, even though still £90 a night without Tesco vouchers. In my estimation, on past experience, the hotel vouchers are worth in real terms twice the face value of the original Tesco vouchers and not 3 times the value as Tesco claim.

Debs, Gloucester says:
19 December 2013

I spotted that Cosmos were hiking the prices for bookings made with clubcard vouchers earlier this year when I was looking to use £120 of vouchers as part payment for a holiday to Egypt. I complained to both Tesco and Cosmos. Tesco responded but the email basically said “tough”. Cosmos didn’t even bother to reply. In the past we’ve had two lovely holidays to the Maldives and two to Kenya with Virgin and Tradewinds, using our Tesco Vouchers to bring the cost down to an affordable level. The benefits of using vouchers to buy reward tokens has been gradually eroded over the years and now you only get 3 x face value, in most cases it takes much longer to build up enough vouchers for a worthwhile discount on a holiday or weekend break. I was so disappointed with Tesco’s response I voted with my feet. I used my remaining vouchers to buy a top of the range Sat Nav from Tesco Direct, closed my clubcard credit card and switched my allegiance to Sainsburys and Nectar card instead. I’m sure I am not the only one to make this choice. I won’t ever book a holiday with Cosmos either!