Devaluations galore – East Coast Rewards, Collect More Fly, Leaders Club

It is hopefully just an unfortunate coincidence but a raft of loyalty scheme devaluations have hit my inbox this week.  Let’s take a look.

East Coast Rewards

The East Coast trains scheme, East Coast Rewards, is my favourite rail reward programme.

I explained how East Coast Rewards works in this article.  The sweet spot for me was a First Class return ticket anywhere on their network (which would get me to the depths of Scotland from London) for just 900 points.  That would only require £600 of First Class tickets to be bought.

For lower spenders, the ability to buy a pass for the First Class lounge at Kings Cross for just 50 points (£34 of First Class tickets or £50 of standard class) was great value.  You don’t even need to be travelling with East Coast to use the pass.

The good news is that the devaluation is a modest one at just 2.5% on average.  If we’re honest, we should expect East Coast Rewards to devalue in line with inflation because as ticket prices rise you need to buy fewer of them to earn a free ticket back.

East Coast has given plenty of notice and you have until January 5th to redeem at the current rates.

East Coast thumbnail

Collect More Fly

Collect More Fly is a Sainsbury initiative that gives you a 10% rebate on any Nectar points which you use to book easyJet flights.

I wrote about Collect More Fly here.  It is a way of encouraging you to shop in Sainsbury in advance of making a Nectar redemption on easyJet, since the 10% rebate is only triggered if you have spent money in Sainsbury in the previous 12 weeks.

Collect More Fly will be closed on 31st December.   This is the last day to book so you are still OK if you wanted to use it for an easyJet flight in 2015.

This change is presumably linked to the decision by Sainsbury to halve the level of Nectar points you earn when you shop with them, starting in April 2015.  (Thanks to Ian)

easyJet

Leaders Club

Finally, one which only impacts a handful of people.  Leaders Club, the loyalty scheme of the Leading Hotels of the World consortium, is dropping its promise of a guaranteed upgrade for ‘Unlimited’ members.

Since ‘Unlimited’ membership costs a whopping $1,200 a year this seems rather harsh, especially as the remaining benefits are not so attractive.  I get a feeling that some hotels have seen regular guests effectively downgrade their bookings to save money – a lot more than $1,200 a year – in the knowledge that they would get a guaranteed upgrade back to the room they actually wanted.

Not had your free Shangri-La meal yet? Avios conversion now an option
Use Avios on the new AA Birmingham and Edinburgh to New York routes
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Lounge access and wifi are unaffected by the devaluation; they remain 50 points.

    Can anyone confirm for me whether I can access lounge with First Advance ticket please? According to eastcoast website I cannot but ticket agent in Edinburgh assured me I can.

    • I thought Advance Purchase fares were ineligible too, I’m afraid. There’s a chance they’ll let you in but I think these cheaper tickets are specifically excluded.

      • Thanks, I have the points so will get some passes.

        • Apologies – may have been half-bum advice! It was based on my parents’ experience, but they hadn’t tried to access the lounge in Edinburgh as they were leaving from home anyway.

          From http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/rail-travel/your-ticket/train-ticket-options/advance-tickets/
          “Is it possible to book a First Class Advance ticket?
          Yes it is, subject to availability. If travelling by East Coast, First Advance tickets also let you use any of our First Class lounges for free, except for London King’s Cross where you’ll need to pay a £5 supplement.”

          This is also backed up at http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/the-east-coast-experience/first-class/first-class-lounges/#Startasyoumeantogoon where the same £5 supplement for KGX seem to apply to reward tickets.

        • You can definitely access lounges apart from kings cross on first advance tickets (I think kings cross is a fiver). Don’t get too excited though it’s literally tea, coffee, water, OJ and some biscuits (well it was at newcastle anyway).

          • Yes, Kings Cross is the only exception now

          • Thanks to all for their help in clarifying lounge access. I read their First menu is changing early December so JD and others may be interested to check whether there is any deterioration in service in advance of new franchise. I note that more limitted service offered on journeys less than 70 minutes. I believe Edinburgh to Newcastle a bit longer than this so does that mean travelling eRly morning or evening I would still benefit from breakfast and dinner even though it is just a short trip? Apologies for all questins, just moved to Edinburgh and I’m new to East Coast.

          • There should be a timetable detailing what is served on each train. You do get a meal on the NCL edinburgh run.

          • Thanks RP. I downloaded that but it shows meals starting from KGX and EDB so I guess same meal applies if boarding the same train at Newcastle although it will be some time later.

          • That’s right a James. The Newcastle to Edinburgh journey is beautiful. Try to get a seat on the coast side.

  2. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    The sweet spot on East Coast was surely the pair of First Class returns, at 1,400. This is increasing, by far more than 2.5%, to 1,565.

  3. Re East Coast, what I am quite interested in is what will happen to the East Coast Rewards point when the East Coast franchise is returned to private hands, supposedly in February? I would imagine all tickets redeemed before that would be safe. However, will the new company continue the scheme and honour all the points?

    • I certainly won’t be sitting on a big balance of EC rewards post handover. I’ll cash in my chips for first class tickets before the devaluation, and divert spend from EC for a while. (I’ve got enough credits on RSH and rail travel vouchers to see me through for a while!). I would expect as long as you’ve cashed in *and spent* the voucher, you’ll be OK.

      To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if the DOR continues for a while. It’s supposedly three months away and there’s been no announcement of the winning bidder!

      The devalutation is perfectly palatable to me. Relatively minor and well in advance. The 4x First Class price rise is a bit of a bummer, but still represents absurdly good value.

  4. I agree with Ken
    I am worried what will happen to East Coast rewards (and the East Coast service in general) when it is returned to private hands. I would expect further cuts to the rewards and a reduction to the service in first class in favor of lining the pockets of a few wealthy shareholders and directors.