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Best and worst supermarket loyalty cards

By Ellie Simmonds

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Best and worst supermarket loyalty cards

Find out how Nectar, Tesco Clubcard, myWaitrose, M&S Sparks and other popular loyalty card schemes compare and how to get the most out of them

Supermarket loyalty schemes allow you to earn points on your shopping or give you access to exclusive rewards – but it can be hard to tell which ones are worth using.

Our research shows that you'll typically save between £1 and £4 for every £100 you spend with the loyalty schemes on offer today.

However, these savings could easily be cancelled out if the supermarket’s prices are higher than their competitors.

So while you probably shouldn’t change your shopping habits just to earn points, it may be worth signing up to schemes offered by shops you already visit.

Below we explain how the major supermarket loyalty schemes work, calculate how the points stack up and round up our favourite tips for saving money in supermarkets.

Sainsbury’s Nectar card

Sainsbury’s has revamped its Nectar loyalty scheme.

You can still earn one point per £1 spent in-store or online at Sainsbury’s. 500 Nectar points are worth £2.50, which you can spend at the till or online using your physical card or app.

In addition, you'll now get weekly personalised offers each Friday, with bonus points on selected purchases. You can take the offers you like and ignore any you don’t.

The offers can be viewed through the Sainsbury’s website or app (available on App and Play stores). If you already have the Sainsbury’s or Nectar app, you just need to update it to get the new features.

New customers can head to the new-look Nectar site or download the apps to get started, even before your card arrives.

You can also use your Nectar card to collect and spend points with over 400 partners, including Argos, eBay, Esso, Amex, the Sky Store and Sainsbury’s Bank.

Tesco Clubcard

The Tesco Clubcard scheme has been around since 1995. It allows members to collect one point for every £1 they spend in-store and online, and one point for every £2 spent on fuel.

You can collect points on more than just your groceries, with opportunities to boost your total through Tesco Bank and Tesco Mobile.

Every 150 points you earn is worth £1.50 to spend in store or online, or through Tesco partners where you may get more value.

Tesco has announced it will be launching a Clubcard Plus loyalty scheme later this year, but has told Which? it won’t replace the fee-free Clubcard scheme.

The loyalty scheme costs £7.99 a month and will offer the choice of four benefits each month, including discounts on shopping and special offers on Tesco’s other services.

Boots Advantage card

The Boots Advantage scheme offers four points for every £1 spent in-store or online.

You’ll also be sent personalised offers if you sign up to receive Boots emails or when you download the Boots app on your phone.

You can select the offers that take your fancy and they will be loaded onto your Boots Advantage card for you to redeem in-store (you won’t be able to use these offers online).

Each point is worth 1p and you can spend your points anytime you want just so long as you can cover the whole transaction. So if you have 199 points you can use them to buy goods worth £1.99 in total.

As a boots Advantage Card member you also get a free copy of Health & Beauty magazine (normally £1) six times a year.

Co-op Membership card

The Co-operative loyalty scheme doesn’t give you points. Instead, you earn money back on your purchases.

You’ll get 5% back when you buy Co-op own brand items or services (except insurance) and a further 1% is donated to local charitable causes in your community.

The money you earn is paid into a membership account which can be spent with Co-op including its insurance services.

To become a member you need to pay £1. Other benefits include having a say over how the company is run and a claim to its profits.

Morrisons loyalty card

Morrisons offers the Morrisons More loyalty scheme.

You’ll earn five points for every £1 spent in-store or online, fuel or the Morrisons Café, and for every £1 spent on gift cards in-store.

You need 5,000 points to get a £5 voucher, which means each point is worth 0.1p.

Iceland Bonus card

Iceland Bonus cardholders earn their reward by effectively paying for their shopping in advance. For every £20 saved onto an Iceland Bonus Card, Iceland adds £1.

In addition, you’ll get exclusive bonuses and offers when you shop and a special treat on your birthday.

Your reward will be paid into your account, and you can use it along with your pre-loaded cash to pay for your shopping in-store at Iceland or The Food Warehouse.

Waitrose loyalty card

Waitrose offers a loyalty scheme called myWaitrose. Rather than collecting points you can get freebies and access to discounts on your food shop.

A popular perk is the free hot drink offer for members each time they visit a store – but you’lll need to buy something in store and bring a reusable cup.

