City Survivors: Loyalty never pays... or does it?

28 June 2016
“Loyalty doesn’t pay” is a phrase that’s often bandied around, and I for one have advocated it.
From switching current account provider, to energy supplier, or mobile network, making companies work for your money means you’ll reap the rewards of cashback incentives, higher interest rates and lower bills.
However, becoming a member of free loyalty schemes can certainly pay if you are going to shop from these providers anyway. My purse is a colourful array of supermarket, high street brand, and restaurant reward cards.
And it doesn’t stop there, my smartphone is chock-a-block with apps where I can earn points and freebies for eating out and takeaways.
Here are some of my favourite schemes to join: 
Tesco Clubcard: I don’t live near a Tesco anymore, but when I did, I always swiped my Clubcard to earn points on my grocery shop. Here, you earn one point per £1 spent on most items in store and online. One point is then worth 1p in Tesco vouchers. You can spend these in store at face value once you’ve earned £1.50 (150 points), or you can swap them for up to four times their value to spend on restaurant vouchers, days out and more.
Nectar: This scheme isn’t as strong as Clubcard, but if like me your local supermarket is Sainsbury’s, Nectar is worth a punt. Here, you earn one point for every £1 spent in Sainsbury’s with each Nectar point worth 0.5p. Points can be converted into Sainsbury’s vouchers in multiples of 500 points. So 500 Nectar points is the equivalent of £2.50 to spend at Sainsbury’s or at Nectar partners, such as Vue, Virgin Experience Days and eBay.
Boots Advantage and Superdrug Beauty: I use Boots’ Advantage card and Superdrug’s Beauty card whenever I buy beauty products. With Boots you earn four points for every £1 spent at the retailer, with one point the equivalent of 1p to spend in Boots. Superdrug’s scheme, is less valuable; every £1 spent in stores will get you one point, which equals 1p to spend in store.
Nando’s: For those of you who love a cheeky Nando’s as much as me, every time you spend at least £7 and show your loyalty card at the till, you’ll earn a chilli, which can be converted into rewards. Three chillis is a free quarter chicken or starter, while 10 chillis is worth a chicken or combo meal.
However, remember that some points earned via reward schemes may only last a limited amount of time, so make sure you spend your points before they expire.
Most reward schemes require you to activate the loyalty card online, so ensure you use a different password for each account. In 2014, fraudsters hacked into online Tesco Clubcard accounts and spent huge numbers of points using passwords garnered from other security leaks. 
Lastly, don’t confuse loyalty and reward cards with store cards. Store cards are typically credit cards offering you perks for shopping with certain brands. If you have a store card, clear your balance every month. Late repayments are also likely to damage your credit score.