Loyalty points boosting
Boost Tesco, Nectar, Boots points etc up to 3x
Some loyalty scheme need-to-knows
When to use loyalty schemes
Retailers use every tactic possible to keep us shopping with them and away from the competition, and 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).
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.
This story should help...
Jean loves the Boots Advantage card scheme, believing it's very generous as it gives four points, each worth a penny, per pound spent. So she pops in to buy her favourite matte foundation for £6, then shines in the glow of her 24 points.
Eileen loves the same foundation but she's seen it at the local supermarket for £5.50. She 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.
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.
Watch for the vicious circle of loyalty
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, in reality the item you buy 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...
It's all very well for us to say "if you've got a loyalty card always use it", but that can lead to a chunky wallet. Thankfully many schemes now let you scan digital a version of your card via their apps (including Boots, Clubcard, Morrisons and Nectar). Don't throw the cards away though, as you sometimes need them to redeem your points.
If you have an Android phone or iPhone, you can add loyalty cards to your virtual 'wallet':
- Apple Wallet (iOS). Lets you store credit and debit cards, boarding passes, cinema tickets and, yes, loyalty cards. But you can't scan the physical card directly – instead you need to download the relevant loyalty scheme app, register your card and, provided the app is Wallet-enabled, add it from there. For a full how-to, see the 'Add passes' section on the Apple website.
If you don't have an Android or iPhone, or prefer not to use Apple Wallet or Google Pay, here are two alternatives:
These free apps are dedicated to storing your loyalty cards and work much in the same way as Apple Wallet and Google Pay. Simply scan your loyalty card barcode with your mobile (it takes seconds) – the app logs the barcode, then reproduces it when you show it in store. Alternatively, you can usually enter the card number.
- Stocard (available on iOS and Android). Works with Tesco Clubcard, Nectar, Morrisons More and 100+ other schemes, including those run by Nando's, Ikea, Hobbycraft and Waterstones.
For anyone who doesn't like giving personal details out, it's possible to store the card information without giving any logins or passwords for your loyalty accounts.
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 with Credit Card Rewards.
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, and five points for every £4 you spend in Tesco.
While the marketing hints that using this card in Tesco provides 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 £1 spent. It's this amount you should compare to Credit Card Rewards.
Boost your loyalty points – the rest of this guide will show you how
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, the rest of this guide has scheme-by-scheme point-maximising tips.
Tesco Clubcard points boosting
The below information is the highlights from our bumper Tesco Clubcard boosting guide – you can go there if you'd like to read the full detailed info, or carry on for a summary of how to boost your Clubcard points...
You accumulate Tesco Clubcard points* at a rate of one per pound spent. You can earn them by shopping in store or online at Tesco and when buying fuel at Tesco petrol stations.
Each Clubcard 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.
Tesco also now offers a Faster Vouchers* scheme allowing Clubcard holders to request vouchers for their entire points balance whenever they want. To get them, log in to the Clubcard app or your online account and say you'd like to turn your points into Faster Vouchers. They'll appear in your Clubcard account within 24 hours.
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.
The Tesco Pay+* app is available on Android and iOS. It lets you store your credit or debit card and Clubcard details, then quickly pay for shopping and automatically collect Clubcard points at Tesco by scanning the barcode in the app.
You can use Pay+ to pay at all Tesco stores and petrol stations. There's no minimum spend and you can pay for up to £250 per transaction. It's worth noting Tesco checks your card is genuine by making a £2 request to your account – the money won't actually be taken but in some cases will appear in your transactions and then disappear.
If you'd prefer not to pay using the app (eg, you're paying in cash or with a gift voucher), Tesco also has a Clubcard app*, which you can use to scan your Clubcard at the till. It's available for iPhone and Android.
3x value with almost every Reward partner
You can get the biggest boost to your points' value by exchanging vouchers for Clubcard Reward Partner* tokens. They can be spent on train tickets, bicycles, jewellery and more.
Until June 2018, you could swap your Clubcard vouchers for between two and four times the value in rewards, but they're now worth three times the value in almost every case (ie, 500 points gets you £15 in vouchers).
A few partners let you exchange vouchers for something without a strict cash value, though the boost's roughly the same. See our updated top 10 picks under the Boost scheme.
Tesco now offers the majority of its discounts to shoppers with a Clubcard. Simply swipe your Clubcard (or add it to your online account) and discounts will be automatically deducted when you buy an eligible product online for delivery or click and collect, or from a Tesco store (excluding smaller Express stores).
Products in the Clubcard promo can change from week-to-week, so you won’t necessarily see these same offers, but items should be clearly marked in stores and online – see current Clubcard Prices*.
Is Clubcard Plus any good?
Tesco's Clubcard Plus subscription service launched in 2019. It costs £7.99/month and gives perks such as discounted shopping (you can get 10% off two shops up to £200 each, including most items, every month).
See our full analysis of what you get and whether it's worth it for you.
