Club Eurostar to launch later this year – what do we think of the changes?

If you are a member of Eurostar Frequent Traveller or Eurostar Plus Points, you will have had news yesterday about the new Eurostar loyalty programme.

The name is Club Eurostar.

We have analysed the changes below, and added some information which you weren’t told.  We may also have found a loophole to get mid-tier status for free.

Back in June we heard for the first time that Eurostar had decided to change their current two loyalty programmes.  Eurostar Frequent Traveller was theoretically aimed at frequent business travellers whilst Eurostar Plus Points (which only offered train gift vouchers as rewards) was aimed at the leisure market.

After talking to members Eurostar decided to merge the two programs into one new programme, making it easier to join, earn and redeem.

Earning points

Club Eurostar will have a very straightforward way of earning points.  The scheme is going fully revenue based for earning, but not for redeeming.

For every £1 spent you will earn 1 point.  Tickets priced in € will be converted to £.

This is better than the current Eurostar Frequent Traveller earning table which looks like this (based on a single journey):

Less than £55 – 15 points

From £55 to £109.99 – 50 points

From £110 to £154.99 – 100 points

From £155 to £205 – 150 points

Above £205 – 200 points

Everyone will earn more points from each trip with travellers on the cheapest tickets doing best.  This is presumably to keep the interest of leisure travellers.  A £54 ticket will now earn 54 points rather than 15 points under the current scheme.

Spending points

Whilst you will be able to earn more points than previously, you will also need more points to redeem for a ticket.

The increases in ticket pricing are modest.

The key thing to note is the addition of ‘anytime’ tickets.

Eurostar redemption availability at present is generally good unless you want to travel on peak time trains on a Friday night or at the weekend.

To get around this, you can now redeem additional points to guarantee yourself a seat.  The additional premium is fairly modest (remember that British Airways wants a 100% premium to open up an Avios seat, and only Gold members can do that).

Standard redemption availability for basic level members will also improve.  Everyone will have access to the extra tier of redemption seats at standard prices which are currently reserved for Carte Blanche members only.

Upgrades and discounts

Ticket upgrades will also be available, apparently, although there is absolutely no information yet on how this will work and what tickets qualify.

There will also be an option to use small numbers of points for a discount on a cash ticket.

Family accounts

There will be some sort of ‘friends and family pooling’ available across all Eurostar membership levels.  This presumably reflects the current Eurostar Plus Points benefit which allowed the points from a single booking to be deposited in just one account.

There is no indication yet of how this will work.  It seems as if family accounts will not be possible.  The website talks about ‘sending’ points to another person.

Three tiers

Club Eurostar will have three membership tiers instead of the two tiers on the Frequent Traveller programme.

Classique – your status when first joining

Avantage – after 400 points earned or 5 return trips in a membership year

Carte Blanche – after 1,800 points earned or 24 return trips in a membership year

Classique lets you earn and spend points at Eurostar and you will receive special offers.

Avantage has the benefits of Classique as well as the option to spend points at other railway partners (TGV, Thalys, Lyria) and the Club Eurostar shop.

Carte Blanche members can use the Business Premier and Rail Team lounges, get fast track access, have a dedicated Club Eurostar support team, can use the Business Premier ticket office and have a cab waiting at arrival.

Currently you must buy one qualifying ticket of £250 / €285 or more to join Frequent Traveller.  Your tier upon joining is Carte Classique which lets you earn and spend points as well as purchase commission-free currency.  After 1,500 points or 4 return trips in Business Premier you reach Carte Blanche.  Factoring in the increase in points earned per trip under the new chart, Eurostar does not seem to be making it harder to earn status.

A free upgrade to Avantage

It appears from the emails that went out yesterday that existing Classique members will be promoted to Avantage when the new scheme is launched.  They will retain this status for their current membership year and all of the following year.

I don’t know if Eurostar will apply a cut-off date to this benefit or not.  If not, you could open an account now and then HOPEFULLY automatically get promoted to the middle Avantage tier later in the year.

