A week of treats – how to get rewarded for your everyday spending #AD

Sponsored by American Express and Nectar

How many loyalty cards do you have in your purse?

Go on, I’ll wait a minute while you have a count.

2,317?

Yes, I thought it might be about that.

Now have another look and tell me how many of them you use in a way that really maximises their value. Do you know all the best ways to collect points and how to get the most benefit from them?

Well no, me neither really.

Although I have a purse full of plastic, my relationship with loyalty programmes has generally been quite passive – just collecting points without thinking about how I could be using them most effectively. It reminds me a bit of a game I used to play with my friend Nicky when we must have been around 19 years old. We’d go to the pub, and we’d get all the cards from our wallets and compare them in a big square. I know, we were crazy. I think there was something about having lots of important looking cards that made us feel grown up.

I have been challenged by American Express® and Nectar to think about loyalty programmes differently. Your wallet full of cards could actually be working much harder for you, helping you to earn rewards through your everyday spending. If your next supermarket shop could help you to get a family meal out, well, that has to be a good thing doesn’t it?

The American Express Nectar Credit Card allows you to collect Nectar points every time you make purchases on the Card. You get at least 2 points for every £1 spent on purchases on the Card, and up to 4 points with Nectar partners when using your loyalty card.1 The annual fee is normally £25, but this is free for the first year.2 

Representative example: Representative 25.0% APR variable. Based on annual fee of £25 and assumed credit limit of £1,200. Interest rate for purchases: 19.9% p.a. variable. 

Applicants must be UK residents, aged 18 or over.  Approval is subject to status and terms and conditions apply.

(Because you have to be clear about these things.)

American Express wanted us to see what we could do with our rewards points as a family if we used the American Express Nectar Credit Card for our everyday spending. We looked at our average spending over a year, including things like supermarket shopping, petrol, household expenses and train travel. It was obvious that if we used the American Express Nectar Credit Card for these everyday purchases it would be easy to accumulate a large number of points, which can then be exchanged for treats!

(I love treats.)

We calculated that with our average weekly spend of £545, (scary times), we could collect 56,680 Nectar rewards points in a year! When you include the welcome offer of 20,000 bonus points for new Cardmembers spending £2,000 in the first three months,3 the total is 76,680. 

That’s a lot of treats.

The next step was to have a look at exactly what we could spend our Nectar points on.6 We were having to fit them all into a week for the purposes of this project, (it’s a tough life…), but it quickly became evident that even spread over a whole year, you’d really feel like you were getting something back. For instance, for just 2,000 points, you can get an annual membership of the Gourmet Society – normally £69.95. This membership gives you up to 50% off at restaurants like Prezzo, Bella Italia and Cafe Rogue, so is the treat that keeps on giving! 

We had a proper browse and came up with a plan. Have a read of how we spent our points, and hopefully you’ll feel inspired to be a bit more proactive with your loyalty points.

 

A night away with Virgin Experiences

Because we are accumulating so many Nectar points in a year, we decided to go big with our first treat and turned to Virgin Experience Days, where 500 equals £2.50 off an e-voucher. Just in our local area we could have done everything from a segway experience to clay pigeon shooting. 

Belle was going to stay with her sister Bee for the weekend, as Bee has just moved back to Bristol from London to be closer to home, and so Fiancé and I decided we would treat ourselves to a romantic night away. We had plenty of family treats planned for the rest of the week, so we thought a bit of couples time was in order. 

We used 30,000 Nectar points for a £150 Virgin Experiences Day voucher, and plumped for dinner, bed and breakfast at The Grange Hotel in Bristol. This was perfect for us as it meant we could drop Belle off with Bee, and then drive just twenty minutes down the road. 

We love staying in hotels. Even just sitting on the bed and watching TV feels exciting in a hotel room. And the tea is way more fun because you have to boil up the tiny kettle and use an individual teabag. Or perhaps that’s just me being childish. I don’t think so though.

Breakfast too is always lush in a hotel. I once overslept and missed a hotel breakfast and it was one of the worst days of my life. I literally couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks. I was gutted. Breakfast at The Grange Hotel was delicious, and the coffee was excellent. (Nice coffee made for me by someone else is one of my best things.)

