An increasing number of train companies are now offering Nectar points when you book with them.
It is ironic that the train companies feel the need to incentivise people to book directly with them. They often have cheaper fares on their own websites than elsewhere. More importantly, the train company websites rarely charge the rip-off credit card or booking fees that you will find with The Trainline and other third-party booking sites.
First Group was the first train company to offer Nectar points when you book at the rate of 2 points per £1 spent. You can get this on Great Western, TransPennine Express and Hull Trains.
These are worth at least 1p per £1 and could be worth 2p if you hold off redeeming until a higher value offer comes along. I wrote about one such deal, with Virgin Trains, this week. This page on our sister site Shopper Points shows the best value on-going Nectar redemptions – ie everything which gets you more than the standard 0.5p per point!
You receive 2 Nectar points (so 1% cashback effectively) when you book train tickets at the Virgin Trains West Coast website or East Coast website.
Full terms and conditions are on the Virgin Trains website here. Importantly, your trip MUST include a Virgin Trains component in order to earn points. Booking a trip which is entirely on another train operator will not earn you anything.
Is this better than earning Virgin Flying Club miles?
Virgin Trains has been a long-term partner of Virgin Flying Club. As per the Virgin Atlantic website, you earn 2 Flying Club miles for every £1 spent at Virgin Trains.
You cannot double dip. The Virgin Trains website makes you select either Nectar points or Flying Club miles.
I would value one Virgin Flying Club mile at more than the 0.5p you receive for one Nectar point. You could arguably value a Flying Club mile at 1p (compared to my low end Avios valuation of 0.75p) as economy redemptions have lower taxes than economy Avios redemptions, whilst Upper Class redemptions require fewer miles (but the same taxes) as Club World Avios seats. This only makes sense if you already collect Virgin miles from other sources of course, as you will never earn enough just from train tickets for a flight!
PS. There is one caveat to this. If you download the Nectar app to your smartphone, you will receive regular bonus point offers for booking tickets on Virgin trains. I recently received 1,000 bonus points for booking any Virgin Trains Advance ticket, as well as 500 points for downloading the Virgin Trains BEAM entertainment app. This could be enough to swing your choice to Nectar.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (December 2020)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points):
You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.
(Want to earn more Virgin Points? Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)