Supermarket loyalty cards: how do they work and what rewards do you get?

We look at how the use of supermarket loyalty cards could help cut the cost of rising food bills

Person holding a Tesco Clubcard and receipt
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Using a supermarket loyalty card can be an easy way for families to save money on food (opens in new tab) and fight back against rising inflation (opens in new tab). As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, households have been quick to change their shopping habits, whether that’s seeking out the cheapest supermarket (opens in new tab), shifting to own brand products, or joining a supermarket loyalty scheme.   

Julian House (opens in new tab), personal finance expert and managing director at myfavouritevouchercodes.co.uk, told us: "Supermarket loyalty schemes are very consumer-friendly and are entirely worth the trouble of signing up to – particularly against the backdrop of the current cost-of-living crisis. Annual food prices are expected to soar by roughly £454 over the next year – meaning there has never been a better time to sign up to a loyalty scheme.

“Signing up for these schemes typically gives you access to multiple bespoke discount offers that can shave a noticeable chunk off your monthly shopping bill.” 

How do supermarket loyalty cards work?

Although there are variations depending on the scheme you, loyalty cards typically work in a similar way. Shoppers earn points each time they spend money in-store or online. Points can then be used to make purchases at that supermarket or other retailers that the store has teamed up with. For example, if you save up enough Tesco points (opens in new tab) they can be used to buy Disney+ subscriptions, tickets to Alton Towers, and other adventures parks, and cinema tickets and passes.

Similarly, with a Sainsbury's (opens in new tab) Nectar card, you can collect and spend points at a number of retailers including Argos (opens in new tab), Esso, eBay (opens in new tab), Caffe Nero, Habitat (opens in new tab) and more.

And, of course, you'll also receive money-off vouchers (in the post or via the app) at the supermarket. As they say, a Tesco (opens in new tab) Clubcard also has 'the power to bring down prices' - simply presenting your card at the checkout will give you an instant saving. Keep a lookout for special ' Clubcard only offers in-store and online. 

Jane Hawkes (opens in new tab), consumer expert at ladyjaney.co.uk, adds: “Don’t forget to check expiry dates on any money saving coupons and ensure they are on hand during your shop so you don’t forget to use them! Save up your loyalty points or spend as you go. There’s no better feeling than seeing a few pounds deducted at checkout or using them to cover a bigger ticket item you’ve been saving for.”

Ultimately, loyalty cards are a great source of data for supermarkets. Collecting data on this scale helps supermarkets to understand their customers' shopping habits and identify any buying trends. This data can be used to inform everything from which products to sell and in which stores, to improving customer service and tailoring marketing campaigns.

Are supermarket loyalty cards worth it?

The value of supermarket loyalty cards depends on where you shop, how much you spend and what rewards you are looking for. Someone spending £400 a month with Tesco Clubcard, for example, could earn £4 back each month. This could then be worth three times the value when redeemed at selected Tesco partners. For example, for every 50p you earn in Clubcard vouchers, you can get £1.50 off at Cineworld (on both tickets and snacks).

By contrast, a £400 monthly spend with a Sainsbury’s Nectar card would only earn you half of what you’d get at Tesco, at £2. But Nectar has the advantage of earning points at brands such as Esso, Argos and eBay, so if you regularly spend at these brands, you’ll earn points faster.

Personal finance expert Julian House from myfavouritevouchercodes.co.uk (opens in new tab) says: “I would recommend everyone take out loyalty cards with any and all supermarkets (and shops) they either use, or plan on using – these are free and only benefit the consumer if you resist the ‘exploding offers’ regularly advertised through these schemes. Whether it’s somewhere you shop regularly or not; if they have some form of customer loyalty programme and you shop there, get yourself signed up.” 

Here, we take a closer look at the best supermarket loyalty cards, assessing factors such as the best rewards, where rewards can be earned and redeemed, plus any additional perks.

Tesco Clubcard

What do you earn? Collect 1 point for every £1 you spend in-store and online at Tesco and 1 point for every £2 you spend on fuel at Tesco filling stations. You can also earn points if you have a Tesco mobile contract or a Tesco Bank credit card; you’ll earn 1 point for every £1 spent on your mobile phone bill and 1 point for every £4 spent on your credit card.

What can you use rewards for? For every 150 points, you’ll get £1.50 worth of vouchers that you can spend on groceries or fuel at Tesco. Alternatively, points can be worth up to three times more if you spend them with Tesco’s reward partners on days out, eating out, travel and more. Partners include English Heritage, Pizza Express and Eurotunnel.

How much do you earn on a £100 spend? £1

Additional benefits? Clubcard holders benefit from exclusive discounts on certain products in-store and online. You can request Clubcard vouchers within 24 hours via the Tesco Grocery and Clubcard app or via your online account.

