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Club Eurostar: Are you a winner or a loser in the new programme?

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The Club Eurostar programme relaunched on Sunday after a short closure of its website.

At first glance it may seem that little has changed – all of the old ways to earn and redeem are still there, with nothing new added. In reality, the dynamics of the scheme have changed fundamentally.

Before I get into it, let’s take a step back.

Club Eurostar: Are you a winner or a loser in the new programme?

The driver of this is the Eurostar and Thalys merger

When Eurostar merged with European high speed operator Thalys, a decision was taken to rebrand both companies as ‘Eurostar’ (with a new logo, see the images in this article) and with a new merged loyalty scheme.

The old Club Eurostar and the legacy Thalys programme each had around 1 million members. However, each scheme has a different dynamic. Eurostar is an expensive rail service which directly competes with air. Thalys is a regional high speed operator, equivalent to Avanti West Coast or LNER, with relatively cheap tickets.

Merging the schemes together was not easy. To meet in the middle, the old Club Eurostar has been devalued, but the old Thalys scheme has been revalued upwards. Anyone with a lot of (old) Thalys points will be doing a little jig through the streets of Brussels or Dusseldorf. Anyone with a lot of (old) Club Eurostar points may be having a little cry.

Tomorrow I will look at what a Club Eurostar point is now worth. In this article I want to highlight what has changed, for better or worse.

What’s changed with the new Club Eurostar?

Your points balance has gone up by 20%

All Club Eurostar balances were increased by 20% over the weekend. If you had 5,000 points, you now have 6,000.

Club Eurostar changes

Your earning rate has increased by 20%

Going forward you will earn 1.2 Club Eurostar points per £1 spent. This compares to 1 point under the old scheme, so the rate has improved by 20%.

Tickets priced in Euro earn 1 point per €1 spent.

There are now status bonuses

This is new. Elite members (we cover the new rules later) receive the following status bonuses:

  • Avantage – 25%
  • Carte Blanche – 50%
  • Etoile – 75%

The status bonus and the new higher earn rate means that anyone with Carte Blanche or the new Etoile status who had a low points balance will be shielded from the impact of these changes.

Redemptions have doubled in price

Ouch. A return Standard ticket was 1,000 points and is now 2,000 points. A return Standard Premier ticket was 2,000 points and is now 4,000 points. A return Business Premier ticket was 3,000 points and is now 6,000 points.

‘Anytime’ rewards (book any seat if cash seats are bookable) remain. Standard is 3,000 points return and Standard Premier is 5,000 points return. All Business Premier redemptions are ‘Anytime’ so are 6,000 points return.

The price increase is, of course, partially offset by the 20% points boost to your existing balance. The net devaluation is 67% (800 extra over 1,200 for a Standard return).

I think you would be right to question why this wasn’t mentioned in the email communications sent out in the last couple of weeks, allowing you to lock in redemptions at the old rates.

You can now redeem on Thalys too

Redemptions on Thalys are now available too for the same 1,000 points one-way in Standard class.

You CANNOT put a Eurostar and Thalys ticket together on the same booking for 1,000 points.

Here is the current ex-Thalys map:

Thalys route map

Upgrades have not changed in price

Upgrades are now better value than they were, because they have not doubled in price.

A one-way upgrade from Standard to Standard Premier is 600 points. It was 500 points but as your balance increased by 20% it is effectively the same.

There are two reasons why upgrades are worth a look:

  • as long as seats are available for cash in Standard Premier, you can upgrade – this means that it is virtually always possible to do so
  • ‘full’ redemption tickets cannot be cancelled (unlike Avios flight redemptions) so you’re no worse off in terms of flexibility by buying a non-refundable cash ticket and upgrading it

I’ll do some maths tomorrow to show why upgrades are now decent value.

You can continue to redeem points for a cash discount

You are now offered £30 for 1,200 points. This is a very poor deal – to put it mildly – compared to an upgrade for 600 points or 1,000 points for a free one-way Standard ticket.

There is no logical reason for any HfP reader to do this. Bizarrely, you’d be better off transferring your points to Accor (see below) and using them for hotel credit, because 1,200 Eurostar points would get you €48 off a room.

American Express transfers to Club Eurostar remain at 15:1

This is bad news. Eurostar points are now worth less than they were, unless you are planning a trip with a Thalys connection or using them to upgrade, but the American Express Membership Rewards conversion rate is unchanged.

Tomorrow we will work out what an Amex point is now worth if used for a Club Eurostar redemption or upgrade.

Club Eurostar: Are you a winner or a loser in the new programme?

The transfer rate out to Accor Live Limitless has devalued

Transferring Eurostar points to the Accor Live Limitless hotel programme was always poor value, with 500 Club Eurostar points (which used to be worth £60+) getting you 1,500 Accor Live Limitless hotel points (worth a flat €30 off a hotel room).

500 Eurostar points now get you 1,000 Accor points, worth a flat €20 off a hotel room.

Whilst Eurostar points are worth less than they were, you will still lose at least half of their value (vs a free ticket or upgrade) by converting to Accor.

The transfer rate in from Accor Live Limitless is better

Going the other way, it used to be that 4,000 Accor points (€80 of hotel credit) got you 350 Eurostar points. This has now changed to 2,000 Accor points (€40 of hotel credit) gets you 300 Eurostar points.

If used for seat upgrades this could be interesting. You’d be giving up €80 of hotel stay (4,000 Accor points) for a one way upgrade from Standard to Standard Premier (600 Eurostar points). At times this is a fair deal.

