Are loyalty cards like the SubCard all that rewarding?

bitterwallet - subcardAvid Bitterwallet reader Matt found himself dropping into Subway on the way to his weekend match of the season:

I immediately noticed that prices had bumped up a little, but that's the way of the world nowadays, so I sucked it up and bought my usual belly filler.
When paying I noticed there were some SubCards sat on the counter.
I grabbed one gleefully and wondered if they had reprised their old stamp reward service, but in a more technologically advanced form.

The SubCard is also available as an iPhone app - surely that means it's already better than the paper book of vouchers Subway used to do with buy one, get one free offers? Nah. Once home, Matt decided to check up on the value of his newly beloved SubCard - the detail is hidden away amongst the FAQs:

What are SUBCARD® loyalty points and how do I earn them?
Loyalty points are our way of rewarding you for being a loyal SUBWAY® customer. You will automatically earn points every time you make a purchase at participating SUBWAY® stores and have your SUBCARD® scanned. You earn 1 loyalty point for every 10p [UK] or 15c [ROI] you spend.

What can I redeem my SUBCARD® loyalty points for?
500 points can be redeemed for a regular 6" Sub, wrap or salad and with 1000 points you can redeem for a regular 12" Sub.

In other words, you need to hand over £100 to Subway to claim a 12 inch sub. To claim a 6 inch sub (which costs as little as £2.29 through the Sub of the Day deal), you'll need to spend £50 over the counter. You'd have to buy the Sub of the Day 23 times in order to receive another one for free.

Loyalty deals are obviously nothing new, but they seem to have lost their way in recent years; in March, Costa Coffee scrapped their "buy 10 get one free" card and replaced it with a points-based scheme that's the equivalent of ordering 20 coffees worth £2 to get the 21st free.

So what do you do - spend the neck-end of £100 for a free sandwich and coffee? Or follow the bargains, wherever they happen to be? You know the score, frugal citizen.


