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The true cost of a free lunch: £500-worth of supermarket loyalty points needed to buy a meal deal

  • The true cost of a free lunch: £500-worth of supermarket loyalty points needed to buy a meal deal
  • An average spend of £10,300 needed at 3 major UK supermarkets to get a free weekly shop
  • A bottle of suncream bought with loyalty points would set you back over £1,000 on average
  • You’d have to spend an average of £500 to get a meal deal for free

1 July 2020, LONDON –

The three major supermarket loyalty schemes in the UK can provide good offers and promotions, but shopping comparison website has revealed the eye-watering amounts that you need to spend before you could get a range of items for free.

Someone with a loyalty card at Tesco, Sainsbury’s or Morrisons would need to spend an average of £10,300 to get the UK’s average weekly shop amount of £62* for free.

Sainsbury’s and Morrisons loyalty programmes give you 0.5p for every £1 spent, meaning that you would have to spend £12,400 to earn enough points to cover a £62 weekly shop. This would take the average shopper 4 years.

Tesco customers are rewarded with 1p for every £1 they spend, meaning it would cost £6,200 and take nearly 2 years to get a free weekly shop.

If you were hoping to get a free meal deal worth £3 at any of the stores above, you would need to part with an average of £500. However, at Tesco, it would cost £300 to do this, which is half of the £600 needed at Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

On average, you would have to spend a hefty £10,700 to earn enough points to be able to get an Oral-B Pro 2000 electric toothbrush (or the closest alternative) costing £60, for free. The cost rises to £12,000 at Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

With summer approaching, many of us will be stocking up on suncream, but in order to get a 200ml bottle of Piz Buin sun cream worth around £6 using your loyalty points, you would need to part with an average of over £1,000.

To use loyalty points to buy the £10.50 Nivea face cream, an average spend of £1,700 is required and to get a free tube of toothpaste costing 90p you would need to buy £146 worth of items on average.

To see the research in full, visit:

Commenting on the findings, Georgia-Rose Johnson, shopping specialist at said:

“Loyalty schemes can be a good way for consumers to access great deals and offers but as our research shows, they differ a lot and may not always be the best deal out there. Research we did in 2018 found that 46% of Brits spend extra at supermarkets to be rewarded with more loyalty points, and this is something that customers should be careful of.

“If you have already earned enough points to buy the item you want, then this is when loyalty points can work really well. However, if you are having to spend more to get enough points to get a discount or even to get the item for free then, in the long run, the item will have ended up costing you far more. Plus, the item could be cheaper at another store so it’s always worth doing your research before making the purchase.”


The study looked at the three most popular supermarket loyalty schemes in the UK that allow points to be spent on any product (Sainsbury’s Nectar, Tesco Clubcard and Morrisons More). analysed what the monetary value of loyalty points was for each company. These figures were then used to calculate how much money would need to be spent in-store to earn enough points to buy a range of items at their RRP.

*The average UK household spends £3,224 on food per year (figures from ONS), meaning an average of £62 is spent on groceries per week.


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The information in this release is accurate as of the date published, but rates, fees and other product features may have changed. Please see updated product information on's review pages for the current correct values.

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