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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 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.

Review American Express Nectar credit Card

Key information

Key link: American Express Nectar application form

Key facts: No fee for year 1, £30 annual fee from year 2

The representative APR from year 2 is 37.8% variable.  The representative APR on purchases, and in the first year, is 31.0% variable.

Reward credit cards generally have high interest rates and are not suitable for anyone who does not pay off their full balance each month. If you do not clear your balance, you should look for a non-rewards credit card with a low interest rate.

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.

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.

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

Review Nectar American Express credit card

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.  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 ‘no fee in the first year’.

What is the Nectar Amex annual fee?

The American Express Nectar credit card comes with a £30 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 are worth 1.25 Avios.

This means that the £30 Nectar American Express card is more generous than the free British Airways American Express card or the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard (1 Avios per £1 and a smaller sign-up bonus).

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £15,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

It is less generous than the British Airways Premium Plus credit card or the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Both of these cards earn 1.5 Avios per £1, have a larger sign-up bonus and come with an annual voucher if you spend £15,000 (Premium Plus American Express, new rate from 1st November 2024) or £10,000 (Barclaycard Avios Plus). However, the cards carry annual fees of £300 and £240 respectively.

Arguably, if you were thinking of getting the free British Airways American Express and knew you had no chance of spending £15,000 to trigger the 2-4-1 companion voucher, it makes more sense to get the Nectar American Express for the first free year. You get a better bonus and Avios earn rate than the free BA Amex and, importantly, you’d still qualify for the bonus on the BA Premium Plus American Express card if you later decided to get that.

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

My default comparison card is the Lloyds Bank Cashback credit card.  It is free for life and offers 0.25% cashback on your first £4,000 of annual spend and 0.5% thereafter.

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 £30 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 £30 fee – than using free cards such as the John Lewis or Marks & Spencer credit cards.

Review: the Nectar American Express credit 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 credit cards with 0% foreign exchange fees worldwide which earn airline or hotel points. (The Virgin Atlantic credit cards have 0% FX fees in the Eurozone.)  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?

You can apply for the card with a minimum personal income of just £20,000.

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 and the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard. Both of these cards offer annual vouchers for hitting spending targets, however, which add value.

If you are starting out with Avios, you may want to get the Nectar American Express first and then progress to the £300 British Airways Premium Plus American Express. By taking this route you would still qualify for the generous Avios bonus on the BAPP card, which you would not get if you were upgrading from the free BA Amex. You should also look at the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard with its 25,000 Avios bonus.

The £30 fee means that – after the first FREE year – you need to be spending £5,000+ to justify the fee. For the first free 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 Cards’ 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. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.

Comments (18)

  • Jonathan says:

    This almost certainly has to be the most least popular card that gets coverage here on HfP, notably there other cards that’re far worse like Tesco Bank credit cards, and Sainsbury’s Bank credit cards, but as their day to day use earnings are so poor, they’re rarely mentioned, other than it being said about how poor the earnings are when using them

    • Reney says:

      I never understood why it is so unpopular. I think it is a great card for in between sign up bonuses as it doesn’t block them, has a higher earning rate and low annual fee (if you need to keep it that long). Also assuming it targets a less affluent segment, I sometimes think it gets the low value amex cashback that are easier to use in daily life.

      • Jonathan says:

        For someone starting out a fresh round of Amex SUBs, it’s this card or the Marriott Bonvoy card to start with, it’s impossible to know what people go for, but I’d personally go with the latter

      • BBbetter says:

        Easy. The points are only valuable when used at either Sainsburys or BA. But very few shop at Sainsburys all the time (I stopped after they started price-gouging in 2022-23). And you have better cards for earning Avios.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Yet it’s far better to keep than the free BA card and lots claim they have that.

        • Ted says:

          You can use Nectar points at Argos or eBay at the same rate, so you can buy almost anything you want as a nice reward using the points. The fall-back position is to use the Nectar points to buy fuel (again, same rate). There are also rail travel and other ways of benefitting from the points.

        • Peter K says:

          Marriott points are only really valuable at Marriott or to convert (at a loss of value) to airlines.

          The fee for the Marriott card in my opinion makes it not worth having if you are not already into the Marriott ecosystem. Nectar had various ways to cash out on the other hand, and no fee in year one.

        • Harrier25 says:

          “Very few shop at Sainsbury’s”? What a silly statement. It’s our most local large supermarket, so we shop there very regularly.

  • Reney says:

    typo: ‘and knew you had no change of spending £15,000 to trigger the 2-4-1 companion voucher’

    I think you meant no chanCe.

  • Bhavin says:

    Does this card round up nectar points like the ba cards?

    • Jonathan says:

      All cards available to new applicants state this in the T&Cs, no for Nectar, all transactions round DOWN to the nearest pound spent per transaction. Any purchases under £1 don’t earn any points whatsoever

  • flyforfun says:

    I think I’m getting muddled. I thought I could downgrade to this card when I cancel my PP card and then get the sign up bonus on the PP card in 2 years time. Looking at the 1/1/24 article I can’t see the right card to go to. I’m after an ideally free card (I know there’s no bonuses etc, but I want to keep an Amex card as my Member Since” is rather long now – even though I know that means absolutely nothing!!). I have the paid Barclaycard to keep earning avios and enough vouchers to burn for some hopeful trips in the future.

    • Rob says:

      You can downgrade to this card – or the free for life Amex Rewards Credit Card – and get the BAPP bonus after 2 years. The Nectar card earns more Avios than Amex Reward (1.25 vs 1) but Amex Rewards is permanently free and has more transfer partners.

      • flyforfun says:

        Thanks Rob! Do both cards get the Amex offers that are in the BAPP app? Targeted, I get, but does one get better than the other?

        • Jonathan says:

          Offers vary heavily by card, mainly what type of card, and by the user’s spending habits

    • Yorkie Aid says:

      In my personal experience Amex don’t reset your “Member Since” date even if you have a full break. I had my first personal card from 2001 until 2019 and then started again with the Bonvoy card in 2023. To my surprise when it arrived it said Member Since 01.

      • TooPoorToBeHere says:

        Same. I had no Amex for a decade but newly-issued one afterwards had the original joining date.

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