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

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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 (, which covers the latest Clubcard and Nectar offers without any distracting frequent flyer talk!  Why not check it out now?

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  1. Aeronaut says:

    “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. […]”

    The Trainline have spent troughs of cash on advertising over the years and continue to do so, and hence reap the rewards when it comes to being the ‘go to’ site for train ticket bookings. Most HfPers are like the other savvy folk who know better, but the Trainline has huge name recognition out there.

  2. Genghis says:

    So does Virgin trains (west coast)

  3. Cheshire Pete says:

    It should also be noted, well at Manchester anyhow, the Virgin self service kiosks ask you to swipe your nectar card when buying tickets. No website required.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Annoyingly don’t allow you to put your flying club number in though

    • Russell says:

      Penrith also has a new self-service ticket machine emblazoned with a massive Nectar logo. I would guess that these are being rolled across the Virgin Trains network as required.

      There was some comment fairly recently in Rail magazine about how TOCs should be looking at proper frequent traveller schemes rather than just a few Nectar points, but I have not seen any significant follow up to that.

  4. Genghis says:

    Thanks Jonathan. I think I might wait and see what happens to the gift card offer after this weekend before jumping in.
    So Tesco – if you read this – please continue with the 75 Clubcard points / £25 spend on gift cards.

  5. East coast trains used to have an amazing reward scheme until it was replaced with nectar by virgin. Since then I’ve opted to take my train points as virgin flyer club miles and periodically transfer those into IHG as they count towards status via virgin.

  6. Raffles says:

    Good spot on the 2,500 points. I will cover this again tomorrow.

    • Should be fine but Note the following in T&Cs

      Only one points offer is available per customer. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.

    • 1. No idea
      3. True but it does NOT earn points

    • Genghis says:

      I don’t understand the 288k avios. Please explain.

      • Not sure if my thinking if correct but I was applying max 30000 clubcard points per quarter or 120000 cc points which will convert into 288000 Avios.

        • Genghis says:

          I guess – but that’s a lot of spending on the card per quarter!

        • If it works for paying to HMRC with moderate 0.3-0.4% fees it is doable for many folks here with handsome returns.

  7. Hi Boi, I’m not sure as I’ve never tried it but I don’t see why not? The points are posting from two different sources and at two different times. Won’t hurt to try on one trip?

  8. OT- Any speculation on what is happening after latest bonus cc points of 75 per £25 GC purchase after 16th October.
    Is anyone stocking up for future spend via GCs? Or are we likely to some even better bonus point offer.

    • Johnnycl says:

      My view is that Tesco have shown they are commitment to their gift card business as they came back with this offer and have improved the range. On this basis my gut feel is that if this offer does end then something at some point will come back.

      I might stock up on a few card this weekend to help hit the Nectar Amex bonus but I’m not going mad with them.

    • Genghis says:

      I bought some last week but I’m not going crazy. I have some more churning coming up and don’t really want to put spend onto non-bonus earning cards. So fingers crossed Tesco will keep the promo.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

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