I’m the first to admit that I’m a fan of loyalty cards. I can earn points which then gets me money off/vouchers? Okay, count me in! In fact, I probably have the majority that the UK market has to offer, if I look into my purse.

 

A loyalty card scheme often has one of two choices with regards to their system – you either can get money off/vouchers or you can get things for free. An example where you can money off things or vouchers is the Nectar Card, whereas an example of where you can something for free is the Costa club card. Both schemes can be used to collect points, but how you use them differs. How quickly you get points can also vary from shop to shop; for example Nectar offers 2 points per £1 at Sainsburys,  yet 1 point per 1 litre when you buy fuel at BP. Costa offers 5 points per £, but you probably spend a lot less in there than Sainsburys. Tesco’s club card offers 1 point per £ spent in store, but again they would probably add up faster as people generally spend more in supermarkets!

 

So, what’s the catch? At the moment there doesn’t seem to be any! But, I found recently that staying loyal to a supermarket/shop because of their loyalty card system can actually be a downfall, as products could be cheaper somewhere else.

 

The Pros of Loyalty Cards:

– you can get money off your shopping

– you can get things for free!

 – they don’t cost anything to own/use

 

The Cons of Loyalty Cards:

– It can take aaaages to get enough points to be worthwhile.

– More and more companies end up with lots of information about you, even indirectly.

– you could miss out on cheaper deals because you wanted the points.

 

The last one there I have fallen foul to on a couple of occasions. I started shopping at Sainsburys more often so I could collect the Nectar points sat the end of the shop. However, my grocery bill kept creeping up and up and it soon became a number I wasn’t happy with. I then did a comparison between Sainsburys and Morrisons (both are the closest to our house) and realised that Morrisons worked out much cheaper, even taking into account the Nectar points accrued! Much cheaper (and Morrisons have just brought out their own loyalty card scheme) and I didn’t get distracted by the Home department like I would do in Sainsburys.

 

Another example is the Boots Advantage card. Now, until fairly recently I would always shop at Boots for our beauty and health products, without really thinking about it. I’d go in, get the same things as I always got and paid at the checkout, accruing points as I went along. I could then exchange these points for money off my purchases, once the points were worth enough. However, I suddenly realised (considering I’m meant to be frugal!) that 99% of the things I was buying at Boots could be bought at a much lower cost at our supermarket. In fact, the supermarket’s own brand shampoo is much nice and a third of the price. I had been missing out on lower prices for ages because I liked collecting points!

 

So, although I am still a fan of loyalty cards, I am now much more selective about how I use them and I try not to get sucked in to getting as many points as possible, because it inevitably means I’ll end up spending more in the long run. I still own most of them, in case I pop in to any of the shops for something, because the points still add up over time, but I’m not going to bust a gut trying to get more.

 

Do you agree? Do you own any loyalty cards? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

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