As I have mentioned previously, Tesco Clubcard points are an excellent way to boost your Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles balance.
I wrote here about how you can earn as many as 3.9 Avios or 4.5 Flying Club miles per £1 when you fill up with petrol. I also took an in-depth look at the Clubcard scheme in this article here.
My preferred use of Clubcard points has always been converting them to either BA/Virgin as I felt I could get maximum value this way. This was as opposed to using them via other partners such as Goldsmiths, Pizza Express or Evans Cycles. Yet, with the introduction of two interesting new partners, I need to once more question the wisdom of sending them to BA/Virgin without a second thought.
(Note: Throughout this article, I refer to both Clubcard vouchers and Clubcard points – they are one and the same. At the end of each Tesco ‘quarter,’ your Clubcard points balance is converted to Clubcard vouchers and are then available for redemption).
What are the changes?
Last year Tesco announced plans for a significant face-lift to its Clubcard scheme. These changes have so far seen the scrapping of their semi-regular ‘Boost’ offers and the next phase of changes has now been revealed.
Here are the key developments:
The changes include the launch of a new, contactless Clubcard, which enables customers to simply tap at the checkout to add their points. Tesco began sending replacements out to customers last Friday.
Sign-up & voucher access
The retailer has also made significant improvements to the Tesco Clubcard app. New customers can now use it to sign up to Clubcard straight away, while they shop in-store.
Existing customers can access their vouchers at the checkout, at the touch of a button. Although I hope I can help readers find a better use for their vouchers than simply redeeming them at face-value in-store.
This is a really interesting one. Firstly, the minimum amount of Clubcard vouchers you have to convert has been lowered for some partners. While previously you had to convert at least £2.50 of vouchers, redemptions start from as little as £0.50 of vouchers for partners such as Uber.
Uber will offer 3x value for your vouchers, meaning £0.50 in Clubcard vouchers gets you £1.50 of Uber credit. This is on the face of it and excellent redemption.
How it works
I tried the out the process on Friday and all went smoothly:
Within a couple of minutes, I had two emails. One was simply a confirmation of my order and the second contained my Uber ‘promo code’.
All I had to do was open the Uber app and click the Payment section. I then selected the ‘Add Promo/Gift Code’ option and pasted my code in. The credit was immediately added and showed in the payment section as a credit.
Now, this had the potential to be a very interesting option for redeeming Clubcard points. But I reckon they’ve messed it up. Let me explain.
The principle looks great: Redeem a minimum of £5-worth of Clubcard vouchers which would get you a voucher worth £15 at Hotels.com.
But in practice, it looks like the terms and conditions are so prohibitive that you would have to work hard to successfully redeem your points. It also doesn’t help that they are updating the T&C’s every time I check back to the Hotels.com section on their site!
When details of these new changes were first unveiled last Wednesday, the page on the Tesco website had no cap listed for the number of Clubcard vouchers you could redeem per order, there was also no mention of any hotels that were excluded or any limits regarding what you could use the voucher towards.
Since then the T&C’s have been updated and include:
- You cannot use your voucher to pay for taxes and fees. This amount will be highlighted on the final page before payment.
- A maximum of £165 in Clubcard vouchers can be converted into £495 worth of Hotels.com vouchers per redemption.
How it works
Once you have ordered your Hotels.com voucher on the Clubcard site, you get sent a code by email. This happens pretty much instantly. Remember that order is non-refundable.
I did a test booking for a one-night stay in London:
So far so good it would seem – my discount code was successfully applied. Except there was a link that appeared just below the code that, when clicked, brings up additional T&C’s including:
- You can only use this coupon once and in full. You won’t be able to use it again, even if you cancel your booking.
That means even if you book a refundable room rate on Hotels.com you will lose your voucher (discount) if you cancel and rebook!
You can view these T&C’s in full here.
But it gets worse. Deep within that list it states that these Clubcard vouchers can only be used at participating hotels.
Non-participating hotels include:
- Waldorf Astoria
- Hyatt Hotels
- Ritz Carlton
- Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
- Six Senses Resorts & Spas
- Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
- Marriott Hotel Group
I could go on and on. Here is a link to the vast list of non-participating hotels.
What is also odd is that the hotel I tested this code on; The Hyatt Regency London, The Churchill is a Hyatt hotel and therefore meant to be excluded from this offer under the T&C’s – yet the discount code still works?!
Should you stop converting to Avios/Virgin miles?
So this is the question. The addition of Uber offers you the opportunity for a real 3x value from your Clubcard points. If you are a regular Uber user this may well appeal to you instead of ‘automatically’ sending your vouchers across to either BA/Virgin.
The Hotels.com offer, on the other hand, looks more trouble than it’s worth. I am disappointed that no mention of the non-participating hotels is made on the Tesco website itself. Many people will be converting their Clubcard vouchers, only to find that the hotel they were after is excluded – by then, of course, it is too late to as you cannot convert the hotels.com voucher back to Clubcard points.
You also won’t earn any Hotels.com Rewards on a stay in which you apply a voucher towards your booking.
It is always welcome to see options being expanded with flexible currencies such as Tesco Clubcard points. The other minor additions such as contactless clubcards are also an improvement.
As far as the new partners are concerned, I would steer clear of the Hotels.com offer, for the time being at least. I have a feeling we haven’t heard the end of this and expect to see additional clarification in the T&C’s on the Tesco website itself in the coming days/weeks.
The Uber partnership though gets a thumbs-up and I will have to consider my Clubcard conversions more carefully from now on – a good problem to have!