Loyalty cards and in-store vouchers reduce your ‘big shop’ outlay

One of the few business models to flourish during the pandemic is the supermarket.

With the possibilities of eating out, there was a jump in sales, especially during the lockdown. We found ourselves cooking all our food ourselves.

For stores, it’s all about customer retention. How do you stop a shopkeeper from going elsewhere for his ‘big shop’? Generally speaking, our trolley carries the same goods every week. For staples like detergent, bread, milk and vegetables, does it really matter where you buy?

Supermarkets were the first to recognize loyalty cards as a way for shoppers to return. The first, introduced by Tesco in 1995 in the UK (1997 in Ireland), was an instant success. Now lakhs of Clubcards are being tapped every day at its stores. Most retailers have, but is it the case that loyal is the last thing you need to be?

Surely by switching between brands, cards and points, you can gain all the way?

Research shows that it doesn’t just benefit customers. Stores record which products customers buy for their target needs and wants. Loyalty programs are actually an act of market research.

Tesco says its product has evolved over the decades, from credit card style to key fob, these days, app. “Our one million Irish customers can receive coupons, special discounts on certain products, use of the scan-as-you-shop tool and additional personal savings for use at Christmas,” he says.

So, what else is out there, and should you make the switch? Are there loyalty schemes that you are not even aware of? What are ‘bounty partners’ and should you talk to them as well?


Stores that have loyalty plans are based on spend, with €1 generating one point. While points can be accumulated to give money-off vouchers, in some cases they can be swapped for other services with different companies.

For example, the Tesco Clubcard currently offers three months of Disney+ membership when you build up to €9 in points. In addition, €5 can be converted into an adult ticket at Odeon cinemas, which costs twice as much.

Dunes Stores Value Card holders are often offered €10 at a grocery store over €50.

SuperValu Rewards has tied up with Electric Ireland to earn extra points by paying the bills. There is a current offering of gift cards for supermarkets when you switch energy providers.

Lidl, the most recent morph, takes a different approach to ‘unlocking’ discounts rather than creating points in store or during checkout.

Figuring out which plan can really save you money when you’re shopping. But it’s also important to be disciplined because many deals give you an incentive to shop for other things as well.

If you have the time (and energy), you can make the best use of your loyalty plan by switching between stores as you are constantly notified of discounts.

Supermarkets are not allowed to offer points or benefits on certain purchases, including lottery tickets, baby formula, tobacco products, tickets or alcohol.

coffee shop

Your caffeine fix is ​​the least likely to reward you. Frank & Honest/Centra Loyalty Card gives you your 11th coffee free after 10 purchases.

Starbucks offers three ‘Stars’ for every €1 spent. To get a free drink you will need 150 (it costs €50!).


Aer Lingus offers Aer Club plans for frequent travelers and those who book hotels through its app. There are four levels and each gives you ‘avios’, with three avios for every €1 spent.

Ryanair has yet to launch its frequent flyer program, according to CEO Michael O’Leary, but will likely base it on a paid subscription option rather than point-building.

According to simple flight Magazine, a €199 fee will buy free upgrades, priority boarding, etc., but travelers will need to make 10 flights or five round trips before making the savings.


The market leader is Boots. It also has a range of discounts on its app to suit individuals and online shoppers, with a generous four digits for every €1 spent.

An example would be an additional 500 points for a €50 spend, double points for certain number 7 purchases or triple points on branded products.

Allcare Pharmacy’s loyalty plan offers one point per €1 spent (1C).

Life Pharmacy also offers one point for €1, plus 200 points on sign-up and 200 points on your birthday. Heaven Pharmacy also offers a similar deal with 200 points on sign-up.

By law, points cannot be accumulated or spent on prescription or listed drugs.

Bank and Brand Relations

Permanent TSB has a decent loyalty scheme on Explore Current Accounts. It offers 10c back when you use your debit card (max €5 per month), which will somewhat offset its monthly account fee of €6. It partners with companies including Sky, SSE Airtricity and Circle K for savings, such as 5 pc cash back on bills.

Bank of Ireland has entered into a reward tie-in with Aer Lingus through its Aer credit card. You can earn €267 in benefits like upgrades and faster passes, but the card costs €7.99 per month as fees. It also has free travel insurance, as do many full service credit cards available from banks.