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’m not a huge fan of. 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 Argos and eBay.
And if you’ve got points, you’ll need to spend them. Most of the time it’s going to be exchanged at face value, though you can now swap them for Avios points.
Options to boost the value aren’t great, especially since 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 a year (normally late November).
In this article I’ve explained how Nectar works and how you can sign up, plus I’ve shared more tips for both collecting and spending Nectar.
How Nectar points work
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 are therefore 50p, 200 points £1 and so on.
This is half the value of a Tesco Clubcard points. I’ve written more extensively about the value of different points in this loyalty cards article.
Value of Nectar points
- 1 Nectar point = 0.5p
- 2 Nectar points = 1p
- 100 Nectar points = 50p
- 200 Nectar points = £1
- 500 Nectar points = £2.50
- 1,000 Nectar points = £5
- 2,500 Nectar points = £12.50
- 5,000 Nectar points = £25
Points can usually be doubled once a year in Sainsbury’s stores, though it’s a limited choice of what these boosted points can be used on – and there’s no guarantee the offer will take place each year.
How Nectar works
Nectar is the loyalty scheme for Sainsbury’s, Argos and a handful of other retailers. It’s actually owned by Sainsbury’s, though it can be collected and redeemed with other brands.
How to collect Nectar points
You earn points when you shop at participating shops retailers. I’ve a long list of the best places to earn Nectar points below.
When shopping in stores you’ll need a Nectar card, which can be a physical plastic one or a digital one stored on the Nectar app. Online you’ll need to either connect your Nectar card to the relevant account, or shop via the Nectar website.
You can also earn them on all spending via a couple of Nectar credit cards, or by converting Avios points.
How to spend Nectar points
Your options for using Nectar points are quite limited. It’s most likely you’ll use them in-store at Sainsbury’s and at a handful of partners.
Most of the time you’ll swipe your card to redeem your points in-store, or select to use them online. With some partners you need to convert your points into vouchers. You can also swap them to Avios points.
I’ve got more information on all of these options below, along with my picks of the best ones.
How to sign up to Nectar
You can get a Nectar card online, via the app or by picking up a form in a Sainsbury’s store.
Once you’ve done this a physical card will be posted out, though you’ll have a digital card via the app straight away.
How to check your Nectar points balance
Not sure how many Nectar points you have? The Nectar app and website both contain your current points total, as well as a record of where and when you earned your points.
The best places to collect Nectar points
Earn points as you spend
You’ll 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.
You might also get vouchers for extra points at the till, sometimes double or triple points on your next transaction. 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.
Get bonus points via weekly offers
Nectar was relaunched in 2019. The big idea with “new” Nectar is as well get generic point offers, you’ll get ones tailored to your shopping habits. These 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.
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.
Based on the offers I’ve seen, it’s pretty average. 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.
But something is better than nothing so it’s a welcome addition if you regularly shop at Sainsbury’s.
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.
Nectar Prices promotions
Sainsbury’s has introduced occasional discounts for Nectar holders. You can read more about this here.
You can now earn points at Argos. It’s one point per £1 spent, though it’s occasionally doubled. You’ll need to link your accounts.
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. Register your Nectar card on eBay
You can convert 250 Avios points to 400 Nectar points – handy if you’ve got a surplus of Avios points that you won’t use.
You can usually do this online, but at the time of writing there’s a bug which means you have to phone up Avios (0344 49 333 03) to switch their points to Nectar.
It took me all of four minutes to do this, though it can take a while for the points to reach your Nectar account.
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 account or at checkout) with a handful of train companies. When you buy a ticket you will earn two Nectar points per £1 spent.
- Great Western Railway – 2 Nectar points per £1 spent
- South Western Railway – 2 Nectar points per £1 spent
- TransPennine Express – 2 Nectar points per £1 spent
- Avanti West Coast – 2 Nectar points per £1 spent
Via Nectar credit cards
If you shop at a Nectar store a lot, it might be worth getting a Nectar credit card. There are two main options.
The American Express Nectar credit card is the best bet and will earn you up to three points for every £1 spent, worth 1.5%. Otherwise, it’s still a decent two points per £1, which works out at 1%. There’s also a bonus worth £100 pounds when you first sign up and spend £2,000.