  • Marky M.
    I make me own sandwiches (cost approx 40p) and drink out of puddles (free). Beat that Greggs.
  • PokeHerPete
    Subway was good value when they had those little voucher books, looks like they wont do them any more. I tend to replicate the Subway experience at home now, including not to confuse the "Sandwich Artist"(in this case myself) by not requesting more than one ingredient at a time.
  • keveh
    Those stamp vouchers were life saving when I was a student. That was back in the day when there were only about 10 Subways in the whole of the UK. Surely with them being such a success the can reward customers a little more than they are doing with the SubCard. The profit margin must be huge on those sandwiches.
  • M4RKM
    Sod the voucher books, I remember when you bought a 6" sub and got 1 stamp, 6 stamps, and you got a free 6" sub, now that was a deal.. the trick with the subcard, is to walk around the office, take orders and money from people, and end up with a shipping order of £20 worth of subs... then you'll get a free foot long for yourself in a matter of DAYS... M
  • Mr M.
    Subway have got the branding and are screwing as much profit out as they can. Very similar to ebay in that respect, but there are at least some good alternatives. Stop going there and you wont be ripped off by them!
  • Alex
    Of course you're still getting something for nothing (other than your loyalty), so STFU?
  • PaulH
    I'm heading there this afternoon for my lunch - I always wondered what those cards were at the front of the till - I wont be taking one this time, robbing bastards!
  • Gadget 4.
    Cafe nero have a good one, buy 9 drinks (any size or type) get the tenth free. The free one can be any size and any drink. If you are an addict like me that's one free large coffee every two weeks.
  • Matt
    Crikey I'm famous! @Alex: That is all well and good, it works out as a 5% saving, but their prices have gone up about 15% over the summer, probably with this reward programme in mind.
  • Jonny S.
    Yeah...just don't go there...
  • The B.
    Subway = Reconstituted meat from unknown sources, why on earth would you eat that voluntarily?
  • Max
    Although, this is still a better deal than the Tesco Club Card, which only gives you £1 for every £100 spent, or £2 at most if you get double points. However, many people spend £100 over a few weeks in Tesco to get ALL the things they need. You're not likely to spend £100 in Subway in 6 months! So relatively the Subway offer is an insult based on how much they want you to spend in a place that only sells rolls!
  • Ben
    Speaking of rip-off loyalty point schemes, shows how HMV force you to spend £3,500 for the chance to win a holiday worth about £2k. Bastards.
  • Mark
    The Caffe Nero deal is great, and they do decent coffee as well, so win all round. Coffee Republic also used to do a similar deal, and great coffee, but all the branches in Central London seem to have closed down (I presume the company's gone to the wall as yet another recession casualty).
  • Fiyero
    Cafe nero have a good one, buy 9 drinks (any size or type) get the tenth free. The free one can be any size and any drink. If you are an addict like me that’s one free large coffee every two weeks. That is how it used to work at Costa too before they made it 'better' by including non coffee items in the sums but meaning you'd have to buy twice as many coffees. Subway stamps were similar too but that was stopped because people were selling the stamps by the reel so they made their new 'better' version where you have to buy 3-4 times as many sandwiches to get a free one.
  • Rob
    Starbucks have a good offer with their cards, including free refils (in america at least, some to come to england I hope), 2 hours of free wifi, and free extras when you buy just one coffee. I buy brewed coffee for 75p, as I get a further 25p off with my own cup. Thats nearly half price, or buy ONE and get one free. Beat that subway!
  • Adam
    The original article highlights the lower scale of the rewards system by pointing out you need to spend £50 to get a £2.29 sandwich free, but by spending £50 you can also get the top priced 6" sandwich (£3.59 at my local) for free. That works out at over 7% store credit in effect (though limited only to sandwiches, not drinks, crisps, cookies, etc). The deal also applies to wraps and salad bowls, which can further push the value to over 8%! Granted, there are better deals about, but over 8% isn't the worst return you'll find. You also get double (maybe triple?) points for a few weeks when you first register, so the first freebie will come faster than you think. I agree with those that say it is something for nothing, and takes less than a minute to register online. Seems a reasonable deal for carrying around a little plastic card with you, particularly for regular subway goers. @Matt - The only items at Subway that have nationally (with the exception of some Liverpool stores) risen in price by 15% are the daily Sub Of The Day offers, which went from £1.99 per 6" to £2.29. That price aside, Subways can charge pretty much what they like on a store-by-store basis as they are franchised and owened by different people!
  • Gerry
    To be honest I don't see why people are saying they wont get a SubCard. If you go for your lunch one a week or so then your as well grabbing the points and then when you get enough you will have a free sub! If your spending money in the shop you should just get the points too. Its not going to affect your life at all! Its just one tiny card that fits in a sleeve of your wallet!
  • Ian
    The Subcard is all well and good, if they register your points in the first place! I checked my points the other day and it said I haven't used it since October, but I know for a fact that I've used it at my local Subway twice in the last 3 weeks! I've yet to take this up with them, but based on their Muppet-like response to other queries I've put their way, I don't hold out much hope...
  • James W.
    The pricing is quite clever and not yet mentioned above. You must spend 10p per 1pt not 9p. So 2.29 is only 22 points not 23 or even 22.9, in other words it's rounded down. If you only ever buy the 2.29 sub of the day you will have spent £2 in those 9p's which earned 0pts which means you'll only save 29p on a sandwich you have had to buy 23times to get for "free". A cookie is 49p = 4pts Coffee 1.19 = 11pts This is a con. A ft long sub, toasted with all the trimmings is $5 in the states or around £3. No fads just a good deal. That's customer service.
  • eve
    thats actually not true, this article is false because ive got a subcard, ive had it for about 1 or 2 months and already i have 952 points. ive only been about 6 times during this 2 months and i already have that many and i only get a footlong chicken on italin as a meal deal so clearly you get more that 1 point for every 10p. just saying.
  • James
    Getting free subs is easy now, every time I go there I get the £5 deal (footlong sub and drink for less than the original price of the sub) and I get 150 loyalty points for each transaction. 7 subs = 1 free sub. Pretty good deal if you ask me.
  • kieran c.
    if you are the only one in your friendship group with a subcard and get everyone to pay with it, its worth it and if you go to subway even once a month in the long run its better getting a free sub than not getting a free sub, this is stupid: "Posted by PaulH •August 18, 2010 at 12:19 pm I’m heading there this afternoon for my lunch – I always wondered what those cards were at the front of the till – I wont be taking one this time, robbing bastards!" as i doesnt cost to own one and you dont have to pay more for your subs, if your going to subway but dont want a subcard you are pretty stupid because as time goes by it will pay off. To call them "robbing bastards" when the purpose of the card is to give you free subs although it persuades you to buy more so they can make a larger profit is ridiculous because if you are a lover of subway its a win win and I dont see how that makes them "robbing bastards".
  • Free O.
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  • paul
    I'm a subway franchisee. Interesting points raised in the posts - And I will feed them bacl. Honestly this is not some ploy to rob or dupe you! It was done as an honest way to reward our customers who were upset that the old stamps were withdrawn (withdrawn because of potential fraud - i.e. employees nicking loads of stamps and selling on ebay!) one post points out, in conjunction with the £3 / £5 deal at the minute its a cracking deal!
  • Jon
    It's still something for free - I wouldn't use it as a reason to go to SubWay rather than somewhere else, but if I'm getting 20 subways over a period of time anyway then I may as well get an extra after 20. I think they're missing the point, though - if I could get a free sandwich after 4 I'd be in there every day. If I could get a free one after 10 then I'd probably go most days... as it is, I just gather the points when I'd be buying a SubWay anyway, so they're not gaining any loyalty from me.
  • Rob D.
    If like me you work surrounded by macdonalds kfc and chip shops subway is a better alternative as they offer the salad bowls i go a couple of times per week for lunch and end up with a couple of free salad bowls a month for just flashing my phone. it costs you nothing and the points dont expire so worth having in my opinion and its something Maccys and KFC dont offer with their heartattack in a box meals.
  • Big S.
    I think Subway's prices very fair. £3.00 for a 6 inch, very tasty, reasonably healthy sandwich and a soft drink is good. Especially when compared to other fast food alternative such as McDonalds where I need to spend about £5.00 to be satisfied. The only other well priced alternative for me is Pound Bakery where I can get a sausage roll and a meat and potato pie for £1.00! For someone who will buy 1 or 2 Subways a week anyway it is definitely worth getting a card, especially if you go with friends who don't have a card ;)
  • Martin
    Go tesco buy a 36 inch baguette and packet of ham or chichen and salad and make ure oen which will be less then a 12 inch sub at subway
  • SLee

    What are SUBCARD® loyalty points and how do I earn them?

    If you are making a purchase in a store in the Republic of Ireland you will receive 10 points for every £1.50 you spend on your SUBCARD®. For every transaction in the UK or Northern Ireland you will receive 10 points for every £1 spent. In order to receive these loyalty allocations just hand over your SUBCARD® or scan your App before the Sandwich Artist™ completes your transaction.

    What can I redeem my SUBCARD® loyalty points for?

    100 points can be redeemed for a hot drink, 200 points can be redeemed for a snack. 500 points can be redeemed for a regular 6'' Sub, flatbread or salad and with 1000 points you can redeem for a regular 12'' Sub or flatbread.

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