The best UK supermarket loyalty schemes

Updated on 23 September 2016

The Co-op has launched a new loyalty scheme for members which earns 5% cashback. We take a look at how it stacks up against schemes offered by supermarket rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the rest.

The Co-op

The Co-op has revamped its loyalty scheme.

The new deal means you can earn 5% cashback when you buy any Co-op own-brand item or service (apart from insurance) and a further 1% which goes to a local charity in your area.

Any money you earn will be paid into your membership account and can be spent with Co-op businesses, including its insurance services, whenever you want.

The Co-op says a member that spends £20 a week on own-brand goods can earn £52 in rewards for themselves and £10.40 for charities in a year with the scheme.

However, to become a member you will need to pay a one-off fee of £1.

When you become a member of the Co-op you join a collective and get a say not only in how the company is run but also a claim to its profits. The new reward scheme offers benefits on top of the dividend and does not replace it.

You can find out more about how the scheme works in the video below:

Our verdict: As the Co-op is a local convenience store, it makes total sense to have this card handy to use when you pop in. The 1% cashback for a local charity is also a benefit you can feel good about.

Iceland

Iceland offers a scheme called the Bonus Card to loyal shoppers, which acts like a pre-paid card.

You will get a £1 bonus for every £25 you top up on the card and spend in store or online.

Other benefits for members include money off coupons and the chance to win the cost of one of your shops. You also get free home delivery when you spend £20 or more in-store.

Our verdict: Iceland’s loyalty card acts like a pre-paid card and you will need to load money and spend at least £25 to get a £1 reward. This is vastly different to how the other supermarket loyalty schemes work and won’t be suitable if you don’t tend to shop much at the supermarket.

Earn cashback on all your shopping with a cashback credit card: compare deals

Morrisons

Morrisons offers the Morrisons More loyalty scheme, which is free to sign up to.

With the card you can earn five points for every £1 spent in store or online and at Morrisons Cafes.

You can also get 10 points for every £1 spent on fuel and 25 points for every £1 spent on gift cards in store. Morrisons also says there will be promotional events for card holders to earn more.

Each point is worth 0.1p so you will need 5,000 points to get a £5 voucher. This means you you will need to spend £1,000 before you can benefit from the scheme, which you could achieve if you spent £200 a month for five months at the store.

Morrisons dropped its popular price match scheme in October last year, which allowed shoppers to earn points if their shop would have been cheaper at another supermarket.

Our verdict: This is a decent reward scheme for Morrisons shoppers. The only downside is that unlike other schemes from Tesco and Nectar you can’t exchange points for days out or leisure activities.

Earn cashback on all your shopping with a cashback credit card: compare deals

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer offer a loyalty scheme called SPARKS, which is free to join.

The Sparks card gives you 10 ‘sparks’ for every £1 spent at M&S. The number of sparks you earn is rounded to the nearest multiple of 10, with 10 bonus sparks for each transaction you make.

There are also 50 Sparks bonus points up for grabs for using the clothing Shwop service in-store and 25 for every product review you write that is published online.

Sparks points have no cash value but will give you access to exclusive deals.

Members are sent personalised offers through every fortnight, normally an in-store or online discount. Bear in mind you can’t earn on gift cards, M&S Bank and Energy payments and the made-to-measure shirt service.

Better offers are unlocked as you earn more sparks. They break down like this:

  • 3,000 sparks allow you to see new season previews including new collections from M&S;
  • 5,000 sparks will allow you to preview and buy sale items a day before they go on the M&S website;
  • 14,000 sparks will bag you invitations to special events including exclusive shopping evenings, catwalk shows and food masterclasses.

It's not until you reach 17,000 sparks that you get the experience rewards like the vineyard visit or a personalised styling session.

Our verdict: If you're a regular M&S shopper this scheme could work for you, but as you can imagine, it might get a bit confusing.

Though some of the benefits are more appealing, they'll take you quite a while to save up for. Oddly, your sparks will reset every year but you’ll still get the same level of reward rather than having to start building up points again.

