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There isn't much you can do about the rising cost of living, but you can take full advantage of loyalty cards and the different ways they can help you to save some cash. Here's how get exrta value from your Nectar card.

From sky-high petrol prices and increasing energy bills to a National insurance price hike and even the cost of stamps going up, many of us are feeling the pinch when it comes to family finance. Using loyalty cards is one way to save some money when you're shopping.

Nectar is the UK’s largest loyalty card scheme. Run by Nectar 360 Ltd, its partner companies include Sainsbury's, Esso, and eBay.

What is a Nectar card?

If you're a Sainsbury's customer, you can collect Nectar points every time you shop online or in-store. You'll earn one Nectar point for every pound you spend.

First, you'll need to apply for a Nectar card via the Nectar website. You can also apply for a Nectar card via the Nectar app or fill in one of the application forms that you'll find in-store at Sainsbury's. If you're a Smartphone user, it's well worth downloading the Nectar app. It's handy for ensuring that offers are always close at hand, instead of rummaging through a drawer at home for your card or vouchers.

You can choose whether to go for a Nectar card that fits in your purse or wallet, much like a credit card, or a digital version that you can access via the app without needing to remember to bring a physical card with you when you shop.

To collect Nectar points, simply swipe your Nectar card or scan the app on your phone when you're paying for your shopping.

How to earn Nectar card points

Sainsbury's, of course - you can collect points when you shop online or in-store. In addition, Sainsbury's will show you personalised offers on items that you buy frequently when you're a Nectar cardholder.

But you can also earn Nectar points at more than 300 other retailers including Argos, eBay, and Esso, to name just some of the brands that have partnered with Nectar. Just connect your Nectar card to your debit or credit card via your bank and use the connected card when you pay for a qualifying purchase.

At both Argos and eBay, you'll earn one point for every pound you spend when you present your Nectar card at the checkout. When it comes to refueling your car, you'll earn one Nectar point for every litre of fuel you buy at an Esso service station. And if you're a Sainsbury's Bank customer you can also earn Nectar points on products like home insurance. If you have a Nectar credit card, you can also earn Nectar points for every £1 you spend on the card.

Don't forget to connect your Nectar account to your bank or credit card, so you can earn bonus points when you shop at Nectar's partner retailers including Costa, Just Eat, Dominos, Expedia, and ASOS.

A woman smiles while putting a coin into Piggy Bank - illustrating a guide to collecting and spending Nectar card points

Credit: Getty

Where to spend Nectar card points

Once you've clocked up some Nectar points, it's time to think about how you plan to spend them. You can put your Nectar points towards your grocery bill the next time you shop at Sainsbury's, of course, or use them to get money off when you shop at other Nectar brand partners such as Caffe Nero, Argos and eBay. You can also spend your Nectar cards in-store at Sainsbury's or when you shop online, and also when you pay for petrol.

To spend your Nectar points, simply choose where you'd like to spend them and don't forget to swipe your Nectar card when you checkout.

If you do lots of shopping online, it could also be worth downloading the Nectar Toolbar to your web browser. You can get bonus points for doing so and the Toolbar will remind you when you're shopping online on a site where you could be collecting Nectar points.

Depending on where you choose to spend your Nectar points, you may need to convert your points into a voucher beforehand. There are more than 500 online Nectar brand partners so take your time to browse the options before you spend your points.

These are just some of the places where you can put your Nectar points to good use:

  • Eurostar - Put your Nectar points towards a Eurostar escape to Paris, Brussels, Lille, Rotterdam or Amsterdam
  • Argos - 500 Nectar points are worth £2.50 when you spend them at Argos
  • Caffè Nero - Swap 250 Nectar points for any hot or iced drink at Caffè Nero
  • eBay - Swap your Nectar points for vouchers you can use for money off at eBay
  • BA - convert Avios and Nectar points when you link your British Airways Executive Club account

Using your Nectar points to donate to charity

If you've been quietly amassing Nectar points but have no real plan to spend them, you could always opt to donate your Nectar points to charity. Do note, however, that you'll need at least 200 points to do so and donations can only be made in multiples of 200.

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Heidi Scrimgeour
Deputy Editor

As a parenting specialist for more than 15 years, Heidi has written for most national newspapers and for a wide range of consumer magazines, including Mother & Baby where she was the Shopping Editor for six years, looking after regular consumer features including buying guides and gift roundups.