The Points Index – making points go further

Image of man lingering over Press for Rewards button
Virgin Red
by Limara Salt
9 February 2024

The best things in life really are free – according to the 59% of Brits who get a kick out of using loyalty points to buy beauty products, clothes and groceries without needing to splash the cash.   

For some, collecting points is rooted in the thrill of getting freebies, but for others it is a way of life, with almost three quarters (74%) using loyalty programmes to supplement their income and save money.  

A study of 2,000 adults, revealed that nine in 10 Brits (92%) are a member of a loyalty programme, up 17% compared with last year. Furthermore, 82% admit to using loyalty points to make future purchases cheaper, with two in three (66%) using them to reduce the weekly food shop. 

This comes as Virgin Red launches its second annual report, The Points Index, ‘Making Points Go Further’, which takes stock of the nation’s mood, whilst looking at how public spending and behaviour towards loyalty programmes has changed in the past year.   

The Virgin Red Points Index

The report reveals that more than a third (35%) of the nation collected more loyalty points in the past 12 months than ever before, as people got more savvy in order to cope with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.  

Internal data from Virgin Red saw a rise in redemptions across November and December, with members cashing in their loyalty points for rewards such as flights, train tickets with Virgin Trains Ticketing, wine and gift cards. The spike indicates a possible drive of last-minute travel and gift buying ahead of the festive period – highlighting how people are making their money work harder by using points for gifts or reducing the cost of their train travel home.  

With travel firmly back on Brits’ radar, more than half (55%) plan to use their hard-earned points to reward themselves with things they usually wouldn’t be able to afford, such as holidays or flights.   

Andrea Burchett, Chief Loyalty Officer and Managing Director at Virgin Red, says: “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 consumers in 2024, so it’s great to see people are turning to loyalty points to prioritise this, whilst being mindful of the existing economic pressures.”  

The thought of high-end rewards being genuinely attainable however has shrunk, according to the research, as only 27% think you can use them for big ticket items such as flights or theatre tickets – a 15% drop from 2022.   

Interestingly, Virgin Red’s internal data tells a different story, with redemptions for higher reward items skyrocketing – flights being the top five most popular, across destinations such as New York, Orlando and Los Angeles. While Paris and Amsterdam ranked as the top European destinations. When it comes to dream getaways, the Maldives and Tokyo topped the list.   

But, more than half (52%) admitted to feeling guilt when spending money on something indulgent, knowing others are struggling financially, and only 10% of adults feel more confident in the state of the economy compared with this time, last year.   

This goes some way to explaining why 36% intend to be kinder to themselves in 2024 with small but frequent self-gifts.   

This includes coffee, meals out and wine, as well as trips to the cinema – with the release of Oppenheimer and Barbie last July seeing Virgin Red members increase cinema ticket redemptions by 2.4x more than any other month during 2023.    

Andrea Burchett from Virgin Red added: “Whilst Virgin Red does 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.”  

Want to join and make your spending go further? Discover Virgin Red and unlock an amazing array of rewards. 

Commissioned by Virgin Red   

  • The Research Of 2,000 Adults (Nationally Representative Sample) was carried out through OnePoll January 2024.  

  • Internal Data Extracted On 10 January 2024, Covering 1 January – 31 December 2023, and comparing with 1 January – 31 December 2022