Earn cashback on all your shopping with a cashback credit card: compare deals

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s is part of the massive Nectar card loyalty scheme.

The free to join scheme allows you to pick up one point per £1 spent in store and online at Sainsbury’s stores. 

You can also pick up points with Sainsbury’s Bank products.

The Sainsbury’s Nectar Balance Transfer Credit Card for example offers 5,000 bonus Nectar points when you spend £800 on Sainsbury’s shopping or fuel in the first three months.

The card also allows you to earn two points for every £1 spent on Sainsbury’s shopping or fuel and for every £5 spent elsewhere.

500 Nectar points are worth £2.50, which you can spend straight from your card at Sainsbury’s, both in store or online, or use it to buy treats such as hotels, holidays or days out at Nectar.com.

Our verdict: Sainsbury’s used to offer two points per £1, but has scaled back the scheme to match other supermarkets like Tesco. However, the Nectar card can be used at a wide range of retailers, such as Homebase and British Gas, allowing you to maximise your points on more of your spending.

Tesco

Tesco shoppers can use the free Tesco Clubcard scheme to earn loyalty points.

You’ll collect one point per £1 spent in store, online and at Tesco Direct. When purchasing Tesco fuel, you'll get one point for every £2 spent.

There are also lots of opportunities to earn points through other Tesco products like Tesco Mobile and Tesco Bank Current Account and Tesco credit cards.

The Tesco Bank Purchase Card for example gives you 1,000 Clubcard points as soon as you make a purchase and allows you to earn one point for every £1 spent in Tesco and for every £4 spent elsewhere.

Each point is worth 1p and for every 150 Clubcard points you get  £1.50 in Clubcard vouchers. You also have the opportunity to boost the value of your points with selected partners.

Our verdict: This scheme is better than most as there are plenty of opportunities to pick up points and you can boost their value when you spend them at certain retailers.

Waitrose

Waitrose offers a loyalty scheme called myWaitrose, which launched in 2011, that you don’t have to pay anything to join.

Instead of collecting points it offers freebies and discounts.

One of the major benefits is that it allows card holders to get a free tea or coffee each time they visit a store.

You get a free copy of the monthly Waitrose Food magazine as well as the Waitrose Garden magazine and access to in-store deals like 15% off red wine and 20% off all fish from the fish counter.

The scheme also allows members to ‘pick their own offers’, where you can choose up to ten products that you buy regularly to save 20% on.

Our verdict: The Waitrose card is worth having if you have a Waitrose near you and you shop there regularly as the rewards start instantly with things hot drinks and magazines.

But with no points system you’ll have to keep a close eye on the discounts and make sure to use them to get the most out of the scheme.

Asda

Asda doesn’t currently offer a loyalty scheme for shoppers.

But if it’s your local supermarket and you shop there regularly you can save money and be rewarded for your loyalty with the Asda Money Credit Card.

The card allows you to earn unlimited 1% cashback on Asda shopping and Asda fuel and 0.5% elsewhere. So the card makes sense if you do most of your shopping with the supermarket.

The card also offers 12 months 0% on balance transfers (2.9% fee), 0% on all purchases at George.com and no cash advance fee on Asda Travel Money.

Are cashback credit cards better?

Cashback credit cards are generally seen as a better alternative to schemes which offer loyalty points or rewards. This is because you have the freedom to spend your cashback wherever you like without any limitations, while earning cashback on all your purchases.

However, cashback cards should only be used as a way to earn rewards as these often have a higher APR than most standard credit cards.

To use them efficiently you should spend as normal, on your cashback card, and then pay this off at the end of each month. This means you'll get all the rewards of the card but you won't have to pay any interest.

If you won't remember to pay the card off each month, then set up a direct debit to do this automatically from your current account.

Our comparison tables give a full run down of the cashback and reward credit cards but here I've picked out four of the best.

Do you use loyalty schemes and which one do you think offers the best value for money? Let us know in the box below.

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