Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How can you earn Nectar points? (Part 1 – non-financial)

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How do Nectar points work?

With the announcement of the new Avios and Nectar points transfer partnership, which goes live on Monday, I thought it was worth doing introductory pieces on the Nectar loyalty scheme for those who are not familiar with it.

Nectar Avios light

Even if you do have a Nectar card, it is worth reading these articles as there may be a few quirks you did not know about.

I have kept this as factual as I can, so there is little discussion of whether a particular option is good or bad. At the end of the day, if you are shopping in Sainsbury’s, Argos, eBay or with other Nectar partners then you will be collecting the points regardless.

The new Avios transfer option into Nectar also offers an exit route for people who have collected a very small number of Avios from a flight and have no other easy way to use them.

There are two articles on how to earn Nectar points. This one looks at non-financial routes whilst Part 2 looks at earning Nectar points from credit cards, insurance and loans.

What is a Nectar point worth?

Let’s start with valuation, because you need to know this to put the ‘earn and burn’ sections in context.

A Nectar point is worth 0.5p, in virtually all cases.

Since Avios transfer to Nectar at a rate of 1 to 1.6, Avios points now have a floor value of (0.5p x 1.6) 0.8p.

What the fixed 0.5p rate means is that no Nectar redemption is ‘better’ than any other. Whilst it is true that you can turn 1,000 Nectar points into a £5 Eurostar voucher, there is no particular benefit to doing that if you could get an identical £5 discount in Sainsbury’s simply by scanning your card at the till.

In many ways, the Sainsbury’s redemption route is also easier than faffing around ordering vouchers from other partners. You may (or may not, I am not sure) also miss out on – say – Club Eurostar points on Eurostar tickets if your trip is paid with vouchers.

How do you join Nectar?

There are a variety of routes. You can pick up a temporary paper card in Sainsbury’s, which you can later register online.

Alternatively you can register via the website and then download the Nectar app. You can also register via the app directly.

You can either save a digital membership card to your eWallet or open the Nectar app instore. Either route lets you scan a digital card.

I am not sure if Nectar still posts plastic cards to people who join online.

Nectar does not have household accounts although I assume the same account can be accessed from multiple smartphones.

Where can I earn Nectar points?

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s, if you are not aware, now owns the Nectar scheme. It took full control three years ago as we covered here. This made sense as Sainsbury’s (which also owns Argos and Habitat) had become by far the biggest partner.

The earning rate in Sainsbury’s is 1 point (0.5p) per £1 spent.

There are some exceptions, mainly driven by legislation:

• Spirits
• Liqueur
• Wine when on any buy 6 save 25% promotion
• Infant formula baby milk products
• Tobacco and related products
• Gift vouchers
• Savings or postage stamps
• Mobile phone vouchers, phone cards or charity products
• Travel money

You can substantially boost your points by the using the weekly bonus coupons which appear in the app or online. These are designed to fit around what you already buy so most should trigger if you are doing a big shop.

You need to opt-in to these offers. If you don’t want to waste too much time, simply open the app, go to the Sainsbury’s offers page, scroll to the bottom and click ‘Save all offers’. If you buy the right things, you’ll get the points.

Argos

You earn 1 point per £1 spent in Argos.

If you visit a store, you can scan your card when you pay. If you are ordering online for home delivery or ‘click and collect’, you need to link your accounts via your Argos profile.

You can find out more on the Argos website here.

eBay

You earn 1 point per £1 spent on eBay.

There is a maximum of 300 points per transaction.

Full details are on this page of the eBay website.

First Group train franchises

The number of rail partners has been dropping, most recently with LNER leaving the scheme.

You can still collect via selected First Group-managed franchises:

  • Avanti West Coast
  • Great Western Railway
  • South Western Railway
  • TransPennine Express

The rate is 2 Nectar points per £1 spent. You can add your card number during the payment process.

You can usually earn points if you buy tickets for other train operators on a First Group website.

Esso

Confusingly, Esso is now part of both Nectar and Tesco Clubcard.

If you visit an Esso garage which has a Tesco Express store, you collect Clubcard points on your fuel and store spending.

For all other Esso garages, you collect 1 Nectar point per £1 spent on fuel and 2 points per £1 spent on other items, including in the store.

Esso has regular bonus point offers via both the Nectar app and its own app.

Sainsbury's logo

Sainsbury’s Energy

Sainsbury’s Energy, which is actually run by Npower, offers two routes for collecting Nectar points.

You receive a sign-up bonus when you join, which is currently 8,000 Nectar points for a dual fuel switch.

You will also receive triple Nectar base points on every Sainsbury’s shop going forward (double points if you only switch one fuel) for as long as you remain a Sainsbury’s Energy dual fuel customer.

Viking

You earn 2 points for every £1 ex-VAT you spend at office supplies group Viking. You need to link you Viking and Nectar accounts to earn.

Own-label purchases earn double, so you receive 4 points per £1 spent.

Viking has regular offers for bonus Nectar points on particular products. You can see the current deals here.

You can learn more about the Nectar partnership on this page of the Viking website.

Nectar Hotels

Nectar has a hotel portal powered by Rocketmiles – see our article here – which earns up to 2,000 points per night.

