By Francesca James

Four in ten people (40%) will use loyalty point schemes to help meet the cost of Christmas this year, according to latest research from Halifax.

Loyalty cards typically reward customers with 'points' that they earn when shopping, which they can then spend. 92% of those questioned said that have at least one store or restaurant loyalty card. The most popular loyalty scheme in the UK is a Tesco Clubcard (held by 75% of those questioned), followed by Nectar Card (71%) and Boots Advantage Card (59%).

The Halifax research shows that shoppers have an average balance of £115.06 across their loyalty cards. Whilst women have an average of £103.43, men have £128.65.

The figures suggest that there is £4.3bn1 waiting to be spent on UK loyalty cards, with 40% of holders looking to spend their points on Christmas. Of these, 35% of those will be putting it towards both food and presents, 32% have saved loyalty points to spend on a Christmas food shop, and 28% are using all their points to buy presents.

Just over two-fifths (41%) of people said that earning loyalty points affected their decision on where to shop. 15% of people said that they don't mind paying more for something if it meant they were able to earn loyalty points.

Anthony Warrington, director of current accounts at Halifax said,

"It's really important to plan and budget for Christmas spending, and we're seeing that people are finding more innovative ways to do that this year. Building up loyalty points throughout the year is a really smart way of softening the blow, but shoppers should think carefully if earning loyalty points means paying more for goods in the first place."