The rules are changing around two of the UK's biggest loyalty cards that could see customers losing out on points.
Changes to loyalty schemes, which can save customers tens, or even, hundreds of pounds, come as the cost of living crisis squeezes household finances.
Around £17million of vouchers will go to waste if Tesco customers do not cash vouchers issued in May 2020 by the end of this month.
Tesco Clubcard vouchers are issued every three months, in February, May, August and November, with customers given two years to spend them, which means the deadline for the batch issued in May 2020 is approaching.
It comes after Boots announced a major change to the way its Advantage Card points system works by removing all points from Advantage Card accounts that have not been used for a year.
Read on to find out how these changes could affect you.
Millions of Tesco customers have just two weeks to spend Clubcard vouchers first issued in May 2020 that are set to expire at the end of the month. It comes after Tesco announced part of a shake-up to the loyalty scheme that spells the end of the paper voucher.
Tesco stopped sending Clubcard vouchers or paper statements through the post from May 5.
Customers can opt-in for physical coupons by signing in to your MyClubcard account online, and clicking on ‘statement preferences’.
Alessandra Bellini, Tesco chief customer officer, said in April: “We know it’s tough right now, which is why we want to show customers all the ways we can help them spend less, and leave them with more money in their pockets – to manage the rising cost of living, or to treat themselves and their loved ones.”
Boots Advantage Card
Currently, the 14.7 million people who have a Boots Advantage Card can retain points for two years without actually using their card. But from June 20 2022, customers will lose their points if they do not use it in a year (that's within 12 months, not a calendar year).
In their email to customers, Boots said as long customers use their Boots Advantage Card at least once a year online or in-store transactions to either collect or redeem their points they will not lose out.
As long as you shop with your Boots Advantage Card at least once a year, your points will always be there ready for you to use them.
A Boots spokesperson said: "In line with the market, we have changed our Boots Advantage Card terms and conditions and will remove points where the account hasn’t been used for over one year, instead of the current two year period."
How can loyalty schemes help through the cost of living crisis?
Most supermarkets and many other retailers offer loyalty cards. Many give vouchers (usually targeted at products you buy regularly) while others, such as Tesco Clubcard, give you money off a range of products, vouchers and points that can be put towards a shop.
Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at interactive investor, said: “It is also worth taking advantage of supermarket loyalty schemes, such as Tesco Clubcard and Nectar card, which can give you access to unlock big discounts and other exclusive rewards.”
That said, it still pays to shop around - points and rewards do not necessarily mean you are saving money with that retailer.
What is the advice from experts?
Reena Sewraz, Which? Money expert said:
Tesco has stopped issuing paper vouchers - although you can opt-in by updating your preferences on the website. How will this impact shoppers, particularly older people?
“With £17 million worth of points about to disappear, it’s worth logging on to your My Clubcard account to find out if you have any vouchers due to expire, and keep an eye on your inbox as Tesco has said it will contact affected customers via email.”
“The switch away from paper vouchers could increase the chances of shoppers missing out on rewards unfairly especially if they are elderly, vulnerable or don’t regularly access the internet. However, you can opt in to continue receiving your vouchers in the usual way.
“If your Clubcard vouchers are about to expire, you’ll need to spend them in-store, online or with one of Tesco’s partnerships or you could lose them if they are not spent within the two-year limit.”
Boots are introducing a policy that you will lose your points if you don't use your card in a year. Could this, again, impact older shoppers, or those who may shop in bulk but infrequently?
“With finances already being stretched to the limit by the cost of living crisis, putting a shorter time limit on a benefit in this way has almost certainly disappointed loyal Boots customers who were emailed about the new rules.
“Up until now, all points on an inactive Advantage Card were stored for up to two years. The new one-year time limit is set to be introduced in mid-June of this year, so if you haven't used your card in a while, you may need to use it again to keep any points that are already on it.”
How can customers make the most of loyalty card schemes amid the cost of living crisis?
“One way of making your loyalty card work harder is to maximise the points you earn. Keep an eye on the store's website to spot the opportunities. For example, 'double-up' or 'bonus' events offer extra points in selected categories.
“When it comes to spending your points, most popular points-based loyalty cards have a very low return. It pays to research offers before you take them up, to make sure that what looks like a good use of points really is.”
Are loyalty schemes worth signing up for?
“If saving money is your main motive then loyalty cards are no substitute for searching for good deals.
“However, if you are already a loyal customer you may as well enjoy the perks of having a loyalty card but you should never use it as the sole reason to shop in one place.”