If you’ve got a Nectar card, are you making the most of your points?
One of my most popular articles is Why I hate Nectar points. It’s mainly about my frustration with the Double Up scheme, which I think is a bit of a joke. So why am I writing another post about Nectar if I’m not a fan?
Well, because if you shop at Sainsbury’s you may as well collect the points. Plus, unlike Clubcard and other loyalty schemes, you can rack up points at lots of other retailers including eBay.
And if you’ve got points, you’ll need to spend them. The options aren’t great, especially since a few years ago Nectar dropped one of the few decent deals which gave two cinema tickets for 500 points and reduced the Double Up weekend to just once (normally late November).
But this could all change very soon. Nectar has been trialling a different format on the Isle of Wight since 2019 and it’s now available to all customers.
So in this article I’ve explained how the new Nectar works and how you can sign up, plus I’ve shared more tips for both collecting and spending Nectar.
What are Nectar points worth?
One Nectar point is worth 0.5p, meaning if you earn 1 point from a purchase it’s the equivalent of 0.5% cashback. 100 points is therefore 50p, 200 points £1 and so on. I’ve written more extensively about the value of different points in this loyalty cards article.
The new Nectar scheme is now available to all customers, though it’s still officially a trial for now.
How new Nectar works
The big idea with new Nectar is rather than get generic point offers, you’ll get ones tailored to your shopping habits. These will change every Friday.
When I logged in I was given six different offers on Sainsbury’s produce. Five were product-specific, such as an extra 20 points if I buy some organic red peppers, or 10 points for any fresh salad. There was also a bonus 200 points if I spend £40 in store. A few days later I got another six offers which this time covered milk, soup and bread.
You have to save the offers to your account, though there’s a handy “save all offers” button. And of course you still have to scan your card at the till. The deals I was given seem to last for between four and eight days.
In the app you’ll also have a digital card and tills are being adapted to accept this card rather than the swipe system with previous physical Nectar cards.
For now it seems you’ll still get 1 point per £1 spent at Sainsbury’s (and other Nectar partners), though when the trial ran on the Isle of Wight this didn’t happen.
Is new Nectar any good?
Based on the offers I saw, it’s pretty poor. 10p back on some organic peppers isn’t going to make me buy them.
But if it was something I wanted to buy, those 20 points would be more than the two I’d get normally.
The deals are meant to be based on your shopping habits, and seeing as I very rarely shop at Sainsbury’s nowadays, it’s possible regular shoppers will get better options.
And if these promotions are alongside the existing 1 point per £1 spent then they’re a welcome addition if you regularly shop at Sainsbury’s.
However if that goes, and all we’re left with is the odd product based offer then you could well lose out.
And remember, these loyalty schemes are never a reason to choose a supermarket. It’s better instead to go on price and factors such as how easy it is for you to get there.
How to sign up to new Nectar
To be part of the new Nectar scheme you need to log in to the new website and app. You do this with your existing Nectar card number and password. This should be a simple process, though I had a few issues that asked me to call a helpline. It turned out the problem was with my existing password.
I managed to get around it by clicking the forgotten password link, then setting a new password which included an upper case character and a number (my previous one was all lowercase). Then I went back to the start and logged in with the new credentials, and voila I was part of the new Nectar system.
Once you’ve done this a new physical card will be posted out, though this is just a branding thing and I’ve been told that the existing cards will continue to work. You also won’t get a keyfob in this new design.
The best places to collect Nectar points
Although this could change with new Nectar when it’s fully launched, you’ll currently get one point for every £1 spent at Sainsbury’s. 500 points are worth £2.50, so this which works out at 0.5% (more on the value of loyalty card points in my How much are loyalty points worth article).
Swipe at the till to get your points, and keep an eye on the app or digital account for special offers which boost the number of points you’ll get. I recently added an offer to give me double points for my next six shops. Annoyingly you have to activate these in your account.