Note that bookings made via this portal will not quality for elite status benefits or hotel loyalty points as they will be treated as third party bookings.

I strongly recommend comparing the Nectar offer to this Rocketmiles offer before making any booking.

Dulux Decorator Centre

This is a hangover from the (now closed) Nectar Business scheme. You earn 2 points for every £1 you spend.

Brakes

This is also a Nectar Business remnant. You earn 1 point for every £1 you spend on foodservice purchases at Brakes. You need to link your Brakes and Nectar accounts to participate.

DFDS

You earn 2 points for every £1 you spend with ferry bookings with DFDS.

Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday

You collect 5 Nectar points if you buy the Daily Mail from Monday to Friday, 10 Nectar points on Saturday and 15 Nectar points for The Mail on Sunday.

You need to link your mymail account to your Nectar account and enter the unique code number printed in each issue of the newspaper.

Subscribers receive up to 250 Nectar points per month with The Ultimate Pack and 50 Nectar points per month with The Digital Edition.

Europcar

Europcar has replaced Hertz as the official Nectar car hire partner.

You will receive 1 point for every £1 you spend in the UK and a flat 200 points for rentals outside the UK. Europcar sites in the USA, Canada, China and Japan do not participate.

This HfP articles looks at alternative Europcar airline and hotel partners which also offer points.

The Europcar / Nectar booking site is here.

And ….. the Nectar shopping portal

Nectar makes some big claims about the number of retailers with whom you can collect points.

In truth, 98% of them are only partners because they are in the Nectar shopping portal. This lets you earn a variable amount of points by clicking through from the Nectar app or website to a particular online store.

Any partner in the Nectar online store is also likely to be on TopCashback, Quidco, Virgin Shops Away or the British Airways shopping portal. You should compare rates before making any transaction.

In Part 2 …..

In Part 2 of this article – click here – we look at Nectar financial partners. Earning points from a credit card is easier and quicker than many of the partners listed above.


how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 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:

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

We also 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

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 (92)

  • ee says:

    With Viking Direct they currently have an offer of 2000 bonus points when you link your card and spend £30 by 7th Feb. Click on the nectar link which appears a little way down their home page on the right – https://www.viking-direct.co.uk

  • Lee says:

    Note that you do not earn Nectar points on all purchases at Sainsbury. Some items are excluded including a fair chunk of alcohol.

    • Andrew says:

      Other than in Scotland it looks to be only spirits or wine when part of a buy 6 save 25% offer which are excluded.

    • Andrew says:

      That’s not good – Clubcard is pretty much anything except the usual cigarettes, stamps, gift cards etc. ,

    • Lumma says:

      You don’t earn and you can’t spend nectar points on spirits at Sainsbury’s. It was supposed to stop people buying alcohol at below minimum unit pricing.

      You can still obviously get a “free” bottle of whisky buy buying it at the same time as other shopping to the value of the bottle of course

      • MattB says:

        The wife and I both regularly get 200 nectar back against the £4.50 house pinot blush she likes, which technically takes it before the minimum unit price.

        • lumma says:

          That’s why it was a stupid excuse. Technically using Nectar points to buy a can of Shandy Bass would be bringing it under minimum unit pricing.

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    Unless things have changed in the last year or so Avanti (part FirstGroup part Trenitalia) still follows the old Virgin rules of Nectar earning (only valid when booking Avanti trips) whereas the other ones GWR, SWR and TPE give points on all travel booked via their site.

    Surprisingly for LNER trips you can still earn both Nectar points and LNER Perks (2% back) if you book your LNER travel via GWR, SWR or TPE rather than direct.

    More info https://www.lner.co.uk/tickets-savings/perks/

    How to earn credit if you booked elsewhere

    Earn credit for LNER journeys in four easy steps:

    Download the LNER app
    Sign in or create an account
    Tap to join LNER Perks
    Upload your tickets from the last 7 days to earn 2% credit for your LNER journeys.

    • Lumma says:

      Is there any difference in the pricing? I’m sure it was sometimes slightly cheaper direct when it was Virgin East Coast (or maybe just East Coast). Although I might be just imagining that.

      • RussellH says:

        Yes, there can be special offers on a TOC’s (train Operating Co.) own website, which are not available elsewehere.
        eg. The predecessor to the current incarnation of TPE used to offer a special deal for two people travelling together to Manchester Airport. Booked train only outward, but fully fexible return, to allow for delays, canx etc. and cost 150% of a restricted return for one.
        And around 18 months ago Northern were offering £1 return fares only through their own website.
        If you are booking a non-regulated ticket, I would argue that you should ALWAYS check the TOC’s own website first, and then consider a points website instead.
        There was a long article about this a couple of years ago in Rail magazine – it might be archived at http://www.barrydoe.co.uk.
        Mind you, Barry Doe has long been critical of the lack of decent loyalty schemes on the railways – he is not impressed by a few Nectar points.

    • Tom says:

      Worth flagging, those train companies don’t offer nectar points for season tickets. (Not that many people will necessarily be buying annual tickets again any time soon…)

  • Andrew says:

    Perhaps the earning rates at the BA shopping portal will fall in line with the Nectar portal as currently the BA earning rate is generally a lot higher.

