What is the Nectar card loyalty scheme?

Sainsbury's Nectar card

Nectar is Sainsbury’s loyalty card scheme. Cardholders can collect and spend points at Sainsbury’s, along with some other retailers, as well as the option to donate points to charity.

It’s the big rival to the Tesco Clubcard scheme with 18 million members. We look at how the Nectar scheme works and how it can save you money on your food shopping and more.

Nectar loyalty card holders can also benefit from cheaper prices on certain products when shopping at Sainsbury’s with its Nectar Prices scheme.

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How does the Nectar loyalty scheme work? 

If you’re not already a member, you can join the free Nectar loyalty scheme by signing up online or via the app.   

You can collect and spend Nectar points at Sainsbury’s. And you can also collect points at over 300 Nectar partners.  

However when it comes to spending Nectar points, aside from using them at Sainsbury’s, the website shows they can only be swapped at just 14 other places right now. These include eBay, Argos, Habitat, Esso and Caffe Nero. You can also use them on travel including Eurostar escapes and British Airways.  

Compared with the range of options when swapping Tesco Clubcard vouchers, Nectar doesn’t have as many options.

In the past, you could swap Nectar points for tickets for cinema tickets with Vue. However, this option now shows as ‘unavailable’ on the Nectar website, as is the option to swap Nectar points for Sky movie rentals.

To collect points at Sainsbury’s or with a participating retailer, swipe your Nectar card at the till. Or you can use the digital version on the Nectar app.   

With online purchases, you can also enter your Nectar card details at the online payment stage. 

How many points can I earn with the Nectar loyalty scheme?

You can earn one point for every pound you spend at Sainsbury’s supermarkets, both in store and online.

Regular shoppers can take advantage of personalised offers through its app. And there are regular savings on everyday products by scanning your card at the till.

Buying Sainsbury’s fuel earns you one point for every litre of fuel. This is more generous than the Tesco Clubcard scheme, where you only get one point for every two litres of fuel.

You can also earn points with Sainsbury’s credit cards. And you can earn three Nectar points for every £2 spent in stores, including Sainsbury’s, Argos and Habitat.

Signing up for Sainsbury’s energy or insurance products can also earn you bonus Nectar points. However, it’s not worth signing up for ‘point promising’ services unless they offer the best value. With energy, it’s worth checking the best energy deals first.

As already mentioned, you can also earn points on purchases across over 300 Nectar partners. These include Argos, eBay, Esso, British Airways and Booking.com. You can find out more about Nectar partners and how to collect and spend points on the Nectar website.

Can you earn points on all purchases?

You may not be able to earn points on all purchases. At Sainsbury’s, some items are excluded from Nectar points.

These include stamps, lottery tickets, mobile phone vouchers, gift cards and baby milk products.

And if you forget to produce your Nectar card when paying at Sainsbury’s, you won’t miss out on points. All you need to do is take your card plus receipt to an in-store customer service desk within 14 days. Points can be credited to your account.

The number of points you can earn when shopping with other Nectar partners can vary. If you shop at Argos, you can earn one point for every £1 spent. And with eBay, you can also earn one point for every pound. Although you will need to first link your Nectar card to your eBay account through the eBay website. 

However, if you get an American Express Nectar credit card, you can earn up to two points for every pound spent on it. And if you use it to pay for purchases at Nectar partners like Argos or eBay, you can also earn the usual one point per £1 as well.

While this card usually has a £30 annual fee, the first year is free. And you can get 20,000 bonus Nectar points, worth £100, if you spend £2,000 on the card within the first three months.

How much are Sainsbury’s Nectar points worth?

Every £100 you spend earns you just 50p in points. By comparison, every £100 spent at Tesco earns you £1.

Every 500 points you earn are worth £2.50 to spend at Sainsbury’s or one of its Nectar Partners. And if you store up your points, 5,000 points is worth £25.

Where to spend Nectar points

You can spend points at Sainsbury’s by tapping your Nectar card at the till. You must have shopped at the store and have used your Nectar card there within the past year.

This means you can’t cash in points if you pop into another Sainsbury’s branch on your way home from work or weekend away.  

If you do want to use points at a new branch, you need to shop there and then wait 24 hours before you can redeem your points. By comparison, with the Tesco Clubcard scheme, you can present Clubcard vouchers at the supermarket till or online version for an instant reduction on your bill.

You can earn Nectar points at hundreds of outlets, as well as Sainsbury’s. But there’s a more limited number of retailers that accept them in payment.

You can spend Nectar points at Argos, Caffe Nero, eBay and Habitat. What you get for your points varies between retailers. For example, at Caffe Nero, 400 points gets you one hot drink.

In most cases, you can spend points at participating partners by swiping your Nectar card or using the app. But with others, you may have to convert Nectar points to vouchers through the Nectar website.

It’s worth checking terms and conditions with Nectar partners. For example, using points to pay for Eurostar tickets can be a way to save on a weekend break. But doing this means a £10 booking fee will be added to your booking total.

One other thing to watch, especially if you’re planning a big spend to bump up your Nectar points, is how quickly points will be credited to your account. Nectar says points balances are updated every 72 hours, so points accrued from recent transactions may not be included.   

Do my Nectar points have an expiry date?

Nectar points don’t have an expiry date, but if you don’t collect or spend any points for a year, Nectar may close down your account.

In this case, your Nectar points will be lost. If you redeem Nectar points for vouchers for Eurostar holidays, for example, these will have an expiry date and must be used by this date. 

If you haven’t used your card for a while and are concerned about losing points, you could always donate them to charity.

Donate your Nectar points

Nectar has joined up with the Woodland Trust and you can donate points by logging into your Nectar account. So you could, for example, donate 2,000 points to plant a tree. 

You can also go into your Nectar account and link your card with Crowdfunder to donate points to a charity of your choice.

Other benefits with the Sainsbury’s Nectar loyalty scheme?

Sainsbury’s has also introduced Nectar Prices, which is its competitor to the Tesco Prices scheme. 

This enables Nectar loyalty card holders to get regular discounts in stores and online.

There are over 300 Nectar Prices products, which change on a regular basis. Items are clearly marked with purple ‘Nectar Prices’ labels. To take advantage of the lower price, shoppers need to swipe their card or app in store, or link it to their online Sainsbury’s account.

Deals vary, but right now you can get Fairy Platinum Plus all in one lemon dishwasher tablets (42) for £9, instead of £12.  You can also save 90p buying Heinz top down ketchup. Nectar loyalty scheme members can pay the reduced price of £2.50, instead of the higher £3.40 price.

Even if you’re not a regular Sainsbury’s shopper, it may still be worth getting a Nectar loyalty card as the scheme is free to join.

This then saves you missing out if you pop in and want to stock up on certain items, but avoid paying higher prices.

However, on the downside, unless you stick to using your points in your regular Sainsbury’s branch, it could be time consuming if you want to use them at another outlet you don’t usually visit. And the choice of places to spend them isn’t as generous as the Tesco Clubcard scheme.