Loyalty cards are hugely popular, but new Which? research reveals the true cost of loyalty can be inflated prices.
Cost of loyalty
In July 2011, we compared the cost of booking tickets with Irish Ferries by credit card and using Tesco Clubcard vouchers as part of our report on loyalty cards, and found that they were offered at different prices.
We selected three return journeys at random, all a few weeks in advance, and found that by selecting the option of paying with ‘Tesco Sterling Tokens’ we were charged £15 for every option – outbound and return.
This means that the £30 worth of vouchers you get by redeeming £10 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers for an Irish Ferry trip would have saved us precisely nothing, and we would have wasted a £10 voucher in the process.
Irish Ferries and Tesco both told us that the Tesco Clubcard Rewards scheme is a special promotion, and Tesco Travel Tokens can only be redeemed against standard fares. They cannot be used with an other promotional offer, sale or discount – which an advanced online booking with Irish Ferries is.
Irish Ferries said: ‘The fares quoted on our website are a special offer and are up to 30% off our say-of-travel fares, so do not qualify for use with Tesco Tokens. This information is displayed on all promotional material.’
Clucard users however may expect they’re getting a discount by using their vouchers, whether it be for advanced purchases or same-day. Tesco also told us: ‘We are in continuous dialogue with our rewards partners to encourage competitive offers for our customers’.
Which? Loyalty card content
We’ve put together a guide to the biggest high-street loyalty cards which tells you what they pay, how you redeem your points, and whether they have redemption thresholds among other things.
It will also tell you about any other issues you need to be aware of including what you’re agreeing to in the tick-boxes, and how long you can save your points before they expire.
Which? Money when you need it
You can follow @WhichMoney on Twitter to keep up-to-date with our Best Rates and Recommended Provider product and service reviews.
Sign up for the latest money news, best rates and recommended providers in your newsletter every Friday.
Or for money-saving tips, and news of how what’s going on in the world of finance affects you, join Melanie Dowding and James Daley for the Which? Money weekly money podcast
For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed here. And to find out how we work for you on money issues, visit our personal finance campaigns pages.