Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How the Nectar and Avios tie-up will change how you earn and spend points

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This is Part 2 of our initial response to the news that Sainsbury’s is the new Avios supermarket partner and that Nectar points and Avios will become interchangeable.

Please don’t read this article before you have read Part 1 of our Sainsbury’s / Avios / Nectar coverage which is here. You’ll just get confused!

How to convert BA Avios points to Nectar points

What is the Nectar to Avios exchange rate?

As a reminder, from Monday, you will be able to convert your points online like this:

  • 250 Avios = 400 Nectar points
  • 400 Nectar points = 250 Avios

Since 1 Nectar point is worth 0.5p at Sainsbury’s, Argos, eBay and other partners, what we are saying is that 250 Avios = £2, so 1 Avios = 0.8p.

This exchange rate is VERY attractive for Avios collectors

What I am intrigued to discover about this new partnership in the coming months is which way, overall, most points will move. Will Avios see a net inflow or a net outflow?

Will there be a net transfer of points into Avios from Nectar? Based on 400 Nectar points (£2) = 250 Avios, you are ‘buying’ Avios for 0.8p each. This is a decent deal.

If you have any Nectar points and you are serious about Avios, it makes sense to convert them rather than spend them with any other Nectar partner. It is difficult to pick up Avios for less than 0.8p.

On the other hand, will there be a net transfer of points from Avios into Nectar?

1 Avios now get you 0.8p of Sainsbury’s, Argos or eBay credit, amongst other partners.

A lot of Avios collectors – not necessarily HfP readers, who are savvier than the rest – will see value in moving their points across.

There are also likely to be a lot of Avios collectors who don’t see themselves flying anywhere for some time, or are in financial difficulty, and like the idea of cashing out for 0.8p.

Nectar Avios light

Does this new deal undermine almost all of BA’s non-flight Avios redemptions?

Er, yes. This is where I get a bit confused about the grand plan.

If you use your Avios for:

  • hotel redemptions
  • car hire redemptions
  • wine from Laithwaite’s
  • ‘experiences’
  • seat selection fees or
  • ‘Part Pay With Avios’

….. you get around 0.5p to 0.6p per Avios.

You would be crazy to redeem Avios for any of the things above, at 0.5p to 0.6p per point, when you could get 0.8p per point of pseudo-cash by converting to Nectar.

The whole ‘Part Pay With Avios’ strategy is now looking very messy.

Even some Avios flight redemptions don’t get you 0.8p

I have a spreadsheet of the last 7.7 million Avios I redeemed, from 2013 to today. I got – based on my personal value of the flights I took – an average of 1.2p per Avios.

Many people do far better than me, because I do a lot of Gold Priority Rewards for double Avios, and don’t always use a 2-4-1 BA Amex companion voucher.

A lot of people, probably not HfP readers, will do worse than me. As we have shown numerous times, redeeming for Economy flights can often mean getting 0.8p or worse per Avios. The only saving grace is flexibility, since Avios tickets can be refunded.

For these people, transferring Avios to Nectar is a better choice than redeeming for Economy flights.

How to convert BA Avios points to Nectar points

How does this change your credit card strategy?

Here is an example of how the convertibility between Nectar and Avios changes things.

American Express has a Nectar American Express card. See here, and read our Nectar Amex review here.

Nectar American Express

First year free and 20,000 points sign-up bonus – worth £100 or 12,500 Avios Read our full review

It works like this:

  • no fee for Year 1, £25 thereafter
  • 20,000 Nectar points (so 12,500 Avios) sign-up bonus
  • 2 Nectar points per £1 spent (so 1.25 Avios)

This card is now attractive. For the first year, it is a better deal than the free British Airways American Express card, which only earns 1 Avios per £1 spent and comes with a sign-up bonus of 5,000 Avios.

After Year 1, anyone spending over £10,000 on the free British Airways Amex may be better off with the Nectar Amex and its higher earning rate.

On the other hand …..

