I have run an interesting series of articles this week, written by Nick Burch, on Eurostar and its various earning and redemption options.
If you want to redeem American Express Membership Rewards points for free Eurostar trips, the most effective route is to transfer your points to Eurostar Frequent Traveller.
The key benefits of this, as opposed to redeeming with Avios or getting Amex Membership Rewards to book directly for you, are:
Substantially better availability, even at short notice
Fixed reward prices, even when redeeming for very high priced seats
The ONLY redemption route that lets you book Business Premier
The ONLY redemption route that lets you book one-way tickets
Some flexibility (other options have none) – you cannot refund a reward ticket, but you can change the dates once
However, there is a snag. In theory, you cannot join Eurostar Frequent Traveller until you have personally spent £250 on Eurostar tickets.
Comments to Nick’s article suggested that you could work around this, however. If you have an American Express Membership Rewards account, you can go into it, do a dummy transfer to Eurostar Frequent Traveller, and then select the option ‘I don’t have an account so please create one for me’.
I gave this a try, and this is what happened:
Tuesday – I followed the steps above and used the Amex Membership Rewards website to request they open a Eurostar Frequent Traveller account for me
Wednesday – I received an email from Amex saying that my Amex account was now linked to my Eurostar account. I went to the Amex MR website, did a dummy Eurostar transfer, and noted down the Frequent Traveller account number that was showing under my linked programmes.
Wednesday – I tried to use the Eurostar website to get a password for my account. However, this was not possible – Amex had not used my email address when creating the account.
Wednesday – I called the Eurostar Frequent Traveller service centre (08448 117117). They pulled up my details using the account number and changed the email address from Amex’s (!) to my own. I was told that the system refreshes overnight and I could use ‘Forgotten your password?’ from 1pm Thursday.
Thursday PM – I was not able to access the website, despite what I was told on Wednesday
Friday PM – I could still not able to access the website, so I called Eurostar again. It seems that there is a technical issue which means that, even after they have changed your email address, you still need to log on with your old one for the change to take effect. But I don’t know what that was! The guy from the call centre went off to speak to his technical guys, and 10 minutes later it was fixed.
I used ‘Forgotten your password?’ successfully using my email address and could access my Eurostar Frequent Traveller account. No £250 purchase was required to get me enrolled!
This is a good result for me. My kids are getting to the age where a trip to Disneyland Paris is on the cards, and it would be very unlikely that I could snag seats during school holidays using Avios or getting Amex to book directly.
I can now transfer some Membership Rewards points directly into Eurostar Frequent Traveller and hopefully take my pick, pretty much, from the available trains. I may even sneak in a cheeky day trip to Paris as well at some point soon ….