Loyalty has a premium - is the new M&S card for you?
Loyalty schemes - they're bloomin' great if you don't mind committing every last penny you earn to a specific business; less so if you're fickle in your spending habits. Not all of us are willing to sink several grand into one particular supermarket for a new toaster, or flights to an unpronounceable former Soviet republic.
So what to make of the new Premium Club from Marks & Spencer? Well, you'll need a M&S credit card before you get started. You'll then receive:
- three points per pound spent on the credit card, for on all M&S purchases in-store and online
- double points on all other spending on the credit card
- worldwide multi-trip family travel insurance, including cover for cancellation and winter sports
- £120 worth of vouchers for coffee in M&S cafes
- "M&S Premium Club vouchers for a whole range of other exclusive gifts, treats and delights throughout the year"
The snag is that membership of the Premium Club comes at a price - specifically, £120 a year. If you really, really like their coffee, then perhaps you're already keen to sign up, but how much extra value does the Premium Club offer? If you're not already spending a decent chunk of money at M&S, not a great deal.
First, you need the credit card, which carries the obvious risk of acquiring more debt. Then there's the actual value of earning points on your credit card purchases. Each point is worth a penny, so triple points mean you'd need to spend £4,000 on M&S purchases alone before you claw back the £120 fee. However M&S already offers a credit card without a fee that pays one point per pound, so in fact you need to spend £6,000 at M&S in a year to make the Premium Club membership worthwhile.
But what about the family travel insurance? That could be of some value to you, especially if you're keen on skiing holidays. However the insurance is through AXA, who would normally charge around £221 for annual multi-trip family insurance that includes the US and Canada - four times more expensive than the likes of Flexicover, who'll charge £56.50. That said, Axa offer more cover, up to 45 days' worth.
And of course there's the delicious coffee, but M&S figure you won't buy the coffee without plumping for a slice of cake or some other extraneous item that swells their coffers.
This is a loyalty scheme in every sense of the word; if you're a dedicated fan of Marks & Spencer with the means to shop there, and have a family to feed, then spending £100+ on the weekly shop isn't difficult. If that's the case, and you're in the market for premium travel insurance and like treating gran to coffee and cake on a Saturday afternoon, then buying into the Premium Club makes sense. If you spend £6,000 a year at M&S and £6,000 elsewhere, then the card pays for itself, plus you'll earn £120 cashback, and enjoy the insurance, the coffee and assorted gifts for free.
However, if your weekly shop is £60 a week at Tesco, you're strict about your fortnight away on the Costa Brava and both grans went up in smoke some time ago, it's definitely not worth changing your life for.