Whether it’s a Nectar card tucked away in our wallet or a Subway app uploaded onto our phone, most of us have signed up to at least a few rewards schemes.
The premise is simple: scan your card or app whenever you shop at a particular store, and in return get points to redeem for purchases.
So far so good – but how does a savvy consumer make sure they get the most from their reward scheme… and how are we supposed to know which ones are even worth joining?
With Christmas coming there’s more reason than ever to make sure you can max out your rewards, so here are our top tips…
Don’t let loyalty cards dictate your spending habits
While loyalty cards offer plenty of consumer rewards, the real purpose is to collect data and encourage you to keep returning to the store and buy more.
It’s sensible to only use loyalty cards to help you save money on purchases that you would have made anyway – otherwise you could find that the lure of a discount means you’re actually spending more than you intended.
This means that you should avoid buying something at a certain shop just to get reward points if you can find the same product somewhere else.
Before going ahead, work out whether the points you’d earn would be worth as much as the saving you could get by shopping elsewhere.
Try ‘resting’ your card
Loyalty schemes reward loyalty, right? Well, not always. Since the rewards are often given in order to encourage you to return to the shop and buy more, they’ll sometimes offer more valuable rewards to people who haven’t spent money there recently.
Resting your card means avoiding using it for a couple of weeks, and will sometimes lead to shops offering you some exclusive rewards in the hopes of enticing you back.
This is a trial and error method and you may decide that you’d rather continue earning your points as normal – but some people have reported great results by spending in this way.
Look for freebies
As well as points and discounts, some rewards schemes will offer freebies, meaning that you don’t have to spend out in order to claim.
If you’re discerning about the rewards schemes that you join, the ones which offer free offers (such as Booths which, at the time of writing, allows loyalty card holders to claim a free hot drink daily) may offer the best value.
Earn points without spending
This one is most applicable for people with a Nectar card, as Nectar offer a number of different ways to earn that don’t involve spending any money. For instance, you can earn points for answering surveys online (although it can be time consuming), or by donating items to Oxfam.
Cash in on special deals
So far we’ve talked a lot about earning loyalty points, but what about spending them? If you want to get the best value, try to wait for a special deal.
For instance, many loyalty schemes will offer higher rewards rates around Christmas or during their own special promotional periods.
After following the tips above, look out for one of these promotions to make sure your points convert into the best possible reward!