How to top up your East Coast Rewards before closure (and help save East Coast Rewards!)

As I wrote last month, East Coast Rewards – the rail loyalty scheme – is closing on February 28th.  The next day, the East Coast rail franchise passes to a Stagecoach / Virgin consortium and will start awarding Nectar points instead.

Between March 1st and September 30th, you will be able to continue to redeem your East Coast Rewards points for the existing range of rewards.

However, as you won’t be able to earn any more, you don’t want to risk being caught short on March 1st.  Being 25 points short of a free ticket would be a disaster.

There is a cunning plan you can adapt to make sure that you have exactly the right amount of East Coast Rewards points.  Instead of outlining it here, you should click here to read about how it works on the ‘Save East Coast Reward’ website.

East Coast thumbnail

Yes, there is a ‘Save East Coast Rewards’ website.  You will find full details via the link above and you can follow their Twitter feed at @saveecrewards

The strength of feeling is not surprising as East Coast Rewards was (and still is, until February 28th) a fantastic scheme.  If you spent a lot on rail travel (and you could earn points from bookings with any train company) you were getting a very high % of your spend back in free East Coast trips.  Even spending as little as £35 would get a voucher to use the First Class Lounge at Kings Cross.

A handful of Nectar points, equivalent to 1% of your spend, does not even begin to compare.

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Comments

  1. Quite a clever idea. I buy all the rail travel for my team and it’s normally over £1000 a month so I’m swimming in free tickets which I then share out so they can use for weekend trips away. It’s a great motivational thing to do for the team. Shame that when nectar comes around the best I’ll be able to do for the team is buy a few cakes with the same spend. Nectar is only slightly more worth than useless.

    So for me if I buy one of these vouchers to effectively pre-pay some staff travel it means I can get a few more rewards in before the scheme dies.

    Another thing I agree with on that site is that people have a poor impression of Virgin on the ECML due to the way they botched up the CrossCountry franchise when they ran it. I think Stagecoach gained nothing by using the Virgin name. They could have probably been allowed to use the existing brand or if not they could have used “East Coast Trains” in the Stagecoach style (like SWT and EMT).

    The west coast seem to love Virgin but the east coast has had better. Both GNER and the current East Coast have set high standards and I can’t see what 10% of beardie can add.

  2. Thanks for this, Rob – well worth it to get my residual rewards (after exchange for 4x1st class) up to a good level for another redemption!

    • Remember that these so called gift eVouchers have no expiry date (and are valid on any service – except sleepers, that’s just because the East Coast site doesn’t support berth reservations) so if you travel regularly you can effectively buy even more rewards. The only cost being the small amount of interest you’d earn on that money.

      Obviously only do this if you have enough spare cash sitting round not earning much that you know you won’t need.

      http://saveecrewards.co.uk/rewards-guide/48-is-it-worth-topping-up-my-points-balance

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        Are there any guarantees that Virgin will honour the eVouchers? Unlimited expiry is no good if East Coast don’t exist anymore.

        • The eVouchers are issued through the National Rail booking system, you are given a National Rail 9 character reference (along with the voucher number) when you buy them.

          Virgin have to honour these vouchers (or refund if their ticketing system can’t work with them) just like they have to honour rail tickets labelled ‘East Coast only’ that are still valid when they take over.

          Even if this wasn’t the case East Coast would have to pay up or get sued as they’re aware their franchise is ending and are still promoting these as a gift that could last ‘for months or even years’. They would have to indicate clearly that these would be invalidated when the franchise ends.

          http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/special-offers/travel-savings/gift-vouchers/

          Just in case I did check with East Coast (after all I was buying over £700 worth of vouchers) that they’d continue to be valid after the franchise takeover and they confirmed this would be the case. If you have any problems I have it in writing and would be happy to sort it out.

  3. Rob, will you (or have you) run a guide on whether Virgin Flying Club miles are a good offer on Virgin Trains? I’m thinking of doing an article, but if you’re planning one (or already have one) it’d be easier to point to that. I’d base it on the assumption that East Coast and West Coast trains would earn the same.

  4. Virgin East Coast have announced a surprisingly generous 6 Nectar points for every East Coast Rewards point if you choose to convert them to Nectar (you don’t have to as you have until the end of September to spend them). Even with this improved earning you’d still be much better off redeeming for train tickets.

    What’s amusing for this is it mean in February East Coast Rewards is now the best loyalty scheme for Nectar fans (if there’s any) to use.

    They’d get the equivalent of 6 Nectar points for every pound standard class and 9 Nectar points for every pound spent in first class on ANY operator.

    Sure beats Virgin West Coast’s double points offer. 4 Nectar points/£, for any class and Virgin Trains only,

    Do Nectar fans exist? Do they have a forum. If they do then we might get a few more EC Rewards sign ups before the end of the scheme.