This won't come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Nectar but we have now had an email from East Coast confirming the earning and spending rates of Nectar points. As expected it is not a good value at all, for most people it simply won't be worth the bother.

What was announced?

From 1 March, you will also be able to convert Nectar points into an eVoucher which can be used as payment for Virgin Trains East Coast Advance tickets. There will be an introductory offer of 500 Nectar points = £3.75 until 31 May 2015 (500 points = £2.50 from 1 June 2015). There will also be other exciting opportunities to earn bonus points throughout the year to help you get the very best from your Nectar membership.

What does this mean?

It means what we've been saying all along has been confirmed. EVERY East Coast Rewards member will be worse off under Nectar. Low spenders will probably never earn enough for a free ticket and high spenders (who previously got many tickets a year) would be lucky to get a single ticket. Even the non-travel rewards are poorer under Nectar.

So how many points is it for a ticket now?

Nectar is effectively a cashback scheme so there's not a fixed number of points for a redemption. The number of points you pay is directly linked to the current price of tickets on the day you book. So if you want to work out how many points you'd need, do a dummy booking on and find out the price of the ticket you require. You need 500 points per £3.75 until 31 May 2015 and then the standard rate of 500 points per £2.50 thereafter.

For illustrative purposes I've assumed a standard class single is £25 and a first class single is £50, in most cases the tickets will cost most than this. I'm using relatively low values to show the best case scenario with Nectar, even the best case is bad enough, the worst case should be avoided

Comparison chart

This is the spend needed to claim the following rewards based on the assumption that a standard class single is £25 and a first class single is £50. The East Coast Rewards are not dependent on the ticket price so will always be as shown. The Nectar points required will be higher when the tickets cost more than this, which will be the case most of the time. East Coast Rewards can be earned on any rail operator booked through the East Coast website

Ticket Type East Coast Rewards Nectar (until 31 May) Nectar (after 31 May)
  Standard Class Spend First Class Spend Spend on Virgin Trains EC Only
Standard Class Single £255 £170 £1666 £2500
First Class Single £460 £307 £3333 £5000
Standard Class Four Singles £920 £614 £6667 £10,000
First Class Four Singles £1565 £1044 £13,333 £20,000

Please note that you'll only earn Nectar points on Virgin Trains East Coast only when booked on this site. Virgin Trains (West Coast) passengers have to either book on a FirstGroup site (recommended as they give points to all rail journeys) or the Virgin West Coast site. #VirginFamily