Everything you need to know about supermarket shopping points ahead of Christmas

Do not put too much store in the benefits of loyalty schemes, says finance columnist Andy Webb.

Sainsbury’s has recently come in for some flak from customers angry that the annual ‘Nectar Double Up’ event won’t run in 2021.

Meanwhile, some of my favourite ways to ‘boost’ Tesco’s Clubcard points have disappeared in recent years, and Morrisons controversially dropped its entire points-based scheme back in May.

Instead, all three supermarkets have shifted focus to giving loyalty members extra discounts on popular products.

So are points now pointless? Well not quite. If you can earn them on your spending then I still would.

But I wouldn’t put too much focus on these schemes and I’d never shop somewhere just for the points — they’re just not worth much.

You’d need to spend £100 at Tesco to get £1 back in Clubcard vouchers and double that at Sainsbury’s for £1 of Nectar points. Boots is more generous — a £25 spend will earn a quid in Advantage points.

Yes, all are better than nothing, but only if the contents of your basket aren’t available for less elsewhere in the first place.

So choose your supermarket based on something other than a scheme — whether that’s price, location or quality.

Sticking with supermarkets, we’re about to enter the payout period for Christmas savings schemes.

With these you put money away month by month and by winter you’ve a pot of cash available to spend on your festive feast.

It comes with an extra boost of up to 6%. Far better than what you’d get in a savings account. Sounds good, right?

Well, I’m not a fan of these if you use them as they’re designed. For a start, the money isn’t protected — it would be in a bank — and you can’t access it earlier in an emergency (again, you could if it’s held in a bank). But there is a way to avoid these risks and still get the added free cash.

With each scheme you can actually pay in a lump sum right before an autumn deadline rather than throughout the year.

Your savings plus the top-up bonus will be paid out as a gift voucher, so make sure you don’t put in more money than you can spend — some of the vouchers will only last until the end of the year.

The key deadlines are:

Tesco: October 20

Morrisons: October 30

Sainsbury’s: November 1

Asda: November 21

Best options for savers

A better option for monthly savings is something called a regular saver. Though some might lock your money in for 12 months, others let you access the cash as you need it.

The highest paying one is for new and existing Natwest or RBS customers. Both offer a Digital Regular Saver with a rate of 3.04%. You can save £50 a month and the interest will only be paid on the first £1,000 in the account.

Account: Natwest or RBS Digital Regular Saver
Interest: 3.04% variable
Limits: £50 a month / interest only on first £1,000

Account: Coventry Building Society Regular Saver
Interest: 1.05% variable over 12 months
Limits: £500 a month/30 day interest penalty for early withdrawals

Account: Nationwide Start to Save
Interest: 1% variable for 24 months and entry to quarterly prize draw
Limits: £100 a month

For more saving offers head to becleverwithyourcash.com/savings

Who to follow

A few weeks ago, YouTuber Anna R joined me on my Cash Chats podcast to talk about some of her ‘side hustles’ – the ways she makes extra cash outside of her nine-to-five.

She’s earned enough to clear her debts and she’s now working towards financial freedom. You can watch her regular videos on her Panda Boss channel on YouTube.

ANNA’S TOP SIDE HUSTLE: ‘A lot of survey sites are very time-consuming for little reward, but check out prolific.co for surveys that are definitely worth the time input…’

Deal of the week

Over-55s can get a will drawn up free of charge this month. Just search for a participating solicitor near you via freewillsmonth.org.uk.

If you’re younger you can book now for Will Aid next month, where you will pay £100 to charity — that is still a decent saving.

Andy is an award-winning blogger and podcaster from Be Clever With Your Cash. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram via @andyclevercash

If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

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