Eurostar introduces ‘part pay with points’ – a decent deal?

Eurostar Frequent Traveller (not to be confused with Eurostar Plus Points, their leisure-based loyalty scheme) announced on Thursday that it was introducing a ‘part points, part cash’ redemption option.

Here is the new range of pricing:

Standard Class, return

  • 900 points, or
  • 700 points + £30, or
  • 600 points + £45, or
  • 500 points + £60

Standard Premier, return

  • 1800 points, or
  • 1400 points + £60, or
  • 1200 points + £90, or
  • 1000 points + £120

Business Premier, return

  • 2500 points, or
  • 2000 points + £75, or
  • 1800 points + £105, or
  • 1600 points + £135

Note that ‘cash and points’ tickets can only be booked by telephone.  There has been no change to the points required for an ‘all points redemption.

Eurostar 350

Is this a good deal?

It is certainly a good deal if you don’t have enough points to get the tickets you need, because you now can.  That is a no-brainer.

If you need two tickets, you need to do the maths based on the cash price.  Imagine you have 1,000 points.  You can either redeem 900 points for one free Standard ticket and pay cash for another, or use 500 points + £60 for two redemption tickets.

If a Standard Class ticket would cost more than £120, ‘part pay with points’ is a better deal.  You also get to retain flexibility – if you had one redemption ticket and one cash ticket, you would lose flexibility because the cash ticket would be non-changeable.

However, there is one scenario where I do not think that ‘part pay with points’ is a good deal.

Eurostar Frequent Traveller is an American Express Membership Rewards partner.  The transfer rate is 15:1.

As you can see above, Eurostar is effectively charging you £15 for every 100 points you need.  However, if you have some Amex points, you can get those same 100 Eurostar points by converting 1,500 American Express points.

Using 1,500 Amex points to save £15 values them at 1p each.  That is a VERY GOOD return on Amex points, which are only worth 0.5p if redeemed for gift cards and rarely more than 1p when redeemed for airline miles or hotel points.

Before using ‘part pay with points’, consider transferring over Amex points instead if you can.  It is a better deal.

Other new redemption options now available

If you really can’t face more train travel, Eurostar has also introduced a new broader range of non-rail redemptions.  These are generally poor value compared to redeeming for rail travel.

A £75 Selfridges gift card, for instance, costs 1,500 points – that is almost enough for a Standard Premier return ticket.  One interesting option is a range of treatments at the St Pancras Spa which start at 2,900 points.  You can find full details of these online.

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Comments

  1. Nick Burch says:

    One advantage of a couple booking a redemption plus a cash ticket, is that you can earn some points back that way! Book the points ticket for the non-member, then the cash ticket for the Eurostar Frequent Traveller member, and recoup some of the points. I discovered this a few years ago when ringing up to book a mixture of cash and points tickets for a group of us, and the nice telephone agent suggested putting my name on a cash ticket so I’d get points

    I haven’t seen anything in their announcement email about if cash+points is also available on their south of France tickets. Those are normally 1000 points for a standard return, only 11% more than a Paris/Lille/Brussels one, so in many ways a much better value redemption. (I think that’s partly their idea though, so you can get a nice ski/sun leisure break with the points you earnt on work trips!)

  2. Eurostar raised it cheapest ‘Standard’ round trip fare from £69 to £72 in April.
    More significantly they have dramatically reduced the availability of these round trip fares, even when booking 180 days ahead, typically now showing a price of £47.50 for each leg, so £95 return (+38%). While you can still find a few round trip fares for £72 for a weekend trip , say St.Pancras to Paris, these are on far fewer trains and generally at less convenient times.
    Furthermore, they did start selling one way fares for the same price as one sector of a round trip late last year, but have reverted to charging more for a one way – lowest price example £36 outbound as part of return, £41 as a one way.
    It is very rare that I have travelled on a train that is completely full in ‘Standard’, so the supply / demand argument, at least for me, does not stack up. For me it is about squeezing more revenue out of us early birds who plan their travel well ahead.