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Sainsbury’s is the new Avios supermarket partner!

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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 nectar.com, 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?

Yes.

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.

Conclusion

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)

  • aDifferentSimon says:

    With a little waitrose at the bottom of my road I’m a bit sad.
    I’ve used ocado for the last 8 or so years and they’ve been pretty good – a delivery every week (including at the height of the restrictions in the first lockdown) and usually no substitutions.
    That said I’ve yet to be convinced post M&S signed up, so does anyone use sainsbury’s for delivery? What are they like?

    • Grant says:

      I’m in the exact same boat so keen to see what the consensus is

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Sainsburys delivery has been the worst so far for me, compared to Tesco and Waitrose. 20% of items usually are out of stock or wrong size (nappies). Also sometimes they give out a voucher instead of a refund to the credit card, annoying! In terms of quality and expiry date, its a bit mixed – Tesco is the worst.

    • Stagger Lee says:

      We have been using them for deliveries to my 90 year old in laws and they have been pretty. There are the occasional stock issues but substitutions are normally OK.

      Of course the problem is that this will vary from store to store and picker to picker so it’s very difficult to guess how they would work for you.

    • Luke says:

      I have heard that sometimes they arent so good. But they are moving to make this area very good a lot of investment going into the sector. I cant say much, but lots of investment…

    • Linda says:

      I find Sainsburys on the whole quite good. The only gripe I have is that there is no facility to make a note on what you may want as an alternative as Tesco had on their basket thingy. I asked once for frozen raspberries and ticked the alternative box thinking they would send me fresh ones? They sent me frozen cherries instead and I hate cherries. They also went through a recent phase of not having a few things on my list but have been much better of late. I’m chuffed about the new deal as I have three figures worth of nectar points to convert to Avios.

    • LST says:

      In my personal experience, Ocado beats the pants off all other home delivery services. Not just in availability of slots, I have a smart pass, but also in the number of substitutions or missing items – I may get 1-2 a week at most on a family shop of 200 odd items.
      Refunds on damaged/missing goods are straight forward to get.

    • Fenny says:

      My nearest supermarket is Waitrose, with Tesco across the road and Aldi 200 yards away. Before lockdown, I shopped in WR every day for the free coffee (no points needed!) and Aldi for weekly shops. Now it’s a split between WR and Aldi, depending on what I need. Sainsburys is 12 miles away and I usually only bother going there if I need petrol but don’t want to go to the Asda station, which is usually cheaper. Nectar points will swing the balance for petrol. Less so for groceries with a minimum delivery order of £40.

  • Rob(staaaar) says:

    Ok, if not already mentioned, God help you if you have to call Nectar customer services, let alone try to pursue a complaint. They best bring back/onshore their call centre and support staff…

    • Doug M says:

      No first hand experience of this, but tell me somewhere that isn’t like this. Even the oft praised Amex has dropped a lot of the last few years.

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      I’ve found them ok in the past. You just have to be very specific and patient. That said I dont think that’s good customer service, when I’m annoyed I dont want to patient and specific

  • Grant says:

    Do Nectar points expire? I’m wondering if there would be a way of resurrecting a very old account which I think has / had a balance on it.

    • Rob says:

      A year with no activity I think?

      • Louie says:

        “Sorry, your Nectar account has been closed. We’ve closed your Nectar account as you’ve not used it to collect or spend points for more than 12 months. If you’d like to join Nectar again, you can register for a new card.”

        Well you can blame Covid for that 🙁

        • Rob(staaaar) says:

          Doing the odd e-rewards survey would have saved it…

        • 747_Brat says:

          That’ weird that they closed your Nectar account. I left UK for New Zealand for couple of years before I returned back, and never had any issues with my Nectar account.

          • The real John says:

            It’s in the T&Cs.

            I just lost all my (Australia) Woolworths Rewards points as they get zeroed if you don’t use the card for 18 months.

        • Toddy says:

          I had the same message when I logged in, so I messaged nectar on Twitter.
          2 hours later my account was reactivated, with all my nectar points still there.
          Brilliant service

    • Sean says:

      Was told today not possible.