The only way to open a Eurostar Frequent Traveller account without spending £250 / €285 on Eurostar tickets is to transfer some American Express Membership Rewards points to Eurostar.  If you do this, and if you do not already have a Eurostar Frequent Traveller account, one is opened for you.

(EDIT: the comments below suggest that you can ask Amex to open an account for you without transferring any points at all.)

We don’t know if points transferred from Amex or earned from partners will count towards status.

What happens to my old points?

If you were a member of Eurostar Frequent Traveller, your points will automatically be converted to Club Eurostar points at 1:1. You will stay at your tier for the rest of your current membership year and then get an additional membership year on top.

If you were a Eurostar Plus Points member and have more than 70 points, they will be converted into e-vouchers.

70 – 149 points = £5 or €5

150 – 229 points = £10 or €10

230 – 279 points = £15 or €15

280+ points = £20 or €20

Is American Express remaining a Eurostar partner?

Yes.  You will be able to continue transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Club Eurostar at the rate of 15:1.

You would need (1,500 x 15) 22,500 Amex points for an ‘anytime’ Standard return ticket.  At peak times (Friday nights out, Sunday nights back) this is potentially very good value.

Using 15,000 Membership Rewards for a ‘value’ return ticket looks like a weaker deal as – if you have complete freedom to pick and choose your trains – you can get return tickets for well under £100.  However, you should still be able to get around 0.65p or above per Amex point.

The sweet spot remains Standard Premier.  This gets you the same seat as Business Premier but a lower quality meal.  At 30,000 Amex points for a return ticket, this is good value.

There are no taxes to pay on Club Eurostar redemptions.  Free means free.

Conclusion

Merging the two schemes into one seems like the right move.

Club Eurostar is easier to join (EFT previously required you to spend £250 / €285 on tickets before you could join) and earning points is straightforward.

The addition of new, as yet unknown, earning partners is also interesting.

The increase in ‘value’ redemption prices is annoying.  Going forward, because of the new way points are earned, you will need to take fewer trips to earn a free trip.  However, the value of your existing points pile is devalued by 10% – 20% depending on which class you redeem in.

As you will need more points to redeem for a return journey booked after November, it might be worth redeeming for a journey before Club Eurostar replaces Eurostar Frequent Traveller.  The only snag, of course, is that you only book six months ahead.

If Club Eurostar gains a number of good earning partners and starts to run interesting promotions, we will give it more coverage on Head for Points going forward.

Full details can be found on the Eurostar website here.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. “The only way to open a Eurostar Frequent Traveller account without spending £250 / €285 on Eurostar tickets is to transfer some American Express Membership Rewards points to Eurostar. If you do this, and if you do not already have a Eurostar Frequent Traveller account, one is opened for you.”

    You don’t actually have to transfer any points but simply use Amex to open the account for you.

  2. twoclicks says:

    I would really like to know the launch date as my Carte Blanche expires mid-November. I need to do a business premier return to to retain it, but would obviously prefer to wait until the new launch and get my status extended by a year for free! The email they sent out says I’ll keep CB but wouldn’t trust that without specific confirmation…

    Also, why do you have to book six months ahead at the moment? I have walked up to the CB desk and asked for a ticket on the next train a few times – my preferred method in fact. I think currently if there is a seat you can redeem with CB and at the standard rate, so the new system is a bit worse for us.

    Lastly, I find the business premier tickets the best in the whole travel industry. They are completely exchangeable and refundable up to 30 days after the departure time and can just be rolled along to new dates. I have used these as backups if taking cheap Qatar fares from Brussels or Amsterdam, as a backup in case my positioning flight has problems getting there on time. That way you can worry about refunding etc after the trip. Oh and the price is always exactly the same. I think if you buy with points you can refund etc. at will also. Does an airline ticket with the same flexibility / price reliability exist?!