There are bound to be many people who are currently paying £25 per year for the Nectar American Express card. If they are spending under £10,000 per year on the card, they should cancel it and get a free British Airways American Express instead, converting the Avios to Nectar.

Here’s another quirk:

You can redeem American Express Membership Rewards points for Nectar points, at the transfer rate of 1:1.

This is now useless. You should transfer from Amex to Avios instead, at the transfer rate of 1:1, and then transfer your Avios to Nectar. This gets you a Membership Rewards to Nectar transfer rate of 1:1.6.

This means that you can turn your Membership Rewards points into pseudo-cash, spendable mainly at Sainsbury’s, eBay or Argos, for 0.8p per point. A lot of people will find this attractive.

How to convert BA Avios points to Nectar points

Any special Nectar redemption deal could encourage you to wipe out your Avios balance

In the PS. to Part 1, I showed you how the best use of Avios – bar none – is now redeeming 219 Avios (350 Nectar points) for any hot or iced drink, any size, at Caffe Nero.

At £3.30 for a Caramel Latte, for example, you are getting 1.51p per Avios.

More seriously, we have seen occasional offers in the past where eBay lets you redeem your Nectar points for twice the usual value – 1p per Nectar point.

If eBay did this again, you would get 1.6p per Avios if you turned them into eBay credit. A lot of Avios collectors would hit the ‘redeem’ button at that point.

It would trigger other moves too. I would be rushing to empty my American Express Membership Rewards points into Avios if I could get 1.6p per point at eBay. There isn’t much, at the end of the day, that you can’t buy on eBay – and these days most of it is brand new.

Sainsbury’s also runs an annual ‘double up’ promotion. This allows you to get 1p per Nectar point when you buy products in certain categories, up to a limit of 10,000 Nectar points (£100) per account.

It would make a huge amount of sense to convert 6,250 Avios into 10,000 Nectar points to get £100 to spend in Sainsbury’s during ‘Double Up’.

How to convert BA Avios points to Nectar points

There is a lot more to come

We have just scratched the surface here. Sainsbury’s Bank issues a range of Mastercard credit cards, for example. The sign-up offers can be generous and there is no annual fee.

Esso is a Nectar partner, so there is a new route to earning Avios from petrol. Sainsbury’s Energy often has ‘big bonus’ sign-up deals if you switch your fuel over.

We will cover all this over the coming weeks. In the short term, please don’t redeem any Avios for hotels, car hire, wine, seat selection or ‘Part Pay With Avios’, because transferring them to Nectar on Monday will get you 50% more value.

British Airways BA Amex American Express

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (193)

  • Timy says:

    Fantastic news, gives you more options on what you can use points on!

  • Rob says:

    No, what you are thinking ended in March 2019.

  • Gordon says:

    So, am I right that anyone who currently holds a BA Amex card would NOT be eligible for the sign-up bonus on the Nectar Amex card?

    • Optimus Prime says:

      No, you won’t. You can try the Sainsbury’s Bank Nectar card – 10k bonus. Though I’m not sure it’s enough to warrant a credit search.

      • 747_Brat says:

        I am also thinking on the similar lines – whether the Sainsbury’s Bank Nectar card is worth a hit on my credit file!

      • avstar says:

        its registers on your credit report

  • Nick M says:

    Very interesting… Previously most of my travel plans were fairly rigid and I’d typically use RFS for a BA flight rather than looking at low cost carriers. Going forwards, aside from when I’m wanting to keep some flexibility, I can see myself redeeming Avios for Nectar and looking for flights like a normal person

    • Andrew says:

      With the taxes and charges so high and fares generally decent it no longer makes sense to me to use Avios for flights with this option.

      • Macca says:

        As a Double Income-No Kids household with no restriction on holiday dates we’ve struggled to find value from Avios the last few years. Low package fares to the Caribbean and Middle East airlines prices to Asia have been so good I’ve struggled to get value from Avios. Even using a 2-4-1 voucher has not been worth it when you consider the taxes and charges, and then the cost of my time to jump through the hoops to get the seats I want.

