Does loyalty pay?

How you can earn while shopping

1. Loyalty cards allow you to collect points when you spend money with a retailer. You pay at the till (or online) and points are added to your card.

2. Once you’ve earned a certain amount of points, you can swap them for vouchers or cash.

3. If you get vouchers – for example, with the Tesco Clubcard – you get sent paper money-off vouchers for that store every few months. If you get cash – such as with Nectar – then this gets added to the card.

4. Loyalty schemes allow retailers to harvest useful information on their customers. They also hope the cards encourage you to spend at their store.

5. Don’t overestimate the benefits of loyalty schemes. You have to spend a huge amount to get anything meaningful. Sainsbury’s, which takes Nectar cards, gives one point per £1 spent and 1,000 points are worth £5.

6. Watch out for special offers which increase the number of points you get. Tesco Clubcard gives one point per £1 spent in store. However, you can (until at least June 2018) quadruple these by swapping the points for rewards such as days out.

7. You can also get credit cards which give you loyalty points: Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose all have these deals. But there is no point running up a huge debt just to get points. These cards work best if you pay off the balance in full every month.

8. The myWaitrose card is different in that it doesn’t give you points but targeted offers such as free newspapers and coffees.

9. You don’t have to stuff your wallet full of cards. There are apps which allow you to carry them on your phone, such as Stocard ( You simply flash your phone at the checkout and your rewards/discounts are credited.

10. Storecards are not the same as loyalty cards or store-branded credit cards. They are cards issued by a store chain and can charge huge rates of interest – more than 20% usually. Often they are pushed on shoppers in return for a discount. They only work if you take one out to get the discount and then pay the bill off in full. Otherwise, avoid.


More stuff:

  • Money Saving Expert has a guide to loyalty cards here
  • Check out what Which? has to say on the subject here
  • Here’s a review of some loyalty card storage apps by PC Mag. 


Last updated 8 February 2018.