Points Make Prizes


Loyalty schemer Debra Brock on her love of beauty point rewards

One day, not long after Boots launched their Advantage scheme, I was swaying at the checkout in a post-natal sleep-deprived fug, paying for my then regular essentials: nappies, anything with Johnson’s written on it, Galaxy chocolate. The assistant handed my Advantage card back and cheerily revealed that there was some £30 on it, to spend on pretty much anything in store. I dragged my bleary eyes across the signage. Toothpaste…meh. Depilatories… Skin Care…hnn. Chanel. CHANEL.


A points enthusiast was born.


These days, I may have a special plastic wallet in my bag to store double-up and bonus point vouchers in, but I wouldn’t call myself, you know, an obsessive. Not like my friend who has a garage full of loo rolls and drain cleaner that a leading supermarket apparently ‘paid’ her to buy.


But I do get great pleasure from working the points. Especially at this time of year, when reward schemes can meet sales to make sweet, sweet bargains.


Boots is still where I do most of my beauty shopping, although nowadays I’m more about shampoo and serum than baby bum cream. The base deal is 4 points for every pound spent, with each point being worth a penny, and you can use any points you collect as you go. They regularly send out bonus coupons, so you can often double up or more on certain transactions.


If you want to know what’s in it for the retailer, I’m a case study in rewards schemes breeding the kind of loyalty rarely witnessed outside particularly hardcore divisions of the Mafia. As well as my regular beauty spends, I buy my glasses at Boots, I’ve bought a washing machine and a telly from them too (which scored me the points needed for Dior’s Incognito palette, so totally worth it) and am currently livid that I failed to claim 250 bonus points for getting a flu jab there.


The drawback with Boots, though, is that you can’t get stuff by combining cash and points – you need enough points to fully pay for an item. If you’re after a mix and match deal, have a look at Debenhams and Space NK which both run schemes at the more generous end of the beauty loyalty scale. Both of these are what I call ‘threshold schemes’. Debenhams’ Beauty Club card, for example, has a base collection rate of 3 points per pound, and once you hit a threshold of 500 points this gets converted into a £5 reward to spend either in store or online. Given that this is a threshold scheme, I tend to wait until they run one of their bonus points promotions, which happen pretty frequently throughout the year, so that I can amass enough points for a reward in one hit.


Space NK has a loyalty scheme called ’n.dulge’. Oh, I do. And not n.frequently. You only collect a point for each quid spent, but just 100 points earns you a £5 reward. Top spenders, spending over £1000 a year, get bumped up to deluxe membership and get £10 for every 100 points.


Other beauty loyalty schemes include Superdrug’s BeautyCard, House of Fraser’s Recognition Rewards scheme, Liberty Loyalty Card and Escentual’s Pretty Pennies, all of which allow part-payment for items with points / rewards.


If the points junkie life appeals, and you’re not unduly skeeved out by the prospect of retailers harvesting your detailed purchase history for their own dark purposes, start by looking at the pros and cons of each scheme, select one or two to really focus on and make sure you’re on the mailing list for any bonus points events. Check whether you can redeem points immediately or need to hit a threshold for a reward, and also how long the points / rewards last – some expire after as little as six months. And while you’re signing up for all these schemes, don’t forget to look into cashback sites like Quidco and Topcashback to use alongside them.


I’m off to Boots for a hairdryer. The dryer’s a gift. But the points should see me over the line for the Chanel Oiseaux de Nuit palette. Rewards schemes. Everyone’s a winner.

Debra Brock
Debra Brock is co-founder of salihughesbeauty.com and a contributing writer.
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  • clementine buttercup

    Love my n.dulge and Boots advantage card. Unfortunately my husband has cottoned onto the latter and uses my hard-earned points to buy his Clinique moisturiser. I’m keeping schtum about my Space NK points!


    • Debra Brock

      Sensible move!

  • Lizzie

    ‘And not n.frequently’. I ACTUALLY snorted!
    As a student my points often paid for much needed meal deals… However, the mention of *effectively free* Dior and Chanel has me wincing at choices past!

    • Debra Brock

      Hey look, needs must. I also used them for free nappies when I needed to. Chanel beats Pampers though if you can spare the points.

    • Cee Jay

      This cracked me up too – pure gold!!

  • Clare

    Hi Debra. Whilst I LOVE beauty more than is healthy, I have to say that I absolutely loathe points cards. Here’s why: Company’s use loyalty schemes to unfairly inflate the price of goods. They also keep your personal data and sell this data to third parties. I know this because I am a retailer buyer and have seen these details first hand. I have also inflated the costs of goods in the weeks/months leading up to an in-store loyalty promotion. Your purchasing information really is gold dust information for companies, which they are effectively getting for free. In the US, details of loyalty cards are frequently used in family law and divorce cases – I really can’t see it being that long before the same thing happens over here. It scares me. Our personal data is very precious and worth so much more than a few quid off here and there on beauty buys. I really would rather pay full price! I know I’ll be in the minority here and sorry for the ranty-ness. I love SHB.com! x

    • Debra Brock

      Don’t apologise for the rantiness – your points are very valid. I don’t sign up for anything and everything for this reason (I used to work In retail too) and I always double check I’ve ticked every privacy box on the form. There’s been famous examples of companies totally overstepping the mark, and I know what a fine line it is.

  • Hollie

    I hate the ones where the points expire. Fair enough after a couple of years, maybe but 6 months?

    • Sarah_004

      Me too, I have given up on House of Fraser becuase of it.

      • Minty

        Me too…

  • Annelie

    I’m a points junkie too, and the Boots Advantage card is one of the things I miss the most about living in the UK. And great writing Debra, I really n.joyed it! x

    • Debra Brock

      Thank you x

  • SailingLass

    Boots and Debenhams are both really good, Boots is favorite as the points do not expire and you can save for a really good treat (like electrical beauty items, two so far and on my way to number three). Although the reward expires at Debenhams after 6 months, the points do not and keep carrying forward until you amass the next reward. For those of you that like Clarins, as I do, the rewards on their website are damn good too. £1 a point, 120 points = £15 voucher!

  • Rooty Tooty

    I loved this article and the Boots Advantage Card points scheme. I’m well aware it may be being used to market profile me and since I’m really good at ignoring targeted marketing and advertising I don’t really mind. Like Debra I always tick the boxes to reduce the amount my information is sold to third parties. I’ve worked in retail as well and am very cynical about the cost inflation schemes and offers, 3 for the price of 2, BOGOF and others. They happen everywhere and the truth is I hold off buying what i need and exploit them whenever I can as well. I do appreciate finding out about ways companies do this stuff though as I believe if you are well informed you can make better choices.

  • Bekahbea

    Excellent piece, Debra, and I do love your wry humour. As for the cards,you are me and I am you and I claim my 250 bonus reward points. I have a whole deck of loyalty cards (garden centre, Nectar, Costa Coffee and Jamie’s Deli as well as pretty much all the department stores, Space NK and Boots). Boots kindly gave me the Burberry limited edition gold palette for Christmas; so sweet of them.

  • mahmud

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