The best shares to hold for perks and freebies

The days when being a shareholder allowed you widespread perks are all but gone. But some companies do still offer them. Here are just a few.

Barmaid pouring beer into a glass
Mitchells & Butlers shareholders can get 20% off food and drink
(Image credit: © Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The days when being a shareholder allowed you widespread perks are all but gone. After all, shareholder perks – however small – eat into the bottom line, and these days many companies believe that the best way to reward shareholders is to make as big a profit as possible and return the cash to investors with a dividend or share buyback.

Events such as Young & Co's Brewery's riotous AGMs are legendary. Every year, 2,000-odd shareholders were entitled to a free lunch and unlimited beer and wine. That particular perk ended in 1986 as it was estimated to cost the company anything up to £70 a head – all for the price of a single share.

But some companies do still offer perks to shareholders, although none are so generous. Some are available to owners of just one share; others only become available after you've invested rather a lot of money.

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A word of warning, however: not all perks are available to people who hold shares in nominee accounts (which is anyone who uses any of the big online investment platforms, for instance). That said, some platforms including Hargreaves Lansdown, Fidelity and Freetrade will contact the company on your behalf to arrange the benefit.

A surprisingly high number of companies offering perks are brewers and pubcos, although a number of companies have suspended their offerings in recent years as they navigate the pandemic. Still, a handful of pubcos such as Fuller’s and Shepherd Neame continue to stand by their offers.

There are also a few discounts offered by small-cap companies, including Newbury Racecourse plc, which is listed on the AQSE Growth Market and has a market capitalisation of £27m. Stockholders with a position of 10,000 shares can receive two annual membership badges worth several hundred pounds a year, which allow access to exclusive member facilities.

Wine maker Chapel Down, another AQSE Growth equity, offers discounts to investors with 500 or more shares.

Perhaps the best bargain is for bibliophiles. Book-lovers can get 35% off all print books published by Bloomsbury, as long as they have bought at least one share (which will set you back about £4.10 at today's price).

Below is a non-comprehensive list of firms that offer perks, and the perks offered. Be aware that this list can change at any time, and companies can (and do) withdraw shareholder offers. What’s more, investors should not look to buy shares on the basis of perks alone. They’re nice to have but shouldn’t be a fundamental part of the investment case.

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CompanyShares NeededPerk
Adnams PLC115% discount meals and accommodation at Adnams hotels and in stores
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC135% off the recommended retail price of all Bloomsbury books
BT Group PLCCertificated shareholders onlyCertificated shareholders can receive discounts on various products and services
Carnival PLC100Credit available on-board Carnival Cruises
Chapel Down Group PLC500 or 2,000A one off 25% discount voucher for investors with 500 to 1,999 shares. Shareholders with more than 2,000 can receive a Privilege Card
Character Group PLC120% discount on Character products purchased online
Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC1,00015% discount on food and drink and a 10% discount in any of Fuller's hotels
Irish Continental Group PLC1,00020% discount on Irish Continental ferry services between Ireland and Britain
Legal & General Group PLC1Discounts on life insurance and lifetime mortgages
Mitchells & Butlers plc1Investors may receive a book of vouchers granting them 20% off food and drinks
Mulberry Group PLC50020% discount in certain stores
National Grid plc1Opportunity to attend a shareholder networking programme.
Newbury Racecourse plc100 - 10,000Opportunities for member badges depending on the number of shares owned
Next plc10025% discount against one purchase once a year
Norwegian Cruise Line100On-board credit depending on the cruise duration
Renishaw PLC1Discounts on package holidays booked through the company's subsidiary Wotton Travel
Restaurant Group PLC250Vouchers giving 25% off the total bill in a number of their pubs and restaurants
Safestore Holdings PLC10025% off storage and 20% off merchandise for new Safestore customers
Shepherd Neame100 - 3,000Various levels of discount off food & accommodation in Shepherd Neame pubs and hotels
Telecom Plus PLC1,500Opportunity to sign up to a special tariff that’s approximately 10% lower than the standard and a 10% rebate on non-energy services
Whitbread PLC64Free breakfasts in Premier Inns and a 10% discount in Whitbread restaurants with a shareholder benefit card
Young & Co's Brewery PLC1Occasional discounts and offers
N Brown Group1A discounts available on purchases from the group’s catalogues
Big Yellow110% discount at all Big Yellow or Armadillo stores
Associated British Foods1Free gift for all shareholders who attend the AGM with a retail value of about £30

Disclosure: Rupert Hargreaves owns shares in Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC

Rupert Hargreaves

Rupert was the former Deputy Digital Editor of MoneyWeek. He's an active investor and has always been fascinated by the world of business and investing. 

His style has been heavily influenced by US investors Warren Buffett and Philip Carret. He is always looking for high-quality growth opportunities trading at a reasonable price, preferring cash generative businesses with strong balance sheets over blue-sky growth stocks. 

Rupert has freelanced as a financial journalist for 10 years, writing for several UK and international publications aimed at a range of readers, from the first timer to experienced high net wealth individuals and fund managers. During this time he had developed a deep understanding of the financial markets and the factors that influence them. 

He has written for the Motley Fool, Gurufocus and ValueWalk among others. Rupert has also founded and managed several businesses, including New York-based hedge fund newsletter, Hidden Value Stocks, written over 20 ebooks and appeared as an expert commentator on the BBC World Service. 

He has achieved the CFA UK Certificate in Investment Management, Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment Investment Advice Diploma and Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment Private Client Investment Advice & Management (PCIAM) qualification.