Strawberries not tasting so sweet

With Federer-like timing the weather appears to have shown up for the first week of Wimbledon. But for tennis fans this year the traditional punnet of strawberries and cream may come with a bitter taste as prices have been hiked for the first time since 2003.

Grade 1 Kentish strawberries were being sold last year for £2 a punnet but are to go on sale this year for an inflation-busting £2.25. With 28,000 kilogrammes consumed throughout the fortnight the price rise will certainly help bolster the coffers of the Wimbledon powers-that-be.

Sadly, Wimbledon’s strawberries prove no exception to the general trend of rising food prices. However, with an increasing number of reward credit cards, particularly from supermarket banks, there’s no reason why those costly summer goods shouldn’t at least give you something in return.

MoneyExpert.com gives some advice on the credit card rewards market.

Sweet nectar

While all sorts of retailers have opted for loyalty schemes one of the first to make an impact was the Nectar scheme. Hundreds of outlets have signed up, with Sainsbury’s being one of the biggest. The points scheme is even available at some online outlets such as eBay and Amazon.

As with all such schemes, amassing enough points to claim a worthwhile reward can take some time, so opting for an American Express Nectar Credit Card could be a good bet. When using the card at a Nectar partner you combine the points you earn with your Nectar loyalty card with even more points on the credit card. This way you can earn up to four points for every £1 spent.

What’s more, after you’ve spent £200 you’ll immediately be rewarded with 5,000 Nectar points – which could equate to £25 off your next Sainsbury’s shop. If Tesco’s is your supermarket of choice then their Clubcard Credit Card offers 60 airmiles for every £250 spent.

This is not just a credit card

The Marks and Spencer MasterCard offers a slightly different incentive to those from Sainsbury’s and Tesco. It still offers 1 point for every £1 spent in-store, with those points ultimately equating to discount vouchers, but has a number of perks particularly for those travelling abroad. These include no cash advance fee when you pay for foreign currency through M&S, and membership of the supermarket’s so-called Travel Club which claims to offer 10% discounts on the cost of your holiday.

The ASDA credit card also offers a reward scheme but only handing over one point for every £4 spent might seem rather miserly compared to its rivals offerings.

Cash is king?

Obviously the above only work at their best when you already shop in the relevant supermarket. If you’re shopping habits are less than predictable it might be advisable to go for a cash-back card that will let you spend the rewards wherever you so chose.

The American Express Platinum card comes at the top of the pile paying 5% (up to a maximum spend of £4,000) for the first three months, and 1.5% thereafter. Capital One’s Cashback Mastercard follows quickly behind paying 4% for the first three months.

Nothing for your money?

As always with financial products offering benefits they’re only worth using if you make the very most of the deals available. While some of the APRs on the reward credit cards are manageable they’re by no means at the top of the best-buy tables, so unless you claim back every penny on your weekly shop you’ll simply be throwing money away.

Click here to compare the best reward credit cards

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