It seems that some of the pressure put on Virgin East Coast to save East Coast Rewards has paid off. Virgin is not keeping East Coast Rewards, of course, but the transition is better than originally expected.
On Sunday 1st March, the East Coast Trains franchise passes to Virgin East Coast. Despite the name, this is 90% owned by Stagecoach with Virgin receiving 10% for the use of their brand.
This is the current situation:
You cannot earn East Coast Rewards points after February 28th. If you need to top up your account, buy some gift cards on the East Coast website before Sunday.
You can continue to redeem your East Coast Rewards points until September 30th
At any point – and in any case on September 30th – any unredeemed points will be transferred to Nectar. The conversion rate is a decent 1 : 6.
That is all old news. Here is the new news.
Virgin East Coast has revealed that – from next Sunday until May 31st – you will be able to redeem Nectar points for Virgin East Coast gift vouchers at the rate of 500 points for a £3.75 voucher.
At 0.75p per point, this becomes the best mainstream use of large quantities of Nectar points. It is even worth transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Nectar at 1:1 to take advantage of this.
I would wait until Sunday first, however. The Virgin information I received said that these gift vouchers could only be used for Advance tickets. I’m not sure if this will be correct in reality. A Virgin East Coast e-voucher may well be redeemable for any Virgin East Coast ticket or indeed any ticket from any train operator.
Full details should become clear on Sunday.