Mastercard customers can now use ethical loyalty scheme Ice as another way to earn rewards on everyday spending.
Ice is a bit unusual compared to typical loyalty programmes, as it offers points and rewards with retailers that do their bit for the environment.
Which? takes a look at how the new scheme works for Mastercard users, which Mastercard customers can actually take part and whether it’s worth signing up.
How the Ice loyalty scheme works
The Ice loyalty scheme is free to join and allows you to earn points as you spend with selected partners.
If you choose to link your Mastercard, you will automatically earn points when you pay for purchases in store. But if you’re shopping online, you will need to go through the Ice website via tracked links to pick up points.
The retailers are made up of brands Ice considers to be working on helping the environment.
Retailers on the programme are assessed by an ‘Ice Chartered Environmentalist’ who selects those with environmentally conscious business plans.
Those that have made the cut include Harvester, Sizzling Pubs, TUI.co.uk, Marks & Spencer (online) and John Lewis (online).
Ice points and rewards
The number of points you can rack up varies between retailers.
Typically you can earn one point per £1 spent. But some offer as much as seven points for every £1 of your bill.
Each Ice point is worth 1p, though some of your points balance might be worth 2p up to a certain amount when redeeming with selected retailers.
When you shop with an Ice partner with your Mastercard, you will get a text or email alert asking if you want to spend an existing Ice points balance for a discount or collect the points to make a bigger saving later.
When you choose to use your Ice points, it will show as money back on your card bill.
The Ice scheme works on top of any other reward scheme you already use on your MasterCard, like collecting Avios points or earning cashback, giving you twice the opportunity to get rewarded for spending.
Which Mastercard customers can use it?
Anyone with a MasterCard can register to start earning points with the Ice loyalty scheme.
Ice says that this is limited to credit card holders and some prepaid cards at the moment. It plans to allow debit cards to be linked in the future as Mastercard’s network grows in the UK.
Right now Mastercard is the provider behind debit cards supplied by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, B, Citi, Monzo, Starling, Virgin Money and, from 2018, TSB.
How the Ice loyalty scheme compares
The Ice loyalty scheme stacks up pretty well compared to other schemes like Nectar and Clubcard.
While some schemes require a minimum number of points to unlock rewards, Ice allows you to benefit as soon as your points are cleared in your account.
Under Nectar, the biggest loyalty scheme in the UK, each point is worth 0.5p and you need to rack up 500 points before you can unlock your rewards.
With the Tesco Clubcard programme, each point is worth 1p, and collectors need to reach a minimum of 150 points to get a voucher.
Jude Thorne, who previously led AirMiles before founding Ice, said: ‘We want to position Ice as a breath of fresh air in a crowded and confusing market.
Traditional loyalty schemes restrict how much and where the customer can spend their points. With Ice, our customers are free to use a few points to get a bit off their shopping or a lot to get it for nothing.’
Is it worth joining the Ice loyalty scheme?
The Ice scheme has a limited range of places to earn points because of its strict environmentally-friendly criteria, so you may find it hard to build up points.
You should also watch out for how long the points will take to clear in your account, as this varies depending on the retailer and their return period.
When you shop with M&S, for example, it takes 24 hours for points to show but 45 days for them to clear. But with John Lewis, points will show in 24 hours yet can take up to 100 days to be cleared for use.
That said, joining doesn’t cost anything, you can use your points to save as soon as they are cleared and the scheme works on top of any existing cashback or loyalty rewards you might already be using.
There’s also the feel-good element to consider – plus right now, when you join and enter ‘WELCOME150’, you will get 150 Ice points worth at least £1.50 to spend straight away.