Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Sainsbury’s is the new Avios supermarket partner!

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

Yes, you read that right. Sainsbury’s has just been unveiled as the new Avios-earning supermarket partner.

Oddly, this isn’t the most important part of the announcement. What has been announced today will change the way you think about your Avios and how you spend them.

Am I overstating this? Not necessarily.

How to convert BA Avios points to Nectar points

Nectar points and Avios are to become interchangeable. Every route to earning a Nectar point is now a way of earning an Avios. Perhaps more importantly, every way of spending a Nectar point is now a way of spending Avios.

Given that, until today, your Avios spending options were restricted to flights, wine, car hire and hotels, this is a huge shift.

This is going to take a while to explain. This article focuses on the Sainsbury’s relationship and the Nectar conversion rate. A second article on Nectar and Avios – click here, but read this one first – starts to look at some of the new options available to you.

Let’s jump in.

How to convert BA Avios points to Nectar points

What is the conversion rate between Nectar and Avios?

The conversion rate will be:

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

Here is the key thing: there is no value loss in either direction. You can transfer your points as often as you want and you will still have the same amount you started with.

In theory, you could now keep your entire Avios balance with Nectar and just move the points across to Avios as you need them. There is no benefit to doing this, but you won’t lose out either.

An online tool will be available from Monday to allow you to move your points back and forth. I am assuming it will be instant.

A Nectar point is worth 0.5p isn’t it?

Yes. 99% of Nectar redemptions get you 0.5p per Nectar point. This means that you can look at the conversion offer like this:

  • 250 Avios = 400 Nectar points = £2
  • So …. 1 Avios = 0.8p

Since Nectar points are arguably almost as good as cash if you live in the UK since you can use them at Sainsburys, Argos, eBay and various other places at 0.5p per point, Avios points now have a floor value of 0.8p.

We will explain the impact of this in Part 2, but it is fundamental.

Nectar Avios light

What will I earn at Sainsbury’s?

On the face of it, the headline earning rate is poorer than Tesco.

You earn 1 Nectar point for every £1 you spend in Sainsbury’s. This means £1 spent in Sainsbury’s will earn you 0.625 Avios based on the 400 : 250 conversion.

In reality, it doesn’t work like this.

When Sainsbury’s reduced its earning rate from 2 Nectar points per £1 to 1 point per £1 a couple of years ago, it introduced ‘in app’ offers on top.

Each week you are offered a large number of bonus point offers via the app or website. Importantly, these are often for products that you normally buy. These are, effectively, extra base points as long as you buy what you usually buy – and as long as you remember to register for all the offers in the app.

I am told that the average number of Nectar points earned per £1 is substantially higher than the headline number of 1 per £1 due to these bonus points.

When does the new partnership start?

You will be able to convert Nectar points into Avios from next Monday.

However, nothing stops you from shopping in Sainsbury’s today and collecting Nectar points for your spending. You can then transfer them next week.

If you don’t have a Nectar card, you can register via, via the Nectar app or by picking up a temporary card in a Sainsbury’s store.

How to convert BA Avios points to Nectar points

Is there a bonus to support the new partnership?


If you convert at least 1,600 Nectar points into Avios before 14th February, you will receive a bonus of 500 Avios.

1,600 Nectar points would usually get you 1,000 Avios, so you will get 1,500 Avios instead.

Sainsbury’s is also giving you something. You will earn double Nectar points (2 per £1) on all shopping at Sainsbury’s between 25th January and 19th April.


I know this is a lot to take in ….. and wait until you read Part 2!

The bottom line is that I think this is a very positive move for Avios collectors.

You may or may not find that you earn the same number of Avios from your Sainsbury’s shopping as you did from Tesco, when all of the bonus Nectar points are taken into account.

The real win is that, because you can now convert 250 Avios into £2-worth of Nectar points, your Avios now have a minimum value of 0.8p each. This should change how you think about collecting Avios – and the choices you make to do so – and should also change how you spend them.

More on this to come.

As far as Head for Points goes, it will mean changes to how we operate. Any deal offering bonus Nectar points is now, by default, a deal offering bonus Avios.

Whilst a lot of Nectar partners have gone in recent years, there are still strong offers from Sainsbury’s Bank and Sainsbury’s Energy amongst others. Earning partners include Esso, Argos and numerous rail franchises. We will explore some of these deals in the coming weeks.

Click for the second part of our Nectar and Avios introductory coverage, where we look at possible arbitrage opportunities.

PS. Here’s your first odd arbitrage. You will be able to order any hot or iced drink, any size, at Caffe Nero for the equivalent of 219 Avios (350 Nectar points). For lovers of super-sized iced drinks, this suddenly becomes the best Avios redemption you can get!

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 (546)

  • Paul says:

    I cant imagine 1.6p per Avios will last long before both BA and Sainsbury’s change the transfer value, the earning rate or the redemption rate.

    To be honest, I am surprised this is even allowed; Nectar and Avios are the only real points systems in the UK and bringing them together means the public open to anti competitive behavior.

    Doesn’t help that I have to pass two Tesco a Waitrose and and a Morrison’s to get to one!!

    • Phil says:

      I would be very surprised if any regulator (with the exception of the maybe the Information Commissioner) would give two-hoots about whether there is any competition in the points and airmiles sector. However, they would probably point out that there are Virgin Points and Tesco Clubcard systems as well and that individuals can easily vote with their feet when choosing which retailers they chose to use.

      • Phil says:

        I meant to say, “I would be very surprised if any regulator (with the exception of the maybe the Information Commissioner) would give two-hoots about the points and airmiles sector. However, if they did…”

  • sadge says:

    I for one will be converting my 200k avios into £1600 ebay. My wife is a teacher so we can’t go off-peak anyway.

