This post comes to you with a massive, huge, great, enormous tip of the hat to a gent names Raffles over at www.headforpoints.com , a travel site I included in my top 10 to read in 2014.  In short, Raffles and his airmiles expertise just saved me around £40.00, which is not bad for 30 minutes ‘work’.

You may be aware that I have been collecting airmiles for some 12 months now as method of affording travel.  I am by no means an expert in airmiles, very far from it, but in that time I have already collected enough miles to take a return flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh.

virgin airmiles with tesco

I haven’t actually taken that flight, it was just an example to show that points can be collected fairly quickly if you have you whits about you and know where to look – hint, headforpoints.com is a good place to start.

I follow headforpoints.com on Facebook, so when a post surrounding Tesco Clubcard points popped up on my feed this past week, I was quick to take a peak.   What I found was a great looking example of taking advantage of Tesco promotions in order to collect airmiles … I bet you didn’t see that coming!  Anyway, as this was my first venture into ‘playing the game’, I thought I’d detail the steps, how it all worked and what I thought of the outcome.  Up until now my airmiles had simply been collected through Credit card promotions and usage, so this was something a little new to me.




My Tesco Clubcard and Credit Card

I own both a club card and credit card with Tesco.  For every penny I spend using the cards, I earn Clubcard points, points I then convert to airmiles.

Tesco occasionally do crazy promotions which offer Clubcard points way in excess of the product(s) value.  The usual rate for Clubcard points is £1 spent = 1 point.  A £20 purchase would therefore net you 20 points.

Every point earned equals 1p worth of vouchers, so 500 points will be exchanged for a £5 voucher. Vouchers can be spent in any Tesco store, but like a lot of others, I exchange them.  Whilst I exchange them for airmiles, Tesco also offer exchanges in Restaurant vouchers, clothing, extreme activities and other areas of travel.

The promotion I just took advantage of

Tesco’s latest promotion on video games included an additional 442 points (world up/footy theme maybe?) for any purchase.  Those 442 would come in addition to the points you would have earned for such a purchase anyway.

So that I’m being clear, to earn 442 points usually, you would have to spend £442.

The details of my order

So with the above promotion in effect, I ordered the following video games from Tesco Direct at the prices indicated, and them sold them on at an exchange site as soon as received.  Truth be told, I don’t even own a games console.  All in all, my net expenditure was £32.00, but it would have been £42.00 had Raffles again not come to the rescue and posts a £10.00 voucher code for orders over £75.00.

Game Buy Trade in value Loss
Formula 1 2013 £20.00 £11.00 £9.00
Gods of war 3 £15.00 £5.00 £10.00
Battlefield 4 £20.00 £8.00 £12.00
Metal Gear solid V £22.00 £11.00 £11.00
Sub Total £77.00 £35.00 £42.00
Total when £10 off promo code used £67.00 £35.00 £32.00

My costs

As per the above, my net expenditure after purchase and re-sell was £32.00

Point earned

For my £32.00, I have received Tesco Clubcard points from three different sources.

Method Points collected Rate
Standard Clubcard points for purchase 67 1 point per £1 spent
Using Tesco Credit card as payment 17 1 point per £4 spent
Extra (promotion) 1768 442 point per game ordered
TOTAL 1852

Number of airmiles those points equate to

1852 Clubcard points equals £18.52 worth of Tesco Clubcard vouchers.

Those vouchers can be exchanged for Virgin airmiles at a rate of 125 miles per £0.50.

£18.52, once exchanged,  will get me 4625 miles.  I haven’t exchange yet though, but the reason why is explained a bit further on so keep reading.

Value for money?

My spend of £32.00 got me 4625 miles, at a rate of £0.0069 per mile.

Buying through Virgin, 4625 miles would cost in excess of £75.00. (Virgin discount the more miles you buy)

My saving is £43.00.

How far will 4625 miles get me?

4625 will get you nowhere fast on their own.  I decided to save Virgin miles over Avios miles purely for the fact that Virgin fly to Grenada, and that’s where my girlfriend has relatives we’d like to go see again in the not too distant future.  A return economy flight to Grenada however will set each of us back some 45,000 miles each, so we’re still both some way short of that goal, having only started collecting miles 12 months ago.  As a fall back though, if we don’t collect enough miles in time, Virgin do also offer a ‘money + miles’ purchase option, and they would also allow us to pay for upgrades in miles.

Whilst our goal is to each be able to accumulate 45,000 each, it isn’t going to happen any time soon.  If a chance to visit Grenada comes about soon though, at least we have a few options as to how we can use our miles to make the journey either a little cheaper or comfier.

