Saturday, 13 December 2014

Three UK Loyalty schemes we should join- and others we should not.

They say that there is n such thing as a free lunch. This is not true but it is true that free lunches are very rare.

Loyalty schemes are a hobby of mine. I enjoy collecting them and I enjoy spending them but recognise the value of my points does not really justify the time I have put into them on a purely economic calculation.

Loyalty points can only rarely be earned on the best value products. Their is an art and a science to playing these schemes while not being played ourselves. With skill we can get one over the marketeers and enjoy our free coffee and cake. The secret is not to care too much about the game. Just enjoy it.

At their finest, loyalty schemes can create value out of thin air. They do this by offering things that are of no value to the provider but a great deal of value to us. One example is an airline seat that would otherwise go empty. This is pure loss as far as the airline is concerned. They would rather exchange it for loyalty points than see it go to waste.
A photo posted by Richard Ford ( on

Retailers will only offer loyalty points when alternative options exist. The first photograph is from Floris a gentleman's perfumery that has been plugging on since the 17th century. Nothing quite like it exists and so there is no need for a loyalty scheme. 
The second photo is of Selfridge that is a department store with many rivals. As a result it offers no less than 12 Avios for every pound spent online. This is six times the department store average.

Nectar is the leading UK scheme and it is possible to earn points at many locations. It is also possible to fill in surveys and watch adverts for points but the returns on this in money terms is a joke. Nevertheless by holding a card you will from time to time find yourself obtaining points on purchases you would have made anyway.

Subway is cheap, and would be cheap even if it had no scheme (amusingly their previous stamp based scheme was withdrawn due to forgery which may indicate a lack of ambition among criminals). It is possible to spend Subway points on food which makes them nearly as good as cash. Pick up a card when you next visit or download the app.

Avios is a currency issued by IAG which includes British Airways. Despite this the best use of points seems to be free crates of wine which are very good. The scheme resembles Nectar in may ways but with a greater on line emphasis.

I am disposing of the following schemes as they amount to clutter in my life.

Nandos. This is a slightly more upmarket alternative to KFC that has not greatly impressed me. There is no point in maintaining points in brands we do not like.

Starbucks. Synthetic product that is more expensive than authentic rivals. It is a complicated scheme with a limited point life.


No comments:

Post a Comment

I moderate the comments for spam but welcome contrary viewpoints.