        Converting Avios to Nectar at Double events or special promotions (like the 1000 Nectar points for a cinema ticket summer event) will make much “easier” use of my Avios at an acceptable price.

    • AJA says:

      On the other hand that means reward seats might become more plentiful as fewer people redeem Avios for them.

      I must admit I am surprised there isn’t an incentive in favour of redeeming Nectar for Avios which would benefit BA. The ability to swap Avios for Nectar may end up costing BA unless their aim is to reduce the number of Avios?

      • Rob says:

        At the current time I’m sure the last thing IAG wants is for cash to be going out of the door if it doesn’t have to.

        • memesweeper says:

          With so few flights it’s a racing certainty that will happen for a while.

          If/when travel opens up it could flood in the other direction…

        • AJA says:

          I agree with you Rob which is why I don’t understand the ability to freely swap in either direction. It’s great for us that there is the flexibility though.

  • Hanif says:

    Can one use nectar points to buy third party gift cards for Sainsburys ?

    • The real John says:

      No, but nectar is basically a gift card for sainsburys in the first place

  • Navara says:

    Once Martin Lewis does the numbers I can see a big hit to Avios on this

  • Lee says:

    So 1 million Avios with give me £8,000 to spend at Ebay?

    • Lee says:

      £16000 if you wait for promotion

      • MattB says:

        It’s been capped in the past, same as the annual Sainsbury’s double up is each year.

      • cinereus says:

        How often do they do a promotion?

        • avstar says:

          ebay double up has not happened for many years – 2016. odd reports of first time nectar/ebay users getting it but very very sporadic. YMMV but i really doubt it

  • Neil P says:

    This is great news, been getting loads of extra points via the nectar app for ages, now owrth that little bit more

    Questions I have:
    1. is it worth keeping my Lloyds Bank avios mastercard or switching to the Sainsburys one? Which would be the better rate?
    2. My wife and I share a nectar account, I think she is the primary account holder. How does this work? Will we both be able to transfers nectar – avios and vice versa?
    3. Is there any impact to household avios accounts?
    4. My wife and I both have the BA Premium card. Would we be able to apply for the nectar AMEX and get the bonus?

    • AJA says:

      I think the Amex Nectar card bonus is not available to you as the BAPP counts as a personal card. Nit sure on the rest of your questions.

    • Rob says:

      The Sainsbury’s cards are shockingly bad for long-term earning. Feel free to get one for the bonus but don’t keep it.

      Not sure you can share a Nectar account. You might both have the app on your phones but the account only has one name on it and they are getting the Avios.

      No to 3 and 4.

      • Neil P says:

        Thanks! Will probably avoid the sainsburys mastercard and stick to the lloyds avios.

        We have separately numbered nectar cards, but my understanding is one is the “primary” card holder and one is secondary. We have the app and get separate offers, but it sounds like my wife would be the one getting the avios should we transfer them. Might look into separating the accounts

        • meta says:

          I think you might have Nectar Business account. They used to have run this as a separate product with offers aimed at businesses. This allowed for two or more people to be on the same account with different card numbers.

          • Macca says:

            Nope, my personal account is like this. We added my wives card number to my nectar account when we moved into together in ~2006. All points collected on her card go into my account.

            In the distant past if you forgot your Nectar card when out shopping they just scanned one of the paper in-store cards, you took it home, and added it to your Nectar account. I think I have 3 or 4 numbers attached to my Nectar account because of this. Not done it in a long time now.

          • Neil P says:

            Just spoke to Nectar, they confirmed I have a joint account with my wife. She is the primary account holder and I’m the secondary one. One nectar card per account can be linked to one Avios account, so we could link my card to her BA executive, or her nectar to my BA executive.

            I think it may be better to separate my nectar card to a new account.

    • MattB says:

      She will need her own. It’s worth having multiple nectar cards for the offers anyway. We have 4 between us and get almost 50k nectar a year. We don’t spend that much either with there just being 2 of us.

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