Best loyalty cards 2021
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?
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.
Best loyalty and reward cards
Here are the 13 best loyalty cards:
|Loyalty card||Best for|
|1||Tesco Clubcard||Getting discounts with Tesco's Reward Partners (e.g. Pizza Express, 16-25 Railcard, etc.)|
|2||Nectar card||Often good offers on the Nectar website|
|3||Paperchase Treat Me||Spend £50 within six months and get £5 off next shop|
|4||Boots Advantage Card||Mega points weekends|
|5||Superdrug Health and Beautycard||Using points for part-payments|
|6||Subcard||Generous point scheme|
|7||Nando's Card||Points don't reset when you claim rewards|
|8||Waterstones Plus||£10 off after every £100 you spend|
|9||Co-op Membership||5% of what you spend on Co-op products can be put towards your future purchases at Co-op food stores|
|10||Starbucks Reward Card||Freebies after you reach certain 'levels'|
|11||Costa Coffee Club||Points can be used to get free food and drinks|
|12||IKEA Family card||Freebies and discounts in store|
|13||myWaitrose||Freebies and vouchers|
Loyalty card reviews
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 (usually every February, May, August and November).
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, which is issued at the same time as your vouchers).
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 – often tripling the value of your points!
Best way to spend Clubcard points
Rather than using them in Tesco, we would definitely recommend cashing your points in for discounts with a Reward Partner 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.
Extra ways to earn Clubcard points
- Tesco Mobile – If you're a Tesco Mobile customer (including SIM only), 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.
- Tesco surveys – We're big fans of paid surveys, and Tesco will give you 25 Clubcard points for completing a short survey on your latest shop with them. There are also 25 points on offer for finishing a survey with Shopper Thoughts.
- Esso petrol stations – Fill your car up at any Esso forecourt with a Tesco shop and you'll earn one point for every £3 you spend on fuel. You can also get one point for every £1 spent on qualifying purchases at these destinations, including shop products and car washes.
Discounts with Clubcard Prices
As well as collecting points for vouchers, having a club card can also make your shopping bill a great deal cheaper. Tesco has marked selected products with Clubcard Prices of up to half price off. All you have to do is fill up your basket and they'll take the money off at the checkout.
What is Tesco Clubcard Plus?
Clubcard Plus, not to be confused with Tesco Pay+, is yet another way to shop with Tesco and reap extra benefits, including:
- 10% off two in-store shops a month
- 10% off selected Tesco brands (including F&F clothing and Go cook)
- Double data on any monthly Tesco mobile contracts
- Access to Clubcard plus credit card.
Clubcard Plus is a monthly subscription costing £7.99. It can be cancelled at any time, and Tesco is currently offering a free one-month trial.
Drawbacks of the Tesco Clubcard
Tesco will deactivate your account if it's unused for more than two years. Most vouchers have an expiry of two years as well, although you can find the exact expiry date on your voucher.
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 Argos, eBay and Expedia. 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 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.
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 in 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 ways to earn Nectar points
- Nectar credit card – If you have the Nectar American Express credit card, you'll earn two Nectar points for every £1 you spend on the card, in addition to any regular Nectar points you would have earned with that purchase (e.g. if you were shopping in Sainsbury's).
- Nectar app – According to the Nectar website, the average customer earns 3x as many points with their app. Other benefits include weekly personalised offers to help you earn extra points, accessible balance updates and a digital barcode so you'll never forget to swipe your card!
- 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 (and remember there are plenty of extra ways to earn money from surveys too).
- 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 of the Nectar card
Nectar card points are only worth around half of what Tesco Clubcard points are worth, having dropped the rate by 50% back in 2015.
What's more, if your account remains inactive for 12 months, your points will be wiped.
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. So, while you won't be able to spend your points as and when you fancy, 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).
Why should you get a Paperchase loyalty card?
- 15% off your next purchase when you sign up or activate 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 28 days from activation)
- Free Click and Collect when you spend £10 or more
- Free upgrade to next-day delivery (via Yodel) when you spend £25 or more, or next-day delivery for the price of standard delivery if you spend less than £25.
