East Coast Rewards – conversion rate to Nectar points revealed

It seems that loyalty schemes which announce major changes do occasionally listen to customer feedback.  I’m not talking about the Avios changes, of course, but the changes to (ie abolition of) rail loyalty scheme East Coast Rewards.

The Save East Coast Rewards website points out that Virgin Trains East Coast has updated its website with some further information about the transition.  Virgin says:

We understand that some of the most loyal customers today are engaged in the current Reward scheme and therefore have concerns about the move from that scheme to Nectar.

Dead right they do.  Virgin goes on to say:

Alongside Nectar we will be looking to introduce several recognition benefits for our most loyal customers that enhance the actual experience they receive once the service starts.

East Coast thumbnail

This could mean anything, of course, but it seems clear that Virgin has got the message that a paltry 2 Nectar points per £1 was not a viable replacement for East Coast Rewards.

Then we come to the conversion news:

we’re providing six months for our customers to either use their existing points against existing Rewards offers or convert them to Nectar points at a value exchange of six Nectar points to one reward point to use against any of Nectar’s redemption partners.

Let’s be clear.  1 East Coast Rewards point to 6 Nectar points is not an outstanding offer.  That said, given that Virgin could effectively have done whatever they wanted, you need to accept it could have been worse.

If you can, though, make sure you redeem for East Coast train tickets instead.  It is 920 points for a First Class return ticket on the East Coast network.  Those 920 East Coast Rewards points will only get you (920 x 6 at 2 per £1 =) £27.60 of Nectar points – and a First Class return on East Coast is worth far more than that!

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Comments

  1. Does anyone know yet what First Class service Virgin are likely to offer? I wouldn’t mind using my 460 points to go 1st Class to Scotland and fly back RFS just as an excuse for a day out. East Coast were renowned as pretty much the only UK operator offering decent meal service and free alcohol in 1st Class – without these perks the day out seems slightly less tempting.

    • Have got a few days with family in Aberdeen coming up – 1st class up from London and flying back. Has cost me 460 points up and 2250 Avios + £8.75 as part of a one way open jaw ABZ – GLA

    • Virgin West Coast offers food and complimentary alcohol so initially I suspect you’ll see no change. Longer term they may reduce the quality to save a few pounds.

      • Yes, I have always been happy – by rail standards – with the free Virgin offering. When I uses to go to the NEC a bit I would arrange it so that I got the first evening train with food and drink, which was usually sold at off peak prices.

  2. I thought it was 460 for a 1st class rtn?

  3. It’s worth pointing out (if there’s any nectar fans here, but I doubt there are) that this news means that East Coast has unintentionally made themselves the best company for earning Nectar points this month (although you have to wait until March to convert).

    Who else offers 6 Nectar points per pound (or 9 if you travel first class) on any train operator?

    If Nectar had regular earning rates like that then more people may have supported it.

    Of course it’s still rubbish compared to using rewards for train tickets and from March we’re going back to the poor 2 points per pound which is typical of Nectar.

    We need to keep applying the pressure. I think they’d be too embarrassed to admit they got it wrong and scrap the Nectar proposals at this stage but we’ve now been promised additional benefits which we weren’t before so we need to ensure that what they offer is decent.

    Follow me on Twitter at @saveecrewards as a visible indication you’re not happy with Nectar.

    • They don’t need to because they haven’t got it wrong. Yet, anyway. They know full well people prefer cheaper tickets and more generous rewards – everyone does. The only thing that matters is will it affect ridership. Given the growth rates I’d assume not.

  4. Some quick maths – a £35 single from LKX to Leeds gets me 52 EC points = 312 nectar points if booked before 1st March.
    But after 1st March it’s just 70 nectar points! Even that’s a big underestimate of what a huge cut this is in the value of the reward scheme.

  5. For me under the old system (normally go 1st class to visit my family once a month) – each booking would cost £35 London to Leeds but get me EC 52 points i.e. 11.3% of the points needed for a 1st single (even better last year/or booked in a bundle of 4 – and the fact you could also get peak time tickets that cost far more – but let’s leave that for now).
    The NEW system from what I can see means a flat 1% nectar rewards discount on future bookings… or let’s go nuts – we can assume there will be a smattering of ‘double points’ deals throughout the year – let’s call it 2%. That’s still a whopping 82.3% real terms cut in the value of the rewards *at a bare minimum*!
    Sadly it’s only regular travelers that will notice/kick up a fuss I suspect…