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Rewards for purchases

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Find out what rewards points are really worth

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Q. How often is this research done, what if it changes?
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A. The full survey was originally done in June 2009 and it was updated in May 2012. But if there are major changes to any of the main cards listed, we try to update those.

Q. How are the rewards schemes and loyalty points evaluated?
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A. These factors determine the strength of rewards schemes and loyalty points: the value of a point in the scheme, how useful the rewards are for you, and (for credit card rewards) how many points a card gives you when you spend.

We researched, number-crunched then evaluated all major loyalty points and rewards schemes and cards to uncover the real return you get. The same consistent methodology has been used for over five years.

  • Calculating how much a point is worth

    We use items which were as close to cash as possible to calculate points’ value. For many schemes, we use gift cards.

    With other items, we use their 'real' price rather than recommended retail price. If a points provider lists a CD as being worth £13 when it’s commonly available for £7, we only value it at £7.

    These are then used to evaluate the points’ worth. So if 6,000 MSE points get you a £24 MP3 player, then one point is worth around 0.4p. But if 6,000 points get you a £60 gift card, the value’s 1p.

    For flight points, where possible the same journeys are used for different schemes to give a consistent valuation. But this means it doesn't include the additional perceived value of travelling on some airlines.

    Calculating how good a credit card reward scheme is

    Once we know what a point’s worth, it’s a question of establishing how many points you get when you spend.

    For example, the Ant scheme may have points worth a penny, and you collect one for every £1 you spend. Meanwhile the Dec scheme has points worth 16p, but you only get one for every £20 you spend.

    So spend £100 on each card, and the Ant scheme gives you £1 worth of points and the Dec scheme 80p.

    We subtract any annual fees when estimating annual rewards.

    This only includes schemes which are currently available

    When the research was updated in May 2012, it included all major loyalty schemes and rewards cards open to new customers at that point, along with some other popular schemes that are now closed for new applications.

    Yet it's possible you may be using an older, now unavailable scheme which pays better rewards, so always check.

    If you spot a card or scheme that should be in this guide, please email rewardschecker@moneysavingexpert.com.

    Only rewards received on general spending are included. So if a card pays higher rewards in specific shops, that spending is excluded, as that's effectively a shopping loyalty bonus not a credit card reward scheme.

  • Calculating how good a credit card reward scheme is.

    Once we know what a point’s worth, it’s a question of establishing how many points you get when you spend.

    For example, the Ant scheme may have points worth a penny, and you collect one for every £1 you spend. Meanwhile the Dec scheme has points worth 16p, but you only get one for every £20 you spend.

    So spend £100 on each card, and the Ant scheme gives you £1 worth of points and the Dec scheme 80p.

    We subtract any annual fees when estimating annual rewards.

  • This only includes schemes which are currently available

    When the research was updated in May 2012, it included all major loyalty schemes and rewards cards open to new customers at that point, along with some other popular schemes that are now closed for new applications.

    Yet it's possible you may be using an older, now unavailable scheme which pays better rewards, so always check.

    If you spot a card or scheme that should be in this guide, please email rewardschecker@moneysavingexpert.com.

  • Only general spending counts.

    Only rewards received on general spending are included. So if a card pays higher rewards in specific shops, that spending is excluded, as that's effectively a shopping loyalty bonus not a credit card reward scheme.

Q. I'm in debt, is it OK to use a reward card alongside my debt card?
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A. As long as never the twain shall meet, that's fine. The golden rule (hopefully it's large enough above), is always pay the card off in full at the end of the month. So if you have one card for rewards which you’re paying off in full, and a separate card for your debts (be it a new spending or balance transfer card) then that shouldn't be a problem.

Q. Why isn’t my card included?
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A. This checker was updated in May 2012, so includes all major rewards and cashback cards open to new customers at that point. It's possible you may have an older, now-unavailable card which pays better rewards, so always check.

If you spot a card that you think merits inclusion, please email rewardschecker@moneysavingexpert.com.

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