Drawbacks of the Paperchase Treat Me card
Once you rack up £50 worth of spending and get your £5 off, you only have 28 days to use it (although the 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.
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 ways to earn Boots Advantage Card points
- Boots app – Download the Boots app and you'll earn 200 points, as well as being able to use your Advantage Card on your phone.
- Boots newsletter – Sign up for emails from Boots to collect 100 points.
- 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 for spending £50, for example. If possible, delay purchases until these events so you're only spending money on things you actually want – and for even more points, split up your shop into separate transactions to get the bonus multiple times.
- 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.
- Student discount – Ok, so this isn't a way to earn extra points, but you can only get a 10% student discount at Boots if you also hold an Advantage Card.
Drawbacks of the Boots Advantage Card
You can't earn points on prescriptions, powdered milk products, gift vouchers, plastic bags 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.
Superdrug Health & 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.
Why should you get a Superdrug loyalty card?
- Bonus points (50, 100, 200 or 500) when buying selected products or on special events
- Every week, Superdrug run Treat Thursdays, offering exclusive discounts on a certain product/category to Health & Beautycard holders
- Free standard delivery on orders over £10
- Triple points as a birthday treat
- You'll need a Health & Beautycard (along with a UNiDAYS or TOTUM card) if you want to take advantage of the 10% student discount at Superdrug
- Lower prices for members on selected products (these change every few weeks).
Drawbacks of the Superdrug Health & Beautycard
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).
How does the Subcard work?
Once you've registered your Subcard (which comes in card or app form), you'll receive 10 points for every £1 spent in-store.
If you haven't registered your card, you'll only receive five points for every £1 spent in-store (and you won't be able to redeem your points for freebies).
You can also download the new Subway rewards app
How much are Subcard points worth?
You can download the new 'Subway Rewards' app to check your points balance. Here's what you can buy with your Subcard points:
- 100 points – free hot drink
- 200 points – free snack
- 500 points – free six-inch sub or salad
- 1,000 points – free footlong sub.
Extra ways to earn Subcard points
- Register your card – New members get a welcome bonus of 250 points when registering online or via the app.
- Double points – Whenever you make a purchase at Subway and scan your card, you'll start a countdown clock that runs for the next seven days. If you buy something else within that time, you'll earn double points on your purchase – so it's possible to earn double points pretty much every week.
- Subsquad – Using the Subway app, you can form a Subsquad of up to nine people. 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.
- Promotions and offers – Throughout the year, Subway will offer a whole host of deals to Subcard holders, often involving free points or free sides/drinks when you scan your card.
Drawbacks of Subway Rewards
You can only have 5,000 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 Subcard for a year.
I 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 to 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
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:
- Three Chillies (Green Reward) – 1/4 chicken or starter
- Six 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, at which point the process starts all over again).
In other words, if you've accumulated three Chillies and claim your reward, you'll still have three points, and you'll only need to make three more eligible purchases to reach the next reward level.
Drawbacks of the Nando's Card
Bear in mind that Chillies only last for 366 days from the date they're acquired, so make sure you spend them in time.Check out our list of Nando's hacks for more ways to save on your chicken feast.
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. For spends between £5 and £9.99, you'll earn half a stamp.
So, broadly speaking, for every £100 you spend, you'll get £10 off – and this includes money spent in the cafe.
And, with a Waterstones Plus Student card, you'll get an extra 5% off all purchases, along with collecting the Plus stamps.
Drawbacks of the Waterstones Plus card
You won't earn stamps when buying gift vouchers, book tokens, theatre tokens, postage stamps and event tickets.
You also can't use the 10% student discount with UNiDAYS when you have a Plus card linked to your account – you have to settle for the 5% Waterstone Plus Student discount, which is frustrating.
Finally, if your card or Waterstones account is inactive for 12 months, your stamps will be wiped.
How does Co-op Membership work?
When you buy selected Co-op branded products and services, 2p of every £1 goes into your Co-op Membership account.
You can then spend this on anything in Co-op food stores (not just own-brand products).
Why should you get a Co-op Membership card?
