As Nectar was getting a lot of bad press last year due to Sainsbury's halving the earning rate as well as the badwill generated by being the replacement to East Coast Rewards they offered their most generous redemptions last summer. The offer was 1000 points for two pizzas at Pizza Express or two cinema tickets at Cineworld, usually 1000 points is only worth £5 at most Nectar partners including Sainsbury's and Virgin Trains East Coast. Assuming you like pizzas or the cinema then this is the best use you can have for Nectar points by far.
It's due to start again in July this year (2016) so it's best to hold off spending points until then. If this doesn't appeal to you they may launch other offers over the summer. The most important thing if you have points is to hold off redeeming them for the standard 500 points = £2.50.
Although this may be a good deal compared to normal, it's not a particularly generous deal compared to what we used to have. 1000 points is £1000 spend in Sainsbury's or £500 spend in other Nectar partners.
East Coast Rewards
With East Coast Rewards you needed 460 points which is £460 standard class spend or £307 first class spend to get a first class ticket which is certainly more valuable than a couple of pizzas. Add the completely free Beam entertainment system on board and your free first class train trip includes food, drink and movies!
The standard Tesco Clubcard redemption (i.e. not a special offer like the Nectar promotion) in Pizza Express is 250 points = £10 to spend. Therefore you'd need 500 points to get £20 redemption which would be fairly close to getting two pizzas. The Tesco vouchers can be used on any food items (starters, mains, sides and desserts) but not drinks.
Both the Nectar and the Tesco offers can not be combined with other Pizza Express promotions, and there's nearly always some sort of promotion running if you check on their website first.
In Sainsbury's you have to spend £1000 to get the points needed for two pizzas. In Tesco you have to spend £500 to get the points needed to get £20 off Pizza Express which is close to the cost of two pizzas.
The standard Tesco Clubcard redemption for Cineworld is 450 points = 1 adult ticket, meaning two people can go for 900 points. This means that £900 spend in Tesco is needed to get the equivalent offer that would require £1000 spend in Sainsbury's.
The Nectar Summer Rewards are a better deal for those who have Nectar points to use. It's a massive improvement over the usual poor redemption rates but they still perform poorly compared to Tesco Clubcard and a lot worse than the old East Coast Rewards scheme.
If you collect Nectar points because you prefer shopping at a Nectar partner then you may want to collect the points, but remember it's not worthwhile to base your choice of retailer on whether or not they offer Nectar. If you collect Nectar points for rail travel you can earn points on all rail operators by booking on a FirstGroup site whereas Virgin only give points for their own services.
Nectar need to try harder if they want to create a loyalty scheme that provides a genuine incentive to use one of their partners.
A better offer
Nectar sometimes targets offers at customers. We found one recently offering 50% off Virgin Trains East Coast advance fares to/from London and Leeds or Doncaster. However you DO NOT need to be a Nectar cardholder to take advantage of the offer as we've documented it here (book by 23 June 2016).