BRITS love a good loyalty card with 77 per cent of us belonging to at least one programme, according to YouGov research.
One of the best known loyalty schemes is Sainsbury’s Nectar scheme, which launched in 2002 and now has over a million customers.
Alamy You can earn Nectar points at shops such as Sainsbury’s but there are also lots of online retailers that use the scheme
What are Nectar Points?
Under the Sainsbury’s scheme you collect points for every pound you spend, either in the supermarket itself or at a range of retailer partners.
When you sign up, you’re given a card to collect on every time you shop at a participating store.
Usually you’ll get one point per pound spent but sometimes partners will offer better deals where you can collect even more.
The points can then be redeemed, either to be spent in Sainsbury’s or to be exchanged for vouchers or rewards to spend elsewhere.
Points are usually worth half a penny each, but you can usually get more if you swap them.
Where can you earn points?
As well as getting points on your weekly shop, you can also get them for shopping with hundreds of shops and brands.
There are 450 different retailers you can get points on, split between activities, entertainment, fashion, financial services, food & drink, gifts, health & beauty, home improvements, kids, technology, travel and utilities.
Here’s how to cut the cost of your grocery shopSAVING on your shop can make a big difference to your wallet. Here are some tips on how you can cut the cost of your shopping bills:
Write yourself a list – Only buy items that you need. If it isn’t on your list, don’t put it in the trolley
Create a budget – Work out a weekly budget for your food shopping
Never shop hungry – you are far more likely to buy food you don’t need if your tummy is rumbling
Don’t buy pre-chopped veggies or fruit – The cost loads extra
Use social media – follow your favourite retailers to find out about the latest deals
Be disloyal – You may want to go to different stores to find the best bargains
Check the small print – It’s always worth checking the price per kg/lb/litre when comparing offers – a bigger box doesn’t always mean better value
Some examples of stores that let you collect nectar are Dulux, Ao.com, Esso, Debenhams, Asos and Expedia.
Not all stores are equal in terms of Nectar points, with some offering loads more for every pound you spend.
For instance, Expedia are offering four points for every pound spent on your next holiday and you can get six points for every pound with fashion retailer Asos.
You can see all the partner retailers who offer points here.
Where can you spend them?
The easiest way to spend your points is to get money off your Sainsbury’s shop, but it’s not usually the best way to get a good deal.
Points are generally worth half a penny each, which means you’d need 200 to get £1 off the weekly shop.
But if you exchange your points for rewards at partner retailers you can get much more bang for your buck.
For instance, at Pizza Express 500 points are worth £3.75 off your meal, compared to just £2.50 off your shopping at Sainsbury’s.
You can see all the places you can spend your Nectar points here.
Getty Images Nectar often runs promotional deals on their points scheme so customers can take advantage of on the website
How can you boost them?
There are two ways to boost the value of your points, either by increasing the number you get or by boosting what they’re worth.
Each week Sainsbury’s has weekly bonus offers which mean you can maximise the number of points you get.
These change from week to week, but can be a great way to boost points.
For instance, you can get eight points per pound with eBay, 200 bonus points with BP and triple points at Argos at the moment.
There’s usually good points offers on specific goods in store too.
For instance, in January Sainsbury’s was offering ten points per pound on fruit and vegetables.
Nectar says it will highlight the best offers to customers via the newsletter and its app.
What you need to know before signing up to any reward schemeTHERE are thousands of different loyalty schemes and reward cards available – so you need to make sure you know what you’re signing up for
By signing up for a loyalty card, a retailer will get a lot of information about you and your shopping habits. The data might be shared within its group of companies to target you with offers and advertising.
If a firm goes bust, you will lose your points, which have no cash value. Hoarding points also means you risk losing them if a retailer or restaurant shuts your account after a long period of inaction.
Read the terms and conditions carefullly some retailers and restaurant will have expiration dates on certain offers (for example you might have limited amount of time to spend your extra points).
Don’t choose where to shop or where to eat based on a store’s loyalty scheme. If there is a particular item you want, shop around rather than head straight for the retailer where you have a loyalty card. In a restaurant check some of the special deals or menus – they might be better value than the loyalty scheme.
Beware of spending more simply because you have a loyalty card and don’t buy something just for any bonus points you may earn.
You can see the weekly bonuses if you sign in with your Nectar card here.
Downloading the Nectar toolbar is great way to make sure you don’t miss out on points.
You get 200 bonus points a month just for using it, and it reminds you every time you’re on a partner website where points are available.
You’ll also get 100 points when you first download it.
You can download the toolbar here.
The other way to boost your points is by maximising the value when you spend them.
The best way to do this is to log onto My Nectar or look on the app to see what offers are available for you.
Is there a double up promotion planned this year?
Every now and then, Sainsbury’s runs an event where your points are worth twice as much when you spend them.
The last double up was in November last year.
The loyalty scheme has not yet confirmed any events for this year, but they usually release details in advance.
If you’ve got points stored up and you hear an event is coming, it’s worth holding on for a week to get more for your money.
Are there any changes planned?
Sainsbury’s is trialling big changes to the Nectar scheme, which would completely change the way the points work.
Under the new rules customers will only collect points on items they regularly buy at the supermarket.
They will need to pick these items in advance and they have to be bought within seven days.
The idea is to reward customers for how often they shop and how long they’ve been loyal, rather than how much they spend.
There will be a favourites sections where customers can select offers they regularly use that won’t need to be updated each time.
The trial was started on the Isle of Wight last year, and Sainsbury’s has said it could be rolled out nationwide if it’s successful.
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Sainsbury’s reveal how to spend your Nectar points online