Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

What I have learned about ‘loyalty’ and ‘deals’ in the first week of Shopper Points

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Ten days ago, I launched Shopper Points.  This is a site devoted entirely to Tesco Clubcard and Nectar and is designed to help the many, many people who come to HfP looking for Clubcard deals but are put off by the frequent flyer focus.

All of the best Clubcard deals will continue to be covered on Head for Points, but Shopper Points will cover all bonus point offers.  We – and I genuinely mean ‘we’, as I have someone helping me write it – will also be desperately trying to find some value in Nectar for the Sainsbury’s shoppers out there 🙂

Anyway ….

To launch the site, I booked some Facebook advertising.  This was targetted at people who had shown an interest in Clubcard and the ad promoted my exclusive TopCashback sign-up deal.

What could go wrong?  I was showing an advert to people who are already interested in Clubcard, offering them 1,000 points for joining TopCashback.  TopCashback, remember, is a business with 4.5 million existing members and is one of the fastest growing private companies in Britain.  If you choose the free option, it doesn’t cost you a penny to join.  Who could be unhappy about that?

Suddenly, however, I start getting comments posted on the Facebook ad.  (The ad was technically a post and could therefore be commented on.)  ‘Scam’.  ‘Must be a scam’.  ‘Seems too good to be true, must be a scam peeps’.  ‘Scam’ etc etc.

These were comments posted by people who had been shown the ad in their feed.  Without actually bothering to read about the deal, they decided to diss it.  Not one person actually gave any reason for saying what they said.  These are people who had already shown an interest in Clubcard, remember.

This has never, ever happened with any Head for Points article.

It set me thinking.

Shopper Points - Header

Let’s look logically at some of the deals I discuss on HfP.  Let’s take the Hilton Visa card, for example.  This gets you a free night at ANY Hilton Family hotel when you spend just £750 – a pretty easy stretch for most people in a full-time job.

This bonus is worth £250 if used properly, ie at an expensive Hilton, Conrad or Waldorf-Astoria.  On that basis, why haven’t 2 million people taken out this card?  Why doesn’t everyone in the UK travelling to New York get this free card, spend £750 and get a free night in a suite (the hotel is all-suite) at the five-star Conrad?  A couple could get two cards and get two free nights.

Let’s take something more straightforward.  Amex Gold is free and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points.  Even if you ‘waste’ them by redeeming for Amazon gift codes, you will still get £100.  OK, hitting the spend target on this card is harder but it is still £100 for almost nothing.  For someone on the average UK salary of £26,500 (£81 per day net) we are talking about 1.25 days of salary for 20 minutes work of filling in the form and cancelling the card later.

When I go into John Lewis, I am bombarded with people desperate for me to take out a John Lewis credit card – for which I will get a £10 sign-up bonus.  Hilton will give you something worth 25x as much.  Amex Gold is worth at least 10x as much.

Why do these deals never go mainstream?  I know that frequent flyer schemes are complex – this site wouldn’t have much to write about if they weren’t! – but the Hilton and Amex Gold offers are straightforward.  The personal finance sections of the newspapers don’t cover them, even though they get excited about a free £10 John Lewis voucher.

As I found this week, the very idea that a company may be giving away 1,000 Tesco points as a marketing incentive is seen as literally unbelievable by some people.  Logically it is sensible marketing by TCB, especially compared with an expensive TV or press campaign which would cost them far, far more per new sign-up.

In the frequent flyer circle, we ‘get it’.  We understand why companies offer deals, even deals which seem remarkably generous.  Even Qatar Airways £800 business class fares to Asia make sense when you know they have a high sunk cost (a plane), a perishable product sold in a small market (business class seats from Copenhagen) and modest variable costs (low fuel prices). It isn’t really ‘something for nothing’ when you know how the business works.

Similarly, TopCashback knows after all these years how much revenue it will make from the average new member over the first few years.  If they can sign people up for, say, 50% of that cost (ie the cost of the Clubcard points) then it makes perfect sense.

Do the wider general public fail to understand how business works?  Or have they been burnt by too many dodgy deals in the past?  Whatever the reason, the reaction I got to my Facebook advertising this week was absolutely not what I expected.

Comments (110)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Jeff says:

    One word, Facebook. Says it all. Never mind Avios, Avoid!

  • Elena says:

    Unfortunately it is a very common reaction. When I write to my audience about such deals many consider it to good to be true. I don’t blame them to be honest first they don’t know and second if you spend 1 hour on Facebook looking at what adverts run you will see many are scam or trying to sell you thin air. People are very scaptical because they have been bombarded with all that other stuff so they inclue you in this category too.

    Shame and I think their loss but it happens.

  • Jono says:

    It’s very easy to say ‘just spend £750, or £2k in 3 months’ to get the benefit’ but many people won’t have the oppurtunity to direct their spend in that way.
    A salary of £26k equals take home pay of £1730. Take out rent and bills and all of a sudden, there’s not a lot left to hit the spend target.
    Don’t get me wrong, I have a handful of cards and churn my AMEX Gold. Whilst it’s simple in theory, in practice it takes a bit of juggling.

