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Best loyalty cards 2020

If you're a budget-conscious shopper, your wallet is probably filled to the brim with loyalty cards. But are you taking full advantage of the perks?

loyalty cards

With more and more shops fighting for your custom, loyalty cards and reward schemes are popping up left, right and centre to entice you in.

They might seem like a waste of time, but in some cases, you can make some serious savings just by showing a little bit of plastic (or an app) every time you reach the till – so take advantage of this!

Of course, not all loyalty cards are as good as each other, so we've ranked some of the most well-known ones by their value for money and given our reviews. You can thank us later.

Remember that stores have lots of sneaky tricks to get you to spend more money than you need to – stay savvy and know what to look out for.

Best loyalty and reward cards

Here are the 13 best loyalty cards:

 Loyalty cardBest for
1Tesco ClubcardGetting discounts with Tesco's Reward Partners (e.g. Pizza Express, 16-25 Railcard, etc.)
2Nectar cardOften good offers on the Nectar website
3Paperchase Treat MeSpend £50 within six months and get £5 off next shop
4Boots Advantage CardMega points weekends
5Superdrug Health and BeautycardUsing points for part-payments
6SubcardGenerous point scheme
7Nando's CardPoints don't reset when you claim rewards
8Waterstones Plus£10 off after every £100 you spend
9Co-op Membership5% of what you spend on Co-op products can be put towards your future purchases at Co-op food stores
10Starbucks Reward CardFreebies after you reach certain 'levels'
11Costa Coffee ClubPoints can be used to get free food and drinks
12IKEA Family cardFreebies and discounts in store
13myWaitroseFreebies and vouchers

Loyalty card reviews

  1. Tesco Clubcard

    Tesco Clubcard
    How do you get Tesco Clubcard points?

    You'll earn points on your Tesco Clubcard every time you make a purchase either online or in-store. You'll also earn points if you have a Tesco credit card, have an account with Tesco Mobile or have a current account with Tesco Bank.

    You'll earn one point for every £1 you spend (or one point for every £2 you spend on fuel).

    How much are Clubcard points worth?

    Every point is worth a penny when you're buying items in Tesco, but you can trade them in for discounts at a huge range of high street stores and brands, making them stretch even further.

    You'll receive vouchers based on the number of points you've collected every three months. Or, you can sign up for Faster Vouchers on the Clubcard app or website to get your points converted into vouchers within 24 hours (except during the two-week period before your Clubcard statement's ready).

    You can either spend the vouchers in Tesco as they are or use the codes on the vouchers to spend them with one of Tesco's Reward Partners instead – usually tripling the value of your points!

    Best way to spend Clubcard points

    We would definitely recommend cashing your points in for discounts with a Reward Partner, rather than using them in Tesco to boost your points by up to three times.

    For example, you could turn every 50p you have in points into £1.50 to spend in Zizzi, Prezzo, Pizza Express or other restaurants.

    You could also exchange a £1 Clubcard voucher for £3 to spend on a 16–25 Railcard, making it even easier to get cheaper train tickets.

    Extra bonuses

    Tesco Mobile – If you're a Tesco Mobile customer, you'll be racking up one Clubcard point for every £1 spent on your bill. Just make sure you register your Clubcard to your account.

    Tesco Bank Credit Card – You'd collect one extra Clubcard point for every £4 spent in Tesco stores, and one point for every £8 spent outside of Tesco.

    Tesco Pay+ – This app lets you store your own credit/debit and Tesco Clubcard in one place, so you can pay quickly at checkout and automatically collect your points.

    Tesco Bank Current Account – If you have a current account with Tesco Bank, you'll get one extra point for every £1 you spend in-store or on fuel using your Tesco debit card, and one Clubcard point for every £8 you spend elsewhere. However, they're not currently accepting applications for the current account – see the best student bank accounts instead.

    Drawbacks

    Tesco will deactivate your account if it's unused for more than two years. Most vouchers have an expiry of two years as well – you can find the exact expiry date on your voucher.

