Is this prepaid debit card worth using for your spending?
After closing down all Tesco Bank current accounts, Tesco has launched a new way to pay whilst still earning Clubcard points. It’s called Tesco Clubcard Pay+ and here’s what you need to know about it.
What is Tesco Clubcard Pay+?
Despite the similar name, this is nothing to do with the Tesco Clubcard Plus membership scheme.
The card also also isn’t a replacement for the Tesco Bank current account. Rather than a place for you to do all your banking, it’s mainly just a way to pay.
Effectively it’s a prepaid Visa debit card. You need to connect your bank account to the Tesco Bank app, and then use this to top up the Clubcard Pay+ card. It can take up to 24 hours for money to appear in the new account.
This means you can only spend what’s on there. If you run out of cash the transaction will be declined. You’ll need to add more money and try again.
Tesco is also trying to encourage customers to use the card as a way to save and earn rewards – more on these in a moment.
You can’t set up Direct Debits out of the account. And since there’s no sort code or account number you also can’t receive payments. There’s also no overdraft facility.
Since it’s operated by Tesco Bank you’ll get full FSCS protection on any money put on the card or held in savings.
Applying for Tesco Clubcard Pay+
You can apply for a debit card online via the Tesco website. You need to be over 18 years old and a UK resident to get the card. You’ll also need a Clubcard – though that’s free to get. You can have a maximum of two per person.
Since it’s not a bank account there’s no hard search on your credit report, though there will be a soft check to confirm your identity.
Tesco says it’ll take up to seven days for your debit card to arrive.
At the moment it’s a phased launch with limited availability – so you might get rejected if they’ve run out of cards. The full launch is planned for early 2022.
Earning Clubcard points
The big sell from Tesco is the ability to earn Clubcard points with all spending on the card, not just at Tesco – though this is quite limited.
Spending at Tesco
In Tesco stores, the Clubcard Pay+ debit card replaces your existing Clubcard and you’ll just get the same one point per £1 spent. There are no extra points as standard, though the welcome offer gives a temporary boost.
You won’t earn points on
- tobacco or tobacco related products,
- prescription medicines,
- infant formula milk,
- Tesco gift cards,
- 3rd party gift cards,
- saving stamps,
- in-store concessions
Though this sounds like no change, I think using the card for Tesco purchases will actually lose you cashback or rewards. You’re much better using a separate Clubcard to get the exact same point per £1, and then earning another 1% on top with a Chase Bank current account or up to 1.25% back from an Amex credit card.
At all other retailers you’ll get one Clubcard point for every £8 spent. That’s the equivalent of 0.125% back on each transaction – but only if you spend multiples of £8. If you spend £5 you’ll get no points (so 0% back). If you spend £15 you’ll get just one point (so 0.067%. back).
This is a pitiful return. Even if you manage to boost your Clubcard point value, at best that’s 0.375% back. Again you’ll beat it by paying with the best cashback cards.
For the first 100 days you’ll actually earn double Clubcard points for every £1 you spend in Tesco and on Tesco Fuel. That works out as 2% back in points. There are no extra points for spending at other retailers.
Round Up savings feature
When you do use the debit card, you’ll also be able to use a round up feature to send money to savings pot. Your change (calculated to the next pound) will be moved over. So say you spend £23.80, the remainder of 20p will be deducted from your overall balance.
The feature is automatically switched on when you activate your card, so you’ll need to use the Tesco Bank app to turn it off if you don’t want to use it.
Other banks also offer this feature, along with a full banking experience. Or you could connect your current account to an app like Plum instead.
Is Tesco Clubcard Pay+ any good?
I’m not really sure what Tesco is hoping for with this card.
The Clubcard points feature is either exactly the same as using your standard Clubcard in a Tesco, or so poor at other retailers that I think it’s a waste of time. Even the welcome boost is a waste when compared to other ways to earn cashback.
The ability to round up isn’t any kind of selling point either. And if you did like the idea of it, you’re probably better using a different provider. And better still, put it in an account where you’ll earn interest.
So if it’s not for people wanting to earn extra points, and it’s not for people looking for ways to save more, who is it for?
All it leaves are those who like the idea of a prepaid card. Something that gives them to ring-fence supermarket spending on a single debit card so that cash can’t be spent elsewhere.
But once again, this feature is available with other digital banks, most notably the new Chase Bank account.
And since Tesco Clubcard Pay+ is only accessible via the Tesco Bank app, it’s not even as if this debit card will appeal to those less tech savy.
All I can say in Tesco’s favour is that this is still a trial. So perhaps there will be more features when it’s fully launched. I’m not holding my breath though.