Members also get a free copy of the Waitrose & Partners Food magazine, as well as deals like 20% off from the fish counter on Fridays.

M&S Sparks card

M&S offers a loyalty scheme called Sparks, where members can collect sparks points when they shop, ‘shwop’ (bring in old clothes to recycle) or write a review.

You’ll earn 10 sparks every time you shop, plus 10 sparks for every £1 you spend. Each review you write on the website will get you 25 sparks and every time you ‘shwop’ you will get 50 sparks.

Sparks have no cash value but once you reach different thresholds you can unlock perks.

  • 3,000 Sparks gives you fast-track access to new products
  • 5,000 Sparks gives you early access to the M&S sale

In addition, M&S will give you personalised offers based on your spending habits. You just need to select the ones you want to load onto your card, and they will be applied the next time you shop in-store or online.

Superdrug Beauty card

Superdrug offers the Health & Beauty card, which allows you to collect points in-store or online.

You can earn one point for every £1 you spend and each point is worth 1p.

Points can be redeemed in multiples of 100. So, you can use 100 points to get £1 off or 200 points to get £2 off.

Unlike the Boots Advantage scheme, you can pay with a mixture of points and cash, meaning you don’t need to wait until your balance is exactly right to use them.

For example, if your shopping comes to £5.22 and you have chosen to spend 500 points, you can take £5 off your total amount. You can then just pay the difference.

Members also get free standard delivery on their online orders worth over £10 (non-members have a minimum £15 spend), plus special discounts every Thursday, exclusive member pricing plus and a birthday treat to look forward to every year.

Loyalty cards compared

Loyalty card Do you get points? Points per £1 spent in store Earn/use points through partners? 1 point's worth in store Return on spend (%) Spend £100, get... Spend £1,000, get…
 

boots advantage card table2

Boots Advantage
 Yes 4 No 1p 4% £4 £40

co-op-members-card-table

Co-op
 No, membership scheme n/a n/a n/a 5% on selected Co-op products into membership account + 1% to local cause in your community £5 (+ £1) £50 (+£10)

Iceland-Bonus-table

Iceland Bonus
 No, savings scheme n/a n/a n/a 5% to spend at Iceland £5 (£1 if you put £20 on your card) £50
 

marks and spencer table2

M&S Sparks
 You get 'Sparks' 10 Sparks + 10 Sparks each time you shop No Exclusive deals n/a At least 1,010 Sparks (depending on the number of transactions) From 3,000 Sparks, you earn deals

Morrisons-More-table

Morrisons More
 Yes 5 No 0.1p 0.5% 50p £5

Nectar-card-table

Sainsbury's Nectar
 Yes 1 Yes 0.5p 0.5% 50p £5

Tesco-clubcard-table

Tesco Clubcard
Yes  1 Yes 1p 1% £1 £10

Waitrose-card-table

MyWaitrose
No, you get rewards n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

superdrug card

Superdrug Health & Beauty Card
Yes 1 n/a 1p 1% £1 £10

 

How to get the most out of your loyalty cards

Once you have a few loyalty cards, you should try to make the most of them. We’ve rounded up some tips below.

Earn extra points

One way of making your loyalty card work harder is to maximise the points you earn. Keep an eye on the store's website to spot the opportunities.

For example, if you shop at Sainsbury's, the Nectar website and promotions, such as 'double-up' or 'bonus' events, offer extra points in selected categories. You can also collect points by shopping with selected partners, including Argos and eBay which can help you to collect points faster.

Boost point values

When it comes to spending your points, most popular points-based loyalty cards have a very low return. 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 has Reward Partners that can offer better deals for your points. For example, you ca turn every 50p of Teco Clubcard vouchers into £1.50 to spend at Pizza. Sainsbury's Nectar points can be spent with more than 400 brands, as diverse as Argos and eBay.  

Research points offers

It pays to research offers before you take them up, to make sure that what looks like a good use of points really is.  

In a March 2017 investigation, we found a deal to buy a 10-issue subscription to National Geographic Traveller magazine for 37% off its normal £39.50 cover price, for the special Nectar price of £25 and 5,000 Nectar points (which equates to spending £5,000 in Sainsbury’s). But, on the National Geographic Traveller website, the same deal cost only £27, and there was even a free travel bag with a claimed value of £20 thrown in.

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've pulled out five of our favourite tips in the gallery below:

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