It's possible to boost the value of your loyalty points by up to four times without spending a penny.
This guide's jammed with tips and tricks for Tesco Clubcard, Nectar, Boots Advantage and Morrisons' Match & More card, plus the unique LoyaltyChecker tool which helps you assess the value of your points stash.
In this guide...
When loyalty pays
Loyalty is a consumer disease. Retailers utilise every tactic possible to keep us shopping in their stores without checking out the competition, rewarding new customers over existing ones.
Their prime weapon is loyalty cards. They allow you to collect points in specific shops when you spend usually requiring you to return there to redeem them. While credit or store card reward schemes work in a similar way, loyalty cards don't allow you to pay with them (except when redeeming points).
When to use loyalty schemes
Never feel the shop's giving you something for nothing, as schemes are incorporated into pricing policies. To evaluate the overall cost, consider loyalty points gained like a discount. The difficulty is that their value is often deliberately misted, so use the LoyaltyChecker to reveal the real value of each point.
This story should help...
Irma Rightone loves the Boots Advantage card scheme, believing it's very generous as it gives four points, each worth a penny, per pound spent. So in she pops to buy her favourite matt foundation for £6, then shines in the glow of her 24 points.
Ivor Secret loves the same foundation, and while his wife's not looking, sneaks out to buy it. He's seen it at the local supermarket for £5.50. He realises Boots points are an effective 4% discount, and calculates its real cost in Boots at £5.76, so buys it in the supermarket instead.
Yet of course it's not practical to weigh up every single product's overall price, therefore the golden rule is...
Never choose where you shop due to loyalty schemes, yet always use it if you shop somewhere with one.
Don't think "points are better than cash" you can't spend them in nearly as many places.
Many in-store promotions give discounts as extra points rather than money off. This is very clever, because while £1 of points may feel like a £1 discount, of course it only costs the store what it paid its suppliers, not the full retail price.
Add to that the fact it ensures you must return to that store to spend the points. When you do, it's likely you'll spend again, earning more points, requiring you to return yet again to redeem them; earning more points, requiring you to return again...
Most of the big loyalty schemes have a credit card too. Here you don't just accumulate points on spending in a specific chain, but on all spending.
This can be a boon, provided you repay in full each month, so you don't pay any interest. Yet always check the actual gain from using the credit card rather than just a loyalty card, then compare this to what you could earn on the Top Cashback Credit Card or other Credit Card Reward Schemes.
Watch the multi-earn argument
You need to be careful here, as promotional leaflets for many credit card schemes use a neat double-counting trick. Take the Tesco Clubcard Credit Card for example, which gives you one Clubcard point for every £8 you spend everywhere outside Tesco.
While the marketing hints using this card in Tesco is a hefty boost, its normal loyalty card pays one point per £1 anyway. So the credit card only adds one extra point. Put another way, you gain a quarter of a point per pound spent. It's this amount you should compare to Top Cashback Cards.
Every loyalty scheme has its quirks and can be manipulated. There are two obvious routes: first, try to earn more points for the same spending; next, try to beat the average point's value on whatever you redeem. To help, here are scheme-by-scheme point-maximising tips.
You accumulate Tesco Clubcard points* at a rate of one per pound spent. You earn them in store at Tesco, or via partners such as E.on.
Each point is worth a penny if used for in-store shopping, and they're sent out in vouchers (if you've at least 150 points on your account) every three months.
It's possible to get back lost or unclaimed Clubcard vouchers if they're less than two years old. Follow the steps in our Reclaim Tesco Vouchers guide to see if you've got any hiding from you.
Triple or quadruple your points when redeeming with Boost Partners
This is the powerhouse of the Tesco points boosting method. Trade in normal vouchers for Tesco's special Clubcard Boost* tokens, and each £10 voucher becomes worth up to £40 in exchange and rewards with Boost partners.
Clubcard Boost includes offers for train tickets, days out, magazine subscriptions, travel, including holidays, gifts, hotel rooms and more. Among the options are an £18 RAC membership (see Breakdown Rewards), an adult cinema ticket for £4.50 in points, or a year's Merlin theme parks pass for £50. See our top 10 deals under the Boost scheme for more info.
