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Supermarket Xmas Boost

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Jenny | Edited by Steve N

Updated 12 Sep 2016

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 stamp schemes 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. Unlike normal savings accounts, you're paid a bonus based on the total amount saved on the bonus day.

The savings themselves come in the form of booklets or electronic cards which you can top up a little at a time. Some supermarkets 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, eg, 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 Christmas 2016 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.

Asda

Up to 4% - pays out once a year

Asda

Asda's Christmas Savings Card scheme pays a £1 bonus if you save between £49 and £96, a £3 bonus for between £97 to £143, and those with £144 get a £6 bonus. There's a limit of £144 per card but you can have multiple cards.

You can start the card at any point and you've got until 5pm on Sun 13 Nov to add the maximum credit to get the bonus. The bonus will be credited by 8am Mon 14 Nov 2016.

Stats box
  • Max payout: 4%
  • Payout limit: Unlimited (use multiple cards)
  • Bonus date: By 8am Mon 14 Nov '16
  • Type: Electronic
Key questions

How to do it. Pick up an Asda card in-store and pay into the account at any till.

To check your balance and top up online, register your card. Plus if it's registered, Asda lets you transfer the balance to a new card if you lose it.

There's no limit on how many cards you can get, and you have two years from your last transaction to spend the balance. So, providing you use the card at least once every two years, you won't lose the credit. You don't have to spend all the credit on the card in one go either.

Anything to watch out for? Remember, as with most other supermarket savings schemes, any credit must be spent at its stores - it's not valid online. You can't use the card balance to pay for petrol or lottery tickets but see its terms and conditions for more.

Up to 4% - pays any day in Dec

Co-op

The savings scheme from the Co-op is a paper savings stamp card that adds £2 for every £48 you collect when you spend in December using the specific card. You won't get the bonus if you save any less or spend the card at any other time of year. The bonus is paid in the form of two £1 stamps, £2 in total.

There's a £48 max per card but you can collect as many cards as you like so if you're likely to save more, you'll need a new card. The cards have no expiry date and you can top them up throughout the year.

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

How to do it. Pick up a booklet at any Co-operative Food store and buy the stamps at the till.

Anything to watch out for? Cards can't be used in Co-op concessions (such as Peacocks or Greggs), on fuel, anything from the coffee shop, mobile phone top ups, non-food items, first-stage baby milk products or lottery tickets. You can only use the card in-store, not online. Look after your booklet, as you can't register it online.

If it gets lost, you lose the cash but in the event the Co-op gets into trouble, your money is fully protected (it's held separately by an independent trustee).

Up to 4% - cash in at any time

Iceland

Iceland's electronic Bonus Card savings scheme runs year-round. For every £25 you save, you get £1 free which you can spend at any point.

The £1 bonus is paid regardless of the time of year and arrives in your Bonus Card savings account within 48 hours of hitting the £25 trigger. You can save up to £1,000 per card - you'll get the £1 bonus for every £25 top-up.

Stats box
  • Max payout: 4%
  • Payout limit: Unlimited (use multiple cards)
  • Bonus date: Any time
  • Type: Paper/electronic
Key questions

How to do it. You can apply in-store and top-up at the till.

What to watch out for? The electronic card (and the cash on it) will expire if you don't use it for 24 months and can take up to four weeks to arrive.

Up to 3% - pays out in Nov/Dec

Morrisons

Morrisons Saver Stamps is another old-school paper scheme where you buy stamps for £1 a time. Load £49 to your savings card and you get an extra £1, or £97 and you get an extra £3. To get the bonus, just buy the stamps any time of year and spend them in November or December. You'll be given the bonus in the form of £1 stamps.

You need to spend the card in one go but you can get change. There's a £100 limit per card so if you want to save more, you'll need another card but the cards have no expiry date.

Stats box
  • Max payout: 3%
  • Payout limit: Five cards max
  • Bonus date: Any day in Nov/Dec
  • Type: Paper
Key questions

How to do it. Pick up the card and stamps from the till at your nearest Morrisons.

Anything to watch out for? There's a maximum of five Saver cards per household, though you can use as many as you like in one transaction.

Up to 2% - pays out in Dec

Tesco

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. Stamps are £1 each and can be bought throughout the year. The bonus is paid as a £1 stamp.

You can save up to £50 per card but there's no limit on the number of cards you can pick up. You can use as many as you like in one transaction, but you don't have to spend all the credit in one go.

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

How to do it. Simply pick up a card from the stamp machine at your nearest Tesco store.

Anything to watch out for? The card has no expiry date, though you must spend in December to bag the bonus. Plus, as it's just a piece of card, if you lose it, the cash has gone for good.

Up to 6.25% - cash in at any time

Wilko*

Pick up an electronic Wilko* Saver Card in-store and you get a £1 bonus if you top-up £24, an additional £1 once you hit £49 and again when you reach £74, plus an extra £3 at £99. Bonuses are credited to you card overnight, so you can use the total the next day.

You can save a maximum of £102 on the card, including bonuses, so if you want to save more, you'll need to get another card but you can get as many cards as you like. Wilko pays bonuses all year round and you don't have to spend all the credit in one transaction.

Stats box
  • Max payout: Up to £6
  • Payout limit: Unlimited (buy multiple cards)
  • Bonus date: Any time
  • Type: Electronic
Key questions

How to get it. Cards are electronic - you can pick them up in store and add your top-up at the till. You can only get information about the scheme at your local Wilko store – there are no details online. See its store locator.

Anything to watch out for? You can't protect your card by registering it and it can't be redeemed online, so be careful. The bonuses can't be used for lottery tickets, gift cards, mobile phone top-ups or postage stamps. Your card is valid for 12 months after first activation.