Essentially there are two supermarkets that allow you to earn miles and points via a rewards scheme of sorts. These can be earned in addition to the miles you will earn if you are paying with a travel rewards credit card.
Traditionally, this has been an area that Tesco have had a monopoly on. Now though there is a new kid on the block.
Let’s start by taking a look at a scheme many people will already be familiar with and then I’ll move on to the newly launched option:
HOW DO I EARN
With a free Tesco Clubcard, you can earn BA Avios or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles by converting your Clubcard vouchers that you receive each quarter. You ordinarily earn 1 Clubcard point per £1 spent at Tesco.
If you choose to transform your vouchers into Avios you would receive 2.4 Avios per Clubcard point or you can think of it as earning 2.4 Avios per £1 spent.
Alternatively, you could convert your vouchers to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles at a rate of 2.5 Flying Club mile per £1.
This a nice little bonus for just doing your regular shopping. In truth as I mentioned here, there used to be far more frequent opportunities for turbo boosting your Clubcard points balance but these have dried up in recent months.
SHOULD I SET MY ACCOUNT TO AUTO-CONVERT TO ONE PROGRAM?
In a word, no. Unless you are targeting a specific redemption, I would always leave your Clubcard vouchers as they are until you need them. This offers you the flexibility to convert to BA/Virgin if miles are your thing or other redemption partners if you feel you could get better value elsewhere.
BA and Virgin also run occasional bonuses when you convert Clubcard points. Though these haven’t been as frequent or generous as they once were, there is no point auto-converting your vouchers to Virgin Flying Club Miles, only for BA to launch a 20% bonus that you would have wanted to take advantage of.
This option is a relatively new one that has launched in the last few weeks and works completely differently to the Tesco scheme.
You can now earn 4 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1 spent in-store at Waitrose. It isn’t clear if this going to be the permanent earnings rate going forward but is certainly a great return on your spend. Remember that by comparison, you ‘only’ earn 2.5 Flying Club miles per £1 spent at Tesco.
Edit: The earnings rate now seems to vary. Without being logged in the page shows “From 1 mile per £1” and invited me to log in to view my offer. Upon logging in I was offered an even better 5 miles per £1 – clearly an excellent deal!
HOW CAN I EARN THESE MILES?
You need to log in (or create an account) to the Virgin Atlantic Shops Away portal.
After doing so, you will see a section further down the page labelled ‘Instore offers’ where you will see Waitrose listed as one of the options.
Click on the Waitrose link and you will be invited to register your credit card(s) for this promotion.
When you spend with one of your registered cards in Waitrose, your shopping should track automatically.
You must wait 24 hours after registering your card before making your first (miles earning) purchase.
These miles should show as ‘Pending’ within 5 working days. It seems some people have had some teething troubles with miles not tracking but I would assume this will settle down in due course. Having not heard otherwise, I would expect these miles will be awarded within 45 days as is the case with other retailers on Shops Away.
Not many it would seem. The purchase conditions state:
“Rewards will not be earned on items purchased at Waitrose stores at Motorway Service stations and Petrol Filling stations”.
HOW TO BEST LEVERAGE THIS DEAL
I was quite amused to find that the system was happy for me to register my British Airways Premium Plus (BAPP) card for this offer.
By registering your BAPP card, you would earn a combined 1.5 Avios and 4 Flying Club miles per £1 spent at Waitrose.
Alternatively, if you have the Virgin Atlantic Black Credit Card issued by MBNA which earns 2 Flying Club miles on all Amex purchases, you would earn a total of 6 Flying Club miles per £1. That is a fantastic return.
Tesco Clubcard has long been a good way of generating miles from day-to-day shopping. It is interesting to see Waitrose getting involved with this Virgin miles tie-up and I am curious to see whether the 4 miles per £1 spent earnings rate is here to stay.
Purely from a miles perspective (before I get pelters regarding pricing!) if collecting Virgin miles is your focus, then you are best off doing your shopping at Waitrose. As explained, with the Virgin Black card you could then generate 6 Flying Club miles (2 from credit card + 4 from Shops Away portal) per £1 spent. At Tesco, the maximum you could generate would be 4.5 Flying Club miles (2 from credit card + 2.5 from Clubcard) per £1.
If however, you tend to focus on Avios, Tesco is where you should be doing your shopping.