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 as the money's not protected should the scheme go bust, this isn't recommended. Yet for many schemes, you can bag the rewards by just putting your money in them for a day – this guide shows you how to earn saving scheme rewards for Christmas 2023.
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 – typically around 3 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:
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...
1. Whatever you save (and your bonus) can only be spent at one retailer – and you've often limited time to do so
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
- 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.
The Government plans to make sure these schemes have protection In April 2022, the Government announced plans to ensure that any supermarket operating a savings scheme protects its customers' money. The plans suggested that either the money would be insured, or it would be held 'in trust' away from the scheme's own operating cash. Either way, it'd mean that if the scheme itself ran in to difficulties, you'd get your money back.
However, the new laws need to be approved by parliament - we'll update this guide with details of the new protections once that has happened.
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 2023
While five schemes are currently open, they aren't good places to keep your cash long-term as you don't earn interest and your savings aren't protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. In contrast, standard savings accounts both pay interest and protect your money (see Top savings accounts). It's much better to save into a savings account throughout the year and then move your cash into one of the below Christmas schemes a few days before the bonus deadline.
Can I play the system and get more than one card?
Most of the schemes only allow customers to get one card per person. However, Asda allows you to get as many of its Christmas Savings Cards as you like, so if you plan to spend very heavily on your Christmas shop at Asda, you could get a slightly bigger boost by getting multiple cards. Co-op's scheme, where you buy a stamp book for £48 and get £50 off your shop, also lets you buy multiple books.
For the other schemes, if you plan on spending more than the max bonus amount at one shop, multiple members of your household could sign up and you could split your Christmas shop budget across different cards to max out the bonus.
- Max bonus £12 (6% of deposit)
- Pay in by 11.59pm 18 Oct 23
- Bonus paid in Nov 23
- Bonus vouchers expire after two months
|Boosts your saved Xmas cash by up to 6% of what you deposit. It gives tiered cashback depending what you save. You get a £1.50 bonus if you save £25-£49, all the way up to a £12 bonus if you save £200+. You can top up your account in store, provided you're enrolled in Tesco's Clubcard programme. Full how it works info.|
- Max bonus £15 (5.35% of deposit)
- Pay in by 5pm 12 Nov 23
- Bonus paid 9am 13 Nov 23
- Bonus expires two years from the date of your last transaction
|Boosts your saved Xmas cash by up to 5.35% of what you deposit. It gives tiered cashback depending what you save. You get a £1 bonus if you save £30-£79, all the way up to a £15 bonus if you save £280+. You can get a card in-store or online, and top it up in both places too. Full how it works info.
Regular Asda shopper? If you use Asda's rewards app you could earn an extra bonus of up to £5 via the Christmas Saver Cashpot.
- Max bonus £25 (5% of deposit)
- Pay in by 11.59pm 1 Nov 23
- Bonus paid by end of Nov 23
- Bonus expires on the date printed on the card, typically mid-Jan
|Get 5% back on every £50 you deposit. Sainsbury's Christmas Club Card pays a flat £2.50 bonus for every £50 saved. Save £500+ to get the maximum £25 bonus. You can activate and save onto the card at Sainsbury's in-store checkouts and self-service tills (but not online), and it can be used both in-store and online at Sainsbury's and Argos. You must register your card to manage it online.|
- Max bonus £50 (5% of deposit)
- No cut-off for paying in
- Bonus paid within 24 hours
- Bonus never expires
Iceland's Bonus Card pays a bonus of up to 20%. You get a flat £1 bonus per £20 saved, plus save £100+ by Fri 3 Nov and you get an extra £15 on top (paid by 24 Nov). You must use the extra £15 bonus by 23 Dec 2023.
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.
- No max bonus (4.16% of deposit)
- No cut-off for paying in
- Bonus paid in Dec 23
- Bonus never expires, but can only be used during Dec
|Co-op's store-only savings scheme gives 4.16% on every £48 you deposit. 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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