LOYALTY SCHEMES: INCREASING THE VALUE
· The Basics. Tesco* spending with its Clubcard pays 1 point per pound, as does spending at Powergen, Marriott, Johnsons Cleaners and a few others, or using its Clubcard Credit Card*. Vouchers are sent out quarterly and each point's worth a penny discount off Tesco shopping.
· Never Redeem Vouchers Instore. Redeem vouchers on Tesco's special Clubcard Deals Brochure and points values increase four-fold. Amongst options are RAC membership at £24.75, an adult Alton Towers ticket £7, a year's subscription to Cosmopolitan £9.
· Double Earn Points. Receive 2 points per pound on instore/online shopping paying by Tesco's little known Clubcard Plus account. It requires a standing order, but just do this for £1/month then top it up at customer services before each shop, as cash is immediately credited. Avoid going overdrawn though as the rate's not good! Applications are phone only, the official number is 08457 104010, but you should be able to get through via freephone 0800 406050 too.
· Look For…. any promotion offering extra Clubcard points. E.g. Recently Tesco was selling Ipod Shuffles for £49, a good price and it gave 999 bonus points. With the normally accrued points, these are worth £42 of Clubcard Deals; spend them on something you'd have bought anyway and the Ipod effectively cost £7.
· The Basics. Use a Nectar card in Sainsbury, Debenhams, BP, TalkTalk and others and every £1 spent usually gains 2 points. Points are worth an average 0.54p and can be redeemed online or by phone for a range of days out, gifts or shopping discounts off member stores.
· 1,000 free points. Sign up to an Amex Nectar credit card for 1,000 free points providing you spend once on it (even just a packet of sweets), though sometimes its promotions go up to 6,000 points, worth keeping your eyes open. As a rewards scheme, regular Sainsbury or Debenhams spenders will find this card useful.
· What to use points on. Many DVD boxsets, Blockbuster video vouchers, restaurant discount vouchers, Eurostar trips and days out to theme parks all come in at better value per point than just redeeming vouchers in member stores.
Boots Advantage Card
· The Basics. Use Boots* Advantage card instore/online, except for prescriptions, stamps and gift vouchers and you earn 4 points per pound. Each point is worth 1p and can be redeemed on most things instore.
· Use the Boots ATM. Many branches have what looks like an Advantage card ATM. Stick your card in before shopping and it lists immediately printable discount vouchers, for specific products or general discounts.
· Treble Points. Instore or online double or treble points days or weekends are common. If you're going to spend there anyway, it's very useful as treble points means an effective 12% discount. It's especially worthwhile for PAYG mobile phone users, who can top up cheaper.
· The Basics. Points earnable on spending in a wide range of places like Avis, Leslie Davis and Homebase. It's often confused with frequent flyer schemes, but actually you don't earn points for traveling (apart from booking via AirMiles itself). The flight association is because most of its rewards are travel based. On average an AirMile is worth 7.8p.
· NatWest replaced by Lloyds TSB. For years NatWest's range of credit cards have doled out Airmiles. It's now giving it up and the rewards are switching to the Lloyds TSB group. Interestingly, when you apply for a Lloyds TSB card you automatically get two not one - a Mastercard and an Amex. Yet you don't earn the same amount of rewards for both - while the Amex version pays twice as much as the old NatWest card (1 Airmile per £10 spent), the Mastercard pays a paltry amoung and isn't worth bothering with.
· Apply via the Airmile site for £40 of free miles. If you apply for the Lloyds TSB card through the AirMiles website, and you’ll get 500 miles credited simply for signing up, roughly £40 worth. See Credit Card Freebies article for more loopholes like this.
· Flights aren't fancy. In general, after valuating the point worth, using AirMiles for ‘experiences' such as London Eye tickets and Legoland, proves better value than flights and car hire.
· eBay buying isn't lawful. Old paper-based AirMiles are commonly flogged on eBay* and while it looks cost effective, AirMiles says this breaches their terms and is unlawful.
Keep your options open - you never know what's round the corner.
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