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Are supermarket loyalty cards worth it?

By Matt Clear

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Are supermarket loyalty cards worth it?

We compare what you get from supermarket loyalty schemes and how to get the most out of them.

Though it's not worth changing where you shop just to take advantage of loyalty schemes, it is certainly worth signing up cards offered by shops you visit regularly.

Our research shows that you'll typically receive £1 or 50p back per £100 (£4 for Boots), which is easily cancelled out if the supermarket you visit sells its products for slightly more in the first place.

The table below reveals what you get from each of the supermarket loyalty schemes, where you can use your points and how to get the most from them. Underneath the table we've rounded up our favourite tips for saving money in supermarkets.

Earn extra loyalty card points

One way of making your loyalty card work harder is to maximise the points you get. Have a good look at the store's website to check out the opportunities.

If you shop at Sainsbury's, you can use their own My Coupons website (bonus points on selected food products), and Nectar promotions such as 'double-up' or 'bonus' events when you can get up to 10 times the points in selected categories.

And if you're a Boots Advantage card holder in England and Wales, you can enrol in the ‘Pharmacy Advantage Club’ (ask in Boots) and get extra rewards, including 10 points per £1 spent on Boots branded products.

Spending points

When it comes to spending your points, with an average of just 2.5% return for your most popular points-based loyalty cards, you’ll need to take advantage of bonus points and offers to make the card worth the space in your wallet.

For example, Tesco Clubcard gives you £10 to spend at restaurants including Pizza Express, Chef & Brewer and Ask Italian for just £2.50 in vouchers.

And your Sainsbury's Nectar points can be spent with more than 400 online partners as diverse as Apple, Argos, Easyjet, House of Fraser, Topshop and Virgin Trains East Coast.

Questionable points offers

Always check whether what looks like a good use of points really is. 

For the special Nectar price of £25 and 5,000 Nectar points (which equates to spending £5,000 in Sainsbury’s) you can buy a 10-issue subscription to National Geographic Traveller magazine (37% off normal £39.50 cover price). But, on the National Geographic Traveller website the same deal costs only £27 (discounted rate), and there’s even a free travel bag with a claimed value of £20 thrown in.

Other loyalty schemes

Not all loyalty cards work on a points system. MyWaitrose offers 20% off 10 ‘Pick Your Own’ products (you choose from a large list) could reap rewards if you buy the same items regularly. Motivated couples could use a trolley each, getting 20 products discounted.

But, even with a discount, Waitrose is often pricier, and finding your ‘Pick Your Own’ product or pack size out of stock can be irritating.

Iceland offers one of the better percentage returns, but what customers think of it may surprise you: see our best and worst loyalty cards. Iceland Bonus cardholders earn their reward by effectively paying for their shopping in advance. For every £25 saved onto an Iceland Bonus Card, Iceland adds £1.

And the Co-op has a membership scheme, whereby you get 5% back on own-branded products and 1% to your local community.

Ways to save on your supermarket shop

As well as having a loyalty card for the supermarket you shop at, there are also lots of other ways to save money on your supermarket shopping.  

We're pulled out five of our favourite tips in the gallery below.

For more ways to save money, see our guide on Aldi and Lidl offers. We try out special-buy offers on electricals – from coffee machines to irons – to help you decide which ones are worth buying. On top of that, we've identified some top discounts on garden equipment including pressure washers and hedge trimmers.

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