There’s also Sainsbury’s Bank’s own Nectar credit card (Mastercard) which comes with a £50 bonus when you spend £400 in two months at the likes of Sainsbury’s, Argos or Habitat.
However, I think 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.
Via utilities & insurance
You can earn bonus points for signing up to other Sainsbury’s Bank products such as home insurance and also Sainsbury’s Energy. Though they could be worth it, these offers shouldn’t be a reason to choose Sainsbury’s over other providers as they could work out more expensive than options you find via a full comparison.
Via Amex membership rewards
You can convert American Express Rewards points to Nectar points at a value of one to one. However, you can boost this if you first convert your Amex points to Avois points and then onto Nectar points.
You’ll see many other brands listed on the Nectar website, such as Expedia and Groupon. To earn points via these retailers 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 they can be more or less.
- Just Eat
These extra places to earn might sound appealing but I would avoid using them. You can usually beat these rates by clicking from a cashback site instead. Here’s my guide to the best cashback sites and welcome bonuses.
Andy’s Analysis – earning points
So what’s the best place to earn Nectar points? Very simply it’s any retailer you are spending money at that offers them. But don’t go out of your way – it’s better to shop where you get the best price.
Be careful too of earning points via credit cards or other promotions if you’re not a regular Sainsbury’s, Argos or eBay shopper. You might be better off getting cold hard cash you can spend anywhere.
Where 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. Here are the best places to spend your points.
Sainsbury’s Double up weekend
The Nectar/Sainsbury’s Double Up Weekend used to run twice a year, but for the last four years it only ran at Christmas. There’s no guarantee but hopefully it will be back in November or December 2021.
Even though I’ve not been a fan in the past 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. There’s also a £100 limit per account.
Still, I have picked up some nice Taste the Difference wine for the last few years, and I’m planning on doing the same this year and stocking up. In the past I’ve also used a voucher against a NOW TV box with Entertainment Passes, which was a decent deal.
The only other redemption which gives you a slightly better value is at Caffe Nero. Here 350 points (normally worth £1.75) gets you any drink in any size.
So as long as the drink you buy is priced at more than £1.75 you’re getting better value than using points at other partners.
To use your points in Sainsbury’s stores you must have used your Nectar card in that specific store in the last year. You can also use them online on the Sainsbury’s website.
They can also be used on petrol but you have to pay in the kiosk, not at the pump.
You can use multiples of 500 points at Argos, each worth £2.50. To spend them in an Argos store you swipe your card; online you must have connected your card.
To spend Nectar points at eBay you must convert them to a voucher. 500 points are once again worth £2.50, but there’s a minimum spend at eBay of £10 to use the vouchers.
Converting to Avios points
I think that most people are better off using cashback credit cards and air mile reward credit cards. You’ve got the flexibility to use your earnings how you want, and not be restricted to certain flights.
However, if you are an Avios fan, then you can boost your points by converting 400 Nectar points to 250 Avios.
Other Nectar points redemptions
There are a fraction of the partners you get with Tesco Clubcard, and few opportunities to boost the value.
Once more 500 points are usually 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.
You can exchange them for the same value at the following retailers:
- Vue – 500 points for £2.50
- Eurostar – 500 points for £2.50 (minimum 2,000 points)
Bad options include swapping for movie rentals at Sky Store, but you can get far cheaper rentals elsewhere.
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.
Andy’s Analysis – Spending points
My big frustration with Nectar is the limitation on where to redeem the points. That and the disappearance of offers to boost their value.
The truth is you are most likely to spend them at Sainsbury’s. And that’s probably the best place too – as long as you have one nearby.
It’s worth holding some back for the Double Up offer, even if it’s just to stack up on some wine ahead of Christmas.
Nectar points special offers
Occasionally there are increased points offers at Sainsbury’s and other partners., both to earn extra points and sometimes (though more rarely) to use them.
You can usually find these in the Nectar 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.
When I spot any really good ones I’ll share them below.
99 free points via Esso
Enter a competition via Esso to win tickets to the British Grand Prix and you’ll automatically get 99 Nectar points, worth 49.5p. You need to enter your Nectar card number in your entry. Ends 31 May 2021 and you will get your points within 28 days of the competition ending.