Tesco Clubcard cashback deal: what's the catch? 

Clubcard

The world of 'something for nothing' appears to have become even more rewarding. The cashback website, Topcashback, has done a deal with Tesco Clubcard, which enables you to exchange cashback earned on the website for Clubcard points - with an added bonus.

So is this as good as it looks?
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The deal

The website works like others of its type, when you shop online through the site you earn cash. You actually buy from the retailers you normally buy from, but you click through to them from the cashback site in order to earn money.

The amount of cash you earn depends on the deal with the retailer, and at the moment includes things like 1.01% from Next, 3.03% from M&S and up to 5.05% from Asda Direct.

Normally you would get this paid out in cash, but under this new deal, once you have built up a pot of cashback, you can exchange it for Clubcard points - with an extra 5% on top. So, for example, £10 becomes £10.50.

Extra value

This can be spent in store, or you could scan the rewards brochure and get more value for your points. So, for example, you can get a day's entry to Thorpe Park for £11 in vouchers - compared to £42 in cash. You can get an annual pass to Legoland for £22 - compared to £76.50 in cash.

Or you can exchange £10 in Clubcard vouchers for £40 in restaurant vouchers to spend in a variety of restaurants, including Cafe Rouge, Pizza Express, Ask and Strada.

It effectively means you can turn just under £21 into a pass worth £76.50. Or around £9.50 into £40 of restaurant vouchers.

These are clearly useful deals. If you shop online regularly you don't even need to shop at Tesco in order to take advantage of the Clubcard deals - although you will need a Clubcard. It means you can shop around for the cheapest of everything - including groceries - and still cash in.

So what's the catch?

This is a genuinely good deal, so there's only one warning: these schemes are designed to make you spend money that you wouldn't.

The idea is to get you over-excited about online shopping and spend more than you otherwise would in order to earn the cashback. If you have a specific Clubcard goal in mind, this can be particularly tempting. You may, for example, be desperately trying to build up enough points for a theme park trip before the holidays, and be tempted to overspend in order to do so.

Similarly, the Tesco Clubcard arrangement is designed to look like something for nothing, but if you shop at Tesco, you're paying for the deal, because Clubcard is paid for by profits - which are made by charging you more.

If you are going to buy online anyway - and shop at Tesco anyway - they you should definitely make the most of these schemes - because you're already paying for them. However, the day you allow them to change your shopping habits is the day it changes from being a good deal for you to a great deal for them.

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Tesco Clubcard cashback deal: what's the catch? 

This takes time, but once you know the cost of a phone call, putting the dryer on, or a bag of potatoes, it enables you to judge far better how much you can afford to consume.

Once you know the base price, you are in a position to keep your eyes open for a better offer. If you see a discount you can judge for yourself whether it actually constitutes a bargain. For bigger things like utilities it enables you to do a proper price comparison and see if you can cut your bills.

Don't just assume that the premium range is better, try the every-day brand, or even the basic version and see if you spot the difference. Likewise, consider trading down your supermarket from one of the big players to local markets or discounters like Aldi.

If you plan what you buy to match what you actually cook and eat then not only will you be able to budget far more effectively, but you'll also waste much less and find your money goes further without you having to try.

If you can't think of a way to get your meat for less, consider a vegetarian day once a week. If you can't find petrol any cheaper, then work on making your driving as efficient as possible. The more you can think of clever alternatives the less you will have to make painful cuts to make ends meet.

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