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Take advantage of this handy loyalty card!
Easy to use, the points add up pretty quickly, easy to check your balance
You can't part pay for items with points
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- Introduction/Why did I sign up? -
It must have been around about a couple of years ago I decided to apply for an advantage card. I tend to not use many loyalty cards as I'm suspicious that if you have them, you subconsciously end up telling yourself to only buy certain items from the shop just to get the points on your card, which doesn't necessarily mean that your getting the best deal (you have to be careful!). However, it dawned on me that I was regularly shopping in Boots, at least two or three times a month for mainly boring essentials including toothpaste, mouth wash and feminine hygiene products. I would also look in Superdrug and Sainsburys but Boots is closer to home and overall the prices would be either the same as the other shops or they'd be slightly cheaper, plus I think they tend to have more offers such as buy 2 get 1 free and suchlike. Anyway because of this, I decided to make an exception and apply for an advantage card, having bought so many items in the past and having cashiers ask me if I have a card and then hearing good things about the loyalty card scheme online, so I decided to check it out.
- Applying/Getting the card -
Instead of applying in store, I applied online, which was quicker and easier for me as my handwriting is pretty bad but anyway you can apply online via the Boots website (see:- http://www.boots.com/en/Advantage-Card/New-to-Adva ntage-Card/Sign-Up/), or you can get an application form in your local branch of Boots, otherwise you can apply by phone (see the URL for more information).
Once you've filled out and sent off/submitted the application, you'll have to wait a few weeks, around 2 to 3 weeks, for the card to arrive in the post. You can start to earn points without the main card though, if you fill out the application form it should have a barcode on the back which can be used as a temporary card in the meantime, so thats an advantage.
- How does it work? What do I earn? -
Like most other loyalty card schemes, all you have to do to start earning points is to hand your card over at the till before you pay for items. They'll swipe your card and all the points your entitled to (which obviously depends on how much you've spent in that transaction) will be credited to your account there and then. This card is apparently one of the most generous (I can't specifically vouch for that as I don't have or really pay attention to other such loyalty schemes but it does seem pretty generous) ones around, currently offering 4 points for each pound spent.
Its worth pointing out that I thought you couldn't gain points by topping up my mobile phone credit at the till but I tried it once out of curiosity a few months ago and it worked! which for a £10 topup gives you a decent number of points, so now I'll only top up my phone by going to Boots, to me its well worth it for the extra points, considering I can't really earn any extras by topping up via other methods, so this does encourage me to go into the store when I otherwise wouldn't.
You can also gain points by making purchases on the Boots website (http://www.boots.com) too, just remember to register your card details before purchasing anything so the points will be added to your account.
- Rewards -
One real advantage of this card is that its very clear how much money you can save in store by using your points to pay for items. One point is the equivalent of 1p, so if your balance is 136 then that means you have the equivalent of £1.36 to spend in store.
If you're wondering what items you can spend your points on, the answer is almost any, apart from gift certificates, baby milk, stamps, prescriptions and gift vouchers. If you want to be sure that you can spend your points on an item then simply glance at the items label and if it has an asterisk next to it, that indicates that you can spend your points on it.
One big warning I should make here which I mentioned in the diasadvantages is that you can't use points as part payment for items - so if you want to buy something that costs £5.00 and you only have say 200 points (ie. £2.00 worth of points), you'll have to shell out the whole £5.00 to buy it - though don't forget to still give the cashier your card so you can still earn points for buying the item, you just can't get any money off it from the points you already have. This is a bit annoying for me at times, sometimes I end up with quite alot of points, like at the moment I have around £3.50 worth of points but the mouth wash I want is £4.00, so its not much use but after I buy one or two more items, I'll have enough points to allow me to buy it for free the next time I need another one, so its not too bad, its just something worth baring in mind.
I also tried to pay for something at the weekend with both a few paper vouchers which I had and also with points on my card and the cashier said you couldn't use both methods to pay for the one item, so that was a bit of a shame but I wasn't too concerned about that, the points would only have paid an extra £1 or so and I had the change on me anyway.
Also worth mentioning is that there are usually ATM looking machines in larger Boots stores which aren't for withdrawing cash, instead you put your advantage card into these and the machine will let you know if you qualify for any special rewards and give you the option to print out vouchers etc. Also every so often I've seen mentioned on the Money Saving Expert website that Boots are giving away large amounts of points and the only way of knowing whether you've won is to go to one of the larger stores and insert your advantage card into one of these machines where it should tell you whether or not you're a winner, so its worth checking the machines every so often.
- How can I check my balance? -
This is easy - simply keep your latest receipt from Boots (presuming you use your advantage card for all your Boots transactions), which clearly states how many points you earnt and what your updated balance is at the bottom of it. You can also sign up for Boots.com and give it your card number and it will also display your current points balance, so you can check it online.
- My verdict -
This seems to be a good loyalty card/scheme. While I should maybe feel guilty that I have, as it happens, fallen into the trap of automatically shopping in Boots for some items just to get the points, I don't feel too bad about it as I do try to compare prices when im in other similar shops and I haven't noticed the same items being cheap enough elsewhere to make it worth shopping there instead. Its handy for me as there's a Boots store in my home town and in almost every other town I regularly shop in and its quick and easy to gain points by handing the card over when paying for items. I have, since I received the card, managed to get a few items for free (mints, mouth wash, toothpaste etc.) which is great and I like that my points balance is clearly stated at the bottom of each receipt I get. I find its easy to keep track of my cards balance and the points do slowly add up, so I would recommend using this loyalty card, as long as you already shop in Boots anyway and know that the items you buy there are at least roughly the same price as they tend to be elsewhere.
Its not perfect, it is a bit annoying that I can't use points for part payment for items and it does make you feel like you have to brand loyal to Boots which I'm not 100% keen on but otherwise I'd say that this is well worth getting as its easy to apply for and use and within a couple of months of regularly shopping, you should manage to get something for free with the points, which you wouldn't have had, had you not signed up for the card - can't argue with that, right?!.
I hope you found my review useful, thanks for any and all reads, rates and comments. This review was originally posted on DooYoo UK.