The cost of loyalty cards revealedBefore spending loyalty points do your research

26 July 2011

Loyalty card main

Loyalty cards seemingly offer something for nothing, but do your research to avoid being caught out 

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. 

Price hikes

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. 

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