Nectar - don't do it!
If you have some points remaining that you don't know how to use you may be thinking of converting them to Nectar so they don't entirely go to waste.
If you're thinking about this, please consider the following:
- If you have 50 or more points, but not enough that's needed for a full redemption (e.g. free tickets, wine, etc) you can convert each unit of 50 points into either a WiFi voucher or First Class lounge pass. The EC Rewards lounge pass is unique in that it will let you in to any VTEC First Class lounge regardless of class of travel or whatever rail operator you're travelling. This means if you're travelling a competitor from King's Cross (e.g. Grand Central, Hull Trains or Great Northern) you can still use this to get into the lounge. If you're still travelling VTEC standard class the WiFi voucher would save you £9.99 which is a lot more than the equivalent Nectar points would be worth).
- If you have enough points for a redemption on VTEC but don't think you'll be travelling anytime in the near future, there's good news. Although they originally said all Rewards points must be redeemed and Rewards tickets booked by 30th September they removed the clause about booking. This means that if you redeem your points for a free ticket, you have 6 months from the date of redemption to actually book a ticket and you can book up to 12 weeks ahead. This means if you redeem in September you have until March 2016 to book. If you don't think you'll be travelling then why not treat a friend, colleague or family member to free travel. It's better than collecting a few quid of Nectar points.
- If your remaining balance is below 50 points and you don't currently use Nectar transferring your points over won't get you anything. The 6x bonus transfer rate would mean 49 EC points would give you 294 Nectar which is worth only £1.47 and you're unable to redeem Nectar until you reach 500 points (£2.50).
- In various interviews, VTEC have, clutching at straws, said that the number of people converting rewards points to Nectar is proof of how popular Nectar is. Unless you really need the Nectar points please consider that your actions can be considered a vote in support of Nectar. If you do, after all this, still want those points converted over at least send an email to VTEC saying that you're only reluctantly converting them over due to them closing the superior scheme.
- If you just want your leftover points to go somewhere but you don't actively participate in Nectar we recommend Virgin Atlantic Flying Club instead. Although Flying Club is only really a good option if you regularly fly Virgin Atlantic or use the train enough to get enough points to use for things such as hotel redemptions, out of the two schemes we rate it higher and certainly has more potential for VTEC and Virgin Atlantic to work together in the future to improve the rail travel rewards available under this scheme.
Our long running advice is to not even consider converting points over until near the end of September and that still stands, although our interview with VTEC shows that due to contractual reasons we'll not be getting rewards back in at least the short term there's no hurry to convert your points over. Wait until the near the deadline before making a decision.
If you do collect Nectar points from other sources we recommend you buy all your rail travel through a First Group website (First Great Western, Hull Trains or Transpennine Express) this is because First Group give Nectar points on all rail travel, whereas on Virgin services you only get points for booking through the correct website (you won't get points on Virgin Trains West Coast services if you book through VTEC and vice versa). This means that if you do book on other operators you're guaranteed points which you'll not get with VTEC.
If you don't value Nectar points there's numerous places you can book, most train operators don't charge booking fees and they sell tickets for all operators.
There's still some reasons why you might want to book through the VTEC website (for VTEC services only, there's no incentive to book non-VTEC travel anymore) the main one being seat selection, but also mobile ticketing which is rolling out. If you still book through this site we recommend you remove the Nectar number from your profile and either set your option to earn no points (also checking the box to say you don't want to receive messages about their loyalty schemes) or set it to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles if that is of use to you.
Even if you no longer use the VTEC site for booking but you did add your Nectar number into your profile at the beginning we recommend you log into your profile and remove this, depending on your preference either opt out of both schemes or add your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club number instead if you have one. Why? So you're not counted among the number of people they can claim are happy with the move to Nectar.
To do this visit the loyalty scheme preferences page on your VTEC profile (you'll need to log in first).