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Club Eurostar is adding a £32 fee to all points redemptions

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Club Eurostar is making some changes to how it operates in response to the hit to the business caused by coronavirus.

The good news, from a loyalty perspective, is that Club Eurostar will be extending your status by five months.  Your new end date should already be showing on your Eurostar account.  Five months is oddly specific but I imagine that Eurostar doesn’t want to be too generous now that travel between the UK and France is beginning to re-open

Club Eurostar adds £16 fee to redemptions

The bad news – no more truly free redemptions

The other big change affects the cost of redemption trips.

One key selling point of Club Eurostar is that a free ticket is GENUINELY a free ticket.  There are no taxes and no charges to pay.  As long as you have enough points, your trip won’t cost you a penny.

(You can imagine airline loyalty executives shaking their heads here and saying ‘these people are crazy’!)

Those days are now numbered.

From 6th October, you will be charged a ‘network charge’ of £16 per person, per one-way journey, on any booking paid in full with points.  This is – clearly – a devaluation, as the points necessary for a redemption remain the same.

The ‘network charge’ is a flat-rate and not tied to your class of travel, status or destination.  The fee is the same whether you are in Standard or Business Premier, and whether you are travelling to Paris or Amsterdam.  There is no discount for children.

On a round-trip, you are looking at a fee of £32 per person.  This is roughly in line with the taxes and fees British Airways charges on a Reward Flight Saver redemption in Euro Traveller.

Regarding the changes, Club Eurostar writes:

“We know it’s disappointing news and hope you understand that we’ve had to make some tough decisions recently. The introduction of this fee is a necessary change that will allow us to continue offering tickets in exchange for points. It’s also an approach that is in keeping with the rest of the travel industry.”

One small compensatory measure is that Club Eurostar will be introducing a regular prize draw for Avantage and Carte Blanche members.  It’s not clear how this will work or how many prizes will be available, but Club Eurostar says that it will include ‘free trips and upgrades’.

Club Eurostar adds fee to free seats

Lounges, fast-track and onboard catering developments

Club Eurostar used its email to members today to update them on other announcements too.

As we reported earlier this week, the Eurostar lounges have now re-opened.  Don’t forget you get free access if you have the American Express Platinum card.  Alternatively, you need to be travelling in Business Premier or have Carte Blanche status.

Fast-track lanes are due to re-open “soon”.

Onboard catering will resume from 7th September.

Onboard wifi will be limited to Business Premier and Standard Premier passengers.  It is not clear why it is blocked for Standard Class passengers.

Conclusion

It’s hard to spin these changes positively – the introduction of a ‘network charge’ is a clear devaluation of Club Eurostar.

It is an odd time to introduce these changes and it will come as a blow to some of Club Eurostar’s most loyal members.  At a time when travel is low, it is not as if Club Eurostar members are costing the company money by displacing potential cash customers.

A few months ago, Club Eurostar removed ‘merchandise’ redemptions from its site.  The only external partner is now Accor Live Limitless, where 500 Club Eurostar points gets you 1,500 Accor hotel points, worth €30.  The lack of good third party redemptions means that Club Eurostar can impose its ‘network fee’ without the risk of seeing points redeemed on expensive (for Eurostar) partners.

We will take a look at how these changes impact our valuation of Club Eurostar points over the next few days.  It is likely that Club Eurostar transfers from American Express Membership Rewards – done at a 15:1 conversion rate – will now look poor value in Standard, but let’s see how the maths looks.


Earning Flying Blue miles from credit cards

How to earn Club Eurostar points from UK credit cards (November 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 cardsThese are:

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.

Comments (34)

  • ChrisC says:

    My non existent status has been extended !

    Not sure how I’ll cope but I’ll manage. But since I have some trips to AMS no doubt I’ll soon be on the ladder!

  • S says:

    Could be worth making a speculative booking now, then change date as required in the future. Might bypass this scammy fee

    • mr_jetlag says:

      Does the flexible changes policy apply to all points redemptions? If so, I’d definitely do the same – put in 4x tickets for as far advance as possible. Eurostar hasn’t been good in ages so not sure this changes anything for me (and I have 5k+ in points atm)

    • Feeling a little devalued says:

      By cutting the Marseilles route and ski train route until possibly 2022 (if at all), it seems that booking in advance is less attractive now.

  • Pb says:

    Some competition from another operator is needed .

    • southlondonphil says:

      From the Eurostars email it looks like they have decided to pass on the cost of ‘track access rights’ which they have to pay SNCF, SNCB, NS and HS1 Ltd for each train journey. It is quite likely that the reduced passenger volumes currently being experienced have meant that each service is making a lot less money and it is harder to absorb the cost of these rights for redemption bookings from within the current level of cash ticket revenue.

      Per https://www.railfreight.com/uk/2020/01/08/london-to-tunnel-freight-charges-up/?gdpr=accept, that HS1 Ltd was due to ibcrease its track access fees for Eurostar passenger services over its section of the track by 19% in April (which is better than the 43% increase they had wanted which was blocked by the regulator). The charges for passenger services aren’t broken down across Eurostar and domestic services (Southeastern) the total annual cost is £26m or nearly £400,000 for each mile between St Pancras and Cheriton. Who knows what the additional costs are for the French, Belgian and Dutch segments.

      I think (been a while since I’ve used it) you can part pay with points and avoid the ‘taxes’ – the email states that the charges are being introduced for “bookings paid for entirely by points” – though whether that’s better value than simply taking the hit and paying the £16 per leg I don’t know.

      Another operator (e.g. DB) would still need to pay track access charges of course, though they might elect not to pass them on for BahnBonus redemptions.

  • Edwin Davies says:

    Whilst they fully and quickly refunded my Standard points return to Avignon it looks like they’ve cancelled the service for all of next year as well as this. Shame as my Premier return to Marseille last year was probably best value redemption. Trips to Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam lack appeal as visited both many times. Any one reccomend Rotterdam for a week end city break?

  • kk says:

    Good morning. Has points+cash redemption (rather than the low-valuation “use points for a discount”) been discontinued? You mention it in your article https://www.headforpoints.com/2017/03/31/eurostar-frequent-traveller-part-pay-with-points/
    and I remember seeing it, but now cannot find these options.

    • apbj says:

      The email says: “From 6 October, we’re introducing a £16 network fee per person, per individual journey on bookings paid for entirely by points” and the last phrase is emphasised in bold. To me that suggests other combinations are still possible.

      And while I agree that the timing overall is odd, at least there’s a couple of months’ grace period to use those points up before the fee comes in. My guess is that they’re hoping people will have a clearout and fill some empty seats before October 6.