    Get your Tesco Clubcard »

  2. Nectar card

    Nectar Card

    Where can you collect Nectar points?

    Nectar cards are best known as a loyalty card for Sainsbury's, but you can actually collect points from hundreds of different brands including ASOS, Topshop, Microsoft and Waterstones. But please note that with many of these, you can only collect points when you shop online.

    Check out the full list of brands here.

    At Sainsbury's, you'll earn one point for every £1 you spend. This varies across brands, though – a lot of stores offer two points per £1. The Nectar website will specify the rate for each store.

    How much are Nectar points worth?

    Again, how much Nectar points are worth when redeeming them varies depending on where you're shopping. In Sainsbury's, one point is worth 0.5p, so 500 points will get you £2.50 off your shop.

    This is often the going rate across most stores but, in some cases, your points might be worth more.

    The best way to spend Nectar points

    To get the most out of your Nectar points, check the Nectar website for special offers.

    There are some good deals on there, but don't let this dictate where you spend money. Your Nectar points might be worth more if you use them at a particular shop or restaurant, but if you had no intention of going there, are you really saving cash?

    Extra bonuses

    Nectar Canvass – Sign up to Nectar Canvass and complete surveys to earn Nectar points. This is a great way of earning points without having to spend a penny.

    Oxfam Tag Your Bag – If you have any unwanted clothes, books, DVDs or games, donate them to Oxfam and earn Nectar points. Simply sign up to Tag Your Bag (and earn 100 points) and receive your personalised tags in the post. Mark your bags with the tags and donate your stuff to a nearby Oxfam store. You'll then earn two points for every £1 your items raise.

    Check the Nectar website – They sometimes have special deals and promotions where you can earn bumper points, or even earn points without having to spend anything.

    Drawbacks

    Nectar card points are now only worth around half of what Tesco Clubcard points are worth, after they decided to drop the rate by 50% in April 2015.

    If your account remains inactive for 12 months, your points will be wiped.

    Get your Nectar Card »

  3. Paperchase Treat Me card

    Paperchase Treat Me card
    How does the Paperchase card work?

    The Paperchase Treat Me is less of a points card and more of a ticket to discounts and freebies. However, there are some great benefits to a Treat Me card that can save you some decent money in the long-run, especially if you shop at Paperchase often.

    You get some benefits just from signing up, then every time you spend in-store or online, you'll move a step closer to your next 'treat'.

    In our opinion, it's worth it just for the free £5 spend on your birthday (no purchase required).

    What are the benefits?

    •  15% off your first purchase using the Treat Me card (valid for 28 days after you register your card)
    •  If you spend £50 within a six-month period, you'll get £5 off your next shop
    •  Free greetings card when you buy seven in a year
    •  You get £5 off on your birthday (valid for 14 days from your birthday)
    •  Free Click and Collect when you spend £10 or more
    •  Free upgrade to next day delivery (via Yodel) when you spend £25 or more

    Drawbacks

    Once you rack up £50 worth of spending and get your £5 off, you only have 28 days to use it (although staff are usually really good at letting you know when you're getting close to the £50 spend mark).

    You also can't use your Paperchase student discount in conjunction with Treat Me offers and discounts.

    Get your Paperchase Treat Me card »

  4. Boots Advantage Card

    Boots Advantage Card

    How do you get Boots Advantage points?

    You'll earn points every time you make a purchase at Boots online or in-store. You'll receive four points for every £1 you spend, so a £20 spend would get you 80 points. This makes the Boots Advantage Card one of the most generous on the market.

    How much are Boots Advantage points worth?

    Every point is worth 1p to spend in-store or online, so the 80 points from a £20 spend would be worth 80p.

    To use your points, just show your card at the till and ask to pay with points, or select the Advantage card icon at the checkout when shopping online.

    Extra bonuses

    Student discount: You can get 10% student discount in Boots with an Advantage card.