    • Grant says:

      Thanks all 🙁

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      A while ago they changed it so they now expire after 12 months of no activity. Mainly because they had a massive pile of dormant points clogging up there balance sheet. Something like an average of £20 in dormant points per customer?

    • David Meyer says:

      You can get them to re-activate your old account and get your points back. Just go on their online chat and ask. I did it today!

  • memesweeper says:

    I do like Sainsbury’s; it keeps all of the riff-raff out of Waitrose.

    — Alan Coren

    • BS says:

      I do like Waitrose; it keeps all the riff-raff out of Fortnums

      – Sandi Toksvig

  • Richmond_Surrey says:

    Great, except I don’t have Sainsbury’s anywhere near me and Esso is more expensive than Tesco Petrol station. I spent my Nectar points last year on Ebay, after sitting on them for 10 years.

    The only thing I’m interested, if moving points to Avios is going to keep avios account alive and access to rewards saver.

    • The real John says:

      I guess your username does not actually represent your location.

      • Richmond_Surrey says:

        Not any more, but I hardly ever shopped in Sainsbury’s while living there. Tesco and Waitrose were on the way from train station.

        • The real John says:

          OK. I live right next to the Sainsburys in Richmond (or more accurately North Sheen).

  • Vicky Loveard says:

    Even though I am disappointed that Avios moved away from Tesco it’s not enough to make me switch to Sainsbury’s for my shopping. The number of substitutions and unavailable items is ridiculous.

  • Stuart says:

    Nectar Amex on its way!

  • Alex W says:

    Rob aren’t you in the least bit embarrassed after bashing Nectar points for so many years?

    • Grant says:

      Why? Something can be crap in the past and now not crap

      • Alex W says:

        Some of the arguments Rob uses in the article explain why Nectar WASN’T crap in the past. You could earn many more than 1 point per £1 via special offers, and Christmas double-up reliably got you 1p per point of value. For that reason I am probably more likely to transfer Avios to Nectar rather than the other way around.
        Before this revelation, Rob’s argument was “but 99% of redemptions only get you 0.5p per point”, suddenly that doesn’t matter any more for the majority of people that are happy to wait until that bumper redemption comes along annually.

    • DT says:

      A massive change came in, giving the opportunity to use Nectar points for something travel related and you don’t think a person’s opinion before and after the change can be different?

      • Alex W says:

        Putting to one side the travel element and looking purely at value, the situation is not changed. The best value is still to be had at Christmas double up or another promotion. Converting Avios to Nectar for that gets you 1.6p per Avios.

      • Rob says:

        It’s still crap 🙂 My view is unchanged.

        It’s like building a high speed train line between Blackpool and London and saying that Blackpool is now a better place because you can get out of it more quickly. It doesn’t fundamentally make Blackpool less crap.

        • Alex W says:

          On that basis you’d be telling readers not to bother getting the train to Blackpool, but in the article you’re saying “this is a very positive move for Avios collectors”. Which is it…?

          • Rob says:

            I think you’re missing the point. McDonald’s food may be crap, but if you could get a Big Mac for 50 Avios then it would be an excellent deal (vs the cost of buying a Big Mac). It doesn’t stop the Big Mac being crap.

    • Rob says:

      It was crap, it remains crap.

      That appears to be the view too of Homebase, Oxfam, Debenhams, BP etc etc etc, all of whom walked away.

      Remember that the old owners paid Sainsbury’s to take it off their hands.

    • xcalx says:

      Rob was a Marriott basher prior to the SPG/Marriott linkup. Positive changes reset the mindset.

      • Rob says:

        Bonvoy bears absolutely no relation to the old Marriott Rewards. It is basically SPG with the Marriott hotels added.

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      Why? It fundamentally changes the scheme and the whole environment.

      If you now need a bottle of wine on avios, you could get better value via Nectar. So on a value basis its good, from the perspective of “I want flights on my avios”, its mixed at best. Depends on your personal situation at the end of the day

      • Dr C says:

        Nectar is still the same but Avios now has more value IMO!

        • Alex W says:

          Agreed – plus if I’m desperate for some last minute Avios I can now transfer some of my 40,000 nectars.

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