How do Nectar points work?
It is now one year since Avios and Nectar unveiled their partnership. It is fair to say that it came as a big surprise, because we had assumed that any potential tie-up would be scuppered by a weak conversion rate.
In reality, we got an innovative two-way transfer system where you can move Avios and Nectar points back and forth without losing any value. This means that:
- Avios is now the most valuable Nectar redemption, assuming you value an Avios at around 1p
- Avios now have a floor value of 0.8p – you should never redeem for anything which is poorer value than this – because 1 Avios gets you 0.8p of Nectar points to spend at Sainsbury’s, Argo, eBay etc
As we are now one year in, I thought it was worth updating our introductory pieces on the Nectar loyalty scheme for those who are not familiar with it.
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 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, also published today, looks at earning Nectar points from credit cards, insurance and loans. We’ll follow up with a third article on how to spend Nectar points, in case you were looking to cash out of Avios.
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. You will also be posted a plastic card.
Nectar does not have household accounts although I assume the same account can be accessed from multiple smartphones.
Where can you earn Nectar points?
Sainsbury’s, if you are not aware, now owns the Nectar scheme. It took full control four 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:
• 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.
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.
You earn 1 point per £1 spent on eBay. However, you can often do substantially better via regular promotions – on Black Friday there was a crazy offer of 50 Nectar points (31 Avios) per £1 spent!
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 and South Western leaving the scheme.
You can still collect via selected First Group-managed franchises:
- Avanti West Coast
- Great Western Railway
- TransPennine Express
The rate is 2 Nectar points per £1 spent. You can add your card number during the payment process.
TransPennine Express and Great Western allow you to earn points when you use their website to book tickets on ANY train company. Avanti West Coast restricts earning to Avanti services only.
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 Energy, which is actually run by E.ON following a recent switch from 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.
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 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.
Dulux Decorator Centre
This is a hangover from the (now closed) Nectar Business scheme. You earn 2 points for every £1 you spend.
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.
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 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.
And ….. the Nectar shopping portal and Nectar Connect
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.
Nectar also has a card linking scheme called Nectar Connect. This allows you to register your credit and debit cards and automatically earn points when you spend at a small number of retailers. I strongly recommend you read the small print before signing up, however, as you are giving Nectar very aggressive permissions to access your spending data and then use the information to market to you.
In Part 2 …..
In Part 2 of this article – click here – we look at Nectar’s financial partners. Earning points from a credit card is easier and quicker than many of the partners listed above.