Points Make Prizes

Palettes

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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