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.


how to earn avios from credit cards

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

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

Until 9th April 2021, American Express is running the biggest sign-up bonuses ever seen on a UK payment card.

You will earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points on American Express Business Platinum (apply here) and 50,000 Membership Rewards points on American Express Business Gold (apply here) which is FREE for your first year. Points transfer 1:1 into Avios. Here are links to our reviews:

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

100,000 points sign-up bonus – SPECIAL OFFER TO 9th APRIL – and a long list of travel ….. Read our full review

Amex American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

50,000 points sign-up bonus – SPECIAL OFFER TO 9th APRIL – and free for a year Read our full review

Here are your other options. There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 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

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee 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.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

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

(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)

  • David Lawton says:

    Still trying to do the maths, but if I have 1,220,000 Avios I could cash out and spent almost £10,000 in Argos or Sainsburys?

    • Alex W says:

      Or if you open 200 nectar accounts you could spend £20,000 on TTD wine during the Christmas double-up 😀

    • Dr C says:

      £9760

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      I’ve got the equivalent Avios of nearly £4,500 Sainsbury credit. That’s money to spend on food vs trying to find availability and flight times to places I want to go.

      I’ll let the dust settle but I can’t see any reason not to cash out the Avios. I can just use my weekly food shop saving to fly where I want, when I want, with cash tickets.

  • Andrew says:

    I’m assuming nectar points can’t be used in Sainsbury’s or Argos to buy third party gift cards?

    • BJ says:

      You assume wrong!

      • Andrew says:

        Wow! Today gets better and better! So at both Argos at Sainsbury’s?

        • BJ says:

          Sainsbury’s for sure, don’t know about argos. However, I suspect it may not last long now if they haven’t called it already.. For example, they’ve already changed credit card eligibility.

    • cinereus says:

      Why not buy on ebay for more choice and usually better prices?

  • S lamb says:

    Does everyone qualify for the nectar Amex sign up bonus?

    • Rob says:

      Virtually no-one qualifies, because the rule is ‘no Amex for the previous 2 years’.

    • BJ says:

      There are bonus offers (10000/7500 NP ) on two SB credit cards but you now need to have been a nectar card holder for at least 6 months before you can apply.

      • BJ says:

        + up to 3 NP/£ on shopping when you hold selected SB products.

        • Colin MacKinnon says:

          Remember pet insurance: double points (up to 20,000 in a year) on shopping.
          Now do the double/treble points from pets, credits card etc stack?
          And most important, work on fuel since we get our business fuel from Sainsbury!

          • BJ says:

            I’ve had pet and over 50 insursnce plus credit card bonuses within the past year. Reports on fuel seem to suggest we might be a bit spoiled on that where we are Colin, doesn’t seem to work everywhere.

  • PhatGit says:

    Just checked and have managed 6699 Nectar for just under £800 spend since just before Christmas on a mix of food and fuel. All spend is on the BAPP Amex and just normal spend. So somewhere around 7 or 8 Avios per £
    Beginning to regret spending 25k Nectar in Argos last December!
    Have managed just over 4.5p per Avios on flights over the last 5 years

    • Peter K says:

      Hmmmm

      • Will says:

        4.5p is prob valid if you compare against full fare premium classes. Does anyone actually buy those by choice? Even companies have discounted fares. Can you give an actual worked example where 4.5p is achieved ?

        • Talay says:

          The LHR-BKK route on a mix of peak and non peak is 165k plus £1200 cash and your Amex 241.

          So you have 165k which now have a cash value of £1320 plus £1200 so £2520 plus your Amex 241.

          I wouldn’t value the BA route as being worth more than £1500 so that means the Amex 241 is only valued at £240 per ticket. That is not much more than the £195 annual fee.

          If BA put on the new business class seats then the value goes up significantly but still probably not over £2250 or so which is the top end of QR on the same route.

          You cannot price against hypothetical full flex tickets as no-one every buys them.

  • Andrew says:

    Just signed up to Nectar and it’s giving me 3x points on my next 3 Sainsbury’s visits within 14 days.

    • BJ says:

      In the past three years my return on nectar has been over 10x that from clubcard.

      • EwanG says:

        How many of those were the short EDB to HYM train trips…? 🤣

        • BJ says:

          I was tired shuttling back and forth … no, just kidding but I admit it wasn’t till late on I stopped collecting the tickets from the machine 😀 Got most of my points from the bank but lately a load from shopping and till spit offers too. The spend £10 get a surprise bonus promos worked well for me too. Had the amex sign up bonus three times, two with the nectar top ups IIRC. Almost all went on VTEC/LNER at double value, still have about £307 of evouchers (about same on Morrisons vouchers too from early last year I still haven’t managed to spend ).

        • @soundnomad says:

          Please elaborate I live in near HYM? 🙂

          • Rob says:

            When Virgin Trains was a partner and would offer 500 Nectar points for any train ticket booking, a kids ticket from Edinburgh to Haymarket did the job 🙂

  • Nat says:

    Wow – but I can’t remember the last time I shopped in Sainsbury’s (vs Ocado), Argos (vs Amazon) or eBay (vs Amazon)! Might this persuade a lot more to shop these more. Any way of swapping credit over to those outlets?

    • The real John says:

      Buy amazon gift cards on ebay

      • Mark says:

        careful, I checked the eBay t&c’s earlier about redeeming nectar points and you cant do this for gift cards

        • The real John says:

          Interesting that’s new. You can get around it by asking the seller to relist it under a different category. I’ve done it for people who appeared to be genuine buyers.

        • Andrew says:

          Yes I noticed that too. And not available at the Tesco eBay outlet – for obvious reasons!

      • BJ says:

        In store at Sainsbury’s if they don’t stop it.

    • cinereus says:

      eBay is very frequently a much better option than Amazon.

      • Andy says:

        I would pay a bit extra to buy from Amazon. Just the fact that if you receive an item and you just don’t like it Amazon will let you send it back no questions asked and pay the postage. Try getting that on EBay.
        I’ll wait here

  • JohnT says:

    As per other thread, dare I mention Daily Mail as a Nectar earner!

  • BuildBackBetter says:

    I’ll miss the guaranteed 2.4 avios per £ at Tesco. I know Sainsbury’s have been giving away points like confetti, but they can choose to stop it any minute. The offers in the app are right now for products we usually buy, but they’ll start to slowly offer points for new products. Can’t see these offers sustaining for long.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Couple of quarters of profit pressure, the marketing expenses should start coming down.

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