GET MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: THE REWARD CARDS WORTH USING (AND THOSE THAT AREN’T…)

  • That’s cheeky, Nandos! Restaurant’s point system leaves a lot to be desired
  • Morrisons’ More card best return per £1 (but ONLY on own-brand purchases)
  • M&S Sparks points worst return on your money (with no monetary value whatsoever)
  • Tesco Clubcard’s pending change sees it drop from second to third best

The world of reward cards can be tricky to navigate, but using loyalty schemes to your advantage can shave hundreds off your shopping bill each year.

Delving into the points systems of popular brands, GalaBingo.com has revealed the best and worst points cards to hold – and the tips and tricks to get the most out of them.

From free coffees to 5% off, here are the best and worst loyalty cards to sign up for.

#1 Boots Advantage Card

At four points per £1, Boots Advantage Card is the best major store card for a return on your spend. Each point is equivalent to 1p, so for every £1 you spend, you get 4p back. You can spend these whenever you like, and on anything you want – so long as the value can be paid for in full with points. Mega Points Weekends and bonus points allow you to earn more points per pound; sign up for the newsletter to receive details of offers.

#2 Morrisons More Card

For every £1 spent on the Morrisons More Card, five points are received. Five thousand points (equivalent of £1,000 spent) is needed to get a £5 voucher, meaning each point has the monetary value of 1p. However, vouchers can only be used at Morrisons and expire after a year.

#3 Tesco Clubcard

The Tesco Clubcard earns one point (worth 1p) per £1 spent. However, points can be boosted by swapping to vouchers with Reward Partners; originally, points would be boosted 4x (turning £10 of points to £40 of vouchers), however Tesco has announced that future boosting will change to just 3x the value. Boost vouchers can be used at over 100 Reward Partners, including Prezzo, Cineworld and Railcard.

#4 Co-op Membership

It costs £1 to join Co-op membership, and doing so makes you a member of the collective, meaning you technically have a say in how the company is run, as well as a claim to its profits.

In terms of rewards, the membership earns 5% on selected own brand products and services across all Co-op groups, including the funeral homes and insurance. An additional 1% is given to charity. At the equivalent of 5p earnt back per £1, this is the highest earning reward card, but often works out much less over a full shop due to being redeemable only on selected products. The money earned goes back into your membership account, and can be spent across any Co-op business.

#5 Nectar Card

Sainsbury’s partner, Nectar, earns you one point per £1, equivalent to 0.5p – so it takes a £2 spend to receive 1p. Points can be spent directly at 128 brands, or redeemed for rewards – although here outside of Sainsburys, one point does not correlate with 1p. Instead, points are used to buy rewards, so 350 points can be redeemed for a drink at Caffe Nero, while 1,000 points can be redeemed for two cinema tickets at Vue.

Nectar points can also be earned through over 500 other brands including eBay, BP garages, and through certain train providers, so if you have a card it’s worth asking – Chrome, Firebox and Safari all have a Nectar extension, meaning you’ll be notified if the website you shop at offers Nectar points.

#6 myWaitrose

Rather than earning points, Waitrose’s loyalty scheme offers freebies and discounts, including a free tea or coffee when making a purchase, or a free newspaper when spending £10 or more. Members are also able to browse through available offers and choose ten at any one time, giving up to 20% off of products that you know you will use.

#7 M&S Sparks Card

At ten Sparks points per £1, M&S loyalty cards should be one of the best out there. However, digging deeper reveals that, value for money wise, it is one of the worst; Sparks points have no monetary value whatsoever. Instead, Sparks points unlock levels – you need a minimum of 3,000 (£300 spend) to unlock level one, which is an underwhelming preview of new season stock, and at 17,000 points (£1,700 spend), the highest level gives you the opportunity to enter competitions. However, members are offered personalised discounts every fortnight.

When it comes to fashion retail reward schemes, ASOS tops the list with its system, ASOS a-list. For every £1 spent, five points are earned; a £5 voucher is given every 500 points (a £100 spend), which can be redeemed up to six months later. Different ‘levels’, which can be unlocked by earning certain number of points, have different tiers of rewards including birthday discounts, double point days, competitions and offers.

Other fashion retailers, such as Topshop and New Look, only offer rewards through their store cards. While these can give good bonuses, such a 10% off first purchase, they are essentially credit cards and run the risk of credit card charges and interest payments if the balance is not paid off in full.

For foodie deals, Subway’s Subcard offers the best return; if registered, ten points (worth 10p) is given for every £1 spent. One hundred points equates to a free drink, 200 for a snack, 500 for a 6” and 1,000 points can be redeemed for a footlong sub or flatbread. Costa’s Coffee Club is the next best value loyalty scheme in the food industry, giving five points (5p) per £1. This can be redeemed against any item, assuming you have the right number of points.

Disappointingly, Nando’s lovers get just one point per £7 spent – and, transactions over £7 only account for one point, with an allowance of just one point per day so splitting the meal into two transactions won’t get you extra points. It takes six points to get a wrap, burger or pitta, and ten points to get a single combo meal (that’s the equivalent of at least £70 to get a free meal).

Jonathan Gutteridge from The Money Shed, an online community with over 100,000 posts from members dedicated to personal finance, commented on how he uses reward schemes to save money: “Even with the proposed changes, I think Tesco Clubcard’s reward schemes has to be the best out there for families. Using the scheme has provided my family with nights away, meals out, and day trips, just by shopping as normal. It’s much more rewarding than saving a fiver off a shop. The Nectar card scheme has to be the worst, in my opinion; we’ve been told numerous times that points can only be spent in our home store (where we registered the card), despite being able to collect points anywhere. It’s infuriating, and not particularly consumer friendly.

“To get the most out of reward schemes, the number one thing you can do is make sure you aren’t buying products solely for the points. It’s easily to fall into the trap of buying things to get extra points, particularly as supermarkets often place brand A (with extra points) and brand B (without extra points) to try and make you spend more money this way. Unless you already were planning on buying a specific product or brand, you are essentially throwing away money for a few extra points. Supermarkets take advantage of this by placing brand A (with extra points) next to brand B (without extra points) to try and get you to spend more money.”

Karina Adrian, PR & Brand Partnership Manager at GalaBingo.com, commented on the research findings: “We love to reward our customers at Gala Bingo, as we feel it helps create a positive online community. With that in mind, we decided to see what other loyalty schemes are out there.“Unfortunately, it’s obvious from our research that some schemes leave a lot to be desired.

Rather than ditch these entirely, it’s better to get loyalty cards for everywhere you visit, and shop as normal – that way, you’re building up points no matter where you go. Keep an eye on whether points expire though, to stop you from wasting your hard earned freebies.”

For tricks on how to get the most out of loyalty schemes, visit www.galabingo.com/happy-hub/battle-of-the-reward-cards