In a ‘surprising but perhaps not surprising’ move, British Airways has announced a devaluation of the ‘Avios to Nectar’ exchange rate.
This is NOT a two way devaluation. The ratio from Nectar TO Avios is not changing.
What this means is that you can no longer move Avios back and forth between the two schemes without any cost. You will now suffer a loss if you do so.
What is changing?
Emails announcing this change seem to be going out today. It is not yet reflected at ba.com.
At present, 250 Avios converts into 400 Nectar points.
Since a Nectar point has a fixed redemption value of 0.5p, it meant that there was a floor value on the value of your Avios. 250 Avios got you 400 Nectar points worth £2, so 0.8p per Avios.
If British Airways or partner flight redemptions started to look like bad value, it didn’t matter. You could move your Avios to Nectar and guarantee yourself 0.8p. To be honest, you would struggle to get 0.8p of value on many flight redemptions, especially in long haul Economy, and I know that for many HfP readers transfers to Nectar had become very attractive.
After all, you could arguably use your Avios for Nectar points to pay for your weekly Sainsbury’s shopping and put the cash you saved into a holiday fund to buy flights for cash …..
From 16th November, the transfer rate moves to 300 Avios = 400 Nectar points.
To save you getting your calculator out, the floor value of an Avios now drops to 0.67p as 300 Avios = £2 of Nectar points.
Bizarrely, the rate is unchanged in the other direction
The rate when you transfer Nectar points TO Avios remains at 400 Nectar points = 250 Avios.
This means that you can no longer move your Avios backwards and forwards without penalty. You will effectively be losing a percentage if you reverse a transaction.
Why has this happened?
It doesn’t take a genius to point the finger of blame at IAG Loyalty / Avios. There are two issues, I think.
The first is that, clearly, when you transfer Avios into Nectar points, IAG Loyalty has to pay real cash out to Sainsbury’s, which owns Nectar.
Because some IAG partners are paying close to 0.8p for their Avios, and presuming that IAG pays Nectar the full face value, IAG isn’t making any money on many Avios partner transactions.
This wouldn’t be a problem if people were choosing to spend their Avios on flights. However, it is becoming increasingly clear to many people – especially with British Airways increasing surcharges on Avios long-haul business class flights to almost £1,000 – that this isn’t something they want to do. Cashing out to Nectar made sense.
It is also logical that, with the economy taking a turn for the worse, saving some cash by converting Avios to Nectar to pay for your weekly shopping makes sense. It is a lot better for your budget than paying out almost £2,000 in taxes and charge for two ‘free’ business class flights to North America.
(The collapse of the £ won’t have helped either. It is now shockingly expensive to take a holiday anywhere where the currency is pegged to the US$, and many people will be rethinking their travel plans in the light of this. Paying £400 for a meal for six people, two of which were children, in a very average Mexican restaurant in Dubai last week came as a bit of shock to me, I promise you.)
The other issue is that the 0.8p transfer rate meant that British Airways had to remain ‘honest’. There was a limit to how much it could tinker with Avios because any negative changes would lead to a dash to the (Nectar) exit.
This 2nd factor is still true, of course, but to a lesser extent. Moving from 0.8p to 0.67p of Nectar points per Avios gives BA a little more wiggle room to leg you over, but not much.
It would be fascinating to know what Sainsbury’s makes of this. It will now see a lot less money coming in, as people decide not to convert to Nectar, but will still be paying IAG when people convert into Avios.
What should you do?
There is a very simple piece of advice here.
If you have 50,000 Avios in your British Airways Executive Club account, you should move them to Nectar before 16th November.
There is NO downside to doing this, only upside.
50,000 Avios is the monthly transfer cap, by the way, if you were wondering why I settled on that figure.
Look at this logically.
Today, 50,000 Avios gets you 80,000 Nectar points, worth £400.
After 16th November, 50,000 Avios will only get you 66,666 Nectar points, worth £333.
If you can’t find a good use for the Nectar points, you can still swap them back after 16th November with no loss. Because the incoming rate remains at 400 Nectar points = 250 Avios, you can swap them back into 50,000 Avios and you’re quits.
You have locked in a minimum 0.8p valuation for those 50,000 Avios. It will give you some protection if anything is coming down the line after 16th November to explain WHY IAG decided that 0.8p was now looking too generous …..
The two-way simplicity of Avios to Nectar transfers was the real charm of the scheme. The two schemes could operate symbiotically as one.
This is no longer the case. You will only transfer to Nectar if you knew that you had a firm plan to spend them, since transferring back to Avios would see you incurring a loss.
Most importantly, the floor value of 0.8p per Avios has been stripped away. There was, of course, no floor value at all prior to January 2021 when the Nectar partnership launched, so the fact that there is still a floor value – albeit a lower one of 0.67p per Avios – is still an improvement on the pre-pandemic situation.
If you believe that this move heralds some major upcoming changes to airline redemptions, I recommend moving 50,000 Avios into Nectar at some point in the next 14 days to lock in a guaranteed minimum of 0.8p of value.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.