    Mega Points Weekends: These are special events where you can earn a bunch of extra Advantage points for spending over a certain amount in-store or online – 1,000 extra points (worth £10) for spending £50, for example.

    If possible, it's a good idea to delay purchases until these events so you're only spending money on things you actually want. If you're planning on buying a lot, split it up into separate £50 transactions, as there's not usually a limit on how many points you can earn.

    Tailored offers: Check the Boots app, your emails and your account page on Boots.com for tailored offers, which often include bumper points for buying specific items.

    Drawbacks

    You can't earn points on prescriptions, powdered milk products, gift vouchers or insurance.

    You also can't use your Advantage points to part-pay for an item – you need enough points to cover the entire cost.

    For example, if you're buying a £4 mascara and you have 400 points on your card, you'll be able to get the mascara for free. But, if the mascara costs £4.99, you won't be able to use your points and pay the remaining 99p.

    If your Advantage card is inactive for two years, your points will be wiped.

    Get your Boots Advantage card »

  5. Superdrug Health and Beautycard

    Superdrug Health and Beautycard

    How does the Superdrug Health & Beautycard work?

    Like most loyalty cards, the Superdrug Health & Beautycard comes both as a physical card (with a handy mirror on it) and as an app.

    Use it when you buy in-store or online, and you'll earn one point for every £1 you spend. Save these points up to get money off your next purchase.

    How much are Superdrug points worth?

    You can only spend your Superdrug points in multiples of 100. 100 points will get you £1 off, 200 points will get you £2 off and so on...

    This does mean you have to spend quite a lot to get any discounts, as a £100 spend will only get you a quid off your next shop.

    However, the best thing about the Superdrug loyalty card is that you can use your points for part-payments, unlike the Boots Advantage card. So you can buy something that costs £4.99, and use 200 points to get £2 off, paying the difference (£2.99) yourself.

    Extra bonuses

    •  Bonus points (50, 100, 200 or 500) when buying selected products or on special events
    •  Treat Thursdays – exclusive member discounts on a certain product/category every Thursday
    •  Free standard delivery on orders over £10
    •  Triple points as a birthday treat
    •  10% student discount (along with a UNiDAYS or TOTUM/NUS Extra card).

    Drawbacks

    You need to use your card once every 12 months or your account will be closed.

    And, since you have to spend your points in multiples of 100, 190 points will still only get you £1 off your shop (until you spend another £10 to reach 200 points).

    Get your Superdrug Health & Beautycard »

  6. Subcard

    Subcard

    How does the Subcard work?

    Once you've registered your Subcard (which comes in card or app form), you'll receive one point for every 10p spent in-store.

    If you haven't registered your card, you'll only receive one point for every 20p spent (and you won't be able to redeem your points for freebies).

    How much are Subcard points worth?

    The more points you rack up, the bigger the freebies.

    100 points (£10 spend) will get you a free hot drink, 200 points (£20 spend) will get you a free snack, 500 points (£50 spend) will get you a free six-inch sub, flatbread or salad and 1,000 points (£100 spend) will get you a free footlong sub or flatbread.

    Extra bonuses

    One very good perk is that new members get a welcome bonus of 250 points when registering online or via the app.

    You'll also earn double points if you come back and make another purchase within seven days of your previous purchase – so if you buy a Subway every week, you'll essentially be earning double points every time.

    Using the Subway app, you and two–eight friends can form a Subsquad (maximum of nine people altogether).

    When someone in the group makes a purchase, everyone in the group will receive a notification. If you buy a Sub within four hours, you and the original purchaser will get 50 bonus points each.

    Drawbacks

    You can only have 5000 points on your card at one time, so you'll have to keep spending those points as you go along if you're a serious Subway enthusiast!

    You'll also lose your points if you don't use your card for a year.

    Get your Subcard »


tom case studyI love the Subcard! In between the Subsquad bonuses and the double points every time you return within seven days, I used to be able to pay for my Subway Monday–Thursday and get it free on Fridays.

