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Sainsbury's launches revamped Nectar loyalty scheme

Sainsbury's launches revamped Nectar loyalty scheme

Sainsbury's is launching a revamped version of the Nectar loyalty scheme which will allow shoppers to pre-select personalised bonus point offers each week and scan a new 'digital Nectar card' at the till.

MoneySavingExpert.com first revealed details of how the new scheme would work last month, when we reported that a trial of the revamped scheme had been quietly extended across much of the UK and a formal launch was imminent.

Now Sainsbury's is officially rolling out the changes to Nectar's 18.5 million registered users from Wednesday 2 October, and we know full details of how the scheme will work. Crucially, you will continue to earn one point for every £1 spent in-store or online at Sainsbury's, in addition to the bonus offers.

While Sainsbury's claims the changes will "revolutionise" its long-running loyalty programme and it's getting a new logo and new app, the basics of Nectar aren't changing, so this is an evolution rather than complete overhaul. We've full analysis below of how the scheme is changing, and what's staying the same.

For more on making the most of Nectar and other loyalty schemes, see Loyalty Points Boosting.

How does the revamped Nectar scheme work?

Here are the key need-to-knows:

  • The new scheme is a revamped version of the existing Nectar loyalty scheme, open to new and existing Nectar members. If you're already a Nectar cardholder, you don't need to create a new account, but to access the new bonus points offers you'll need to use the Nectar website or new Nectar app. If you already use the Nectar app, Sainsbury's says you'll need to update it. If you currently have a stash of Nectar points, you won't lose them – you'll see your total balance in the new app.
  • You can pre-select weekly bonus point offers, based on items you regularly buy. Each Friday, customers will be sent a range of points-boosting offers to choose from, based on their shopping habits (for example, in the trial we were offered 20 bonus points for buying Sainsbury's Haddock Fishcakes).

    You can view these offers on the website or app, and must 'save' the ones you want to use before doing your Sainsbury's shop. You then have to use them within a certain period – in the trial you seemed to typically have a week or so to use the offers, but we're checking if this is still the case with Sainsbury's and will update this story when we know more.
  • To get the bonus points, you then just scan your Nectar card – or the Nectar app – at the till. You can continue to use your physical card as before, but you can also now scan your 'digital card' – ie, a barcode in the Nectar app. New scanners have been installed at checkouts to allow this.

    Once you've scanned your card, any bonus points relating to pre-selected offers are automatically added to your account.
  • You'll still get one Nectar point for every £1 spent at Sainsbury's alongside bonus points. When the revamped scheme was first trialled on the Isle of Wight last year, the one point per £1 you usually get was removed – leading to fears many would be worse off under the new scheme. Yet that wasn't the case when the trial was extended across the UK, and Sainsbury's has now confirmed you'll continue to get one Nectar point for every £1 spent at Sainsbury's in-store or online.

  • You'll still get paper coupons with bonus point offers too. Nectar members shopping at Sainsbury's already get paper coupons with bonus point offers when paying for their shopping at the checkout – these are typically quite similar to the bonus point offers in the new Nectar scheme and are based on what customers often buy, but you don't get to pre-select them and only get them after your shop. Sainsbury's says you WILL continue to get these, though it's not clear if frequency or the average value of the vouchers may change.

  • You can still earn and spend points at many other retailers as well as Sainsbury's. While Sainsbury's runs Nectar, you can continue to earn, spend and get bonus offers with a wide range of 'partners'.

    You can collect points spending at almost 400 stores, including Argos, Asos, Debenhams, Next and Topshop – see the full list. And you can redeem points on partners including Argos, Caffe Nero, Eurostar and more – see the full list. For example, you can earn two points for every £1 spent at Asos, while if you redeem points at Argos in-store on online, every two points are worth 1p.

For more details on how the revamped Nectar scheme works, see the Nectar website.

Is the revamped Nectar scheme better?

Unfortunately, it's impossible to say for certain how the rewards you'll get under the revamped Nectar scheme compare to what was on offer before.

Crucially, you WILL continue to get the point per £1 spent at Sainsbury's in addition to bonus points – had that been scrapped, as was the case in the initial Isle of Wight trial, it's likely many would have earned less under the new scheme.

Yet what's not clear is how the total amount of bonus points on offer will change. You'll be able to pre-select offers online AND continue to get paper coupons, but we've no info on how the level of rewards may be affected. We asked Sainsbury's if it expected to give out more points under the new scheme, and it would only tell us: "We can't provide much of an insight at the moment as Sainsbury's is only just rolling it out nationally."

We'll look to assess how the revamped scheme compares in the coming weeks and months. Let us know what you think of it in the comments below or at news@moneysavingexpert.com.

What does Sainsbury's say?

Nectar managing director James Moir said: "We're delighted to be unveiling a new world of Nectar to our customers, making it easier than ever before for them to get the most out of our hundreds of partners and rewards on offer.

"During the trials in Wales and the Isle of Wight, we listened to what our customers wanted and how they like to receive offers in an increasingly digitised world. This led us to a change in direction for the Nectar scheme, enabling our customers to have a much more personalised experience with offers that are completely unique to them."