Grenada wont necessarily be your goal though, so just to give you an idea, here’s a couple of other Virgin destinations and their miles today – naturally these are subject to change and you should check the Virgin website for full details.

London -> Edinburgh = 7,500 miles for a economy return

London -> New York = 35,000 miles for a economy return

London -> Hong Kong = 50,000 miles for a economy return

London -> Vancouver = 35,000 miles for a economy return

Taxes.  Remember your taxes!

OK so all the above sounds great, a good saving maybe(?), but you it should ALWAYS be remembered that you will still have to pay airport taxes on any flight you ‘purchase’ with miles.  In an ideal world the flights would be entirely £0.00, but unfortunately that ain’t happening.  Miles DO NOT count towards taxes … and the UK have some bloody high airport taxes.

Patience is a virtue

Now 4625 miles ain’t half bad.  I’m pretty happy with that return for £32.00 I think.  Other, more seasoned miles collectors might laugh at such efforts, but this was a first attempt at ‘playing the game’ in my case, and I’m pretty happy with the outcome truth me told.  I guess for that £32.00 I spent I might have got a budget flight somewhere, but I am trying to learn a new skill here, so If I made a wrong move, it was all in the interest of learning something.  Anyway 4625 miles for £32.00 was the outcome.

But what if I told you it could get even better (this is the part that explains why I haven’t exchanged my £18.52 worth of Clubcard vouchers yet).

The ‘trick’ is holding on to those Tesco vouchers, holding onto them until Virgin have their own special offer.  Via the Tesco Clubcard portal, it is not unusual for a Virgin to offer a bonus percentage of miles with any purchase of miles via the Tesco vouchers.  I cannot predict the future, on the last two occasions that Virgin has launched such an offer it was 30%.  Assuming t comes in at that value again (if ever), 4625 would then become 6012, with an extra 1378 miles added.

6012 miles for £32.00 = £0.0053 per mile.

Those 6000 miles would also have cost £90.00 if bought direct through Virgin at a rate of £0.015 per mile.

If such an offer does become available, my saving will rise from £43.00 to £58.00.

… But time is also of the esscence

When I wrote this post last week, the trade in value of the 4 games above was £4 higher than what I received upon trading the games in this week (£39.00 VS the £35.00 I received).  Its not the end of the earth, and in truth I could do little about it as I have been in Barcelona over the weekend and so was unable to make the trade until I arrived back in the UK (the items were posted whilst I was away).  But that said, it took me a week in the first place to follow Raffles advice, had I ordered the games seconds after reading his post on the promotion, I wouldn’t have got any more miles, but I would have paid a little less for those miles I did receive.

The longer I waited, the less I was always likely to receive for the games at the trade in store.  The longer I waited, the higher the cost of the miles would be.  We’re talking pence her, but value is value.  No doubt those who acted on Raffles advice quickly, or at least quicker than I, received better value on their miles than I.

I did see an example of someone buying 3 games and only making a net loss of £5 across all three.  Next time I shall be quicker.

Would I play the game again?

As mentioned above, I’ve been collecting miles for a mere 12 months now, and up until last week I had paid £0.00 for all the miles I had collected.  Up until last week, all I had done to earn my miles was sign up to a new credit card, and change the way I pay for things – pay by card rather than by cash.  This was the first time I had actually paid out to acquire miles on my account.

From the result of my spending on this occasion, I can see I have saved some cash, around £40.00, but I do wonder if it was entirely worth it.  That £32.00 I paid for the 4 computer games could have gone directly towards a flight, why spend it the long way round as such?

With that in mind, I’m not sure I’d play the game in this way too often.  As a budget traveller I am very money conscious, and at present it doesn’t feel like the best £32.00 I’ve ever spent, especially as it only saved me £40.00 (any saving is a good saving though right?).

I suppose what I really need is an airmiles expert to tell me if I have played this well or not, but until someone like that comes along and give me their verdict, I shall take some solace in the fact that a lot of people have left comments on Raffles post stating that they have taken the plunge and taken advantage of this Tesco promotion, so I am not the only one.  I shall assume that they are more seasoned at this than I, so maybe it was a good deal and I am just yet to realise it and see the true benefit.

I guess I’ll only find that out when I come to booking our next trip to Grenada.

I’ll let you know how it all goes and maybe one day I’ll tell you how I found an airmiles scheme that kicked serious ass, like this guy – How an Engineer Earned 1.25 Million Air Miles By Buying Pudding