Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Are you better off taking Flying Club miles or Nectar points from Virgin Trains?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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!

Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains joined the Nectar party as well.

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.

Love Clubcard, don’t collect Avios?  You should be reading our sister site, Shopper Points (www.shopperpoints.co.uk), which covers the latest Clubcard and Nectar offers without any distracting frequent flyer talk!  Why not check it out now?

Comments (21)

  • Rich says:

    Rob, I’m sure you did an article a couple of years ago (in the East Coast Rewards days) comparing all the options for train tickets. Including booking/ postage/ cc charges.

    I for one would appreciate an update, if you can bear it.

  • Rob says:

    Didn’t know First give points on all carriers, thanks.

    Trust me, no-one is getting rich on the couple of quid a month I get from Virgin Trains!