The list price of goods in the brochure is sometimes higher than the market price, so you may not always get 3x or 4x value. Yet if you're exchanging to buy something you would've bought anyway, it is a great deal.
Earn Tesco points when paying your energy bill with E.on
Customers can earn up to 1,500 E.on reward points each year which can be exchanged for an equivalent number of Clubcard points (or you can turn your E.on rewards into vouchers for high street retailers).
It equates to only £15 off Tesco shopping but can be worth up to £60 in Clubcard Boost Rewards. Choose to take your E.on rewards as Clubcard points and register your Clubcard with E.on. It's NOT worth switching to E.on purely for this, see Cheap Gas & Elec for how to find the cheapest provider.
Get an extra point per £4 spend with Tesco Credit Card
The amount of points you collect while using your Tesco credit card depends on where you're doing your spending. You get:
- Five points per £4 spent at Tesco.
- One point per £8 you spend anywhere outside Tesco
If redeemed in store at Tesco this is a rather paltry 0.25% return on spending but trade them in for Clubcard Boost tokens and it becomes a more respectable 0.75% or 1%.
Ordinarily, you should repay IN FULL every month to avoid interest. However, Tesco offers up to 28 months' 0% on new spending. This means you could do ALL normal spending on it to rack up the points, stashing away the cash you'd normally spend, then pay it off in full within 28 months. More info in the 0% Cards and Stoozing guides.
Compared with the top cashback card, which pays up to 5% cashback initially (see Top Cashback Cards), this is weak. Following the 0% period, if you don't pay the Tesco card off in full, you'll pay 18.9% representative APR.
Earn Clubcard points on all spending with the Tesco Bank current account
Similar to the Tesco credit card, Tesco Bank Current Account customers can earn Clubcard points for spending on their debit card. You earn:
- One Clubcard point for every £4 spent in store or on fuel with Tesco (min £4 spend)
- One point per £8 you spend anywhere outside Tesco (min £8 spend)
As with the credit card, rather than use reward points to cut the cost of the weekly shop customers should convert points to Clubcard Boost tokens to get best value.
Get extra Clubcard points with Tesco Bank mortgage repayments
Customers who have a mortgage with Tesco Bank collect one point for every £4 of regular payments and overpayments, but not from any charges or fees related to the mortgage. Check our Mortgage Best Buy table first to compare though.
Earn bonus points with your Tesco mobile
Tesco Mobile* customers can collect one Clubcard point for every £1 spent on pay as you go top-ups and monthly bills. You'll need to register your Clubcard with Tesco Mobile to start receiving points. You can do this through your online account or by calling 282 free from your phone.
You'll need to top-up online, using a Tesco store or by calling Tesco Mobile's top-up phoneline on 4444 to get the points. Note, you won't get points if you top-up from a cash machine or shop that isn't Tesco.
You could even get paid to shop with in-store promotions
Look out for any Tesco promotions offering extra Clubcard points. These can open up loopholes where it's worth buying the goods even if you don't want them.
The best examples are the famous Johnson's Baby Powder and beef-in-gravy loopholes which originated on this site and ended up in all the papers. They worked like this:
When you bought any two Johnson's products, you got 100 extra points. The cheapest item was baby powder, at 76p. This meant you could spend £1.52 to get 101 points, worth £4.04 of Clubcard deals vouchers, making more than £2.50 PROFIT.
With the similar beef-in-gravy episode, one MoneySaver bought a few hundred pounds' worth, donated it to a homeless shelter and used the points for a return trip for two to New Zealand. Be careful with these loopholes, as Tesco reserves the right to block people for fair usage breaches. All major loopholes will go in the free weekly email.
Even if you can't make a profit, the bonuses can lead to serious discounts. For instance, Tesco once sold iPod Shuffles for £49 a good price adding 999 bonus points on top of the usual points. These were worth £42 of Clubcard Deals, so the iPod effectively cost £7.
Share tips or read others' experiences in the Tesco Clubcard Boosting Discussion.
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Nectar points boosting
Use a Nectar card when spending at Sainsbury's, BP, British Gas, eBay, Expedia, Homebase and others (see full list) to grab points. The amount you get varies at Sainsbury's right now you'll usually earn one point for every £1 spent.
