Supermarket Christmas boost

Supermarket Christmas boost

Get extra cash to spend on your shopping

Many supermarkets urge you to save for bonuses in their savings schemes year-round – though this isn't recommended as the money's not protected should the scheme go bust. It's better to bag the rewards in a day – this guide shows you how to earn 2021 supermarket saving scheme rewards.
 

Related MSE guides...

Supermarket shopping: Tips to cut food-shopping costs
Top savings accounts: The top savings rates out there

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What are supermarket savings schemes?

Supermarket savings stamp schemes encourage year-long saving for Christmas, yet it's possible to get the year's bonus in just one day.

Most supermarkets pay out the bonus based on the total amount you've saved by a specific day or month, so put the cash in just before and they'll add a small percentage on top – up to 6%.

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.

We've used Tesco's scheme here as an example of how it works (though Tesco's scheme is now closed for 2021):

With Tesco's Christmas Saver account, if you topped it up with £200 before the deadline, you'd get a £12 bonus added on top. This would come in your November Clubcard statement in two parts – a standard voucher equal to the amount you saved, plus a bonus voucher, which you could then use to pay in store or online.

Supermarket savings need-to-knows

To help you make the most of a supermarket savings scheme, it's worth getting your head around the following...

  • Don't think of the bonus 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 your savings and the bonus at that specific supermarket so it essentially locks in your custom.

    You won't be surprised to hear that 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 store). Some supermarkets also don't allow you to redeem them online.

    The bonus you get from most schemes expires within a short time period – the retailer's way of ensuring you spend your money before Christmas (to be fair, these are Christmas savings schemes). Here's a rundown of how long you have to spend the bonus, for each scheme:

    • Asda: Two years from the date of your last transaction
    • Co-op: Doesn't expire, but can only be used each December
    • Iceland: Doesn't expire
    • Morrisons: Expires 31 December
    • Sainsbury's: Expiry date is printed on the card, typically mid-January
    • Tesco: Bonus expires two months after you receive it in mid-November

    Note that the money you put into the scheme as savings usually doesn't expire, or at least you're given several years to spend it.

  • It's important to understand these schemes DO NOT have the same protection as savings in a bank. In fact, this is exactly what happened with the 2006 Farepak debacle. It's the reason we've always cautioned against savings clubs.

    But don't confuse this with normal savings accounts provided by supermarket-branded banks, such as Tesco Bank or Sainsbury's Bank – they have the usual £85,000 per person protection. See our Safe savings guide for more info on the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. 

    If saving for Christmas over the year – a fantastic aim – save your money in a bank account (see Top savings accounts and Top cash ISAs). Then withdraw the cash and buy savings stamps the day before the bonus date – there's more on this below. This way, you also earn double interest – from the savings account AND the savings scheme.

  • 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.

    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 slim, though nothing's impossible.

    Remember, you must spend the cash at that specific store, so only do it if you would've spent there anyway. Keep your card or stamps booklet safe, as many supermarkets 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 schemes for Christmas 2021

No two schemes are alike, and some are simpler than others. Whichever you go for, ensure you make a careful note of the deadlines to pay in by. Some schemes, including those from Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons, are now closed for 2021, though two schemes are still open:

Supermarket & key scheme info How does it work?

Iceland's Bonus Card

 

- Max bonus £50

- No cut-off for paying in

- Bonus paid within 24 hours

- Bonus never expires

Iceland's Bonus Card gives a flat £1 bonus when you load £20 on to the card. You can get a physical card in store, or a digital card online or via its mobile app, and top it up in store and online. The scheme runs year-round, so you can save – and use your discount – at any point. You can also get 'Bonus Card prices' in store – but discounts are only available to those who pay with a Bonus Card. 

Co-op's Christmas Stamps Scheme

 

- No max bonus

- No cut-off for paying in

- Bonus paid December 2021

- Bonus never expires, but can only be used during December

Co-op's store-only savings scheme gives a £2 bonus for every £48 saved. You must collect a paper stamp book in store and complete it by buying 48 £1 stamps. Do this and you get £50 off your shopping bill – a £2 bonus for saving £48. The scheme runs year-round, so you can buy stamps at any point.

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