Pros: You can make some significant savings on days out and activities.
Cons: Clubcard vouchers expire after two years and cannot be reissued.

Sainsbury's Nectar Card

What do you earn? Shoppers earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Sainsbury’s in-store and online, and 1 point for every £1 spent on Sainsbury’s fuel. You can also collect points at partner brands including Argos, Esso and eBay.

What can you use rewards for? You can redeem Nectar points in-store, either at Sainsbury’s or at partner brands, which means options are a little more limited compared to Tesco Clubcard. Each 500 points earned is worth £2.50 at Sainsbury’s, eBay, and Argos. You can also exchange 400 Nectar points for 250 Avios.

How much do you earn on a £100 spend? 50p

Additional benefits? You can earn an extra 200 points each month by downloading the Nectar Yahoo Toolbar and using it for your online searches. Newly-launched My Nectar Prices offers discounts tailored to your shopping habits if you use the SmartShop app or handsets.

Pros: Option to collect and spend points at brand partners.

Cons: Can take a long time to build up points.

Co-op Membership

What do you earn? For every £1 spent on selected Co-op (opens in new tab) products and services, 2p will go into your Co-op Membership account. The same amount also goes to support community organisations and local causes.

What can you use rewards for? You can use your rewards on most things you buy, not just Co-op products. You can also choose to donate them.

How much do you earn on a £100 spend? £2

Additional benefits? You’ll receive special offers based on what you like to buy, plus exclusive member deals, as well as discounts on Co-op services such as insurance, funeral care and legal services.

Pros: Flexibility on where you spend rewards.

Cons: Not points-based and costs £1 to join.

Iceland Bonus Card

What do you earn? Cardholders earn rewards by saving up shopping money in advance. For every £20 saved, you’ll receive an extra £1.

What can you use rewards for? Rewards are paid into your account which you can then use along with your saved cash to pay for shopping at Iceland (opens in new tab) and The Food Warehouse.  You can save and spend online and in-store.

How much do you earn on a £100 spend? £5

Additional benefits? Your Bonus card will give you exclusive offers in-store and online, free home delivery when you spend £25 or more in-store, and the chance to win prizes.

Pros: Easy way to budget for your food shop.

Cons: Not point-based.

myWaitrose Membership

What do you earn? Rather than earning points, with this loyalty scheme from Waitrose (opens in new tab) you get personalised vouchers each week. You can also benefit from members-only pricing on a selection of products.

What can you use rewards for? Each week, you will be sent personalised vouchers which can be used for money off on selected items.

Additional benefits? You can get 5% off dry cleaning and laundry by showing your myWaitrose card when using in-store Johnsons the Cleaners services. Cardholders will also get free Waitrose Food and Waitrose Heath magazines. Any myWaitrose members who also have a Vitality health or life insurance plan can also benefit from 25% cashback on Waitrose products with the Good Health logo. Membership will also get you 10% off at Waitrose Cookery School.

Pros: Members-only pricing could see you make some nice savings on your weekly shop.

Cons: Not points-based.

Lidl Plus

What do you earn? Registering for the Lidl (opens in new tab) Plus rewards app gives you access to an array of exclusive discounts and prizes. However, as of 1 September, the scheme has changed, meaning that shoppers will need to spend more to earn the biggest discounts.  

What can you use rewards for?  You can use the reward coupons for money off your favourite products, or a free gift or money off when you reach certain spending targets. For example, spend £50 in a month and you'll get a coupon for a free in-store bakery item. Spend £100 in a month and you'll get a £2 off coupon. If you spend £150 in a month, you’ll get a coupon for a free item from Lidl’s W5 cleaning range. You’ll also earn 10% off your next shop when you spend £250 in a month (this was previously a voucher for £10 if you spent £200 in a month). 

How much do you earn on a £100 spend?   £2 (or 10% off your next shop when you spend £250 in a month). 

Additional benefits?  Exclusive discounts and prizes from Lidl partners, such as the AA and Kids Pass. You’ll also be able to access digital receipts, helping you to track your spend without collecting paper receipts. 

Pros: App-based, so you don't have to worry about forgetting your card.

Cons: Not point-based.

My Morrisons

What do you earn?  When you register for My Morrisons, you’ll get access to regular personalised offers on the things you buy the most, from digital vouchers to money off your next shop. 

What can you use rewards for?   Use your personalised offers to cut the cost of your next food shop. Join one of the My Morrisons Clubs and you'll get be able to save even more with access to exclusive discounts, helpful tips and members-only treats and competitions. 

Additional benefits?  Access to My Morrisons Clubs, for exclusive member benefits tailored towards NHS staff, teachers, students and new parents. If you keep scanning your My Morrisons card, you could also bag a “Basket Bonus” which could give you £5 off your next shop, a bunch of flowers or something from the bakery. 