Of course, after a while I got a bit sick of Subway, so now I go less often. But it just goes to show how generous the points scheme can be if you know how to play it!

Tom Allingham, Editor at Save the Student


  1. Nando's Card

    Nando's loyalty card

    How does the Nando's Card work?

    With a Nando's Card, you'll earn a 'Chilli' every time you spend £7 or more on your meal.

    You need to register your card online or on the app first, and you'll receive a bonus Chilli for doing so.

    You can only collect one Chilli per customer per day, so even if you spend £14, you'll still just get one stamp. So, if you're dining with a fellow Nando's cardholder, make sure you pay separately to maximise Chilli earnings.

    How much are Nando's Chillies worth?

    When you earn a certain amount of Chillies you'll be able to claim a reward. Here are the freebies you can get with a Nando's Card:

    3 Chillies – Green Reward: 1/4 chicken or Fire-Starter
    6 Chillies – Orange Reward: 1/2 chicken or any single wrap, burger or pitta
    10 Chillies – Red Reward: Whole chicken or single combo meal with regular sides

    When you claim a reward your points don't reset – you just keep making your way towards the next reward (until you claim your Red Reward, and the process starts all over again).

    Drawbacks

    Bear in mind that Chillies only last for 366 days from the date they're acquired, so make sure you spend them in time.

    Get your Nando's card »

  2. Waterstones Plus

    Waterstones rewards app

    How does Waterstones Plus work?

    With Waterstones Plus, you'll earn one 'Plus stamp' for every £10 you spend in-store or online, and every 10 stamps will add £10 to your Plus balance. Essentially, for every £100 you spend, you'll get £10 off.

    And, with a Waterstones Plus Student card, you'll get an extra 5% off all purchases, along with collecting the Plus stamps.

    Any points you've already earned with the previous Waterstones Card will automatically be transferred across to the new Plus scheme.

    Extra bonuses

    You'll get priority for signed and limited edition books, access to prize draws and discounted tickets to events.

    Drawbacks

    You won't earn stamps when buying gift vouchers, book tokens, theatre tokens, postage stamps and event tickets.

    You can't use the 10% student discount with UNiDAYS when you have a Plus card linked to your account.

    If your card/account is inactive for 12 months, your stamps will be wiped.

    Get your Waterstones Plus card »

  3. Co-op Membership

    Co-op Member card
    How does Co-op Membership work?

    When you buy selected Co-op products in-store, 5% of what you spend will be put in your Co-op Membership account.

    You can then spend this on anything in Co-op food stores (not just own-brand products).

    Extra bonuses

    Help a worthy cause – With a Membership card, 1% of whatever you spend on Co-op branded products will be donated to local causes in your community (and you can choose your own local cause, so you know exactly who you're helping).

    Exclusive offers – As a member, you'll receive offers and discounts on Co-op services like insurance and legal services.

    Drawbacks

    You won't earn points on a number of things from Co-op stores, like fuel, postage stamps, cigarettes, clearance items and carrier bags. You can see the full list of excluded items in their T&Cs.

    Get your Co-op Membership card »

  4. Starbucks Reward Card

    Starbucks Card

    How does the Starbucks Card work?

    The Starbucks Card is slightly different from other loyalty cards, in the sense that you need to load it up with cash before you use it.

    Once you've got cash on your card, you use it to pay for your purchases and you'll earn 'stars' for every beverage you buy. These stars stack up and, once you've collected enough, you'll earn a reward.

    How much are Starbucks Stars worth?

    You'll earn one 'star' every time you pay with your card or app – but that's per transaction, not per beverage. If you're buying more than one drink, you could ask to pay for them individually, or pass your card on to whoever you're buying for and get them to complete their transaction separately.

    What you get for your stars depends on what 'level' you're on. Once you make your first transaction with your Starbucks Card, you'll become a 'Green Level' member, which means you get a free drink for every 15 stars.

