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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 (January 2021)

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)

  • meta says:

    This totally odd. Obviously a better use now is £10 off for 200 points x 2. When there is a seat sale for £29 one-way you are clearly better off than paying £16 for redemption at 500 points.

    • Tom says:

      Yes, was going to say – interesting to see how the values stacks up against taking the vouchers. But perhaps that’s what Eurostar want now, to stop people taking good-value redemptions.

      Funny timing coming just a few days after the piece on whether the overall travel points scene has got better or worse in recent years. Another step down.

    • Alex says:

      That’s always been the case. The idea about the award tickets (in any program) is that you would only use them when tickets are expensive. Now the calculation for Eurostar is changing a little but not much. A 29 pound ticket is always better in cash. When they reach 120 pounds then you do your maths.

  • Alex says:

    I travel the Paris route regularly, I’ve had a Carte Blanche for 10 years now. It’s been a bit harder to keep it in the last few years through less work travel, so I used to buy cash tickets all the way. In that sense having the points is useful to invite friends and family over, or for emergencies where you needed a last-minute ticket. It’s still there, but not “free” as before…

    It’s disappointing to say the least, but ever since the SNCF upped their stake in the company it’s been going downhill. Their compensation for delays used to be the best in class (you used to get a free one-way ticket in the same class of travel for delays above 2 hours, and they were fully flexible!). And the catering in Leisure Select (the old Standard Premier) was really good; especially when you compare it with the cold chicken or veg quiche nowadays. I’m wondering how bad it’s going to be when they merge with Thalys. I’m bracing for impact because that’s going to be another opportunity for them to devalue the program. But remember that they have a monopoly on the most convenient way to travel so not much incentive to make their program too attractive.

    Slight correction though, the fast track lane was open at St Pancras last Friday.

  • Nad says:

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha lmao. £32 on redemption?!? Better off buyIng cash ticket

  • Nick says:

    I’m puzzled by this. The email from Eurostar says the ‘network fee’ is paid to their suppliers… who exactly do they mean?

    • Alex says:

      Use of the tracks and tunnel, plus a station fee at StP and GdN I would expect. Basically your points pay for the staff, seat and train, and the network fee pays for that.

      • Lady London says:

        And all those fees to SNCF they’d be paying anyway as soon as they send 1 train with 1 person on it. The marginal cost per passenger even with Covid loads is going to be Zero if rounded to the 4th decimal place.

        Do they think we’re stupid using that as their excuse and claiming it’s an actual change from what their costs were anyway?

        • Mainline421 says:

          Fees are charged to Eurostar on a per passenger basis. Although unlikely to affect many here the fact that “Network fee” is £16 means they’ve been overcharging for people with Interrail tickets £25 for “seat reservation fee!”

    • Aeronaut says:

      Presumably refers to track and station access fees, e.g. those payable to Eurotunnel (for use of the Channel Tunnel), to HS1 Ltd (for use of HS1 line and stations), to SNCF Réseau and to SNCF Gares & Connexion (lines and stations in France), to Infrabel in Belgium and to ProRail in the Netherlands.

      In particular, access charges for HS1 have recently increased, though not by as much as HS1 Ltd had proposed as the ORR (the relevant regulator) stepped in to cap the charges.

      • Lady London says:

        It’s cr*p. There is no change in either their fixed costs they’d have to pay anyway. And the marginal cost per passenger remains infinitesmal.

        I took that email for the fudge it was. Basically they are removing the value from the loyalty program. They destroyed the reachability of Carte Blanche tier for almost everyone only a few months ago and now they’re destroying the rest.

        This will not be the last time any regular passengers of Eurostar will be gouged. I am sure there will be more bad news from this program before next April.

        • Aeronaut says:

          @Lady London – as others have pointed out, for passage through the Channel Tunnel itself the charges Eurotunnel levy on Eurostar are based in part on the number of passengers the train is actually carrying – so running a train through the tunnel is not a fixed cost, it depends on how many pax are on board.

          Also, Eurostar are now leaving every other seat on the train empty (though couples and families can still sit together).

    • Charlieface says:

      It’s the stupidest thing: most of their costs are to suppliers and any business will be the same

    • Alastair Mackie says:

      Probably an oblique way of referring to the hefty track access charges they need to pay to Eurotunnel. IIRC they are levied on a per passenger basis and take up quite a chunk of a cheap ticket.

  • zark says:

    Eurostar used to offer £29 each way fares (non-refundable,non-changeable) on many trains around 6 weeks after opening up £39+ each way fares (one way fares always £10+ higher). These offers have all disappeared, but at least they are offering £39 each way until Christmas (changeable currently with certain limitations). From the New Year it appears that lowest each way fares are now £44.50 and no sight of reductions,so far.
    All of this suggests an increase in the cheapest round trip from £29*2=£58 to £39*2=£78 to maybe £44.50*2=£89. An increase of 53%….
    £89-£58=£33, which looks very much like the new £16 each way=£32 redemption fee.
    All a lesson in how to increase prices hoping that nobody notices, except for us at HfP!

  • J says:

    I treat Club Eurostar as a bonus anyway – would not have any influence on my decision. I would never fly from London to Paris or Brussels as the train is a lot better experience… Done it to Amsterdam too a few times and although it’s slightly longer than flying from City it’s less faff and more convenient. They once spoke about a London-Cologne Eurostar route but it has never materialised…

    • Lady London says:

      Thalys is the Cologne route. Unfortunately Rob mentioned Thalys and Eurostar will merge. A shame as Thalys was generally pretty good.

  • letBAgonesbe says:

    I also dropped them a message last week about their “flexible changes” policy.
    Any ticket you buy, you can change 14 days before departure.
    I think today, when travel restrictions can change in the matter of few hours, this is completely useless.

  • Feeling a little devalued says:

    Does this mean that, on a paid-for journey, upgrading to a higher class using points becomes better value then using points to cover for the whole journey?

    • Rob says:

      Yes, could well make a difference given the £32 charge for using all points.

    • Lady London says:

      Not, as soon as they work out you coulddo this. Then it will disappear.

      And Eurostar has form for retroactively removing the ability to change tickets after tickets had been sold with changeability in their terms and conditions. Was a while back, but them doing that stank and I can smell it now.