    • I’m not CB. I buy Standard Premier for work, usually around £199, £219. I think our business Premier corporate deal is £375 so in general can’t really justify the difference for what is fast track and a slightly better “amuse bouche”. I’d never call it a meal. Lounge access already with Amex Plat. Only once I wish I’d booked business Premier when there were problems with my specific train and Paris lounge staff wouldn’t let me change to trains that were leaving for free. Bizarre really considering they then had to pay me compo and I emptied the lounge fridge of all the feeds.

    • You will either just squeeze in or just miss depending on your definition of ‘mid’.

      • twoclicks says:

        19 November… everything crossed. I’ll buy the ticket and use if it gets too close but refund it if there is a more precise, favourable date announcement!

    • “Also, why do you have to book six months ahead at the moment?”

      You don’t have to book 6 months ahead, but the booking window is only 6 months, so you can’t book today for next summer. That’s if you want to use now your points at the rate of 900/return instead of 1000 (or 1500!) but have nothing planned immediately. But if you book 6 months ahead you’ll probably find cheap tickets anyway, which wouldn’t be worth spending your points on.

  3. What I would be most interested in is whether the new programme will lift the ridiculous limitation of your loyalty number having to be added at the time of booking (as it cannot be added to a booking once it is finalised).

    • twoclicks says:

      @Frank I always end up having to add my loyalty number after work bookings (the external agency used for bookings never adds it despite having the number and promising to…) There has never been a problem with getting it added, except that you normally need to wait 24 hours for their systems to do some updating before you can add it. This means you might run into trouble if the ticket is booked less than 24 hours before travelling, but even then they might be able to help you at the check-in desk?

    • That was only Plus Points wasn’t it? And they didn’t stick to that, I had them added to PP in arrears by emailing.

  4. Will they open you an account if you have an AMEX Premium Plus Card or does it have to be a Gold card (as I recently cancelled my Gold Card)?

  5. Excellent analysis, Anika – thanks!

  6. These all sound like positive changes to me, especially the £1 per point. Booking a £154.99 train and only getting 100 points for it always ticked me off. Also great if they are extending status for a year. I busted my butt in Standard Premier to get Carte Blanche, and although I’m not traveling to Brussels so much any more, it pains me to give it up.

  7. So redemptions will be 50% more expensive. Yet another downgrade from Eurostar. I don’t understand the positive spin on this – it is a disastrous change for people like me who often travel on business and used to rely on their points for private travel.

    • The fact redemptions become more expensive shouldn’t be looked at in isolation though. It looks like you’ll now earn more points on all tickets..On a £100 you’d now be earning more than 3 times as many points, so the redemptions aren’t really 50% more expensive are they?

      • It depends how many points you currently have vs how many you plan to earn in the future.

        • It mostly depends on your redemption usage. I’m in the same situation as A, earning on business trips and redeeming for leasure. I usually kept my points for last minutes bookings where cash price would be too expensive, but as Carte Blanche it would always cost me 900 pts return in economy, with full flexibility. Now it’s pretty clear that these bookings won’t cost me 1000 but 1500 points because all the cheap seats will be long gone. I don’t think the new earning scheme will compensate as it’s already factored in the 900 to 1000 pts increase.

  8. Thanks for the responses Gengos and Rob.

  9. I mean Genghis!

  10. Bit confused. Is the “Eurostar Frequent Traveller account” different to simply registering for an account on the eurostar website?

    • Yes. That is just signing up for a customer profile.

      • Ah ok thanks

        • For reference to anybody else reading this. I haven’t got a Eurostar customer profile. I was able to talk with Amex to request the traveller account and was told it wasn’t a problem if I didn’t have a customer profile. I am currently awaiting approval after the request was submitted to Eurostar.

  11. Hsergio10 says:

    I called Eurostar to check whether or not, transferring Amex membership points to Eurostar points can contribute to be upgraded to carte blanche . They said NO

    They said only paid tickets contribute to the upgrade.

    was it the case for someone else?