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Having been a Shell Smart card user since its launch in 1994, I thought it would be worth considering how the new "Pluspoints" scheme compared in terms of what you got for your money.
In 1994, each £6 spent earned you 1 airmile. If you spent £11.99, you still got 1 airmile.
In 1998 the scheme was changed to reward you for each pound spent, but, quite fairly I thought, the exchange rate went down to 1 airmile for every £8 spent.
The Pluspoints scheme quite cleverly removes the direct link between poonds and miles. Now you receive 1 point for every litre of fuel purchased (so the sweeties and drinks that make petrol stations viable are no longer included). For every 1500 points, you receive 100 airmiles. If you consider that a litre of unleaded fuel is between 75 and 80p (for now!), each airmile costs between £11.25 and £12. In one stroke, the value of this scheme has been practically halved.
To put this in perspective, if you were to fill up at Sainsbury's and pay with your Sainsbury's Visa card, each airmile would cost £3.13.
I believe that it's good of Shell to reward their customers when buying something we would buy anyway, but it is a bit sad they have decided to be so miserly (because now I have to buy much more to get my free holiday!).