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Supermarket Xmas Boost Earn a year's interest (up to 4%) in a day

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xmas listMany supermarkets urge you to save for up to 4% bonuses in their (not Government-protected) savings-stamps schemes.

Yet the bonuses are often paid solely based on what you've got saved up on a set date - so it's possible to bag a year's interest in a day. This is a rundown of schemes from Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and more.

How supermarket savings stamps work

Supermarket savings stamp schemes encourage year-long saving for Christmas, yet a loophole allows you to get the year's bonus in just one day. Most supermarkets pay out the bonus based on how much you’ve saved by a specific day or month, so dunk the cash in just before and they’ll add up to 4% on top.

The savings themselves come in the form of booklets or electronic cards. Some supermarekts only allow stamps to be redeemed at set points in the year, while others will let you spend at any time.

Don't think of this as a gift

It isn't the supermarkets being generous, it's good business acumen. You save for a year, they earn interest on your money, and eventually give you a little back. And more importantly:

You must spend the cash at that specific retailer, so they effectively lock in your custom

You won't be surprised to hear there are some exclusions on what you can buy with the stamps - you can't usually spend them on lottery tickets, petrol or goods from third party concessions (when a retailer has a space in a larger department store). Some supermarkets also don't allow you to redeem them online.

How safe are supermarket savings schemes?

It's important to understand these DO NOT have the same protection as savings in a bank (supermarket bank savings do though, ie Tesco Bank - see the Safe Savings guide for more). In fact, this is exactly what happened with the Farepak debacle back in 2006. It's the reason we've always cautioned against savings clubs.

If saving for Christmas over the year - a fantastic aim - save in the bank (see Top Savings Accounts and Top Cash ISAs). Then withdraw it and buy savings stamps the day before the bonus date to bag double interest.

As this technique's about keeping a small sum of cash on the cards for just a couple of days, the risk's reduced. The chance of a big supermarket going bust in that time is pretty slim, though nothing's impossible.

The loophole

Supermarkets tend to pay the bonus on a specific day or month, normally during November or December. The bonus earned only depends on how much is in there, not how long it's been there. Therefore, you can simply...

Buy all the stamps/credit required just before the bonus date, get the full bonus, then use the funds to shop.

The cash must be spent at that specific store, so only do it if you would've spent there anyway. Keep your card safe, as many don't keep a record of your savings, unless it's an online scheme. So lose it, and your money's gone.

Top supermarket savings stamp schemes

No two schemes are alike, and some of the following are more Scrooge than Santa. Ensure you make a careful note of the timings.

  • Max payout: 4%
  • Payout limit: Unlimited (use multiple cards)
  • Bonus date: 16 Nov '14
  • Type: Electronic

Asda's Christmas Savings Card scheme pays the bonus, depending on how much you’ve saved, on Sun 16 Nov. So if you were planning on using Asda's savings stamp scheme bonus in 2014 you've missed the boat. Don't worry though, you can alwaysstart saving for net year. Read more...

  • Max payout: 4%
  • Payout limit: Unlimited (use multiple cards)
  • Bonus date: Any day in December
  • Type:
    Stick on by hand

For every £48 you collect, Co-op's saving scheme adds £2 when you spend in December. You can collect as many cards as you like. Read more...

  • Max payout: Up to £6

  • Payout limit: Unlimited (buy multiple cards)
  • Bonus date: Any time
  • Type: Electronic

Pick up an electronic Wilkinson* Saver Card in-store and you get a £1 bonus at the £24 level, an additional £1 at £49 and again when you reach £74, plus an extra £3 at £99. Bonuses are credited overnight, so you can use the total the next day. Read more...

  • Max payout: 4%

  • Payout limit: Unlimited (use multiple cards)
  • Bonus date: Any time
  • Type: Paper/electronic

Iceland's electronic Bonus Card savings scheme runs year-round. For every £25 you save, you get £1 free. Read more...

  • Max payout: 3%

  • Payout limit: Five cards max
  • Bonus date: Any day in Nov/Dec
  • Type: Paper

Morrisons Saver Stamps is another old-school paper scheme. Load £49 and you get £1, or £97 and you get £3. To get the bonus, just buy the stamps and spend them any time in November or December. Read more...

  • Max payout: 2%
  • Payout limit: Unlimited (use multiple cards)
  • Bonus date: Any day in December
  • Type:
    Stick on by hand

Tesco runs an old-fashioned savings card scheme where you buy stamps from a dispenser which takes £1 coins. Put £49 of stamps on your card and you'll get an extra £1 when you redeem the card any time in December. Read more...

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