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Tesco Clubcard has become something of a phenomenon in Britain. Without a doubt, it has helped the company in its quest to become the UK's number one grocer and maintain that position.
Tesco Clubcard was first launched back in 1995. At this time, loyalty cards were still being trialled in the UK and many were not as successful as retailers hoped they would be. For example, Safeway's ABC card and Asda's 'Clubcard' both failed to get off the ground and were soon ditched in favour of other loyalty schemes. Fully aware of what happened to its competitors, Tesco took a huge risk launching Clubcard in the first place, but fortunately for them, the card was an instant success and remains very popular to this day.
What is a Clubcard? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Clubcard is blue plastic card, identical in size to a standard debit/credit card. It has a unique Clubcard number printed across the front and a barcode on the back of the card. You simply hand it to the checkout operator when you pay for your shopping and points are added onto your account.
Because people often forget to bring their Clubcard when they go shopping, Tesco have also developed a key fob, which can be used in exactly the same way as the card itself and fits comfortably on your key ring. Many customers now use key fobs instead of the card.
How does it work? ~~~~~~~~~~~~
The concept of Tesco Clubcard is quite simple: it is designed to reward you for shopping at Tesco. For every pound you spend in store, you earn 1 Clubcard point. Although this doesn't sound like much, it is surprising how quickly the points add up. Special promotions throughout the store allow you to earn extra points, and there are many other ways of earning points more quickly too.
The one stipulation of Clubcard is that you need to have at least 150 points before the points are converted into Clubcard Vouchers. You will receive a Clubcard Statement every quarter, and this not only tells you how many points you have, but also gives you a range of vouchers and coupons to spend back in store. Normally, you get one voucher which gives you a monetary amount off your next shopping bill, i.e. for 150 points, you will get a voucher for £1.50, for 200 points, a voucher for £2.00, and so on… You can also redeem your Clubcard Vouchers in other ways, which I shall discuss later.
As well as a money-off voucher, you get a number of coupons. These are normally for products that you buy on a regular basis or on products that Tesco may think you would like to try. Because they are coupons, they reward you with extra Clubcard points, rather than money off your shopping bill, and they also have expiry dates, so you need to use them pretty quickly!
How to Register for Clubcard ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It is very easy to get a Clubcard. Simply pop along to your local store and pick up a card and registration form. The great thing is that you can start using the card straight away, but you do need to register your details with Tesco too. Attached to the card is a form which you simply fill out and send off to Tesco. It asks you to provide a few basic details, such as name and address, as well as some background, demographic data. From my personal experience, I would advise you to register your card as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I made the foolish mistake of forgetting to register the card. Although I was still earning points every time I shopped at Tesco, I never received the vouchers because they didn't know my address!!
How to earn points ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Ironically, you don't have to necessarily shop in Tesco to accumulate Clubcard points. Clubcard itself has a range of 'partner' companies which also allow you to build up points. The list of 'partners' is growing all the time, but the current ones are:
Powergen (1 Clubcard point for every £ spent on fuel)
Marriott Hotels (2 Clubcard points for every £ spent)
Johnsons (Dry Cleaners) (1 point for every £ spent)
Nationwide Auto centre (1 point for every £ spent)
National Tyres and Autocare (1 point for every £ spent)
AVIS (1 point for every £ spent)
MFI (NEW!) (1 point for every £ spent)
The Nutri Centre (1 point for every £ spent)
Recycle (Clubcard points are converted into money which is donated to charities)
In Tesco itself, you will earn Clubcard points when you buy food, electrical items and fuel, but not if you buy lottery tickets or cigarettes (for obvious reasons). Tesco also operate a scheme called 'A little Extra from Clubcard'. When paying for your shopping at the checkout, you will occasionally qualify for coupons displaying extra Clubcard points. These are printed up in receipt form and have a barcode, presumably making them unique to your particular Clubcard number. I recently got one which offered me 25 points if I bought a block of Lurpak butter before a certain date. I like this idea and openly admit that I visit Tesco more in the hope that I get these 'A little Extra from Tesco' vouchers. I know that's really sad!
One other way to earn Clubcard points is to get a Tesco VISA credit card. I do not possess one of these myself, but many people seem to recommend them, because you earn Clubcard points every time you use the card. According to the Tesco website, you collect 3 points for every £2 spent in Tesco and 1 point for every £2 spent elsewhere, so if you use a credit card and regularly shop in Tesco, this is a good way of earning additional points.
How to spend Clubcard vouchers ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As I said before, you don't have to redeem your Clubcard Vouchers in Tesco stores. There are a myriad of different options available. For example, if you don't want to spend the vouchers in store, you can opt to have them converted into AirMiles. This means that you get 60 AirMiles for £2.50 worth of Clubcard Vouchers, and for every additional 50p worth of Clubcard Vouchers you get an extra 12 AirMiles.
If this doesn't appeal to you, then perhaps the idea of having four times the value of your Clubcard Vouchers will. This is an excellent deal which gives you money off a range of products and services. These change all the time, but you can find out what deals you are entitled to simply by visiting the 'Clubcard Deals' section of the Tesco website and typing in how much you have in Clubcard Vouchers or Points. Currently, for example, if you have £5 worth of Clubcard Vouchers, you can get concessions on entrance to English Heritage properties, days out at theme parks, such as New Pleasurewood Hills, and free games of Skirmish Paintball - to name but a few! The possibilities really are endless.
A final few words… ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Even though I do not shop exclusively at Tesco, I tend to shop there more often now than ever before, and the Clubcard has a lot to do with this. As loyalty cards go, it is very flexible and allows you to choose the rewards that suit you most.
However, like with everything, improvements can always be made. For example, perhaps you could be allowed to redeem your points at a time to suit you, like with the Nectar Card, rather than have to wait until Tesco send you Vouchers out every quarter. This would certainly give the consumer greater control. But then again, do Tesco really want the customer to have control..? Probably not! I'll leave the Big Brother debate for another day, I think… :)