- Help a worthy cause – With a Membership card, for every £1 you spend, 2p 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 many offers and discounts. You'll also get an exclusive discount on Co-op services, like insurance and legal services.
- Personalised offers – Each week the offers change and you can select two that suit you best and use them during your shop
Drawbacks of Co-op Membership
You won't earn points on several 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.
Co-op membership costs £1 to join and that doesn't count towards your points, although you can begin using your points immediately after joining.
Starbucks Reward 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.
And, thanks to a recent change, Stars are now based on how much you spend rather than the number of transactions you make. Now, you'll earn three Stars for every £1 you spend.
How much are Starbucks Stars worth?
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 150 stars.
Once you get 450 stars, you've reached 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.
Free extras include selected syrups, extra shots of espresso, whipped cream and non-dairy alternatives (or a combination of them all).
As a gold member, you can also enjoy a birthday drink on the house!
Extra ways to earn Starbucks Reward Card Stars
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, otherwise you're wasting money.
You can also use the Starbucks app to pay for your drinks and collect your stars.
Drawbacks of the Starbucks Reward Card
Once you become a 'Gold Level' member, you have to keep making 50 transactions a year to maintain access to your extra benefits.
There's also the added pressure to shop at Starbucks, as 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.Maxing out your Reward Card is just one of the ways to get free Starbucks coffee.
Costa Coffee Club
How does the Costa Coffee Club work?
Pick up a card or download the app to register. Then, remember to show your card every time you spend in-store, and you'll get five points for every £1 you spend.
You can now also collect points at Costa's Express machines, which you'll often find in supermarkets or service stations.
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.
Why should you get a Costa Coffee Club card?
- Jump the queue – 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.
- Exclusive offers – Coffee Club cardholders will get the opportunity to earn extra points on their purchases – so keep an eye out for any that pop up on the app!
Drawbacks of the Costa Coffee Club card
If you compare this to the rival Starbucks Reward Card, you have to spend much 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 150 stars which would cost you £50.
You cannot use your card or app in conjunction with other discounts or privilege cards issued by costa or another third party.
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.
Why should you get an IKEA Family card?
- Free hot drinks – If you're in an IKEA store any time Monday to Friday, you can get a free tea or filter coffee. And we never say no to free food and drink.
- Events & Workshops – Members get access to extra furnishing tips and knowledge which is invaluable for making your student room feel more like home.
- Exclusive discounts – Family cardholders get exclusive discounts on selected IKEA products, as well as free 'Oops-assurance, insuring your product in case of any damage during delivery or assembly.
- Swipe a Surprise – IKEA has also been known to run the Swipe a Surprise, scheme where cardholders get a barcode and prize number on their receipts. You can win anything from free food to IKEA products, or even a family holiday! Keep an eye out in case it comes back.
Drawbacks of the IKEA Family card
It's not the best loyalty card on the market, as you can only get discounts on specific items, which often aren't things you necessarily need or want.
How does the myWaitrose card work?
You don't earn points with a myWaitrose card – instead, you'll get 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.
Why should you get a myWaitrose card?
- Exclusive discounts – Every month, Waitrose will send you relevant vouchers and coupons based on your spending history. Exclusive offers also include, for example, a three-month subscription to The Spectator (online and in print).
- Free hot drink – While it's no longer possible to get a free hot drink just for having a myWaitrose card, all is not lost. You can still pick up a free regular tea or coffee as long as you make a purchase in-store and bring your own reusable cup.
- Fish Fridays – Every Friday you'll get 20% off selected fish from the fish counter.
- Free newspaper – As long as you spend £10 or more on your overall shop, Waitrose will refund you the cost of a newspaper (as long as you've bought one, of course).
- Quick Check – You know those little gadgets you can carry around the shop with you to scan your shopping as you go? It's called Quick Check, and it's exclusively available to myWaitrose cardholders.
- Free Good Food guide – Access to the best-rated restaurants to dine out in, perfect for getting to know the best local places in your university town.
Drawbacks of the myWaitrose card
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.
What's more, the free hot drink benefit is currently suspended due to the pandemic.
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