If you are a member of Eurostar Frequent Traveller or Eurostar Plus Points, you will have received an email yesterday announcing the merger of the two schemes into an, as yet unnamed, new programme.
The little news we have is here. The date for the merger is not yet known.
If you are a member of Eurostar Frequent Traveller, you won’t notice much change. Your points will be converted into points in the new scheme and life will continue much as before.
Eurostar Plus Points is a different matter. This will effectively be closed, and leisure travellers will need to collect points – not cashback credit – in the new scheme going forward.
Should you be worried?
There were a couple of comments on HfP yesterday along the lines of ‘here comes a massive devaluation’.
I don’t believe that. It is probably two years since I first discussed the idea of a new loyalty programme with Eurostar, and they are not doing it in order to sneak through a devaluation.
The bottom line is that, with the new Amsterdam and Rotterdam routes launching in early 2018, and potentally new German routes to follow, Eurostar Frequent Traveller was no longer fit for purpose.
To date, the bulk of members are based in the UK or France. The limited number of redemption options reflects that, with very little apart from a handful of hotels and shopping vouchers available if you don’t want more train tickets.
Going forward, Eurostar Frequent Traveller will be picking up a lot of new members from the Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere. This requires a programme with a far broader range of redemption options. With a bigger membership, it also makes it easier to arrange points earning partnerships with hotel and car hire brands.
There will clearly be the need for a new redemption chart. At present, Eurostar is basically ‘London to somewhere’. Going forward, there will be routes which do not touch London at all, such as Brussels to Amsterdam.
That said …. whilst Amsterdam will be a 3 hour 50 minutes train trip, the distance from London is obviously not a lot further than Paris. It would be odd if Amsterdam was priced at a premium to Paris, despite the 75% longer journey time.
Will the exceptional value redemptions to the south of France survive? These were priced the same as the Paris trains for simplicity.
Frankly, the main reason that I doubt Eurostar will leg you over is that the trains are not full. The ‘load factor’ is a lot lower than that of the major airlines, partially because it cannot switch between shorter and longer trains at different times of the day. There will always be plenty of redemption seats available.
The only potential change I can forsee is on peak time redemptions (eg Friday nights to Paris) where a two-tier pricing system would better reflect the high cash prices.
Should members have any concerns at all?
There are clearly some points which will need clarification – the announcement yesterday was extremely vague.
Purely from a points earning perspective, I would highlight:
…. whether transfers from American Express Membership Rewards points will continue? My understanding is that, yes, they will.
…. on the face of it, Eurostar Plus Points members look like they are getting a bad deal. The wording on the website implies that existing points will be lost unless you have the minimum required for a Eurostar voucher. I am assuming that this is not actually the case, and that all Plus Points members above a modest threshold will be given a Eurostar voucher for the balance of their account.
There are bound to be concerns about the transfer rate from the old scheme to the new scheme, but we have no evidence yet of how that will work. Similarly, we have no idea if it will be easier or harder to qualify for status from 2018.
I’ll keep you updated as I learn more about the changes.
PS. I was in the new Eurostar lounge in Paris on Monday for the first time. You may remember that Anika went to the press launch in February which was a rather OTT affair in terms of food and drink.
It is undoubtedly an impressive space, and I have heard good things about the cocktail bar which operates in the evenings. At noon, however, it was a rather empty place. The cocktail bar was shut (not surprisingly) but they did have a good selection of wine served via an enomatic system.
There was no food, however. Nothing at all, apart from a few crisps and plain sponge cake. See the photos above. I thought that things would pick up as lunch approached, but when I boarded at 12.45 there was still no lunch available. It looks as if they are basically running on empty between breakfast and the evening peak, which is a shame. Even a tray of pastries would have been welcome …..
Whilst I was only travelling on a Standard Premier ticket, I was able to get into the lounge by flashing my American Express Platinum card. This works at any Eurostar lounge. No guests are allowed, although I have been allowed to take my children in at quiet periods in the past.
How to get Club Eurostar points and lounge access from UK credit cards (August 2022)
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.
Cards earning Membership Rewards points include:
- 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 free 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.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
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 – Eurostar 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.