Should you be using your American Express points to book free Eurostar train tickets?
Since Avios and Nectar became partners, there have been a few casualties. Many of these were amongst American Express Membership Rewards redemption partners, because their redemptions no longer make any sense.
To remind you ….
- 1 American Express Membership Rewards point transfers into …..
- 1 British Airways Avios, which since 21st January transfers into (via this page) …..
- 1.6 Nectar points, which are worth 0.5p each, which means …..
1 American Express Membership Rewards point is worth 0.8p to spend at Sainsbury’s, Argos or eBay via Nectar.
There is no real point redeeming your Amex points for anything worth less than 0.8p, and that is 95% of the options.
Is it still worth transferring Membership Rewards points to Club Eurostar?
Reader Cormac posed this in our comments last week. It is an interesting one, because Eurostar is also a Nectar spend partner.
Whilst we rarely mention it, you can use your Nectar points to pay for Eurostar tickets at the usual rate of 0.5p per Nectar point. Details are here.
You have two options:
- transfer your Amex points into Club Eurostar and redeem for tickets, or
- transfer your Amex points into Nectar points via the route above and get 0.8p per Amex point off a Eurostar ticket
What makes this comparison interesting is that Club Eurostar guarantees to let you book a seat for Club Eurostar points if there is one for sale for cash.
This means that it IS realistic to compare cash tickets with points tickets, because points availability is never an issue. If you’ve got Eurostar points, you can book a seat. They are as flexible as cash.
What do Club Eurostar redemptions cost?
Here is the chart. There is also a £32 redemption fee added.
The key thing you need to know is that 15 American Express points are worth 1 Club Eurostar point.
When is it better to book Eurostar tickets via Nectar?
Luckily for our analysis, Eurostar charges the same number of points for all destinations. This makes our job easy.
‘Value’ = 1,000 Club Eurostar points = 15,000 Amex Membership Rewards points + £32 of charges
15,000 Amex Membership Rewards sent via Avios to Nectar gets you 24,000 Nectar points, worth £120
‘Amex to Nectar’ is the best deal unless the ticket costs more than £152 return.
‘Anytime’ = 1,500 Club Eurostar points = 22,500 Amex Membership Rewards points + £32 of charges
22,500 Amex Membership Rewards sent via Avios to Nectar gets you 36,000 Nectar points, worth £180
‘Amex to Nectar’ is the best deal unless the ticket costs more than £212 return.
Standard Premier (off-peak):
‘Value’ = 2,000 Club Eurostar points = 30,000 Amex Membership Rewards points + £32 of charges
30,000 Amex Membership Rewards sent via Avios to Nectar gets you 48,000 Nectar points, worth £240
‘Amex to Nectar’ is the best deal unless the ticket costs more than £272 return.
Standard Premier (peak):
‘Anytime’ = 2,500 Club Eurostar points = 37,500 Amex Membership Rewards points + £32 of charges
37,500 Amex Membership Rewards sent via Avios to Nectar gets you 60,000 Nectar points, worth £300
‘Amex to Nectar’ is the best deal unless the ticket costs more than £332 return.
‘Anytime’ = 3,000 Club Eurostar points = 45,000 Amex Membership Rewards points + £32 of charges
45,000 Amex Membership Rewards sent via Avios to Nectar gets you 72,000 Nectar points, worth £360
‘Amex to Nectar’ is the best deal unless the ticket costs more than £392 return.
I know these numbers look a bit overwhelming, so let me break it down.
Unless Eurostar cash ticket prices shoot up substantially when services restart, you are likely to be making a mistake by moving your Amex points into Club Eurostar points and redeeming for a ticket.
It makes more sense – unless cash prices are unusually high – to move your Membership Rewards points into Avios, and then into Nectar, and use your Nectar points to pay for a Eurostar ticket.
In truth, it was rare that you would see Standard class Eurostar tickets for more than £212 return, or Standard Premier for more than £332.
Club Eurostar still has value if you want to book Business Premier as you can pay more than £392 return. For the leisure traveller, however, this is generally poor value given that you get exactly the same seat in Standard Premier. The points premium is a poor deal for lounge access and better food, especially as Eurostar lounge access is free to anyone with an American Express Platinum card.
There are obviously two caveats here:
- if you have some Club Eurostar points and are simply topping them up, it will make sense to use Membership Rewards points for that rather than buying a full ticket for cash with Nectar points
- the analysis here ignores the Club Eurostar points and status points that you earn back by going down the Nectar route, which makes the ‘Amex to Avios to Nectar’ route even better value
Thank you to Cormac for doing the hard work on this one.
The Eurostar page on nectar.com is here if you want to find out more about redeeming.
How to earn Club Eurostar points from UK credit cards (May 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 cards. These are:
- 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.
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.