There are a lot of posts about accumulating Tesco Clubcard points on Head for Points. This is primarily because Clubcard offers a very cheap way of accumulating Avios points and Virgin Flying Club miles without stepping on a plane.
Is this a blinkered way of redeeming your Clubcard vouchers, though? After all, there are a huge number of other partners to choose from.
Let’s take a look at Tesco’s other travel partners.
First, you need to ask yourself ‘What is an Avios point worth to me?‘ – this linked post explains my views. If you settle on 1p, then 1p of Clubcard vouchers gets you 2.4p of value if you redeem for Avios, or (say) 3.6p during a 50% conversion bonus.
Do any other Clubcard travel deals come close to this?
The only other partner is Monarch. £10 of Clubcard vouchers gets you £15 of Monarch vouchers. This is a poor return.
redspottedhanky offers 2x face value for train fares – you are at least cashing out cleanly here, as train tickets are not usually discounted further elsewhere, apart from those operators who offer special deals exclusively on their own websites.
Europcar is 3x but UK only and with restrictions which reduce the value sharply. The various ferry companies are also 3x – I never book a ferry so I am not sure how easy it is to take advantage of other special deals. Megabus and the railcards tend to offer 2x. None of these companies are likely to soak up a large pile of vouchers in any event.
I have read some great stories about people who have had ‘free’ holidays via Clubcard points. Tesco works with many of the top groups at 3x face value, such as Cosmos, Bridge The World, Cunard, Disneyland Paris, Leger, P&O Cruises, Park Resorts, Royal Caribbean, Siblu and Virgin Holidays.
The rules have been tightened over the years, though. Some tour operators have now capped the use of large amounts of Clubcard vouchers. Virgin (who are leaving Clubcard in October) restricts you to £525 of tokens (so £175 of unconverted vouchers) per passenger, and insists on a minimum 7-day flight and hotel booking. Royal Caribbean does not allow redemptions against flights, only cruise costs. P&O has a £500 minimum booking rule, although most Head for Points readers could easily cover that! Cosmos has a limit of £300 per person (£100 of unconverted vouchers) per passenger.
You need to do the sums to see if these deals make sense. How much cheaper can you get the product if you book elsewhere?
This is also the land of small print! You can use Clubcard deals for 300% of face value with a number of hotel groups, including Best Western, Hilton, Macdonald, Marriott, Mercure, Novotel and Thistle.
In general, you are restricted to UK stays, at weekends, paying the ‘fully flexible’ bed and breakfast price. Mercure allows midweek stays ‘subject to availability’. Mercure also has this fantastic clause: “tokens cannot be used for internet bookings and are not valid on prices shown on the internet” which makes you wonder what prices they do use!
Hilton has the same clause. You can, on paper, book ‘worldwide’, but not continental Europe! Or Conrad hotels. Or Waldorf-Astoria properties. Or the Hilton Bath or a few other random exclusions! They also offer ‘limited’ midweek availability.
(It is also worth remembering that you can redeem Avios points for hotels at roughly 0.58p per Avios. This would represent around 1.4p per 1p of Clubcard voucher, or 2.1p with a 50% conversion bonus.)
Fundamentally, I have never been able to get my head around the small print with the non-Avios travel deals. The only one that I know would work nicely is redspottedhanky, but at only 2x face value it is not great.
Am I missing out? If you’ve got any experience of redeeming Clubcard vouchers for travel (or other) deals for genuine bargains then do post below.
(Goldsmiths is a decent one if you have a ‘premium’ branch near you. I got a Mont Blanc pen for 75% off back in the days when Goldsmiths offered 4x, and apart from duty free you rarely see discounting on branded jewellery. Even at the new 3x exchange rate, you could pick up an Omega or Tag Heuer watch for a good discount.)