Pros: You can use the My Morrisons app or the Morrisons (opens in new tab) website to activate your rewards.

Cons: Not points-based.

Asda Rewards

What do you earn? Asda launched its loyalty scheme in August 2022 and to use it, you’ll need to download the app. Then, rather than earning points, you’ll earn ‘Asda Pounds’ to build up your ‘Cashpot’ every time you shop online or in-store and scan the app. 

What can you use rewards for? You can convert the money in your Cashpot into money-off vouchers which can be redeemed on your shopping in-store and online. You can earn Asda Pounds by buying certain ‘star products’ which  give your Cashpot an instant boost equivalent to 10% of the product’s price. You can also complete certain missions to earn more. These missions can range from buying a certain number of products from a particular department to spending a minimum amount over multiple visits. 

Additional benefits? There may be the option of converting some of your Cashpot balance into a Boost voucher which will increase its value by a certain percentage. 

Pros: App-based, so you don't have to worry about forgetting your card.

Cons: Not point-based.

Joseph Seager (opens in new tab) of thriftychap.com (opens in new tab) says: “Asda Rewards is fantastic if you shop at Asda anyway. Make sure to scan your card when you shop instore and connect your Rewards account to your shopping account online. Every time you shop you'll add to your Cashpot and you then have six months to convert your Asda Pounds into vouchers to spend.” 

M&S Sparks Card

What do you earn? Rather than earning rewards, when you register for the M&S Sparks Card you’ll receive personalised offers based on the things you love, plus a weekly opportunity to have your shopping bought for you. 

What can you use rewards for? Use your personalised offers to cut the cost of your M&S shop. Plus, whenever you scan your card, M&S will donate to your chosen charity. 

Additional benefits? Every week in-store, M&S says it will treat a Sparks customer to the shopping they’re buying for free. Some customers will also be given a small gift each week, and there are various giveaways in-store and online.

Pros: You can register on the website or use the app to scan your card from your phone and keep track of your offers.

Cons: Not points based. 

Which other loyalty cards are worth considering?

The perks don't end with supermarket loyalty cards, if you are regular shopper at any of the below high street stores or restaurants, then make sure you sign up to their free loyalty schemes to bag the best benefits. 

High street loyalty schemes

If you regularly shop at Boots (opens in new tab), it can also be worth looking at the Boots Advantage card (opens in new tab) which gives you 4 points for every £1 you spend. Each point is worth 1p and you can redeem your points in-store at any time, as long as you have enough points to cover the cost of the item. For example, you’ll need 499 points to cover an item priced at £4.99.

Superdrug (opens in new tab) also offers a loyalty card which gives you 1 point for every £1 you spend. Like the Boots Advantage card, each point is worth 1p, but unlike Boots, you can use a combination of points and cash to pay for items.

Restaurants and coffee shops loyalty schemes

Restaurants and coffee shops are getting in on the loyalty card action too. If you are a regular Starbucks (opens in new tab) visitor, make sure you register for a Starbucks Card - you get three stars for every £1 you spend. Collect 150 stars and you can get a free drink, while 450 stars will get you extra shots of espresso, selected syrups and whipped cream. With 450 stars, you'll also reach Gold Level status, which means you'll get a free drink on your birthday.

Pret Perks (opens in new tab) work in a similar way. Earn stars as you shop, and with 10 stars, you can unlock a perk.

Costa Coffee also has a rewards programme, the Costa Club (opens in new tab). As a member of the club, you'll earn a point (or bean) for every hot or cold crafted drink you buy. Collect eight beans and you can get a drink for free.  Better still, if you buy four drinks in a reusable cup, you'll get your fifth for free. You'll also get free cake on your birthday.

If you are a regular frequenter of Nando's, it's definitely worth signing up for a Nando's card (opens in new tab). You can earn a point (or chilli) for every £7 spend online or in the restaurant. Three chillis will unlock your first reward.

If you want to combine all your loyalty cards in one place, loyalty app Swapi (opens in new tab) lets you link all your loyalty cards in its digital wallet. You can then use it for any in-store or online purchases. You can also earn Swapi points at its partner brands.

Rachel is a freelance personal finance journalist who has been writing about everything from mortgages to car insurance for over a decade. Having previously worked at Shares Magazine, where she specialised in small-cap stocks, Rachel developed a passion for consumer finance and saving money when she moved to lovemoney.com (opens in new tab). She later spent more than 8 years as an editor at price comparison site MoneySuperMarket where she helped support the CRM programme, as well as the SEO and PR teams, often acting as spokesperson. Rachel went freelance in 2020, just as the pandemic hit, and has since written for numerous websites and national newspapers, including The Mail on Sunday, The Observer, The Sun and Forbes. She is passionate about helping consumers become more confident with their finances, giving them the tools they need to take control of their money and make savings. In her spare time, Rachel is a keen traveller and baker.