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)

  • Christopher says:

    A word of warning:
    There is no security on Nectar cards for redemptions at the till (I lost £100+ a few years ago when I lost my card – working for JS too which galled even more).
    Suggest keeping balance in Avios and not in Nectar.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      The rate is fixed (for now) so just drip feed in.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      The only “protection” is you have to have used the nectar card attest 24hrs before in the store you want to redeem.

      Agree crap.

      • meta says:

        That might have been a case a few years ago, but now why carry a physical card when it’s available on the phone?

  • Mark says:

    Does anyone else remember that around 20 years ago BA switched from Sainsburys to Tesco as their Supermarket partner?

    • mark2 says:

      I do indeed and Sainsbury’s were very generous back then. I remember when Air Miles began in 1988 with NatWest and Sainsbury’s.

      • CF Frost says:

        Glory days. BMI and Sainsbury’s. Primitive IT. So many stackable codes that there was a holy grail of early deliveries with a negative total and a debated theory that they paid you.

  • Simon says:

    Hi so if I have 24,000 Avios I could convert this to 40,000 Nectar points which is worth around £200 at Argos ???

    • Alex says:

      That’s correct – If you value Avios at 1p that is £240 but thats IF you can obtain that value. Cashing out to Argos is great as it basically gives you a floor amount of worth being £200. If you keep as avios you could get the same or potentially even more value – you could get less but you would obviously not hit go on that option.

      A lot of chat about people leaving Avios for Nectar to spend at Argos etc, it could happen but then you’re fixing the worth. Avios worth yes varies but that can be in your favour aswell. I personally will keep earning nectar and push through to Avios for long-haul. Short haul might be different now with value but its all down to each persons individual circumstances

  • CF Frost says:

    For the Caffè Nero afficianados (the numbers of which may be set to swell) it might be worth noting that while the Nectar redemptions have never secured me the comedy coffees (like the fully stamped loyalty cards do), I’ve always been able to manage to secure an extra shot. Rob’s caramel latte redemption at £3.30 could have been a tad stronger and a £3.80 redemption.

  • Ryan says:

    Gutter I opened amex nectar instead of amex gold for the nectar points.

    lost out on 10k points

    • Rob says:

      No, you are still better off. 10k bonus from Gold is 16k Nectar, vs 20k Nectar for getting the Nectar Amex.

      • John says:

        You sure Rob???

        Amex gold sign up bonus is 20k at £3000 spend (total 23k MR to avios (1:1) to nectar (1:1.6) = 36800 nectar points )

        Amex nectar sign up bonus 20k at £2000 (but use 3k as a fair comparison) spend (total 20000 + 6000 (2point per £) = 26000 nectar points

        Different of 10800 points

        • Catman says:

          You don’t transfer the MR idirect nto Nectar, you transfer into Avios then into Nectar

      • Robert says:

        And with only a £2,000 spend target in three months as opposed to £3,000 on the Gold, right?

      • ChrisA says:

        Is it not currently 20k MR bonus on the Gold, though?

        • Rob says:

          Fair point – you mean going Amex to Avios to Nectar.

          Haven’t got my head around all this myself yet.

  • Joe says:

    For us as regular Sainsburys shoppers, this is excellent news (particularly as we are sitting on 100k Nectar points). We will probably convert net Nectar to Avios, but the flexibility is excellent and I can see many people transferring to Nectar. Might mean more Avios availability !

  • Will says:

    So apply for the credit card through the nectar app and there is a competition to Win 50k avios for 20 winners. It’s also interest free credit for 17months and generous on the limits.

  • Keith says:

    Pre pandemic, I amassed a nice little stack of nectar points from booking train travel through the GWR website. No booking fees and 2 nectar points per pound.

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