British shoppers are sitting on hundreds of millions of pounds worth of unused loyalty card points, according to new research.
Just under £220m goes unspent annually, as five per cent of card owners – some 2.24m people – admit they never cash their points in when making a purchase.
It means that, despite three decades of the mainstream use of loyalty cards in the UK, many shoppers are still not reaping the benefits they provide at the till.
However, the annual ‘Loyalty Pays’ report, by leading plastic card manufacturer Plastic Card Services, found signs of improvement in this area.
While £220m has gone unspent this year, the figure was a whopping £351m for the year before.
The study also found the overall number of store card users has risen by three per cent in the last 12 months.
Now nine out of ten UK adults own at least one store card, while the average number in wallets and purses is four.
A typical shopper will use their loyalty cards eight times a month, and will save an average of £98.04 annually, down from £100.32 in 2012.
Despite the drop this still leads to an overall saving of £4.39bn a year for smart shoppers.
Speaking about the results, Rob Nicholls, MD of Plastic Card Services, said: “Our report shows the massive savings made thanks to loyalty cards, but we are also able to highlight the fact that hundreds of millions of pounds are missed by consumers every year.
“Loyalty cards have revolutionised how we shop but there is still a small but significant percentage of shoppers who do not use the cards they own.
“However it is also very interesting to note the big increase in the number of active loyalty cards, obviously more consumers are realising the real and every day benefits that come with owning one.
“Of course there are still a lot of unclaimed points but a drop from £351m to £219.5m in the course of 12 months is very significant.
“Loyalty really can pay off if you play your cards right and our annual report highlights this in black and white statistics that are plain for all to see.”
The study also revealed that women are the smarter shoppers, as they are three times more likely than men to regularly use loyalty cards.
The Boots Advantage card is the favourite store card for female customers, followed by Tesco’s Clubcard and Sainsbury’s Nectar card.
For men the Clubcard was number one, just ahead of Nectar and the Advantage Card in third place.
Male shoppers rate cash back as the most valuable reward, while women prefer discount on products.
Two thirds of consumers told researchers they feel a greater sense of loyalty to the brands they own store cards for.
Consumers typically gather 1,829 points before using them to make a purchase, but a quarter will cash them in when they accrue 500 or less.
Shoppers in the Scottish city of Aberdeen use loyalty cards more often than anywhere else in the UK, followed by consumers in Belfast and Cardiff.