Tesco has suddenly changed its Clubcard scheme meaning shoppers now get less for their points when swapping them for vouchers with certain partners.
In a controversial move that has angered families, the supermarket giant has written to customers to tell them that in some cases they can now only boost their points to up to three times their value – down from four.
The perk previously meant customers could swap £2.50 in points for a £10 voucher to use in restaurants and on days out with partners including Pizza Express, London Zoo and Prezzo.
Now the same amount of points will get them 25 per cent less, with £2.50 worth of Clubcard points exchanged for a £7.50 voucher instead.
Every little helps: Shoppers will get less value from their points when turning them into vouchers with some partners under the Clubcard voucher scheme now
Customers received emails from Tesco saying: ‘We want to let you know about a change we’re making to the value of the Clubcard vouchers you use with our Reward Partners. Previously your vouchers were worth 2 times their value with some of our Reward Partners – and others were worth 4 times.
‘We’ve decided to make things easier. From today, you’ll get 3 times the value of your vouchers across the majority of our Reward Partners at tesco.com/clubcard/boost. This won’t affect any orders you may have already placed with our Reward Partners that are worth 4 times the value.’
What will your points be worth now?
Tesco has long offered one of the best value rewards schemes out there. It pays shoppers one point per £1 spent in stores.
Each point is worth 1p when spent with the supermarket. This will not change.
You get more value by swapping it for vouchers to spend with its partners.
Previously you could double, triple or quadruple their value with different retailers.
From now there will be a flat-rate boost across all partners of three times their value.
So a £250 spend in store, earning 250 points will be worth £7.50 in vouchers.
Where you can earn points: Spenders will now need to earn more points to get their favourite rewards vouchers
For which partners will the voucher boost change?
Tesco has changed the value for 115 different partners. You can see the full list here.
While the changes will see points worth more with some of its rewards partners, according to Anika Newjoto, editor of shopperpoints.co.uk, only a few Clubcard partners offered the lower value including National Express, redspottedhanky and Megabus.
Are you better off with Nectar?
You can earn Nectar points in more places than with the Clubcard scheme.
The obvious option is in Sainsbury’s stores but you also earn them on spends with Three, Argos, Debenhams, eBay, Asos, Easyjet and Expedia.
Supermarket spends earn one point per £1 and one point for every one litre of fuel.
When spent in stores each points is typically worth 0.5p, but if you spend online you can sometimes boost the value.
There are 125 partners to swap your points for vouchers with. Some offer better value than others.
A £500 spend in stores earns 500 points.
This would be worth £2.50 off your food shop or gets you £3.75 off your food in Pizza Express or £2.50 off a Vue cinema ticket.
See the full list of partners here.
She says: ‘The Tesco email fails to mention, however, that other 2x partners such as Pickfords Removals and Red Letter Days have announced that they will be leaving Clubcard in a few weeks. Some 2x partners – figleaves.com, Spafinder and Treatwell – appear to have been deleted from the website already.
‘On the other hand there are a lot of Clubcard restaurant partners which previously gave 4x the face value of your vouchers which have dropped. This includes some of the most popular Tesco Clubcard redemptions such as Pizza Express, Prezzo and Zizzi. Having these drop to 3x face value is a real blow for many Clubcard collectors.’
When do the changes take effect?
If you exchanged your points under the old values before January 15, your vouchers at the old levels will still be vaild.
But you must make sure to use them before they expire. Going forward the new rates will apply.
Newjoto says: ‘Making these changes with no notice stinks. Tesco Clubcard vouchers have a two-year expiry date. Many shoppers collect them over a longer period to pay for a large transaction such as a Pickfords house move or a celebration spa treatment. It is not acceptable to change the redemption rate from 4x to 3x, or to remove partners entirely, with little or no prior notice.’
Customers are due to receive their next payout in February (they are paid every three months), but unfortunately these will have missed the deadline and customers will only get up to three times the value under the voucher boost perk.
Going forward the supermarket says there will be more ‘improvements’ to come. Its website also says Reward Partner tokens will now be sent by email not by post.
Top ways to boost your Clubcard earnings
Tesco is currently offering customers an extra 1 point for every £4 they spend in stores using its Pay+ app until 28 February. That means a total of 5 points per £4 spent.
What about a credit card?
If you regularly shop at Tesco one of the easiest ways to boost your Clubcard earnings is with one of the supermarket’s credit cards or a current account.
While the rates you get when swapping your points for vouchers will remain the same, opening a credit card or current account to use when spending in stores and elsewhere can help you build up a bigger points pot.
Tesco Bank has a range of credit cards that offer one point for every £4 spent in Tesco and one point for every £8 spent elsewhere. This is in addition to your existing Clubcard points. Therefore spends in store earn a total of five points per £1.
If you are using one to spend on and clock up points the best option is the 29-month 0 per cent interest purchase credit card. After the interest-free promotion ends watch out though as you will be charged 18.9 per cent.
Alternatively it offers a Premium Credit Card which pays double the points. Therefore a £4 spend in store earns nine points and elsewhere you get one point per £4 spent.
It comes with a £150 annual fee but you get 5,000 bonus points when you spend £5,000 in any year and annual family worldwide travel insurance. Purchases are charged at 19.9 per cent.
You can read more about the top credit cards for spending and rewards in This is Money’s regularly updated guide here.
Or a current account?
The Tesco Bank current account offers 3 per cent interest on up to £3,000 plus you get one point per £1 spent at the supermarket and one point per £8 spent elsewhere guaranteed until April 2019.
Combined with your regular Clubcard earnings this means spends in stores two points per £1.
Read more about the account in our guide to interest-paying accounts
THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST CREDIT CARDS