One point is usually worth 0.5p, as 500 points are worth £2.50, though it's possible to boost their value. Redeem them online or by phone for a range of days out, gifts or shopping discounts at member stores.
Nectar double-up promos at Sainsbury's usually happen quarterly, and the next one is about to begin, so if you've a stash of Nectar points, it's worth holding on to 'em.
The double-up promotion means you can get double the value of your points to spend on Tu clothing, toys, electricals, entertainment and more. This time round you'll be able to exchange your points for the double-up vouchers in advance, from Wed 9 Nov - but you'll only be able to spend them between 16 and 22 November.
How does it work?
Points can be exchanged in major Sainsbury's stores in multiples of 1,000 (max 4,000 points per category see list below) for vouchers to spend in-store. Points will be worth twice their usual value. So 2,000 points will get you a £20 voucher instead of the usual £10. You've until 11.59pm on 22 Nov to exchange and spend.
Which Sainsbury's stores can I spend vouchers in?
Once exchanged, you can only spend vouchers in major Sainsbury's stores. The official exclusions state you can't spend them online, in Sainsbury's Locals or petrol stations.
Which items can I buy?
You must specify when exchanging which departments you'll spend in, and you can choose from the following:
- Taste the Difference wine, champagne, sherry and port
- Tu clothing
How do I swap my points and spend my vouchers?
You have to exchange points for vouchers in-store at the customer service desk or designated tills you can't do it online, in Sainsbury's Locals or petrol stations. You'll need to take your Nectar card with you.
You can swap your points for vouchers from 9 November onwards, and then spend them between 16 and 22 November. You must spend each voucher on its allocated category in store (not online, in Locals or petrol stations).
If your item is worth more than the value of your voucher, you can pay the remainder in cash or by credit or debit card. Alternatively, you can use any Nectar points you have remaining on your card at the usual rate (£5 = 1,000 points; you must have a minimum of £2.50 worth of points to spend).
You can't earn points on the double-up purchase and if you lose your vouchers there's no way to recover the points so keep them safe.
Can I get change from the vouchers?
This is a really strange set of rules, but here's how getting change works:
- If you're owed more than 50p change, you can't proceed unless additional items from your selected category are purchased so that the full value of the voucher is spent. (Unfortunately you CAN'T just write off the change even if you want to.)
- If you're owed between 6p and 50p, the balance can be used on other items (including those outside your chosen category) but regardless of the item you still have to spend the full amount of the voucher (and therefore you won't get any change).
- If the difference is 5p or less, it will be knocked off your total shopping bill (if you've bought anything else) or given as change if you aren't buying anything else.
- Bizarrely, in one of Sainsbury's stores in Chapelford, Crawley, Luton, Melton Mowbray and Wellingborough, it works slightly differently. For change above 5p, it works like the 'more than 50p rule' above. You'll have to buy other items from your selected category or you can't proceed, so look for items that bring you under that threshold. If it's 5p or less, you will get change.
What if I need to return something?
If you change your mind, items can be returned or exchanged within 30 days, in line with Sainsbury's usual returns policy so as long as you have proof of purchase and the item's in its original condition. Instead of the points being returned to your balance, you'll be given a cash refund for the full product price.
If there is a fault with the product your usual statutory rights apply, and Sainsbury's says you can either return or exchange it up to 12 months after the purchase.
Register your Nectar card with Sainsbury's My Coupons* site and choose up to five coupons to add to your 'My Coupons Wallet', each of which offers you between about 50 bonus points on products you usually buy anything from grapes to washing powder. You can also sometimes get double or triple points coupons valid on your whole shop.
You don't need to print anything off (although you can, if you want to remember what to pick up in store) the points are added to your account when you buy the product in store or online. If you don't use a coupon, after a few days it'll expire and you can pick another. Remember, this is a way to get extra points on items that you're going to buy anyway never buy an item just for the extra boost.
