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Loyalty cards: how do they compare?

Handing over a payment cardSuperdrug has launched a new loyalty card: Beautycard. But how does it compete against rival reward schemes?

By Emma Lunn

Beautycard holders can collect points with almost every purchase in Superdrug and the points can be spent in any Superdrug store or online. It’s similar to the Boots Advantage card, which is widely regarded as one of the best loyalty schemes on the high street. But are Superdrug’s rewards as good?

For every £1 spent in Superdrug you get one point which is worth 1p. Spend £20 and you get 20p in points. And as a special promotion for the launch you'll be able to get 10 points per pound spent online at Superdrug until Tuesday 7 June.

You can start spending Beautycard points by presenting the card in-store, but only when you've reached 100 points or £1, so you’ll need to have spent £100 before you can take advantage of your points.

And you can only redeem the points in 100-point increments, which means you won't be able to get a £1.99 item with 199 points. You'll need 200.

The Boots Advantage card offers bigger rewards with 4 points - or 4p - per pound spent in the store.

Although this sounds much better than the Superdrug deal, you’ll need to work out which store is cheaper to be sure of getting the best deal. But because the different stores will be cheaper for different items you’ll have your work cut out if you want to do a price and points comparison for everything you buy.

How do supermarket reward cards compare?

Some of the other best known loyalty schemes are run by major supermarkets. Tesco Clubcard holders earn two points for every pound spent in Tesco or at partners such as energy provider E.ON.

Each point is worth a penny if used for in-store shopping, and they're sent out in vouchers (minimum £1) every three months.

However, Clubcard’s big selling point is the reward vouchers scheme. This allows normal vouchers to be traded in for reward vouchers which are worth three times as much. Reward vouchers can then be spent on things including train tickets, days out, travel, gifts and hotel rooms.

Tesco Clubcard’s rival is the Nectar card. You can earn Nectar points in numerous places including Sainsburys, BP, Debenhams and Amazon. Every £1 spent usually gains two points. Points are worth an average of 0.5p and can be spent on days out, gifts or shopping discounts at member stores.

Does loyalty pay?

However, while these loyalty schemes sound great in theory, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what you’re actually getting for your loyalty.

For example, last year Tesco devalued Clubcard points by a quarter - shoppers used to be able to exchange £10 of Clubcard vouchers for £40 of reward vouchers but now it’s only £30. 

Meanwhile Coca Cola's loyalty scheme, Coke Zone, recently downgraded lots of the items it gives to members. It used to give away a limited number of ipods and cameras. But recently the reward scheme changed and the high value gadgets are gone. Loyal coke drinkers can now only earn items like Coke t-shirts or baseball caps, which aren’t so appealing.

So, are loyalty cards worth it? Well, it depends on how often you use the store in question and whether it’s cheaper than rivals. If you’re a regular user of a certain retailer already then it makes sense to be rewarded for your loyalty.

For example, if you spend £100 a week at Tesco, you’ll earn 200 points each shop, or 10,400 points a year. That works out at £104 a year in grocery vouchers or £312 worth of Clubcard rewards.

Spending just a tenner a week in Boots would earn you 40 points a week, or 2,080 points a year. That’s £20.80 annually – enough for a nice treat.