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Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Co-op all offer Christmas schemes, and there’s a trick to get the bonus without risking your cash.

The idea behind these supermarket savings schemes is to help people gradually save up some money that can be used at Christmas when food bills are usually higher.

As an incentive, some supermarkets offer a small bonus, normally between 2% and 6%. It seems like a decent way to get a little extra right?

Well, I’ve a few issues with these schemes which mean I don’t think they’re wise ways to save on a regular basis (more on this in a second).

However, you can take advantage of a loophole where you can get the full bonus paid out and you’d only need to “save” your cash for a day or two.

Here’s how they work, and how to get the best return possible.

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Why I’m not a fan of Christmas saving stamps

First, these are marketed as alternatives to saving at a bank. Well, any money held in a bank is protected if the bank goes bust. If these supermarkets were to go under or you lost the gift card or voucher once it’s been paid out, you’d lose all your money.

You’ve also got less flexibility of how, when and where you spend your savings via these schemes. They tend to require you to spend your stamps in December, and obviously you can only spend them at one retailer.

Not only does that restrict the supermarket you use, but if you have an emergency you can’t use the money you put into stamps for any other reason. You might also not get change from your vouchers, pushing you to buy things you don’t need to hit the voucher value.

In normal years there are also better savings options for people who want help to save regularly in the build-up to Christmas. Sadly those rates have dropped, though it is possible to get up to 3% at via regular savers.

So generally I’d say stay clear. But there is a trick where you can avoid most of the pitfuls but gain the free bonus.

How the loophole works

Here’s the cash hack. The bonus on these cards aren’t paid until a set bonus day. So it’s only the amount saved on that date which counts. Plus there’s no requirement to save each week or month to use these schemes.

This means you can instead pay in as much as you can (up to the set limits) just before the scheme closes. Literally on the final day if you want.

Say you put in £120. You’ll then be entitled to the same bonus as someone who’s saved £10 a month since last Christmas.

Until you do this, you should be paying your money into a high-paying current account. So you’ll have earnt money in those accounts too. Double win!

But just make sure you’re aware of the risks and limitations with each card, such as deadlines to spend the money on your supermarket Christmas card.

The Christmas saver schemes

I’ve explained each of the main schemes and their deadlines below. But before you try this trick out yourself, do make sure you can spend the amount you save at that supermarket in the time given.

We are talking about small amounts of money unless you buy multiple cards. So it’s only worth the effort if you are shopping at those retailers anyway.

Asda Christmas Savings Card

You can collect your card in-store, and then register it online.

The deadline to add funds onto an Asda Christmas Savings Card is 5pm Sunday 15th November 2020. The bonus will be applied by 8am on Monday 16th November.

The bonus increases the more you save

  • £1 bonus when you save between £30 and £79
  • £3 bonus when you save between £80 and £129
  • £6 bonus when you save between £130 and £179
  • £9 bonus when you save between £180 and £229
  • £12 bonus when you save between £230 and £279
  • £15 bonus when you save £280 or more (max amount per card)

With this and all the other schemes, those savings are not cumulative. So put £80 on the card and you’ll only get £3, not £1 for the first £70 and another £3 for getting over the £80 threshold.

However, you don’t need to put the money down gradually – you can do it in one lump sum. So the most effective way to do this is to keep your cash in a savings account, and then to pay whatever you can afford on the 14th or 15th November, to earn the bonus.

With the highest level (£280) it’s the equivalent of 5.3% extra free. If you only save £79 it’s 1.25% extra.

There’s no limit to how many cards you can have. This could be useful if you’re short of hitting the bottom of a new level. For example, it’s better to have two £30 cards than one with £60.

Also you can use them all year round, not just in December.

BEST VALUE: £280 earns £15 = 5.3% bonus

Tesco Christmas Saver

There isn’t long left to pay into Tesco’s 2020 Christmas Saver, as the deadline is 20th October 2020. If you’re thinking of saving into it, here’s how it works.

You can top-up your Clubcard points throughout the year at the checkout or customer services till, from 50p to £360. Bonuses are up to 6% and are calculated as follows:

  • £1.50 bonus when you save between £25 and £49.50
  • £3 bonus when you save between £50 and £99.50
  • £6 bonus when you save between £100 and £199.50
  • £12 bonus when you save £200 to £360

You get the top-ups and any bonuses sent as vouchers in your November Clubcard statement, alongside any Clubcard vouchers you’ve earned. You can then spend them in Tesco online, in-store or on petrol. You can’t boost them with Clubcard partners.

The bonus voucher is only valid for two months and expire if they are not used. And they won’t be replaced if lost.

The larger top-up vouchers (i.e. the money you add to your account) are valid for two years, so there’s no rush to spend them at Christmas.

BEST VALUE: £200 earns £12 = 6% bonus

Morrisons Christmas Savers

The Morrisons scheme is linked to the Morrisons More loyalty scheme. You can buy stamps in store, but it’s all digital so you will need to go online to monitor and manage your savings.

The cut-off point to buy stamps is midnight 31st October 2020, The total saved and bonus added will be converted into a voucher to use in-store or online. You have to select on your Morrisons More account which you want. If it’s in-store you have to collect them yourself.

You have to use it between 6th November and 31st December 2020. You also can’t get change from a voucher. So if you have a £100 voucher you need to spend £100 or more in a single transaction at the till.

The maximum bonus you can get is £6. It’s calculated as follows

  • £1 bonus when you save between £49 and £96
  • £3 bonus when you save between £97 and £145
  • £4 bonus when you save between £146 and £193
  • £6 bonus when you save £194

The biggest return is £3 when you spend £97 or £6 when you add £194, gaining you 3%. I’d be wary of adding too much to this card as you need to spend your voucher in a single transaction, and there’s the end of 2019 deadline to spend it.

BEST VALUE: £97 earns £3 = 3% bonus

Co-op Saving Stamp

You buy actual physical stamps with the Co-op scheme. Each stamp costs £1 and you put them in a booklet which you can use at the till whenever you want.

But to get a bonus (£2) you need to have filled a full book, which is 48 stamps. Hand this over at the till and you’ll get £50 knocked off your bill. That’s the equivalent of 4% extra. This bonus is only available in December, though you can use and buy the stamps every month of the year.

There’s no limit to the number of cards you can have, so you can have multiple cards to add stamps to. But make sure you don’t lose your cards as there’s no protection.

So the best option here is to buy 48 stamps just before you want to shop. Stick them all in, then hand it over. As with Morrisons, you will need to spend the full amount. So that’s a shop of £50 or more.

BEST VALUE: £48 earns £2 = 4% bonus

Iceland Bonus Card

This scheme from Iceland runs all year so isn’t technically a Christmas scheme, but the loophole works the same. You get £1 for every £20 you add to your account, worth 5%.  The bonus should be added within 48 hours.

At various points in the year, often in Novembe, Iceland gives a double boost, so it’s £2 for every £20 you add, making it worth 10%. If it runs again it’s worth looking at.

You can pick up a temporary card in Iceland stores, and will be posted a full card once you register online. You’ll also currently get a £2 bonus when you do this.

There’s a limit of £1,000 that can be added to your card and cards expire 24 months after you last use them.

BEST VALUE: £20 earns £1 = 5% bonus

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