Eurostar is gearing up for the launch of its new route to the south of France in May. Trains will head to Marseilles via stops in Lyon and Avignon – both of the latter have previously benefitted from Summer services but will now be served all year round.
At 6 hours and 30 minutes, Marseille will be a lengthy trip and it will be interesting to see how it succeeds against the airlines. The city itself has been spruced up over the last decade, Barcelona style, and has a new luxury InterContinental hotel in the old port (below) as I wrote in 2013.
If you have Eurostar Frequent Traveller points, there is some good news. Lyon, Avignon and Marseille have been priced at the same rate as Paris – a genuine bargain given the 300% longer journey time!
That means you will need just 900 points for a return trip in Standard class, 1800 points in Standard Premier and 2500 points in Business Premier. One-way redemptions are available for half the cost.
There are no black-out dates – although the number of reward seats per train is capped – and there are no ‘taxes and charges’ to pay!
If you are a few points short, remember that American Express Membership Rewards points can be converted to Eurostar Frequent Traveller points at the rate of 15:1. Amex Platinum cardholders also receive entrance to the Eurostar lounge at St Pancras (and indeed Paris) simply by showing their card. No guests are allowed although if your partner has a supplementary Platinum card then that will get them in.
PS. Remember that you can bypass the requirement to book a £250 Eurostar ticket before you can open a Eurostar Frequent Traveller account by doing an Amex Membership Rewards transfer, however small. Eurostar will automatically open an EFT account for you when the points arrive.
How to earn Club Eurostar points from UK credit cards (December 2020)
Club Eurostar does not have a UK credit card. However, you can earn Club Eurostar points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards. These are:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 1,333 Club Eurostar points. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with two airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 2,000 Club Eurostar points. Card benefits include Eurostar lounge access.
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 333 Club Eurostar points. This card is FREE for life.
Membership Rewards points convert at 15:1 into Club Eurostar points which is an attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, so you will get the equivalent of 1 Club Eurostar point for every £15 you spend.
American Express Platinum comes with a great Eurostar benefit – lounge access! You can enter any Eurostar lounge, irrespective of your ticket type, simply by showing The Platinum Card at the desk. No guests are allowed but you can get entry for your partner by issuing them with a free supplementary Amex Platinum card on your account.