American Express Nectar Credit Card

The next day we made the most of the sunny weather and drove over to Stourhead, which is another of my favourite National Trust properties. This one has an absolutely beautiful garden, set around a big lake. Plus they sell Jaffa Cake ice cream, which I can always get on board with.

Stourhead National Trust

 

A cinema and pizza outing

Belle and I share a lot of common interests. Snacks, 1990s crime dramas, Nancy Drew, that sort of thing. One of our favourite things to do as a family though is to go and watch a funny film with Fiancé. He has this wonderful way of laughing that’s so unrestrained and infectious. It’s like watching a four year old boy laugh at an elephant at the zoo that has just stood in his own poo. It’s brilliant. When we went to see Minions at the cinema he actually spat coffee all over himself and when we got home he had to change. I absolutely love it.

We couldn’t not go to the cinema then with our American Express Nectar points could we? 500 points is worth £2.50 off tickets at Vue, so we went for a trip up to Cribbs Causeway in Bristol. 

We went to see Storks, which was absolutely brilliant and definitely worth watching. Because we were treating ourselves, we went all out and got luxury seating. The luxury seats at Vue in Bristol are ace – really massive leather things with huge arm rests, that sort of rock/recline too. Belle was very excited.

Here’s the trailer if you fancy cashing in your points and going to see it:

We didn’t go mad on cinema snacks because before the film we’d been to Pizza Express, conveniently situated just across the car park from Vue. Even though we went for a very early pre-cinema dinner, it was already full of families. Pizza Express is such a winner for families, as their kids’ menu is so good and the general vibe is lovely and informal. The extra bonus is that Nectar points are brilliant value at Pizza Express – you get £3.75 off your bill for every 500 points you cash in. BOOM.

At 14, you can tell that Belle is now at that point where she feels she needs to be embarrassed to be out with us in public. It’s weird. It’s like she needs about 15 minutes to settle into things and defrost. The 15 minutes are tense. You feel like things could go either way, and it’s a delicate balancing act between friendliness and patronising. Parenting teenagers is hard isn’t it?!

American Express Nectar Credit Card

Anyway, my point is that in the world of teenagers, pizza is a great tool for bringing people together. There’s something lovely too about just eating together as a family. Fiancé works away during the week, and I’m rubbish at making Belle sit at the table when it’s just us, (minus points for me), so having the chance to all sit down together and catch up is a treat in itself. 

Plus Pizza Express sells wine4, which helps too. 

pizza express nectar points american express

 

Coffee at Caffé Nero

Some of my very favourite treats are the ones that don’t actually cost a lot of money. I like books, magazines, (you can swap your Nectar points for a lot of different magazine subscriptions), and, as we now know, fancy coffees that someone else has made for me.

I’m a cheap date essentially.

For 350 Nectar points you can get a hot drink of your choice from Caffé Nero, which is always a lovely start to the day. Fiancé had the week off work, (not just to enjoy treats with me, that was a lucky coincidence), and so in the mornings he walked into work with me and we stopped off for lattes. As well as the coffee, it was a treat to have his company on a weekday morning. Unfortunately he can’t use Nectar points for extra annual leave.

Cafe Nerro Nectar points

Behind the scenes fact: I went into Boots to use the testers to paint my thumb nail especially for this picture.

 

Dinner out with the Gourmet Society

As I said in my intro, one really excellent value way to use your Nectar points is by swapping 2,000 of them for a membership of the Gourmet Society, normally £69.95 a year. As 500 Nectar points are normally worth £2.50, you can see that this one is a bit of a no-brainer value wise. Gourmet Society membership gives you discounts at thousands of restaurants throughout the UK including well-known chain restaurants and independent eateries such as Loch Fynn, Prezzo, Malmaison, Browns and Strada. Sometimes you can get as much as 50% off your bill, or offers like 2 for 1 on main courses.

We wanted to incorporate a meal out into a fun family day, so we did a bit of research and decided to have lunch at Nuova Italia in Ilchester. It had great reviews on TripAdvisor, and offered 25% off the total bill with Gourmet Society membership. They also do a great looking ‘kids go free’ offer. We were so glad we picked it as the food was excellent and the service was really good too.

Even better, when we got there, we discovered that Ilchester is a veritable treasure trove of beautiful doors! You know how much I love an instagrammable door.

