A couple of days ago I wrote this long post on how to use American Express Membership Rewards points.
A reader pointed out that I had forgotten to mention the ability to transfer Amex MR points to Eurostar, an omission I have now corrected.
The conversion rate from Membership Rewards to Eurostar Frequent Traveller is 15 : 1. Here is the redemption chart for Eurostar, and if you click on the (not very clearly marked) ‘Eurostar Travel’ link you get this chart. The headline redemption numbers for an adult, return (child and one-way tickets are also available) are:
- Standard Class – 900 Eurostar points (13,500 Membership Rewards points)
- Standard Premier – 1,800 Eurostar points (27,000 Membership Rewards points)
- Business Premier – 2,500 Eurostar points (37,500 Membership Rewards points)
The price appears to be the same whether you are going to Lille, Disney, Paris or Brussels. You can book up to 1 day before departure (1 hour if you are a premium Carte Blanche member). Tickets CANNOT be refunded, but can be exchanged for a different day.
There is good value here, I think, at Standard Class level, especially for short notice redemptions. You would certainly get the 0.75p of value per MR point that I ascribe to using Membership Rewards for airline miles.
Standard Premier, if you are not familiar with it, is basically a seat in a business class carriage (with the large business seats) but with the regular food offering and no lounge access.
However …. there is a big snag for non-Eurostar regulars. You cannot join Eurostar Frequent Traveller until you have taken a journey costing £250 or more. This means that you cannot simply sign up and transfer some Amex points over to redeem for a free trip.
Luckily, there is an alternative. You can redeem Membership Rewards points directly for Eurostar tickets, see here. The rates are marginally higher than going via Eurostar Frequent Traveller (15,000 MR points for Standard Class, 30,000 MR points for Standard Premier) but are not so bad. What I do not know is how difficult it is to get availability at these levels.
(Similarly, you can also redeem Avios for Eurostar tickets – see here – but again I have no idea how tricky it is to get seats. On paper, the headline cost of 9,000 Avios for a return Standard Class ticket is good value. EDIT – see the comments below about the pros and cons of moving MR points to Avios to redeem.)
Accessing Eurostar lounges
One of the lesser-known benefits of the UK-issued American Express Platinum charge card is that it gets you access to the Eurostar lounges at London St Pancras (below), Brussels and Paris Gare du Nord. Whilst not on a par with the BA lounges at Heathrow, they are pleasant enough places to pass the time before your train.
You do not need a voucher, you simply wave your Platinum card at the lounge entrance. No guests are allowed, unfortunately – although holders of supplementary Amex Plat cards are allowed in, so your husband / wife / partner can get in with you if they have a supplementary Platinum card on your account.
I don’t think this is a benefit for Amex Platinum holders in other countries (except perhaps in France). However, Amex Plat cards look very similar, and if you have one issued outside the UK there is a decent chance they will let you in.