A whopping 74% of Brits are using rewards apps to enjoy free perks and save money, a new study reveals. The research shows that 82% use loyalty points to make future purchases cheaper, with two-thirds using them to cut the cost of their food shops.
The study was conducted by Virgin Red for its second report, The Points Index, Making Points Go Further. It found that more than a third (35%) collected more loyalty points in the past 12 months than ever before, as people got savvier to cope with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
Virgin Red’s internal data saw a rise in redemptions across November and December, with members cashing in their loyalty points for rewards such as flights, train tickets, wine and gift cards.
This suggests a possible drive of last-minute travel and gift buying ahead of Christmas – showing how people are making their money work harder by using points for gifts or reducing the cost of their train travel home.
Travel is back on the agenda, with over half (55%) of people planning to use their hard-earned points for treats they wouldn’t usually afford, like holidays or flights.
Andrea Burchett, the boss at Virgin Red, said: “For some, reward points offer a way to supplement increasing day to day costs, such as grocery bills. But for others it’s a positive way to treat themselves, be those day-to-day small wins or holding out for a big-ticket item such as international travel.”
“Experiences, and in particular travel, are a clear focus for 2024, so it’s great to see people are turning to loyalty points to prioritise this, whilst being mindful of the existing economic pressures.” However, the research shows that fewer people (27%) think you can use them for big ticket items like flights or theatre tickets – a 15% drop from 2022. For those who do claim higher reward items, flights to New York, Orlando and Los Angeles, are the most popular locations, while Paris and Amsterdam ranked as the top European destinations.
When dreaming of getaways, the Maldives and Tokyo topped the list. Yet, more than half (52%) admitted to feeling guilt when spending money on something indulgent, knowing others are struggling financially, and only 10% of adults feeling more confident in the state of the economy compared to this time, last year.
Andrea Burchett, from Virgin Red, commented on the findings: “While we do not offer a crystal ball to see what’s in store for 2024, we hope the report helps people understand more about the loyalty programmes they’re a member of and importantly, how they can make their money go further – all that’s left to do, is decide which reward you want to go for.”
A significant 36% of people plan to be gentler on themselves in 2024, often treating themselves to small gifts. These rewards could include coffee, dining out, wine, and cinema trips. Especially with Virgin Red members increasing cinema ticket redemptions two and a half times more than any other month during 2023, upon the release of Oppenheimer and Barbie in July.