The Tesco Clubcard credit card gives you one extra Clubcard point for every £4 you spend in Tesco (you get one extra point per £8 spent elsewhere). That's on top of the points you'd normally collect.
You could get a better return with a cashback card though – for full help and options, see Credit Card Rewards.
Ordinarily, you should repay IN FULL every month to avoid interest. However Tesco offers up to 23 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 23 months.
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 via your online account or by texting 'CLUBCARD' to 28578 for free from your mobile.
You'll need to top up online, using a Tesco store or by calling Tesco Mobile's top-up phone line 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.
Nectar points boosting
Use a Nectar card when spending at Sainsbury's, Esso, Asos, eBay, Expedia and others (see the 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.
In 2019, Sainsbury's revamped the Nectar scheme, and the big change was that you can now select weekly personalised bonus point offers via the Nectar website or app (available on iOS and Android). The app also now gives you a 'digital Nectar card' you can scan at the till, though your physical card will continue to work as normal.
Each Friday, you'll be sent a range of points-boosting offers to choose from, based on your shopping habits (eg, 20 bonus points for buying Sainsbury's haddock fishcakes). You can view the offers on the website or app, and 'save' the ones you want to use before doing your Sainsbury's shop. You then have to use them within a certain period – typically a week or so.
To get the bonus points, scan your Nectar card at the till (your physical card or your new digital card via the Nectar app). Any bonus points you've earned will then automatically be added to your account.
You get up to 30% off items you frequently buy if you use the Sainsbury's SmartShop app (available for Android and iPhone) to scan items while you shop in one of its stores. It'll automatically trigger deals of up to 30% off on selected branded and own-brand products.
Look for ‘My Nectar Prices’ in the Nectar app or via your online Nectar account to see what automatic coupons you've been offered and how long they're valid for – you can use them multiple times before the expiry date. Sainsbury's estimates shoppers can save up to £200 a year.
If you don't have a smartphone, you can get the offers when you use in-store scanners, though not all stores have them. You can't get these deals when shopping online.
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 with companies Nectar has partnered with via the Nectar website, you can sometimes get a slight boost.
Previously we've seen partner deals worth 2x or even 3x the value, but when we last checked we could only find a couple of deals that gave a (small) boost in value:
- Caffè Nero – 350 points (normlly worth £1.75) gets any hot or cold drink. You can swap your points online or via the app, to get a QR-code voucher to use at Caffè Nero. It gets you a hot or cold drink of any size, so you can boost the value of your points by going for a pricier drink. However, it's worth noting 'speciality drinks' and extras aren't included.
- Sky Store – eg, 1,050 points (normally worth £5.25) gets a £5.99 voucher. You can redeem Nectar points on box sets and films at the Sky Store. There's a range of voucher values to choose from, up to £15.99 for 2,800 points (norm £14).
The redemption process varies by retailer. See the Nectar website for more info.
Collect points on train tickets, incl Avanti West Coast and LNER
You can earn two points per £1 spent on tickets (standard and first class), booking via the website or app of Avanti West Coast for a west-coast line journey, or LNER for east coast. To be eligible for the points at least part of your journey must be on one of the lines.
You can also collect points when you buy advance tickets for South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and Great Western Railway. See the Nectar website for more.
In 2019, Nectar switched its petrol station partner from BP to Esso. Scan your card or app at the till and you can collect one point per litre of petrol or diesel and two points per £1 spent in the shop – on most items – at most Esso garages. (About 1,000 Esso petrol stations are participating in the promo though those with Tesco Express shops attached aren't.)
You won't earn Nectar points on tobacco-related products, phone cards, baby milk, stamps, utility cards, e-top ups and lottery tickets.
And of course, don't let loyalty points determine where you fuel up, as Esso may not be cheapest. See our Cheap Petrol & Diesel guide for tips on finding the cheapest prices.
Avios points can now be converted to Nectar points (and vice versa)
You can convert points at a rate of 250 Avios to 400 Nectar points. If you want, you can set up an automatic conversion for a minimum 250 Avios to Nectar a week.
You can also exchange 400 Nectar points for 250 Avios points. See our Nectar cardholders can now convert points to Avios MSE News story for more details.
The Amex Nectar credit card – earn wherever you spend
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 25.3% interest on purchases, which dwarfs any points gain.
You'll earn two Nectar points (worth 1p) per £1 spent on the card (plus your usual Nectar points). And spend £2,000+ in the first three months and you get an additional 20,000 bonus points (worth £100).
The £25 annual fee is waived for the first year (representative APR including fee is 30.7%).
Overall this makes it a decent alternative to the top-paying cashback credit card, provided there's something you want to buy with your Nectar points.
Get an extra point per £1 spent in store with the Sainsbury's credit card PLUS 10,000 bonus points (worth £50)
If you don't want to get, or aren't eligible for, the Amex Nectar card above, you could consider the Sainsbury's Bank Nectar Reward credit card instead. You get:
New customers will get 8,000 bonus Nectar points worth £40 if they spend £400+ at Sainsbury's, Argos or Tu Clothing in the first two months from receiving their card.
