Bits: Eurostar announces Amsterdam start date – with a catch, railcards for instant digital download

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News in brief:

Eurostar announces start of Amsterdam services

Eurostar has confirmed that its long-delayed service to Rotterdam and Amsterdam will begin on 4th April.

There will be two trains per day from London St Pancras, leaving at 8.31am and 5.31pm.  It will take 3 hours 1 minute to Rotterdam and 3 hours 41 minutes to Amsterdam.

The big problem comes on the return.  It will take another year, perhaps more, to get full UK passport and immigration services installed in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.  Until then, you will be able to board trains without any checks.

ALL passengers will have to get off the train in Brussels which will carry on (either empty or with passengers ticketed from Brussels) to London.  They will be booked onto a later London train to allow time for full passport formalities – a process which could take a long time given the number of passengers involved.   You will have the option of being booked on a Thalys / Eurostar combination which, because of how the timetable works, is actually quicker albeit still over four and a half hours.

If you want to try this new route, the HFP article explains how to use your Amex Membership Rewards points for Eurostar tickets.  Remember that free Eurostar tickets really are free – there are no taxes or charges to pay.

Tickets will go on sale on 20th February.  Prices will start at just £35 one-way as Eurostar attempts to use price to woo customers from the airlines and fill the early services.

Remember that American Express Platinum cardholders get free access to Eurostar lounges.  You cannot bring a guest but your partner is likely to have a supplementary Amex Platinum card anyway.

How to earn Club Eurostar points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, Club Eurostar does not have its own 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 – 10,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

The Platinum Card from American Express – 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

American Express Rewards credit card – up to 5,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

Membership Rewards points convert at 15:1 into Club Eurostar points.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, so you earn the equivalent of 1 Club Eurostar point for every £15 you spend.

New Amsterdam Eurostar route launches April

Railcards now available for immediate digital download

It’s half-term (at least, it is in our house).  If you are planning to take the kids on a train trip, it is worth noting that Friends & Family Railcards can now be bought and downloaded instantly as can most other Railcards.

During the purchase process on the Friends & Family Railcard website you have the option of selecting a Plastic or Digital railcard.  If you choose Digital, you are emailed a code after purchase which you type into the Railcard app on your phone.  The Railcard can be added to two phones if necessary.

This allows you to buy a Railcard and buy discounted tickets immediately without having to wait 5 days for a Plastic card to arrive.

As a reminder, a Friends & Family Railcard gets you 33% off Standard Anytime, Off-Peak and Advance adult fares and 60% off for kids’ fares.  Restrictions apply on times of travel and which trains are included.  First Class travel is not included.  Gatwick Express, Stansted Express, Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect services ARE included – we got 4 x one-way tickets on Gatwick Express for today for £30.20 using a Railcard.

The Friends & Family Railcard website here has more details.

(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. OT: I have had a ‘Return for 10000 bonus points’ offer applied to my IHG account. It just appeared without my registering for it and I have no idea what is required to trigger it. I’m hoping just a single stay by the deadline but I don’t want to ask CS in event they might remove it as an error. Anybody else had this offer or know anything about it?.

  2. OT: following the advice on here to get a Gold credit card before I upgrade my gold card to Platinum, I cannot find how to do this via the app or website (on mobile).

    Is there a link?

    Thanks

  3. Pangolin says:

    OT: Is there any way of tracking Amex redemption bonus links? By that I mean, which links you’ve sent out and on what date. For the ones I sent via email it’s easy but what about the ones I sent direct from the Amex account page?

    I’m likely to downgrade Plat to Gold in the near future but I don’t want to do that if there are still some possible redemption bonuses outstanding (35K MR, so not to be sniffed at).

    • Pangolin says:

      Edit: I should have said downgrade to Gold OR cancel completely (which I’m also considering), as I guess there’s a good chance you’d still get the 35K points as long as you had a valid MR card at the time the redemption bonus was triggered.

    • You can only send five so easy to keep a record, except that the points credit does not say which referral it arises from.

      • Pangolin says:

        Except that I forgot to keep an external record of the referral links sent via the Amex site, hence why I’m asking here if there is any way I can now find out. I know that I could simply wait for referral bonuses to arrive, but the point is that I’m not sure how long I need to wait before it would be safe to cancel the card.

        • And it’s too embarrassing to ask which of our two friends got the card! We too are in exactly the same position. Planning to cancel plat next month, but won’t know which one has got the card from our referral. And whether to hang on or not!

  4. On the subject of referrals, there is an annual maximum of 90,000 MR points earned from Gold/Platinum, 90,000 SPG points and probably 90,000 Avios (although I have not checked that one).
    Is that 270,000 points in total or 90,000 in total? 90,000 is only five referrals from Platinum; do I move on to SPG for further referrals?
    Also does a new card in the same year (after six months) come with a new limit?

  5. Do you know if you can split the journey in Brussels? – eg spending a few hours/days there before then taking the Eurostar back to the UK?

  6. I’ve checked the Eurostar website and the outbound journey is far too long at well over four hours. I don’t care about the price either. No can do.

    • When the Eurostar reaches 88 miles an hour in the channel, a flux capacitor makes the whole train and its contents leap one hour into the future. The process is reversed when returning. Planes do the same thing but over the channel rather than under it.

    • They haven’t gone on sale yet, you probably are seeing the trains times with a stopover in Brussels. The time is 3hours 41 mins which is competitive with flying in my opinion… shame about the return journey and lack of a direct train.. I wonder how much that will impact bookings. I will be booking as soon as they go on sale for July but my return journey will be by plane..

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Surely getting from london to LHR/LGW, checking in an hour before and then schiphol to centraal means most flights take at least 3-4 hours anyway (knock off a bit for LCY). Add in the restrictions you have on baggage and liquids etc.

      Personally if pancreas is near by/easy to get to this doesn’t seem bad at all.

  7. menachem says:

    will the train stop in Antwerp?

  8. Train stops in Brussels and Rotterdam, tickets on sale from 22nd Feb….
    first freebie press trip was today 20 th feb.

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