Former MSE Megan C does this and quickly amassed £50 worth of points:
In four months I've collected an extra 9,967 points, worth £49.83. You're able to use it alongside other in-store promotions too, so sometimes I've managed to bag double triple points. You can't bank on a bonus as the coupons change weekly, but it's really easy and only takes a couple of days for points to be added after the shop. - MSE Megan C
Usually when spent in store at Sainsbury's, each Nectar point is worth 0.5p (so 500 points equals £2.50 off shopping). Yet if you redeem points through the Nectar website you can sometimes get 2x or even 3x the value. Here are some of the current deals:
- 2x value. Use points to buy tickets for Merlin Attractions, including Madame Tussauds, Legoland, Alton Towers and Chessington. With 500 points you can get £5 off. Remember you can often get 2for1 offers elsewhere though.
- 1.5x value. With 500 points you can get £3.75 off at Pizza Express you can exchange points for e-vouchers to spend at your nearest restaurant. Choose vouchers for either £3.75, £7.50, £15 and £30.
The redemption process varies by retailer eg, you can just use your card at Madame Tussauds to spend points, while you'll need to get an e-voucher to print and spend in Pizza Express. See the Nectar website for more info.
Answer online survey questions for Nectar points
You can earn extra Nectar points for completing surveys up to 120 points a pop. Register with Nectar Canvass and you'll get an email when there's a new survey to complete. Once you've registered and done the welcome survey, you'll be entered into a competition for a chance to win 10,000 Nectar points. Plus, every time you attempt a survey, you'll get an entry to Sainsbury's quarterly £5,000 prize draw.
There are points to be had simply for using the internet. For instance, once you register with the Nectar card website, you can collect 100 Nectar points just by downloading its toolbar. You get a further one point for every two internet searches using the toolbar, up to a max of 200 points per month.
You can earn two points per £1 spent on advance tickets (standard and first class). You must book through the Virgin Trains East Coast website for an east coast line journey or Virgin Trains for a west coast line journey. To be eligible for the points at least part of your journey must be on one of the lines.
In the past you used to be able to get Nectar points for things such as submitting your meter reading, but this has now been scrapped.
Oxfam's Tag Your Bag scheme rewards you for donating items to the charity. You'll receive 100 Nectar points just for signing up and registering your card. Then, if you donate any items with your personal tag attached, they'll be tracked and you'll receive two points per £1 when the item is sold.
Oxfam may recycle or reuse the item if it doesn't sell. You won't get any points if this happens, but you'll still have done your bit for charity.
If you're an avid Nectar collector, you can earn more points by using the Nectar American Express* credit card, but always pay it off in full each month or you'll be charged 25% representative APR interest, which dwarfs any points gain.
In non-Nectar stores it gives two points (worth 1p) per £1 spent. With some Nectar partners (eg, Sainsbury's) you can earn up to four points per £1.The £25 annual fee is waived for the first year.
Plus spend £2,000+ in the first three months and you get an additional 20,000 bonus points (worth £100).
Overall this makes it a decent alternative to the top-paying cashback card, provided there's something you want from the Nectar catalogue.
Share tips or read others' experiences in the Nectar Card Boosting Discussion.
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Morrisons Match & More points boosting
The Morrisons Match & More* card allows you to collect points on shopping and fuel. It was introduced in 2014, but in November last year Morrisons scrapped the automatic price match part of the scheme and changed some other terms, see the Morrisons shoppers dealt blow MSE news story for more.
Get five Match & More for every £1 qualifying spend
Shoppers can collect the points at all Morrisons stores, petrol stations on items other than fuel (you get more for fuel, see below) and at Morrisons.com. Spending at Morrisons' flower shops and garden centres are also included. Morrisons also plans to run promotions to allow you to collect extra points on some products.
Get extra points when you fill up on fuel
Boost your money-off vouchers when you buy fuel at Morrisons petrol stations. For every litre of fuel you buy you'll get 10 Match & More points.
Get £5 off every time you reach 5,000 points
You automatically get your money-off vouchers at the till in stores or petrol stations once you've accumulated 5,000 points.
Vouchers are valid until the date printed on them (56 weeks from the date you reached 5,000 points), so you can hold on to them but our advice is usually to spend them as soon as possible to avoid losing them down the back of the sofa. They can't be used to buy fuel, lottery tickets, prescription medicines, infant formula milk, gift vouchers or cards, mobile phone top-ups, stamps or tobacco.
Turning points into prizes?