    If you make 50 transactions in a 12–month period you'll be upgraded to 'Gold Level'. You'll receive the same as 'Green Level' members, but each time you purchase a drink in-store, you'll be able to add some extras to it for free. These include free (select) syrups, free extra shots of espresso, free whipped cream and free soya, coconut, almond or oat dairy alternatives (or a combination of them all).

    Extra bonuses

    Sign up for My Starbucks Rewards email updates and you'll get special offers on your favourite items.

    You may occasionally be offered a bonus star if you buy a particular product during a promotional period. But, be careful not to buy anything just to get the extra star – only buy something included in the promotional offer if you actually want it.

    You can also use the Starbucks app to pay for your drinks and collect your stars.

    Drawbacks

    Once you become a 'Gold Level' member, you have to keep making 50 transactions a year to keep access to your extra benefits.

    There's also added pressure from the fact that you have to top-up the card with money in advance – this means you're committing to spending a certain amount there.

    Plus, if your account's inactive for two years, your stars will expire.

    Essentially, this card is only worth getting if you tend to use Starbucks a lot anyway.

    Get your Starbucks card »

  5. Costa Coffee Club

    Costa Coffee Club

    How does the Costa Coffee Club work?

    Pick up a card or download the app to register, and you'll get 100 bonus points. Then, remember to show your card every time you spend in-store, and you'll get five points for every £1 you spend.

    How much are Costa Coffee points worth?

    100 points are worth £1, and you save up your points to get money off your next purchase.

    Extra bonuses

    If you're near a Costa Coffee, you can speed up the ordering process by using their mobile app. All you need to do is make a purchase on the app, then pop into the coffee shop to pick up your order.

    Drawbacks

    If you compare this to the rival Starbucks card, you have to spend way more in Costa to get a free drink than you would in Starbucks.

    With the Costa Coffee Club card, to get a free drink worth £2.65, you would have to buy 27 cups of the same drink beforehand, costing you about £70. By contrast, Starbucks gives you a free drink after every 15 transactions, regardless of how much you're spending.

    Get your Costa Coffee Club card »

  6. IKEA Family card

    Ikea Family card

    How does the IKEA Family card work?

    You don't actually earn points with an IKEA Family card, but instead, the card gives you automatic discounts and access to other incentives.

    What are the benefits?

    For a start – free tea or filter coffee if you're in an IKEA store any time Monday–Friday. And we never say no to a freebie.

    Plus, you get discounts on select items and free product insurance to cover any damage during delivery or assembly.

    In the past, they've also run a 'Swipe a Surprise' scheme where cardholders get a barcode and prize number on receipts when using the Family card at checkout. You can win anything from free food or IKEA products to a family holiday. Keep an eye out in case it comes back.

    Drawbacks

    It's not the best loyalty card on the market, as you can only get discounts on specific items, which tend not to be things you necessarily need or want.

    Get your IKEA Family card »

  7. myWaitrose card

    Waitrose Card

    How does the myWaitrose card work?

    Again, you don't earn points with a myWaitrose card, just access to freebies, discounts and other offers.

    Waitrose isn't exactly the cheapest supermarket out there and the myWaitrose card doesn't offer much in terms of rewards, so this is probably only going to be of use to those who can afford to shop there anyway.

    What are the benefits?

    •  Waitrose will send you relevant vouchers and coupons based on your spending history
    •  Free tea or coffee when you shop in-store – but you'll need to remember to bring your own reusable cup (see the T&Cs to find out when you're eligible for a free drink)
    •  20% off selected fish from the fish counter on Fish Fridays
    •  A free newspaper if you buy one and spend £10 or more on your overall shop
    •  Access to Quick Check, a scan-as-you-go shopping technology that speeds up checkout.

    Drawbacks

    Under the previous 'pick your offer' scheme, customers could select ten items out of hundreds to get 20% off each time they shopped. Since this has been scrapped, some have complained that the offers aren't as relevant.

    Get your myWaitrose card »

 

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