    • BJ says:

      I doubt that will happen, it is already quite obvious that BA and Sainsbury’s have not worked through the full implications of their partnership or a lot of doors would have been closed from launch. Looks like the.y will have to learn the hard/HfP way. Possible also that one or both tried to do a number on each other. Back OT, there is always AerClub which people should, be using as opposed to the BA portal in any case.

    • The real John says:

      I thought the BA portal likes to take back all your avios 2 years later

      • Andrew says:

        Never happened to me.

        • Lumma says:

          All I’ve ever lost from the BA portal was around 120 avois from Uniqlo (which I don’t think should’ve been taken but couldn’t be bothered chasing) and 720 from Millet’s which was a cancelled order which was awarded then taken back.

          I’m definitely well into 5 figures of free points from a certain electronics manufacturer on there from orders than haven’t gone through correctly or I’ve cancelled after ordering when I’ve changed my mind….

          • Tony says:

            I’ve had a lot of miles clawed back on the ba shopping portal. Bit of a joke IMO – the biggest claw back was almost 10k.

      • BJ says:

        Yes, this my reasoning. There have been reports of clawback forever and lots of them in past few months. I don’t have those problems with AerClub. Tbh, I’ve never checked the difference in earning rates between the two so I don’t know about that. I use Voldeportal most of the time anyway.

      • Alex Sm says:

        I had 150 Avios earned with Brewdog deducted and 134 Avios recredited instead a few months after the transaction (for no obvious reasons). BA is so petty!

  • ChrisC says:

    Yeah I don’t like the M**l either but it’s Robs blog and he can post what he likes.

  • Rjn21 says:

    Very, very minor point – it’s 1 nectar point per litre of fuel at Esso Esso, not 1 per £.

    In England, Spirits and liqueurs are excluded from earning points at Sainsbury’s (Scotland may differ). I’ve had some items of wine / champagne not track, but resolved by web chat. I find the frequency of non-tracking bonus offers is annoying but can be resolved by web chat but usually only after 28 days.

    • BJ says:

      And quite a bit more in practice, Esso offers appear to be a permanent fixture on my Nectar app. I generally ignore them though except they can be useful in Scottish rural areas.

      • RussellH says:

        Given that my local EuroGarages Esso is 10p-12p per litre more expensive than Morrison’s or Asda, (which are admittedly an extra 5 miles further to get to) I have never bought fuel there. It has quite a decent Spar shop, though, and gives 1 Nectar point per 50p.

    • Rjn21 says:

      Oh and my local Sainsbury’s store has a Euro Garages, but Sainsbury’s branded, attached petrol station. No prizes on the “spend £10 get a mystery points prize” and I don’t think you get nectar points on basic fuel.

      Gift cards are excluded, as they were supposed to be at Tesco, but you could recycle Tesco’s own points earning gift cards with a compliant till operator.

  • SwissJim says:

    Any thoughts as to whether a couple is better off having a joint Nectar account or 2 individual accounts? Main thought is do you get 2x offers if you have 2 cards…. though having the wrong card for the wrong offer at the wrong time (depending on who goes shopping!) would seem to outweigh this…

    • BJ says:

      Separate cards…

      • RussellH says:

        We each have our own Nectar a/c no., own log-in and different offers, but points are pooled. No idea how we got that set up…
        🙂

        • RussellH says:

          This seems to have the advantage that when we get the bonus coupons which say they must be used with the specified card, they actually work with either card.
          No idea if it is meant to work that way.

    • Rjn21 says:

      We have a secondary card on the main account. It attracts its own offers, has its own login, and qualifies for its own points with a separate account number, but points pool into the main account, a bit like BA HHA but without separate individual account balances.

      I can’t recall how we achieved that or if it’s still possible.

      • MattB says:

        You can just ring up and ask for a supplementary card. We both have our own account with 2 cards linked. My only concern is my wife’s is in her married name (not legally changed) on her BA account is her legal name. Not sure how easy it is to change a name with nectar.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      You do get double the offers. But no point unless you shop twice a week to use the offers. Most offers are valid for a week I think.

      • The real John says:

        Just split the bill if you can be bothered. I used to pick up two scanners and use both my cards but I don’t care any more, I just go when I feel like it and choose the card with the better offers. If I miss a week who cares?

        It’s not like buying a load of frozen food will get you a free flight. Spending your time on starting a side business and paying full fare probably has a better return than getting 100 extra avios a week

  • RichS says:

    Does anyone know (from experience) whether the double points for having Sainsburys Bank car insurance, or triple points from Sainsburys Energy, are gained for home delivery groceries from Sainsburys online, or just instore purchases?

    • Martin says:

      On all purchases

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      The quest to find the cheapest insurance begins…

      • Alex D says:

        Annual holiday gets you x2 – I got a year for £30.04 I believe so I worked out for me after 6 shops I’d have earned points to right that off. Out of a minimum of 52 shops a year I didn’t think that was bad. We also drive 50K miles a year between us for work so we use fuel like it’s going out of fashion

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