Nuova Italia Ilchester Gourmet Society

American Express Nectar Credit Card

American Express Nectar Credit Card

We chose Nuova Italia partly for the reviews, but also because it’s close to the Fleet Air Arm museum in Yeovilton, and Fiancé loves a plane. It’s also not far from Barrington Court, which is our favourite local National Trust property, and always good for an outing. Barrington Court is looking beautiful at the moment with it’s autumn colours. It has a wonderful creeper that covers a wall of the house, and the leaves are a glorious colour.

American Express Nectar Credit Card

Getting ready for school and work on Sunday was a little bit sad after such a lovely week of treats, but exciting too, having discovered how easy it is to be rewarded for our everyday spending. I don’t think I’ll ever feel quite the same about filling the car up with petrol again! It can be a little disheartening, spending every week on things like shopping and travel, so it’s lovely to think that you could be rewarded for it.

Next time I’m at the supermarket checkout I’ll have to think not about the bill, but about our next treat!

How would you spend your Nectar points? Which of these treats looks most appealing to you?

Find out more about the American Express Nectar Credit Card here.

Barrington Court National trust Somerset

Sponsored post in association with American Express and Nectar.

Representative example: Representative 25.0% APR variable. Based on annual fee of £25 and assumed credit limit of £1,200. Interest rate for purchases: 19.9% p.a. variable.

Terms and conditions

Applicants must be UK residents, aged 18 or over.  Approval is subject to status and terms and conditions apply.

1Collect 2 points for virtually every full £1 spent on the Card: 2 points per full £1 spent consists of collecting 2 points for every full £1 spent and charged on your Nectar Credit Card everywhere, including abroad (except for purchases made at warehouse retailers in the United Kingdom (e.g. Costco) where you will earn Points at the rate of 1 point for every full £1). Collect up to 4 points for every full £1 spent at Nectar partners: 4 points per full £1 spent consists of collecting 2 points for virtually every full £1 spent and charged on your Nectar Credit Card (except for purchases made at warehouse retailers in the United Kingdom where you will earn Points at the rate of 1 point for every full £1) and 2 points on your Nectar loyalty card at most participating Nectar partners. For BP, Expedia and Homebase, different points levels apply as the base earn rate on the loyalty card varies. See nectar.com for details.

2First year’s Cardmembership fee of £25 is on us: The annual fee is £25. With this offer you will receive the first year of Cardmembership with £0 annual fee. From year two of your membership, a £25 annual fee will automatically be charged to your Account on or after the anniversary of your Account opening date. The first year fee waiver is only available to new American Express Cardmembers. A customer is not considered a new Cardmember if they hold or have held in the last six months another American Express Card.

³20,000 Nectar bonus points Welcome offer — worth £100 to spend with Nectar partners: 20,000 bonus points will be awarded onto your Account once you have been approved and a minimum of £2,000 has been spent and charged to the Account within three months of Account opening. All introductory offers are subject to change, can be withdrawn at any time and are not available if you currently hold or have held the Nectar Credit Card in the past six months.

You can use your Pizza Express Nectar points as full or part payment for food only.

Examples representative of spending Nectar points. Visit nectar.com for more information about where to collect and spend your points.

Amia Coalition Loyalty UK Ltd, registered in England and Wales (company number 04236999) is an introducer appointed representative of American Express Services Europe Limited. The Nectar Credit Card is offered by American Express Services Europe Limited registered office: Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

4 Comments

  1. 31 October, 2016 / 3:20 pm

    I must admit I’m pretty rubbish at making the most of all the loyalty schemes I’m signed up to, so this is a great kickstart for me to rethink my loyalty spending habits. Love the idea of getting rewarded for stuff you’re going to buy anyway!
    Molly recently posted…It’s the little thingsMy Profile

  2. Alice
    Twitter:
    1 November, 2016 / 3:18 pm

    I’m SOLD. I love free things, and if you’re going to be spending the money anyway you may as well collect the points, right?! I only really make the most of my boots card (such a thrill spending those points) – this sounds entirely more fun.
    Alice recently posted…Parenting Hacks with Arla Big MilkMy Profile

  3. 2 November, 2016 / 11:17 am

    like pretty much everyone i don’t think i make the most out of mine either! there’s some things i can’t do because of money constraints, but i know i could make better use of a couple of them!
    laura redburn recently posted…for the love of autumnMy Profile

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