A step-by-step guide to swapping your points.
I’m not a fan of collecting Avios points to use on flight tickets unless you’re a big, big spender who’s going to earn enough of these and a companion travel voucher for a long-haul flight.
However, since the link-up between Avios and Nectar earlier in 2021, there’s now the opportunity for all money savers to earn a little boost on their Amex Reward points from cashback cards.
It’s even possible that the welcome bonuses from Avios Amex credit cards can be worth nabbing if you’re happy to convert those points to ones you can use in Sainsbury’s, Argos and eBay.
Here’s what you need to do to swap points, plus how much they’ll effectively be worth.
Watch my video on swapping the points, or keep reading
What are Avios points?
Avios is the British Airways reward scheme. You collect points from BA flights or holidays, or from using an Avios credit card.
Once you’ve gained enough (at least 8,000) you can put these towards flights with BA and some partner airlines. You’ll have to pay for taxes and fees on top. Or you can use them to upgrade a cash booking to a class above.
My main issue with collecting these points is that you need a huge number of points to get those upgrades or long-haul flights. And they also restrict you to certain seats on certain flights at certain times. I much prefer the flexibility to shop around for cheaper tickets across a number of airlines and travel when I want.
Plus factor in the pandemic and its impact on travel, I think these points are even less attractive.
Of course, there will be times when these points can get you a huge saving, particularly if you spend enough (on an eligible Amex Avios credit card) to get a free “companion voucher”, where you get a free ticket for the same flight you book on. But most of us won’t reach those levels.
There are other ways to use your points, though these are generally seen as not great value.
What are Nectar points?
You’ll be familiar with Nectar points already. These are usually earned from Sainsbury’s shopping, but you can also nab them from Argos, eBay, Habitat and a number of other retailers.
One Nectar point is worth 0.5p if you use it at those high street retailers. So with the Amex Nectar card you earn two points per £1 spent, the equivalent of 1% back. Swiping at Sainsbury’s though will earn you one point per £1 spent, working out at 0.5%.
I’ve written more here about the best ways to spend and earn Nectar points.
What are Amex Reward points?
Just to throw one more loyalty scheme into the mix, it’s worth talking about American Express Reward points as they can factor into your conversions.
Though some Amex credit cards will earn you cashback (actual money paid to your card), or the aforementioned Avios and Nectar credit cards earning those respective points, you can also earn Amex Reward points on other cards.
Generally you’ll get one reward point per £1 spent via cards such as the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card, Amex Platinum card and Amex Rewards card.
There are a number of ways to redeem them. You can put them towards your credit card bill where they work out as 0.45p per point. A slightly better return is for a gift card such as Amazon.
You can also swap Reward points direct to Nectar at a one-to-one ratio, also working out at 0.5p per point. There’s a similar 1:1 ratio for Amex to Avios. You can’t swap Avios or Nectar points back to Amex Reward points.
But as I’ll explain in a moment, one Avios isn’t worth one Nectar when converted within those brands, meaning you can hack the value of an Amex Reward for a 60% increase!
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The Nectar to Avios conversion rate
Rather than a simple one-to-one swap, you’ll actually get more Nectar for your Avios. The rates are:
- 250 Avios are worth 400 Nectar
- 400 Nectar are worth 250 Avios
These are also the minimum levels for a conversion. Plus you can only convert in these multiples. So you can convert 250, 500, 750, 1,000 etc Avios points or 400, 800, 1,200 etc Nectar points.
Since we know that one Nectar is worth 0.5p, it means that one Avios when converted to Nectar is worth 0.8p.
This means that
- 100 Avios points are worth 80p in Nectar points
- 1,000 Avios points are worth £8 in Nectar points
- 5,000 Avios points are worth £40 in Nectar points
- 20,000 Avios points are worth £160 in Nectar points
And taking it a step further, swap an Amex Reward point to Avios and then to Nectar and it too is worth 0.8p, rather than the 0.5p via a straight Amex to Nectar conversation.
How to convert Avios points to Nectar (and vice versa)
When the partnership launched, the swap from Nectar to Avios was quick and easy online. However the only way to convert Avios to Nectar was to phone up a dedicated number at British Airways! Fortunately, the technical issues have been resolved and you can now also do this online.
If you’re already collecting Avios or have swapped them over from Amex Rewards, you’ll have a British Airways Executive Club account. You’ll also need a Nectar account if you don’t already have one.
First up you need to connect these BA and Nectar accounts. You can do it via either site, but here’s the Nectar link. As long as you’re logged in this’ll take a few seconds.
On the exchange page, you’ll see your points balance on both schemes. There are two ways to convert points in either direction.
My preference is manual conversion. You are able to type in how many of either type you want to swap and you’ll immediately see what you’ll get in return. You’ll also be prompted to change the value if it’s not a multiple of 250 (Avios) or 400 (Nectar).
Once you’ve chosen the amount to swap hit convert and the transaction will take place.
The alternative is auto-conversion. This will move over all your points earned every week, as long as there are enough to reach the minimum levels, and only within those 250/400 multiples.
Avios to Nectar conversion limits
One of the issues of collecting huge Amex Reward or Avios welcome bonuses from Amex credit cards with the intention of moving them to Nectar points is there are weekly and monthly limits.
The manual exchange is capped at 80,000 Nectar points and 50,000 Avios points per month. The auto-swap is set at 40,000 Nectar and 25,000 Avios every week.
These are independent limits, so you could do both an automatic conversion and a manual conversion above these levels in the same month if you have enough points.
How long do Avios and Nectar conversions take?
If you swap Nectar to Avios you’ll see the Avios points in your balance straight away. Do it the other way and it’ll take 10 days for the Nectar points to be useable.
Best Amex and Avios point reward cards
Though the best ongoing cashback/reward rate for spending is the Nectar Amex credit card (the equivalent of 1% back), when it comes to welcome bonuses it’s worth looking at different options.
These tend to be worth £100 to £125 for new customers, but with certain cards the Amex Rewards to Avios to Nectar conversion, or even just Avios to Nectar can really boost the value.
What you get depends on if you already have an American Express card. You’ll also be able to earn a bit more going via a cashback site or getting a referral link.
Amex cards for new customers
The American Express Preferred Rewards credit card earns you one Reward point per £1 spent (so 0.8%) But if you’ve not had any personal Amex cards in the last two years and spend £3,000 in the first three months, you’ll get 20,000 bonus Reward points.
Swap these 1:1 for Nectar points or buy a gift card and this bonus plus points earned from the initial spend would be worth £115.
But convert to Avios and then to Nectar and they’re worth a huge £184!
Check out my full review of the card but it’s worth noting that in year two this comes with a £140 annual fee so ditch it for the free Amex Rewards card instead if you still have Reward points left to convert.
Amex cards for existing customers
There are also a handful of cards which even existing cardholders can get a bonus with, though the high fees often make these less profitable. Saying that at the time of writing there are some boosted welcome offers (until 2 November 2020) that are worth considering.
The American Express British Airways Platinum Plus card could net you 40,000 bonus Avios points (if you spend £3,000 in three months) worth £320 in Nectar points.
Meanwhile the Amex Platinum card is offering 60,000 Reward points (if you spend £6,000 in six months), worth £480 when swapped first to Avios and then to Nectar. With both you’ll also have earned points on your spending to convert and add on top.
The annual fees wipe out these bonuses, but if you downgrade these cards to their free equivalents as soon as you get the bonus, you’ll hopefully keep about half of the value. I’ve explained more here.