    • Freddy says:

      Would have thought in those circumstances avios would be worth more due to peak cash pricing in the hols

  • David Lawton says:

    Normally I would be very aggressively collecting Avios, and use all avenues to boost my balance. I was going to use my 72,500/£362 Nectar points to get a PS5 from Argos when back in stock, but now I’m torn.

  • DK says:

    There is nothing positive about this Rob. Sainsbury’s is the worst supermarket to shop. It’s expensive like waitrose and the quality is like Tesco. I never shop there and I never want to shop there. I guess BA thought well since have also become Ryanair services with BA prices why not expand the proposition to the avios partner.

    • BSI1978 says:

      I mean, that is very much a personal view but having shopped (physically and online) at Sainsburys, Morrisons and Waitrose during lockdown, I don’t think that holds true – not in St Albans at least.

      It isn’t anywhere near as expensive as Waitrose for either the usual staples or more punchy items/specials, and on the whole the quality remains very good. It has also been much easier to get delivery slots as others above have commented.

      • Linda says:

        I agree with you BSI1978 with the personal view aspect. It’s a good middle ground between Tesco and Waitrose. Perhaps it’s a regional thing 🙂 I live in Hitchin just down the road from you. My nearest had one section that featured local meat before lockdown and they seem to have suspended it during this time but that used to be great quality. I did manage to register hubby as an over 70 and have always managed to get a delivery slot. Having said that I would have gone to Waitrose had the new partnership been with them.

        • rob(staaaar) says:

          Yay! Hitchin – me too 🙂

          ps, Just went to our Waitrose to start blowing out the Amex offer; stacked with current WT money off vouchers, it was nice to buy family staples and stick it all in the food bank on the way out…

    • Phil says:

      Unfortunately DK I think your talking only from personal experience. Many people would argue that Sainsbury’s costs the same as Tesco with better quality. Most would argue that Waitrose has better quality, is more expensive and has a smaller range.

      So this might be worse for you but I doubt that will be the case for most people.

    • Rob says:

      But unless you shopped at Tesco, you haven’t lost out either. And you will benefit from:

      *Nectar offers with other partners, eg Sainsbury’s Energy
      *The ability to redeem your Avios via Nectar if any blockbuster redemptions come up

    • Neil says:

      I couldn’t disagree more DK. We shop at Tesco for the points but buy certain things from Sainsbury’s (their plant pioneers meat free mince is so much better than Quorn). When we’ve done a shop in Sainsbury’s my husband has always said he prefers the quality of food to Tesco’s own brand. This is a winner for us as we want to save to go to Cape town. I even switched my energy yesterday which means 8000 bonus nectar points and triple points whilst it’s with them.

  • Andrew says:

    From reading the terms of the BA initial promotion (which is now showing as coming soon on the app) you only get the double nectar points in Sainsbury’s if you ALSO convert 1600 nectar points to avios by 14 Feb and only from the point of conversion not from 25 Jan as written in the article above. Which makes sense that Sainsbury’s are only giving this bonus to people who are participating in this new partnership rather than all Sainsbury’s shoppers.

    • Leafwarbler says:

      And I’ll bet you won’t get the double points on alcohol if you live in Wales (or Scotland)

  • Alan says:

    Sainsbury’s offers have always been pretty rubbish in my experience and contrary to the suggestion in the article not normally for stuff I’ve bought before – has anyone had decent ones?

    • Tracey says:

      Constantly. I only do small shops at Sainsbury’s, in a small local store. So I only buy a very limited range of stuff from them. All my offers are from this limited range.
      Couple this with the extra promotions they run, eg in December I earned 1000 extra points for no effort.
      Also if you use the app (I have on iOS, assume others are available) often you get a bonus award just for making a purchase.

      • Alan says:

        Don’t use the app but they send me an email each week with offers and they’re always crap! Weirdly Co-op seem to give me £1.25-£1.50 free every week so always pop into them whilst charging the car 😂. On the upside my final transfer of Clubcard points is now worth a good chunk more!

        • Andrew says:

          It’s your lifestyle choice.

          I’ve just used most of the offers on the App, all for regular purchases, and got 1440 bonus points + 90 regular Nectar Points on a £45 shop.

          That’s the best thing about Nectar, the offers are usually on the stuff I actually buy.

      • rob(staaaar) says:

        The screen swipe thingy? Yay! you just got 5 bonus nectar points (lol)

    • rob(staaaar) says:

      I find the nectar app ‘bots’ my previous few shops and applies offers on a selection of those. I once got a few items for the food bank like bread, ketchup, nappies etc (things I don’t normally get for myself) and they always come up in my offers the following week.

  • JohnT says:

    Has search lost the ability to search comments?
    Sorry but I love the idea that you can now earn Avios from the Daily Mail! That must be causing some spluttering into the LPNV fizz…

    • Rob says:

      Yes it has. It was one of the core reasons that the site was running at a snail’s page after Christmas. We had 500,000 comments indexed and each time a search was run, the system went through them all. We had to kill it.

      In fact, we went even further and got the whole search system off our server.

      • cinereus says:

        There are databases that wouldn’t blink an eye at 500k comments. This “issue” is long solved.

        • Dr C says:

          Yes but not necessarily for small businesses who don’t want to spend money on something that isn’t needed

  • Freddy says:

    Makes the desirability of holding the BAPP card questionable to say the least

    • Alex says:

      Not really, you still need it to earn 241 vouchers and combining points earned on the card and in-store you’re laughing. If anything you could keep the BAPP and transfer all your avios earned into Nectar if you wish

      • Freddy says:

        Depends on how many 241’s you need. Could slow churn the BAPP for the voucher and continue earning avios via the nectar amex

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.