    • Tilly71 says:

      So you don’t spend £750 on groceries and other things that can be paid for by a credit card in three months? Even the most frugal of us would spend £250 a month on things paid for by a CC.
      2k in three months is pushing it for some but can be achieved if you had something you had to pay for something med to large anyway. I mean if your that stuck for hitting a spend target, buy grocery gift cards to make up the shortfall.

    • harry says:

      You’re forgetting manufactured spending, old son

  • Nick G says:

    I wouldn’t stress over it Raffles, Facebook is the devils work causes problems on so many levels……as much as I and others applaud you for routing and fully exploiting credit cards/hotels/flight offers etc I give trying to explain to friends and think why bother its their loss not yours.

    For example I ONLY lease cars never ever buy them why, trade in values are a joke, new car, no mot’s for 3 years, new tyres etc etc the trade it in and start again. When I try and explain to friends the benefits they assume it must be a ‘scam’.

    A friend of mine inisists on saving £20k plus every three years to buy a car outright, trade in his old one, pay CASH out then start again. I’ve told him numerous times to stop wasting his cash and seek out deals and save his money. Instead he then doesn’t have the cash for decent holidays, so he flies Y to wherever. He went to AUH grand prix a couple of weeks ago told me all about the Y seat on the Etihad A380 and how good it was, but the line that cracked me up was “They even had free booze”.

    Oh dear….I get frustrated but then think your loss….as I say don’t stress life is full of nutters!

  • Ed says:

    For some people the concept of spending £20 on blinkbox books for £20 club card points (etc) seems crazy – which I deem a perfectly good thing. If numbers taking up the offers were greater the deals would probably be less generous.

  • Mark says:

    Don’t get me started on the general public and deals. The majority just don’t get them and have no idea what goes in to running a business and the cost aspects.

    We see it all the time in my industry.

  • Anon says:

    But surely hitting a spending target is only buying goods that you want/need and would normally buy anyway???

    It’s that case the points are free (in terms of cash spent) and a bonus?

    • Kathy says:

      Then don’t buy them. If you only buy what you would normally then you don’t lose anything.

      It’ll just take you a lot longer to build up a big Avios balance…

  • Simon says:

    Many people think too good to be true deals must be scams. add that to the average nonsense on facebook and not surprised so few took it seriously Raffles.

    I have signed up to many many deals advertised on here, and loved the benefits.

    I do think some of the smaller ones aren’t worth the hassle. Even if it is only 5 minutes work. For a few pounds benefit I cant be bothered. Madness to some Im sure…..

    • Rob says:

      When I started this game, over a decade ago, I did do all the small things. I was single and had the time. That is why I still cover the small things, because I remember the person I was and I know that there are many HFP readers like that.

      Now I just do bigger stuff. I did a mattress run to the Holiday Inn Brent Cross on Monday to ensure I got my 80,000 IHG Accelerate bonus points, because that is £400 of value and I will take that, thank you very much!

      • Simon says:

        I live 5 mins from BX. Im trying to think if my wife would accept £400 as a just reward for me disappearing for the night…. I think she would have spent at least that online by the time I got back as compensation!

      • Kathy says:

        Obviously everyone makes their own time + effort = benefit calculation.

        For me, planning my trip to New York next year and wanting to fly business, going ex-CPH is worth it, because the benefit is Club Class return flights worth over £2k (which I would never actually pay) for a cost of 34K Avios + £500 (that includes a night in a hotel and one-way flight, planning to go hand-baggage only and miss my connection on the way back) + an extra day off work. I will earn c. 10k Avios back.

        The alternative was 80k Virgin Flying Club miles + £472. Or flying in economy.

        That’s worth it, for me, because I have plenty of holiday and usually don’t manage to use it all up in the year. If I was travelling with my friends who don’t get the same amount of holiday and have to fight to get time off, it wouldn’t be, because that extra day’s holiday is more precious than the experience of flying Club.

        • Richard says:

          Couldn’t agree more, Kathy. Going ex-EU is worth the extra day off for me, especially with the sometimes laughable low costs to get there in the first place from my neck of the woods (using MAN or BHX). Going to the US/Canada frequently this way has been a boon.

        • Leo says:

          It’s horses for courses obviously and it depends on how much disposable you have, time off work – how much a missed day’s pay equates etc. I’m very lucky – self employed, can take off lots of time etc. I went club to JFK last week ex-Dub. I reckon I saved about £850 after a return Y to DUB from LCY and a night in HIX. Actually from leaving my house to getting to the hotel in NYC it took 32 hours….I was away for 4 nights. Would I do that again? No – I was knackered when I got there. I’m going again in June. Virgin redemption UC LHR-JFK. I had planned to do the last leg to DUB etc. as it was paid for and I’d have got the points. Couldn’t face it! Was even resigned to them whipping all my points back….

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.