Now you'll earn much fewer Nectar points - here's why

Since April 11, the number of Nectar points you can earn when you shop at Sainsbury’s has been cut in half.

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More than 80% of us use supermarket loyalty cards, according to a MoneySuperMarket poll, but the Sainsbury’s version just became a lot less generous.

Now you only get one point per £1 you spend at the supermarket, compared to the two points per £1 you earned previously.

What’s Sainsbury’s justification?

Sainsbury’s says it decided to make the cut after reviewing the scheme. It claims that, while you’ll earn fewer points on your shopping, there’ll be new opportunities to boost your balance more quickly through special ‘bonus points’ events.

It also says that at certain times, such as Christmas, there’ll be more ‘Double Up’ events where you earn double points on your spending.

Are there any other changes?

Yes, you no longer get one Nectar point for every bag you reuse in store.

Sainsbury’s says that customers are reusing bags without taking the one Nectar point reward, which is why they are removing it.

What about Nectar points on my fuel spending?

There’s no change to the points you earn on fuel spending. You’ll still get one point for every litre of fuel you buy at a Sainsbury’s forecourt.

Is the value of Nectar points changing?

No, even though you’ll earn fewer points from now on, their value will stay the same. You’ll get £2.50 off your shopping for every 500 points you redeem.

Your points can sometimes be worth more if you convert them into rewards such as restaurant meals or days out.

“It’s only the number of Nectar points you earn at Sainsbury’s which is changing. The number of points you’ll earn at other participating retailers won’t change...”

What about Nectar points I earn at other stores?

It’s only the number of Nectar points you earn at Sainsbury’s which is changing. The number of points you’ll earn at other retailers such as Homebase, Expedia and eBay won’t change.

What if I took out another financial product with Sainsbury’s Bank specifically because of the Nectar points I could earn with it?

Any promotional offers you signed up for are unaffected by the Nectar changes. You’ll continue to receive points in line with the terms and conditions of the product you took out.

Will the number of points I can earn for using the Sainsbury’s Bank credit card or Amex Nectar card change?

You still get an extra two points per £1 for using your credit card, except that you only get one point per £1 when you use the card for your shopping at Sainsbury’s.

So, as of April 11, you earn a total of three points per every £1 you spend online or in-store, rather than four points per £1.

What do other supermarket reward cards offer?

Tesco and M&S both offer credit cards which enable you to collect loyalty points when you spend.

  • M&S credit card: If you shop regularly at Marks & Spencer, you get 500 bonus M&S points worth £5 when you take out the M&S credit card. You then earn one point per £1 you spend in M&S, and one point per £2 you spend elsewhere.  There’s a 0% introductory rate on purchases for 19 months and on balance transfers for 15 months. After that the card has an 18.9% representative annual percentage rate (APR).
  • Tesco Purchase Credit Card with 1,000 Clubcard points: You get 1,000 Clubcard points if you make a purchase or transfer a balance within two months of account opening. You then earn 5 Clubcard points for every £4 you spend on the card in Tesco stores or on Tesco fuel, and one Clubcard point for every £4 spent elsewhere. The card has an introductory rate of 0% on purchases for 17 months, followed by a representative APR of 18.9% (variable).

What if I just want cashback?

If you want cashback rather than loyalty points, Santander’s 123 credit card enables you to earn cashback on all your monthly spending. You get 3% cashback on fuel, National Rail and Transport for London spending, 2% cashback at department stores and 1% cashback at supermarkets.

There’s a 0% introductory rate on purchases for 23 months. After that, the card has a 16.5% representative APR. There’s a £24 annual fee, but this is refunded for the first year if you’re an existing 123 Santander current account customer.

And if you have a Cashback Plus credit card with NatWest or sister bank, RBS, it's also worth remembering that, until June 30, 2015, you'll pocket 10% cashback on all restaurant and bar spend (so be sure to use your card rather than pay by cash). You'll also get an ongoing 1% back at Cashback Plus retailers (find a list of these on the bank's website), 1% at supermarkets (not on the petrol forecourts though) and 0.5% on any other spend at home or abroad. 

It's a good idea to make the most of cashback credit card opportunities like these - as their golden days could be numbered. Capital One has just announced it will stop selling cashback credit cards with immediate effect following new EU restrictions on the profits card firms are allowed to make.

And our head of banking, Kevin Mountford warns that even loyalty programmes could soon become extinct too: "Something will have to give when card companies are squeezed," he said.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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