One of the advantages often cited for Nectar over East Coast Rewards is the wide range of partners giving you many opportunities to earn. So are things better off for someone who is both a loyal customer of existing Nectar partners and also a former East Coast Rewards member? Even in this scenario they'd be worse off, much worse off.

Imagine this person spent £150 per month on East Coast tickets, they spend £120 a week on shopping at Sainsbury's, use 20 litres a week of fuel and spend £800 per month on the Nectar Amex card. Let's see how they'd be after a year.

With East Coast Rewards

They'd earn 150 East Coast Rewards points a month, so in a year they'd have 1800 Rewards points.

They'd also have Nectar points. 240 points a week (until the rate is halved in April) on shopping, a further 20 points a week on fuel making a total of 13520 points. The credit card spend will also provide a welcome boost of 19200 points giving a total of 32720 Nectar points over the year.

What they get

The 1800 East Coast Rewards points will get them access to most of the rewards on offer but free travel is the best use so we'll concentrate on that. The points total is just 40 short of what would be needed to earn 8 standard class tickets, so if they booked any other travel through the site they'd be able to get that. However assuming 1800 was their balance they could have either 7 standard class tickets or 4 first class tickets valid on the East Coast route.

They'd also have Nectar points, their 32720 Nectar points is worth £163.60 with most Nectar partners which they could use to pay for Christmas dinner and some wine to go with it.

Without East Coast Rewards

Assuming that £150 a month is all on East Coast travel they'd earn 300 Nectar points a month making an additional 3600 points a year (worth £18).

Add this to the Nectar points earned in the previous scenario and they'd have a total of 36320 points.

What they get

The points would be worth a total of £181.60 certainly not enough to cover the cost of the 4 first class or 7 standard class tickets they used to get.

Also if they use all their Nectar points up trying to get at least some free travel out of it then they're unable to use their points for other purposes.

What's the message?

I've tried to show that even if you're an avid Nectar collector you'll be worse off in this scheme than you were with a combination of Nectar and East Coast Rewards. Combine the two and even if you think of every method imaginable to maximise your points you will still be worse off.

I based the scenario on a moderate rail spend, moderate shopping total, moderate fuel usage (short commute to work) and moderate credit card spend. Most people will earn fewer Nectar points as relatively few have taken out the Nectar credit card.

It gets worse

The figures above are based on current Nectar earning rates. When Sainsbury's halve their earning rate in April things look even more bleak.

Now they'd earn 120 Nectar points a week (6420 a year) plus another 1040 a year for the fuel, the credit card is 19200 points and the East Coast travel is 3600 points. This gives a total of 30260 which is worth £151.30.