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What you need to know about the Sainsbury’s/Nectar Double Up and why it’s just another reason I don’t like Nectar.

Unlike Tesco’s Clubcard Boost offers this is a loyalty deal which is more marketing than reward. Here’s what you need to know about it and the other reasons I think Nectar is a letdown.

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When is the next Nectar Double Up?

Once more the loyalty card and supermarket partnership are holding a Double Up deal on points in November. This year it runs from Monday 12th November until Sunday 18th November 2018

You can exchange your points for vouchers from Monday 29th October until Sunday 4th November (online only) and Monday 5th until Sunday 18th November

What is Nectar Double Up?

Once a year (Sainsbury’s cut the spring Double Up event in 2017) you can swap your Nectar points for vouchers worth double to spend in Sainsbury’s stores.

There are very few chances to increase the value of your Nectar points. So when events like the Double Up week happen, it’s worth checking out the offer.

Sounds good yeah? Well keep on reading…

How the Nectar Double Up works

Getting a Double Up Nectar voucher is more complicated than it needs to be. And there are also restrictions on where you can spend them. I’ve found it can be more trouble than it’s worth.

Here’s what you need to know:

Getting the Double Up vouchers

It’s got a lot easier in recent years, but there are still things to watch out for.

  • You can’t just use your points at the till – you need to exchange your points for a voucher to spend in store.
  • You can only exchange for vouchers in superstores. That’s no good if you shop at a Local or Central.
  • You can’t use any checkout. You need to head to the customer services till or the designated till.
  • This year you can exchange vouchers online too, but only for one week. The risk here is you get the voucher but the stores don’t have what you need in stock – so you end up wasting your voucher
  • You can only double up £5, £10 or £25 worth of points into a voucher worth £10, £10 or £50 respectively.
  • There’s a cap of £200 in vouchers per Nectar account.

In the past you’ve only been to swap for vouchers at a Sainsbury’s you’ve shopped at in the last 12 months and earned Nectar points at. I don’t know if this is still the case, but it’s worth popping into your local big shop now and buying something before it’s time to use the vouchers.

Using Double Up vouchers

Again it’s hardly simple. However there a few changes in 2018 which might make it a little easier. The main one is that you no longer have to choose which department you want the voucher for, so any voucher can be used on products from any of the included categories. Here are the main things to know:

  • You can’t spend the vouchers on everything in the shop as they’re only valid in certain departments, and this excludes food and most drink. I find these are either niche, or products you’ll probably get cheaper elsewhere.
  • You can’t use them in Sainsbury’s Local or petrol stations.
  • There’s no change given unless it’s less than 5p, in which case it’s taken off the rest of your shopping.
  • The voucher only lasts until the end of the promotion period. If you don’t spend it before the last day and you lose it all.
  • If the store doesn’t have what you want, you can’t get a refund. So you’ll need to check they have in stock what you want before exchanging for the voucher.

What’s included in the 2018 Nectar Double Up?

Here’s where you can spend your Double Up vouchers in 2018:

  • Tu Clothing
  • Electricals
  • Toys 4. Entertainment
  • Taste the Difference: Wine, Champagne, Sparkling, Sherry & Port
  • Homeware
  • Seasonal
  • Fragrance
  • Cosmetics
  • Skincare
  • Gifting

As with last year, the main thing on the 2018 Nectar Double Up list that’s got my interest this year is Taste The Difference wine. If you saw my video and blog about how to find good value supermarket wine you’ll know there was a pretty tasty New Zealand Pinot Noir which was part of that range.

If you’re going to buy toys, homeware or clothes from Sainsbury’s then it’s worth a look. But don’t get your vouchers before you know what you want to buy, and that it’s in stock. It’s worth throwing your items in your trolley and then going to customer services.

Last year I also picked up a reduced to clear NOW TV box and pass. It worked out at £10 when using the Double Up voucher, a couple of quid less than buying it elsewhere. But a lot of the other tech was available for less in other shops. Again, it’s worth looking.

And I’ve issues with normal Nectar spending too

But Double Up isn’t my only issue with Nectar when compared to other loyalty schemes.

You don’t get many points

You earn one point per full pound spent – that’s roughly 0.5% of your shop, half of what you’ll get at Tesco.

> Read my top ways to earn and spend Nectar points

The points system is complicated

Tesco and Boots value one point as 1 pence and you get 1 point for ever pound you spend. It’s pretty easy to work out what you have. Nectar value one point at a less convenient 0.5 pence. You can also read my blogpost about what loyalty points are worth.

It can even be tricky spending points in-store

I’m not sure if this is still the case, but when I first wrote this article in 2014 I’d just stopped off on the way to a friend’s house to buy some odds and ends. Having checked out the double up deal and realised there was nothing for me there, I thought it would be a good idea to use some of the points I’ve earned.

Well, the dreaded “Home store” problem came up again. It turned out you could also only spend your points if you’ve swiped your card – and earned points – in that store more than 24 hours earlier and within the last 12 months.

You can also only spend in portions of £2.50 (or 500 points). I’ve no idea why they make it so difficult!

The everyday Nectar deals are rarely any good

Most of the ways to exchange points work out at the same value wherever they are spent. 500 points are worth £2.50. That’s the same if you’re spending in Sainsbury’s or buying cinema tickets.

Sometimes the Nectar website does have a special offer, but I find you can normally beat them through cashback sites or simply comparing prices elsewhere.

The ‘better’ deals such as reduced theme park tickets can also easily be beaten by other easily found deals online. Another deal lets you swap points for Pizza Express vouchers. You get a 25% bonus, so 500 points gets you £3.75 rather than £2.50. That’s easily beaten by Tesco’s 4x exchange, and it’s not difficult to find a voucher elsewhere that offers the same or better.

There was one decent offer on cinema tickets which ran in the summer of 2016 and 2017, but didn’t return in 2018.

Which really just leaves the Double Up event as your only opportunity to get more for your points.

If you shop at Sainsbury’s it’s still worth using Nectar

If you’re a regular shopper in Sainsbury’s or at one of the online partners, then you may as well collect the points. It’s a little bit of money for nothing. But don’t expect to get any standout savings, and certainly don’t go out of your way to shop for Nectar points.

> See what you can buy at Sainsbury’s

**This post was originally written in November 2014 and has been updated for each subsequent Double Up event. My opinions have mellowed a little since then – thanks in part to that half-price wine – but I’m still not a fan. However, I know for some people who regularly shop in Sainsbury’s think it’s great. Do check out the comments at the bottom and add your thoughts.**

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