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Most UK travel hackers shop at Tesco! Many even set up their Clubcard accounts to auto-convert their vouchers into miles. But many readers might not be sure whether that is truly the best option for using their Clubcard vouchers. I have only one hard-and-fast rule about Tesco Clubcard vouchers – NEVER SPEND THEM AT TESCO!
What Exactly are Clubcard Points?
Clubcard points are the loyalty currency created by Tesco to reward members of its loyalty programme.
Members receive 1 Clubcard Point for every £1 spent at Tesco (either in store, or online), Tesco Direct, Tesco Wine, Tesco Clothing (F&F), and Tesco Mobile. Members also receive 1 Point for every £2 spent on fuel at Tesco petrol stations. This is not terribly exciting, although every little helps (as the slogan goes). Tesco also offers lots of opportunities to earn bonus points (either directly, or through some of their partners), and this is where travel hackers supercharge their Clubcard balances!
Four times a year, the Clubcard points you have collected over the latest period are automatically converted into Clubcard vouchers; you can set up your account to receive them in the post, or to leave them online.
Clubcard vouchers expire after two years – no excuses! But you can always spend a soon-to-expire £25 voucher on something costing £2.50 – the £22.50 in charge will be refunded to your Clubcard account and recycled into a new voucher on the next statement date.
But what are the Top 6 things that travel hackers should consider spending their Clubcard vouchers on?
Shocked? Uber is a recent addition to the list of Tesco Clubcard reward partners. You receive 3x face value of your Tesco Clubcard vouchers, and can convert vouchers as low as 50p. You can read about Uber’s partnership with Tesco Clubcard here.
For avid users of Uber in the United Kingdom, this reward option is a true 3x valuation. There is no cashback lost, no especially-inflated room rates, etc. You simply receive credit into your Uber account that you spend when using Uber in the United Kingdom. Simples…
You can also earn 1 point from Starwood Preferred Guest for every $2 spent with Uber – or 2 points per $1 spent when staying at a Starwood hotel that night. You do have to stay at least once with Starwood Preferred Guest in a year before you can earn Starpoints from Uber.
2. Anything Else at a Real 3 or 4 Times Face Value
What? Where are the miles? Isn’t this a miles and points blog?
If you and your family occasionally eat out at one of Tesco Clubcard’s partner restaurants – especially those offering 4 times face value – convert your vouchers into token codes. For each £2.50 of Clubcard voucher, you will save £10 on your meal today. Tomorrow you can spend that £10 on airfare without messing around with miles…
A similar concept applies to theme parks, castles, museums, etc. that are listed under “Days Out” on the Tesco Clubcard website. If you ever take your family to places such as these, you should consider saving money today that you can spend tomorrow on travel…
3. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles
£1 of Clubcard voucher will convert into 250 Virgin Atlantic miles. You must convert a minimum of £2.50 (625 miles). At InsideFlyer UK’s standard valuation of 1p per Virgin Atlantic mile, you are receiving £2.50 of value for every £1 of voucher. Or conversely… you are buying Virgin Atlantic miles for 0.4p.
Tesco Clubcard often offers a conversion bonus for Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Lately, this bonus has been a mere 10%, although in prior years the bonus has reached 30%.
Why Virgin Atlantic ahead of Avios? The higher conversion rate for one… But mostly I find it substantially easier to earn Avios than I do Virgin Atlantic miles. So why not leave my Clubcard vouchers in place until I need a reward flight? I can check award availability – which will be different on Virgin Atlantic versus British Airways – and convert my vouchers when I spy a Virgin Atlantic reward that suits me better. (the conversion is quick, usually overnight I receive my miles)
Whether British Airways Executive Club or Avios.com (the UK shopping portal), £1 of Clubcard voucher will convert into 240 Avios. Crucially, your BAEC or Avios account must be registered to a UK address – not a problem for most but some of us have different set-ups.
Again, you must convert a minimum of £2.50 (600 Avios). At InsideFlyer UK’s standard valuation of 1p per Avios, you are receiving £2.40 of value for every £1 of voucher. Or conversely… you are buying Avios for 0.42p. Sort of… if you consider that you could receive £10 in pizza for your £2.50 Clubcard voucher, you would be spending 1.67p of pizza money per Avios.
Conventional wisdom suggests that Clubcard members should hang on to their vouchers and wait for a conversion bonus. Every three months I am sure to read a comment online “I wonder if there will be an Avios conversion bonus from Tesco”. I can’t even remember the last time, can you? Maybe somebody should update “conventional wisdom”.
Of course, if you are on the “grandfathered” old conversion rate from Clubcard to Avios (800 Avios instead of 600), you will be loath to change things!
5. Hotels.com Voucher
I won’t add too much other than to highlight that you would be missing out on two things: cashback and Welcome Rewards. So, if you were to spend a hypothetical £300 in cash on hotels.com (pre-tax), you would receive approximately £30 in cashback (although it fluctuates) and £30 for future use on a hotel night booked through hotels.com / Welcome Rewards.
As a result, your 3x “boost” starts looking a whole lot more like 2.4x. Still reasonable, but lower value than other options…
6. Hilton, Mercure, Novotel, Best Western, etc. Hotels
Tesco Clubcard offers a long list of hotel chains with which Clubcard vouchers can theoretically be spent for 3 times their face value. You can find the list here.
Each partner has slightly different rules for redeeming, and the actual value received is usually less than the headline 3x figure, because “Tesco rooms” tend to have limited availability and slightly higher rates – you definitely aren’t receiving the best prepaid room rate. You will also miss out on cashback, earning points, status credit, etc. You will also need to call a premium rate number and spend several minutes searching for an available room. Have I dissuaded you yet? For a travel hacker who enjoys a challenge, I’m sure there is value to be found from these hotel options, but I have better things to do…
I would be fascinated to know the details about how the entire Tesco Clubcard membership base actually spends their vouchers. But the most astute travel hacker is going to seek the reward option that maximises the actual cash to be saved – this will depend on what you usually spend your money on! But the best Tesco Clubcard reward isn’t always going to be miles, since you can regularly buy those at a discount. Save money today – just not at Tesco! – and buy miles or pay for travel tomorrow…