TESTING OUR LOYALTY

OVER the past 10 years, driving instructor Bill Plant has saved a massive 14,467 buying cars for his driving school. How? By using his GM credit card to pay his bills. Bill, 49, from Ripon, North Yorkshire, has just saved 2,000 on two Vauxhall Corsas worth 18,600 that hes just bought for his driving school. The GM credit card gives discounts on new Vauxhall or Saab cars at a rate of 3 for every 100 spent on the card. So the 80,000 Bill clocked up on his card earned him a handy discount. But you dont have to spend that much to make savings - the average cash saved last year for people with a GM card was 1,089 on their new cars. Dozens of credit and shopping cards run rival loyalty schemes to attract and keep customers. They vary from the good, to the not-too-bad to the downright ugly, as our table below shows. But the GM Card is working well for Bill. Running a big driving school I need to buy a lot of cars, he says. I put all my spending - business

and personal - on my GM card which has given me a discount of 500 on about 23 of the cars Ive bought in the past 10 years. Lately the card has been offering a double saving if you buy two cars at the same time which saved me 1,000 on each car. Loyalty schemes can be a powerful weapon in t

he battle for customers. Its no accident that Tescos market share increased considerably since it launched its Clubcard scheme 11 years ago It has since doubled up by offering a Clubcard credit card which gives shoppers double poin

ts at Tesco and points when you shop elsewhere. The Air Miles loyalty scheme, which offers flights, hotels and holidays, is another of the good ones which recently got even better. It has slashed the number of Air Miles needed for a flight to Paris, Rome or Venice by over 30 per cent. It claims you now need spend 1,667 in Tesco to get a flight to Paris compared with 2,600 youd have to spend in Sainsbury using the rival Nectar card to get a similar air tick

et. Loyalty cards have never been so popular or plentiful. One in four shoppers has at least one and a fifth have two or more. But fewer than one in three have redeemed their points or claimed any cash back on their cards in the past three months. And many never bother. Some schemes offer points or cash vouchers which can be spent in the shops making it easy to work out how much you get back for each 100 spent. But others, such as Air Miles, which offer free flights, CDs and other products and services are harder to pin down. Some, such as Boots apply only to money spent in its store. Others, such as Nectar, allow you pick up points from different providers. So, although its points are worth less than Boots, you are likely to accumulate them more quickly. WE SAY... LOYALTY schemes cost the retailer a fortune to run and there is little doubt many customers would prefer it if the firms scrapped them and used the money saved to slash prices. Then we wouldnt have to carry so may bits of plastic in our wallets either... In the meantime, if you choose to shop with firms offering loyalty schemes youd be daft not to

cash in on them, especially as youre paying for the cost of running the scheme, whether you like it or not. Loyalty credit cards are a different matter. They may have higher borrowing charges than other cards. If you repay in full every month, that may not matter. But if, like most people, you pay interest, at least some of the time you should go for the cheapest card instead. THE GOOD, THE NOT BAD THE UGLY BOOTS ADVANTAGE CARD: More than half of all women in Britain have one. It offers 4 worth of points which can be spent in Boots for every 100 you spend. And allowing for regular double points offers, it is equivalent to a saving of 6p in the on av

erage off what you spend in Boots. AIR MILES: If youre a frequent flyer or traveller this takes some beating. Especially if you use a credit card which offers Air Miles as well. GM CREDIT CARD: IF you like Vauxhalls this is hard to beat. And the discount is on top of any discount from your dealer. TESCO CLUBCARD AND CREDIT CARD: Used together, they will save you 2.25 on every 100 spent in Tesco. CO-OP DIVIDEND AND CREDIT CARD: Used together, the cards save you 2 on every 100 spent in Co-op shops. The divi will soon depend on how much profit the Co-op makes. The hope is that it will be worth more than now. NECTAR AND AMERICAN EXPRESS NECTAR CREDIT CARD: At 1 in every 100, not quite as valuable as Tesco but you can earn points in more outlets, inclu2020第68期跑狗图 ding Sainsburys, BP and Debenhams. VIRGIN MONEY: This credit card offers points which can be redeemed for Virgin products or good and services in its shops. But youd have to spend 3,000 on your card just to earn enough to buy Coldplays latest album. So unless youre a big spender XY could be a golden oldie before you get to play it. MORRISONS MILES: Spend a lot on petrol at Morrisons petrol stations and you get a 5 voucher to spend in their shops. After more than a year of doing so, Ive so far had only one voucher.

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