Morrisons previously said it plans to expand the scheme to allow points to be turned into leisure vouchers for travel or eating out, but it has gone very quiet about this. As soon as any details of this are announced, we'll update this guide.
Use the Boots Advantage Card* in store and online (except for infant milk, prescriptions, stamps, gift vouchers and mobile phone top-ups) and you earn four points per pound.
Each point is worth 1p and can be redeemed on most things in store.
Boots sometimes has Mega Points Weekends or Days, where if you spend £50 either online or in store, you get 1,000 extra points (worth £10). When one hits it's worth collecting together everything you were planning to buy in Boots to grab the excess.
Or if you're doing a really big shop, split what you're buying into £50 units, as there's usually no limit on how many extra points bonuses you can get. The next one is on Thursday and you'll get £10 of points when you spend £50 in-store or £60 online, see Boots* for more details. Where possible, we'll include Mega Points weekends or similar promotions in the free weekly email.
Get tailored offer with the Boots App
Download the Boots App on your phone and get tailored offers sent directly to you. The app is available for iPhone and Android. It'll allow you to select the best offer available to you while in store so you can get it when you pay at the check-out.
A barcode scanner in the app allows Advantage members to access product information and reviews on the go.
Check the Advantage Card emails to maximise your points
Boots sends out a weekly email to Advantage Card-holders with deals to earn extra points and coupons which can help you maximise existing points. For example, it might offer a bonus 500 points for buying a particular product.
Join Boots' clubs for extra or double points on specific items
Both the Boots Parenting Club and More Treats for Over-60s club send mailouts giving special offers on relevant goods, allowing you to get discounts and earn more points. The parenting club gives an extra 10 points for every £1 spent on baby products and the over-60s club offers 10 points per £1 spent in store on Boots-branded items.
Select offers for extra points or money off
If you've registered your Advantage Card and created a Boots.com* account, the My Offers page will present you with a range of specialised offers tailored to your shopping habits.
These offers range from discounts on products to bonus points when you buy certain items or spend more than a specific amount. All you have to do is select the offers you're interested in and they'll be "loaded" onto your Advantage Card, ready to be used the next time you shop in a Boots store.
Beware Advantage Card rewards you can often get more in cash
Boots' Advantage Card offers a variety of different deals paid in points. Always evaluate the cash value of the points (see the LoyaltyChecker) to compare that with the cash equivalents that are available.
Share tips or read others' experiences in the Boots Advantage Card Boosting Discussion.
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For all schemes, the key to maximising value is to choose the best value redemptions. The LoyaltyChecker tool can help you do this for different schemes.
Pick the redemptions you're interested in
For example, a Blu-Ray copy of a new film could be bought with 2,600 Nectar points, while a DVD of the same film would cost 2,000 points.
If customers buy online via Sainsbury's website, they exchange points by getting a Nectar voucher from nectar.com to use for their purchase. They go to nectar.com and select the value of the Sainsbury's voucher they require (£1, £5, £10, etc). They then click 'Get it now'. The voucher's then ready to use.
Value the points
Now use the LoyaltyChecker to see what the value of those points is. Here 2,600 points is worth £13 and 2,000 is worth £10.
Check the cost to buy.
See how much you'd pay for these items if bought in cash. One way is to use the MegaShopBot. Say in this case, the DVD the film was available for £9.99, while the Blu-Ray could be bought for £12.99.
Choose the best value redemption.
Pick the one that's the best use of your points. While the DVD was £10 in points and about the same in the shops, the Blu-Ray cost £13. Therefore the DVD was a slightly better use of points.
Loyalty points are awarded for credit card spending, shopping and much more. But it's deliberately difficult to evaluate most schemes, instead a feel-good factor which doesn't promote their true worth is promoted.
The LoyaltyChecker tool gives you a quick assessment of your current stash of over 40 schemes, based on points' average, not boosted value.
Loyalty points compared
|Tesco Clubcard points||In store 1p|
|Boots Advantage points||1p|
|For info on the valuation scheme used, see the LoyaltyChecker. Morrisons' new loyalty card scheme is not currently covered by the tool.|
If you're not happy about your product or the service you receive, you should first contact the shop in person, by phone, or in writing. However, if you're still not satisfied, then...