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Review: the Nectar American Express credit card

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This is our review of the Nectar American Express credit card.

In January 2021, Avios and Nectar launched a new partnership. You can now transfer Nectar points into Avios – and vice versa – which means that this credit card is now of interest to Avios collectors.

It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether of not they are worth applying for.  These posts are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Offers‘ area in the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

Nectar Avios light

This article was updated on 1st May 2021, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.

BEFORE WE GO ON …. Do you have a small business? Until 20th May 2021, you can receive a sign-up bonus worth 29,900 Avios with the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa credit card. This offer is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to learn more.

Key information

Key link: American Express Nectar application form

Key facts: No fee for Year 1, £25 annual fee from Year 2

The representative APR is 27.3% variable, including the annual fee from Year 2, based on a notional credit limit of £1,200. The representative APR on purchases, and in Year 1, is 22.2% variable.

About the Nectar American Express card

The Nectar American Express credit card is issued directly by American Express.  The Nectar loyalty scheme is used by numerous UK retailers including Sainsbury’s, Argos and eBay.

It is a credit card, like the British Airways American Express, and not a charge card like The Platinum Card.

Review American Express Nectar credit Card

What is the Nectar Amex sign-up bonus?

The Nectar American Express card has a generous sign-up bonus. It offers 20,000 Nectar points which are worth £100 when spent with any Nectar partner.

More relevant for HfP readers is that 20,000 Nectar points convert into 12,500 Avios. This page of ba.com explains how to convert points between the two schemes, which go across instantly.

You need to spend £2,000 within three months to receive the bonus.

What are the rules for qualifying for the Amex Nectar sign-up bonus?

The bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card in the previous 24 months.  Cards issued by MBNA or Lloyds Bank do not count. This article looks at which Amex sign-up bonuses you may still be eligible for.

You will definitely receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s American Express card. As far as Amex is concerned, that card belongs to the primarily cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.

If you do not qualify for the bonus, you can still apply. You still receive the other card benefits including the ‘no fee in the first year’.

What is the Nectar Amex annual fee?

The American Express Nectar credit card comes with a £25 annual fee. For the first year, however, the card is free. This gives you 12 months to decide if you can spend enough on the card to justify keeping it long term. If not, you can cancel within the first year and will have paid nothing.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You earn 2 Nectar points per £1 of general spend. This is effectively 1% cashback if you use the points at Sainsbury’s, Argos or eBay.

2 Nectar points per £1 converts into 1.25 Avios per £1.

This is on top of the standard points you earn at Sainsbury’s and other Nectar partners.  This means that your total Nectar earning when shopping at Sainsbury’s is 3 points per £1 if you use this card – two points come from the credit card and one point comes from your usual in-store Nectar earning.

How does this compare with the British Airways American Express cards?

When converted to Avios, 2 Nectar points is worth 1.25 Avios.

This means that the Nectar American Express card is more generous than the free British Airways American Express card (1 Avios per £1 and a smaller sign-up bonus).

It is less generous than the British Airways Premium Plus credit card. The BAPP card earn 1.5 Avios per £1, has a larger sign-up bonus and gives a 241 voucher for spending £10,000 per year. However, that card does carry a £195 annual fee.

How does the Nectar Amex compare to a cashback credit card?

My default comparison card is the John Lewis / Waitrose Mastercard which is free for life and offers 0.25% cashback in vouchers. The representative APR is 18.9% variable.

For the first year, when the Nectar American Express credit card is free, the Nectar Amex is substantially better than this. You would be receiving 2 Nectar points per £1, worth 1% in shopping vouchers or 1.25 Avios.

From Year 2, when you will be paying a £25 annual fee, you need to look at how much you are spending on the card. As long as you are spending £5,000+, your return will be better overall – even after accounting for the fee – than using cards such as the John Lewis, Marks & Spencer or Amazon reward cards.

How does the Nectar Amex compare to the Sainsbury’s Bank credit cards?

Sainsbury’s Bank offers a range of Mastercard credit cards which earn Nectar points.

We reviewed the Sainsbury’s Nectar Credit Card here. Whilst you may want to get it purely for the 10,000 Nectar points (6,250 Avios) sign-up bonus, it is a terrible card for daily spending.

You earn just 0.2 Nectar points (0.125 Avios) per £1 spent. This is 90% lower than the 2 Nectar points per £1 earned on the Nectar American Express card.

Is the Nectar Amex a good card to use when travelling?

Not really.  As American Express adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad.

Unfortunately there are no travel rewards cards without a foreign exchange fee.  One option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than Amex charges) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

What more should I know?

American Express no longer has a minimum income requirement for its cards.

Conclusion

For day-to-day spending, the Nectar American Express credit card is a good deal, effectively giving you 1% cashback or 1.25 Avios per £1 spent.

