640 words, approx 3 mins to read.

A co-operative is owned by its members and other co-operatives, not investors like a traditional business. Members can have a say in how a co-operative runs and members receive a share of the profits (a dividend, or divi) when the co-operative turns a profit, as well as other rewards and offers.

When shopping in co-operative food stores, you can use different co-operative membership cards. But, you’ll receive different rewards in different co-operative food stores. You can be a member of more than one co-op at once.


There are two types of co-operative food store:

  • Co-op Group stores
  • Independent co-operative stores

Find out if your local co-operative is part of the Co-op Group. If the store belongs to an independent co-operative, it will be listed on the store page.

There are two types of co-operative membership card:

If you have a blue card, you’re a member of our Co-op, the Co-op Group.

If you have a honeycomb card, you could be a member of our Co-op or an independent co-operative. If your card says The Co-operative Group on it, you’re part of our Co-op. You can update it to a blue card by requesting a replacement card on your online Co-op Membership account.

If your honeycomb card says something else, you’re a member of one of these independent co-operatives:


Can I use my independent co-operative membership card in Co-op Group stores?

Yes. If you’re a member of one of the independent co-operatives listed above you can use your membership card in Co-op Group stores.

You earn dividend (divi) points on your purchases using your independent co-operative membership card.  If the Co-op Group pay a divi this will be paid by the independent co-operative.  The Co-op Group does not currently pay a divi.

What about the 5% and 1% reward?

To earn 5% back for you and 1% back for your community when you buy Co-op products in Co-op Group stores, you’ll need to join our Co-op.

What about having a say in how a co-operative runs?

To earn democratic points (enabling you to vote and have a say in how a co-operative runs) you need to use the respective membership card in the respective food store. E.g. Your blue Co-op Group card in a Co-op Group store.


Can I use my blue membership card in independent co-operative food stores?

Yes. As a Co-op Group member, you can use your blue card in the independent co-operatives listed above.

You earn dividend (divi) points when shopping at the independent co-operative food stores listed above. You receive a divi if the independent co-operative society pays a divi that year.

What about the 5% and 1% reward?

You won’t earn 5% back for you and 1% back for your community when you buy Co-op products in independent co-operative stores. You only earn the 5% and 1% when using your card in Co-op Group stores.

What about having a say in how a co-operative runs?

To earn democratic points (enabling you to vote and have a say in how a co-operative runs) you need to use the respective membership card in the respective food store.


I belong to another independent co-operative, not listed above

Some other independent co-operatives use The Co-operative branding on stores, but have their own membership scheme.

You cannot use a Co-op Group blue card in their stores or use their card in our stores. Some of these independent co-operative societies are:


What about student discount?

You can only get student discount with a valid NUS extra card at Co-op Group, Midcounties and Southern Co-operative food stores.

Adam Taylor
Co-operative Young Members’ Board

Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. Adam that is a great explanation. What a good idea to get it all in a blog.

    The bit about using a Coop group card in an independent coop, but not getting divi unless you use your independent coop card there, is a minefield, I had to read it several times to understand……thank goodness it hardly affects me up here in Scotland.

    However – we do have the Young Scot card !!!!
    And holders get discount in Coop Group AND Scotmid stores ! Do they get discount in Coop Group stores in other parts of the UK though, or only Scotland ? And what about in Scotmid stores in England ?(Lakes and Dales)

    …and then I could ask you all the same questions again for the funeral businesses and Coop electrical, etc ….

    sounds like a full time job for someone sorting this all out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Hi Barbara, thanks for the feedback. We’ll look at whether we can create something similar related to other Co-op Group businesses that share a brand or facia with an independent co-operative society. ^Jordan

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    • Hi Barbara.

      Just wanted to clarify that you can use your Co-op Group card in an independent Co-op and will earn the same dividend that a member of that independent would earn.

      E.g. Co-op Group card in a Southern Co-op would earn a dividend at Southern Co-op’s pay-out rate.

      This information is passed to Co-op Group, who then send the dividend reward to you as vouchers or via a nominated bank account if you have set this up with Co-op Group.

      This mechanism is the same if you are a member of another independent society shopping in a different independent society store.

      E.g. Midcounties Co-op card in a Southern Co-op would earn a dividend at Southern Co-op’s pay-out rate.

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      • Just wanted to add when I talk of independents I mean those that are part of the Co-operative Food branding (Midcounties, Central England, Southern Co-op and Chelmsford Star)

        and not the other local named independents E.g. ScotMid, Channel Islands, Radford etc.

        However, the above independents wouldn’t even accept your membership card so that shouldn’t lead to any issues.

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  2. Hi Barbara, you can only use the Young Scot card in Scotland, more detail can be found here http://coop.uk/2zpbPcw Thanks ^Scott

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    • Thanks Mike and Scott for further explanations – this all helps me pass good info on to members too.

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  3. Thanks Adam, for a very clear explanation of an issue that confuses many co-op shoppers.
    You could have added that the Co-op Group is the only one, of those listed, that isn’t member controlled!!

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  4. as a co-op pensioner can I use my annual gift vouches when buying electicals

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Business, Colleagues, Food