How do Nectar points work?
It is now over two years 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, albeit that you lose some value if you reverse your transaction. This means that:
- Avios is now the most valuable Nectar redemption, assuming you value an Avios at 1p (400 Nectar points = 250 Avios)
- Avios now have a floor value of 0.66p – you should never redeem for anything which is poorer value than this – because 1 Avios gets you 0.66p of Nectar points to spend at Sainsbury’s, Argos, eBay etc (300 Avios = 400 Nectar points worth £2)
I thought it was worth updating our introductory pieces on the Nectar loyalty scheme for those who are not familiar with it.
(Everytime we update this article it gets shorter as more partners leave the scheme – this update has seen DFDS ferries, Europcar, Brakes and the remaining train franchises removed.)
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, of course, if you are shopping in Sainsbury’s, Argos, eBay, Esso 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, probably published tomorrow, 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 300 to 400, Avios points now have a floor value of (0.5p x 1.33) 0.66p.
What the fixed 0.5p rate means is that no Nectar redemption is ‘better’ than any other. (Caffe Nero is the main exception for getting better than 0.5p as we wrote here.)
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.
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 five 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:
• 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 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 – there are currently semi-regular targeted promotions via the Nectar app and the occasional very generous ‘open to all’ deals like this one offering 20 points per £1.
There is a maximum of 300 base points per transaction, which would trigger on a £300 purchase.
Full details are on this page of the eBay website.
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 litre of 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.
Historically you would have received sign-up bonuses for switching to the company. These are not currently available because switching makes no sense at present due to the energy price cap. This may change as 2023 develops due to falling wholesale prices.
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. There is a cap of 3,500 bonus points per fuel per year.
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.
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.
The Woodland Trust
You receive 20 Nectar points per £1 spent on Woodland Trust membership. All membership types, including life memberships, are included.
Dulux Decorator Centre
This is a hangover from the (now closed) Nectar Business scheme. You earn 2 points for every £1 you spend.
Daily Mail and 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.
Each code number gets you a spin of the Golden Wheel which will determine how many Nectar Points you collect.
Subscribers can spin the Golden Wheel every day in the Mail+ app.
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 have got more positive about Nectar Connect in the past year as I explained in this Nectar Connect review.
In Part 2 …..
In Part 2 of this article – hopefully published tomorrow – we look at Nectar’s financial partners. Earning points from a credit card is easier and quicker than many of the partners listed above.
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.