It is, ironically, far better for earning Avios than the free British Airways American Express card if you are not bothered about spending £20,000 per year to earn the 241 companion voucher on that card.

If you are starting out with Avios, you may want to get the Nectar American Express first and then progress to the £195 British Airways Premium Plus American Express. By taking this route you would still qualify for the 25,000 Avios bonus on the BAPP card, which you would not get if you were upgrading from the free BA Amex.

The £25 fee means that – after the first FREE year – you need to be spending £5,000+ to justify the fee. For the first year, though, the 20,000 Nectar points (12,500 Avios) sign-up bonus means that you will certainly come out on top.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Card Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Comments (22)

  • John says:

    Not sure the conclusion is correct. I don’t think the fee can be justified at all. If you spend less than £10000 a year you should just take out the ARCC and cancel the nectar amex after the first year.

    The break even point is £12500 – and if you can do 10k you might as well get the 241 and the highest avios earn rate (and sign up bonus, as mentioned in the article).

    However, if you do lots of small transactions and spend under £10k remember that the free BA amex rounds up or down to the nearest avios but the ARCC and nectar always round down.

    • John says:

      Also, if you can’t get at least 18750 avios out of your 241 when spending £10k, you would have been better off with the nectar amex.

    • lumma says:

      Holding the ARCC would prevent you from eventually getting the singup bonus on Platinum, and free BA would stop you from getting the bonus on the premium plus card. Nectar wouldn’t.

      • memesweeper says:

        Nectar, followed by BA when you need/want a companion voucher, would be the best start I’d guess.

      • John says:

        You are missing my point. If you spend between £5000 and £10000 the ARCC and free BA are better than the nectar once the fee kicks in.

        Platinum charge has a different calculation because of the higher bonus and fee.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          UNLESS you are looking to reset a 2 year wait for a platinum and BAPP bonus in which case it’s well worth the £25 fee over 2 years.

  • BS says:

    This assumes the nectar:avios transfer rate stays constant. I am assuming it will be devalued at some point, as it seems too generous. All of my avios are getting cashed out, as I simply cannot see any possible 0.8p value opportunities in the next few years, given the current low fare, high redemption tax environment. And even if there is a great opportunity (like another 50% sale), I can do a sudden nectar -> avios transfer to cover it. I feel this is the safest place as I can see a surprise avios devaluation, but not a surprise nectar devaluation.

  • G says:

    Few other factors to consider if deciding to hold the nectar card while taking a 2 year gap from BA and MR cards, what is the referral bonus on this card and does it offer a bonus for adding supplementary cards?

  • AJA says:

    I do wish Amex would allow you to earn a bonus the first time you apply for another Amex product while still holding another personal Amex. I have never churned cards and have held the BAPP for years. As a result I am prevented from earning any sign up bonuses on any other personal Amex other than the Platinum card which I don’t want as I can’t justify paying the £575 fee.

    • Bs says:

      The platinum card is expensive. Do remember you can do a ‘smash and grab’ on it: spend the required spend and get 35,000 MR (= more avios via nectar), and get all the hotel statuses signed up, and use any airline lounges for the 2-3 months required. Then get it refunded pro-rata, and keep the physical card to get in to Eurostar lounges. And in the current climate, you even get some sort of retention bonus or offer in the meantime as well.

      • AJA says:

        That is a strategy but given the current climate I don’t see the point even applying for the Platinum as I would just waste the hotel and Eurostar access. I may reconsider once the Covid situation starts to improve to the point where travel may be a realistic option again. Even then I would rather apply for the Gold MR card than the Platinum but will never be eligible for any sign up bonus due to holding the BAPP.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Can you justify £50 a month until you hit the spend bonus as that’s what it really is.

    • Charlie says:

      Can you still get the 30,000 bonus points on the amex platinum if you currently hold an amex card then?

  • Darren says:

    I’m considering the Nectar Amex, but have recently cancelled my Gold which was my last MR card and its been almost a year since my BAPP card.
    If I take the Nectar card now will that mess up a bonus when I reapply for BAPP? I’m guessing not.
    Or similarly for Platinum or Gold.

  • AviosNovice says:

    What’s everyone non-AMEX Avios earning strategy (for people who don’t qualify for the HSBC Premier), before there was the Tesco Purchase Card?

    • memesweeper says:

      Sadly the best cards are closed to new applications. Right now I’m piling up on Sainsbury’s just because I could use the bonus and the interest free period.

  • Danny Y says:

    Question: I signed up for the promo (converting nectar points to avios) a couple of weeks ago when it was announced and while I got my points immediately transferred, the bonus 500 avios points have yet to appear in my account. is that normal? shall I chase? thanks.

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