Sainsbury's offers up to 17 months' 0% on new spending. Make sure you fully clear the card by the end of the 0% period or you'll be charged 20.9% APR interest on any remaining balance.
- One extra Nectar point for every £1 spent in store or on fuel with Sainsbury's.
- One point per £5 you spend anywhere outside Sainsbury's.
You can add to your stash of points without spending anything at all using the tricks below.
You can earn extra points for completing surveys via Nectar Canvass – up to 120 points a pop. 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. You'll get an email when there's a new survey to complete. Plus, every time you attempt a survey, you'll get an entry in Sainsbury's quarterly £5,000 prize draw.
Earn 200+ bonus points searching online
There are points to be had simply for using the internet. For instance, once you register with the Nectar website, you can collect 100 Nectar points just by downloading its browser extension. You get a further one point for every two internet searches you make, up to a max of 200 points a month.
Check your account regularly for offers & bonus points
Make sure you log in to your Nectar account regularly, on the website or the app, to check for new offers. Some require a spend, eg, 100 bonus points on your next shop at Sainsbury's. But occasionally you can find an offer for bonus points without any spend required – you just have to log in and load it to your card.
Boots Advantage Card points boosting
Use the Boots Advantage Card* in store and online and you earn four points per pound. The exceptions are infant milk, prescriptions, stamps, gift vouchers and mobile phone top-ups.
Each point is worth 1p and can be redeemed on most things in store – don't forget about them, as your points will be wiped if you don't use the card for two years.
Once you've downloaded the app, link your Advantage Card to it by adding your card number, date of birth and postcode. Then simply select 'Advantage Card' in the app, and it will show a barcode for you to scan in store.
Check the app regularly for bonus points & freebies
The app's also handy for boosting your points stash as you can load personalised offers to your card. In the past we've seen examples such as free handwash, 100 bonus points when you buy two shampoo products, and £1.50 off when you spend £15+ in a single transaction.
It's well worth checking it regularly for new offers, though of course, as the offers are personalised, not everyone will receive the same ones.
Delay big purchases for 'points events'
Boots sometimes has points events on particular days or over a weekend, where if you spend a set amount (usually £50 or £60) 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 (eg, into £50 or £60 spends), as there's usually no limit on how many extra points bonuses you can get. Boots usually advertises these events on its website and emails Advantage cardholders about them.
Check the Advantage Card emails to maximise your points
Boots sends out a weekly email to Advantage cardholders 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 points & freebies, eg, FREE Aveeno baby wash
Both the Boots Parenting Club and More Treats for Over 60s club send mail-outs giving special offers on relevant goods, allowing you to get discounts and earn more points. The Boots Parenting Club gives an extra 8 points for every £1 spent on baby products and More Treats for Over 60s offers 8 points per £1 spent in store on Boots-branded items.
What's more, the Parenting Club is currently offering a free Aveeno baby hair & body wash when you sign up. When we tried it, we were also offered free breast pads and a free Mam bottle via the app.
My Morrisons has replaced Morrisons More
In March, Morrisons changed its loyalty card scheme. You'll now receive personalised money-off vouchers for your shopping, rather than points. The new scheme is called My Morrisons (previously Morrisons More).
Get personalised weekly offers via the app
Morrisons says you can continue to swipe your plastic Morrisons More card at the till to access your offers, or you can download the My Morrisons app (available for Android and iPhone) and use that to swipe your card.
You'll be sent offers based on your shopping habits, eg, 10% off soft drinks. Visit the app to check your offers, and press 'activate' on any you want to use. The discount will then be applied automatically when you swipe your card at the till.
Sign up to clubs for extra offers, eg, 10% off for NHS workers
There are a number of My Morrisons clubs you can sign up to for extra offers, including for NHS workers, teachers, parents and students.
With most clubs, Morrisons says you'll receive extra offers, but you may get the odd freebie as well. If you're an NHS worker, it can be particularly worthwhile, as you'll get 10% off when you shop in a store, and free delivery when you shop online.
Choose the best value redemption
For all schemes, the key to maximising value is to choose the best value redemptions.
Pick the redemptions you're interested in
Imagine a boxset can be bought with 2,000 Nectar points, while a computer game costs 9,000 Nectar points.
Check the value of the points
Here 2,000 points is worth £10 and 9,000 is worth £45.
Compare the cost at other stores to see what you'd pay in cash
Let's say the boxset is available for £9.99, while the computer game can be bought for £39.99.
Choose the one that's the best use of your points
While the boxset is £10 in points and about the same in the shops, the game can be bought for less in cash. Therefore the boxset is a better use of your points.
How to complain about a retailer
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 (either via an online form on its website or a traditional letter). However, if you're still not satisfied, you can escalate your complaint to the relevant ombudsman or trade body – for more info, see our Consumer Rights guide.
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