5 of The Best... Loyalty Cards for Shopping Savvy Mums

In this age of information, loads of different companies are jumping on the loyalty card bandwagon, offering points, discounts or money back for their customers in exchange for details of our shopping habits. But which are the best ones to use?

For today's post, I'll summarize my five favourite loyalty cards for British mums, complete with details of the rewards and value earned from using them.

1. Boots Advantage Card

Boots Advantage Card
This is by far my favourite all-time loyalty scheme, the one which earns more rewards than any other scheme I have yet tried.

Each point earned on your card equals a penny to spend in store; for each pound you spend, you'll earn a minimum of 4 points on your card, though double/triple points days and promotions for extra points on selected items means it's easily possible to earn far more than this.

For mothers with young babies, I highly recommend you also join the Mother and Baby club, which entitles you to triple points when buying Huggies nappies, plus you'll receive many other great offers to help you and your growing baby.

Once you've earned enough points, you can spend this in-store or online on anything you want (except for gift vouchers). You will need to have earned enough points to buy your purchase outright, as points cannot be used in part-purchase.

Personally I save up my points for expensive treats and luxuries (perfume and Chanel lipsticks are wonderful when no money needs to be exchanged) though you could just as easily redeem against your usual shopping to save money on your everyday needs.

How to apply

You can apply for a Boots Advantage card in store and begin earning your points right away, or visit the website to make your application on-line.

2. Nectar

Nectar Card Earns Points Nectar helps you earn points from spending at a huge variety of high street stores, online retailers, petrol (via BP) and even on your holidays (through Expedia and others).

These points may then be exchanged for a variety of rewards including cinema tickets, days out, travel and beauty treats.

You can earn roughly two points for every pound spent with Nectar sponsors. These points roughly equate a penny each, though rewards start from around 500 points which could get you:
  • £2.50 off at Argos
  • A free DVD rental from BlockBuster
  • £2.50 off your shopping at Sainsburys
  • A £2.50 voucher for Gala Bingo
There are many many more rewards you could get depending on the number of points you have saved. Take a look at the Nectar card calculator to see how many points you could earn towards your dream reward.

How to apply

Many of Nectar's sponsors offer application forms in-store (such as Sainsburys and Debenhams), though you can also make your application online. This way you can make a note of your Nectar card number and begin collecting points straight away.

3. Tesco Clubcard

Tesco Clubcard
Here's another card which I use regularly, not just for shopping but for my fuel and mobile top-ups too (which earns three times as many points).

You can earn 1 point per £1 spend in Tesco stores, online and at Powergen, Marriott, Johnsons Cleaners plus a few other retailers. Each point earned represents a 1p discount to spend in store, and is redeemed in the form of vouchers which are sent out by post.

However, by redeeming points on Tesco's specially selected offers, each point is worth around 4p instead. These special offers include magazine subscriptions, family outings and even RAC membership.

How to apply

You should be able to pick up a temporary Clubcard from any Tesco store and begin earning points right away. Alternatively, visit the Clubcard website to apply online; you'll be able to collect points right away on online purchases, but would need to ask for a special receipt to credit your points by telephone after shopping in-store until your permanant card arrives.

You may also be interested to apply for the Tesco Clubcard Plus account by calling 08457104010 for an application form. This works like a prepaid card (no credit facility) which can be used only in Tesco stores and offers double points on your spending. I'm yet to receive my own card to explain more, but since I shop at Tesco so often I'm sure it will be worth the effort.

4. Toys R Us Gold Card

Toys R Us Gold Loyalty Card
If you regularly shop at Toys R Us, have a young baby or are expecting one, then it's well worth joining the Gold Card scheme. Don't worry, this is not a credit card (though admittedly I was put off applying for a while since this was the impression I'd been given!).

The Tous R Us Gold Card offers a point for each pound spent when you spend over £10 in store or online. When you have accumulated enough points, you will be sent vouchers to the minimum value of £75 against selected future purchases.

It does take ages to collect enough points, and admittedly the vouchers may not always be for goods you would normally purchase. But if you have a baby or very young child, it is advantageous to join the related Mother and Baby scheme, where further discounts are offered and a regular newsletter is sent out.

How to apply

You should be able to apply in any Toys R Us store by filling out a quick application form. Alternatively visit the Gold Card page of the Toys R Us website to fill in a form online.

5. Air Miles

Airmiles Loyalty Scheme
Although the Air Miles scheme seems to have been around for years, I've only recently discovered how useful this can be in collecting points for free family days out (travels too, though this aspect would rarely benefit us personally).

Air Miles points can be collected through loads of different retailers (more than 200 in total, both online and off) such as Currys, Evans, Shell petrol stations and even by transferring points from your Tesco Clubcard.

The number of Airmiles earned for your spend varies between retailers, from 1 mile for every £10 spent on eBay to a whopping 750 points when you take out a subscription to The Times.

For best value, redeem Airmiles against "experiences" rather than flights. This seems to offer more monetary value for your saving and enables you to visit some great attractions for free such as Legoland or the London Eye.

How to apply

You can register to collect Airmiles by filling in the application form on the Airmiles website. I'm unsure if there are ways to apply in any stores, though you could also call the customer contact centre on 0844 49 333 94.

What are your favourite schemes?

Have I missed out your favourite loyalty scheme from this list, or do you use any of my favourite 5 schemes regularly? Please feel free to leave your comments below.