You might also get vouchers for extra points at the till. If you can be bothered to buy a single, cheap item at the start of your shop, you should then get any vouchers printed out ready for you to use on the rest of your shopping. These could be phased out with the new digital Nectar offers.
If you link your account to eBay you’ll get 1 point per £1 spent (so the same as Sainbury’s). There are also bonus offers throughout the year that can be found in the Nectar app.
Esso replaced BP on Nectar in the summer of 2019. You can earn 1 point per litre of fuel, or swipe in-store to get two points per £1 spent on other things, so roughly 1% back in points.
You can link your Nectar card (either in your acount or at checkout) with a handful of train companies. When you buy a ticketyou will earn two Nectar points per £1 spent.
- Virgin Trains – 2 Nectar points per £1 spent
- LNER – 2 Nectar points per £1 spent
- Hull Trains – 2 Nectar points per £1 spent
- Great Western Railway – 2 Nectar points per £1 spent
- TransPennine Express – 2 Nectar points per £1 spent
The problem with the other brands listed on the Nectar website, such as Expedia and Clarks, is to earn points you have to click through via the Nectar portal. Most of the time you’ll get two points per £1 spend, so the equivalent of 1% back. But you can usually beat these by clicking from a cashback site instead.
Get a Nectar credit card
If you shop at a Nectar store a lot, it might be worth getting a Nectar American Express credit card as you’ll get up to three points for every £1 spent. Otherwise, it’s still a decent two points per £1, which works out at 1%. However you’re often better off with a standard cashback Amex as you can use the money you earn anywhere, not just places like Sainsbury’s.
The best ways to spend Nectar points
I wish I had more to say here but sadly, it’s rare to get many boosts to the value of your Nectar points, though from time to time there are special offers.
Double up weekend
The Nectar/Sainsbury’s Double Up Weekend used to run twice a year, but in 2017 and 2018 it only ran at Christmas. There’s no guarantee but hopefully it will be back in November 2019.
Even though I’m not a fan AT ALL as it really is the only way to increase the value of your points. Essentially you swap your points for a voucher to spend in Sainsbury’s that is worth twice their value. So 500 points will get you a £5 voucher.
However you’re severely limited where in-store you can spend the voucher, and as I shared in that article, there are other annoying restrictions.
Still, I did pick up some nice Taste the Difference wine last year, and I’m planning on doing the same this year and stocking up. I also used a voucher against a NOW TV box with Entertainment Passes, which was a decent deal.
Ongoing Nectar points offers
There are a fraction of the partners you get with Tesco Clubcard, and few opportunities to boost the value.
Usually 500 points are worth £2.50. You also have to spend them in chunks (usually 500 points or 1,000 points) rather than choose how many you’d like to use.
The obvious place is Sainsbury’s, though you can exchange them for the same value at the following retailers.
- Sainsbury’s – 500 points for £2.50
- Vue – 500 points for £2.50
- Argos – 500 points for £2.50
- eBay – 500 points for £2.50
Slightly better value options include
- Pizza Hut – An individual pizza for 1,000 points (£5) though it’s only one per table
- Caffe Nero – 350 points (£1.75) gets you any drink in any size
Some of these retailers let you swipe your card or link your card to use points. Others require you to exchange the points for a voucher or code via the Nectar website.
Occasional Nectar points special offers
Occasionally there are increased points offers at Sainsbury’s and other partners.. For example, at the time of writing, you can get 500 bonuns points for buying train tickets with LNER.
You can find these in theNectar app and website so it pays to check every now and again. I also get emails about bonus Nectar offers on eBay, so keep an eye on your inbox.
Sadly one of the best in recent years has been axed. In the summers of 2015, 2016 and 2017 you could swap 500 points for two Vue tickets or two Pizza Express mains. Thats £2.50! The replacement in 2019 was a ticket for 1,000 points, or £5, which was ok, but not a touch on its predecessor. Other deals like this are pretty rare.
Still, it’s worth keeping an eye out for anything like this. If I spot any really good offers I’ll share them here in this article, so bookmark and check back, or subscribe to my newsletter for updates.