Looked at another way …. you need to transfer 9,000 American Express Membership Rewards points to get the 600 Eurostar points needed for a one way upgrade. I’d rather spend 2,000 Accor points than burn 9,000 Amex points.

Eurostar status levels

Let’s talk about status

Up to now I’ve only talked about points. Let’s look at the impact on status.

Your status level has been reset based on your travel in the past 12 months

Eurostar decided to rebase all membership years to 1st October. Your tier points reset to zero last Sunday and your new status year runs to 30th September 2024.

To decide on your new tier, Eurostar looked at your travel from 1st October 2022 to 30th September 2023.

This has created winners and losers although we have been told that flexibility has been shown and that people who were nearly at a tier level have been upgraded. One Eurostar post on social media said that anyone within 20% of the old tier thresholds was upgraded or renewed.

The problem is that some people who were Carte Blanche on Saturday dropped down to Avantage on Sunday without having had a full year of Carte Blanche membership. There will be Carte Blanche members turning up at St Pancras this week expecting to get Fast Track security and lounge access and being turned away.

Some people unexpectedly gained status on Sunday. My wife has done 1 x £322 Standard Premier trip this year. She found herself upgraded to Avantage (used to be £400 spend required) so Eurostar has applied at least 25% leeway in her case.

Whilst there is some logic in resetting status based on your travel in the last 12 months, I can’t see the value in stripping it away from customers who have not had a full year of benefits. By definition, anyone who was Carte Blanche until Sunday was a good Eurostar customer and keeping them on side should have been a priority.

There are new requirements for status, but little has changed

  • ‘Avantage’ is now 500 points (£417 spend) vs 400 points (£400 spend)
  • ‘Carte Blanche’ is now 2,900 points (£2,417 spend) vs 2,400 points (£2,400 spend)
  • The new ‘Etoile’ level requires 5,000 points (£4,170 spend)

I assume that status bonuses do not count towards elite status.

Eurostar lounge cocktail bar

Important: Carte Blanche members are roughly quits under the new structure

Elite members are less impacted by these changes based on the points they will earn in the future.

Take a Carte Blanche member. You would previously earn 1 point per £1 spent.

You now earn 1.8 points per £1 spent (1.2 base points + 50% status bonus). As redemptions doubled in price, you are only 10% worse off.

You are substantially better off if you want to upgrade. A Carte Blanche member previously had to spend £500 to get a one way upgrade to Standard Premier. They now only need to spend (600 / 1.8) £333.

There are new status benefits

All elite members receive a status bonus when they travel.

Etoile members will get extra benefits:

  • 2-4-1 companion vouchers issued twice per year
  • Invitations to money-can’t-buy events
  • Ability to guest two people into the lounge and through Fast Track (Carte Blanche allows one guest)

Avantage and Carte Blanche members benefit from ‘get another train’ benefits on ex-Thalys services in Europe. You can jump on the train immediately before or after your booked service with no fees or supplements. Etoile members can get any train on the same day.

Carte Blanche and Etoile members can access Railteam lounges when travelling on ex-Thalys services.

Advantage members can access ex-Thalys lounges in Paris and Brussels when using ex-Thalys trains.

Conclusion

It was always going to be a thankless task merging the old Thalys and Eurostar loyalty schemes, given that both have different customer bases and pricing schedules.

What has emerged is arguably the sort of compromise that should have been expected, although I certainly don’t agree with potentially downgrading tier levels mid-year. I’m also not impressed that no warning was given of the devaluation of the reward chart.

For ex-Club Eurostar members, you are likely to be worse off. The winners (ie smallest losers) are Carte Blanche or Etoile members who had very low points balances last week. They haven’t lost much from the doubling of reward prices and their ‘earn to burn’ ratio is little changed going forward due to the new status bonuses.

If you have no elite status, you will be worse off going forwards in terms of what you need to spend for a free ticket. You are no worse off if your preferred redemption is upgrading.

If you had a large pile of points last week then you are sharply worse off if you were planning to redeem for free tickets. You are no worse off if you use your points to upgrade.

Anyone who only earns Club Eurostar points via an American Express Membership Rewards transfer will be substantially worse off. Eurostar now drops down the list of ‘most valuable Membership Rewards redemptions’ which I will update this week.

Tomorrow we have a surprising article on point valuation

I am following up tomorrow with an article looking at what Club Eurostar points are now worth. (EDIT: you can read it here.)

The results are interesting. I suspect that most people are not aware of how expensive Eurostar tickets now are. Your points are definitely worth less than they were last week, but are they worth less than they were before the pandemic? You may be surprised by the answer.


How to get Club Eurostar points and lounge access from UK credit cards

How to get Club Eurostar points and lounge access from UK credit cards (May 2024)

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

Cards earning Membership Rewards points include:

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 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.

Comments (127)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • aq.1988 says:

    With the 20% uplift in people’s balances, and earning rate, a 20 or 25% increase in redemption costs could be justified, but 100% is shocking! So annoying as was going to book redemption tickets for December this week; even with the 15:1 transfer ratio from Amex, was still good value. Instead have booked on BA, at a cost of 30k avios plus £105 for 3 people. Doubly annoying, as St Pancras is only about 25 mins from my house on the tube, and thirdly, would only have needed 2 tickets as my 3 year old daughter would happily sit on our laps for 2.5 hours!

  • PJJ says:

    If everyone was given a 20% rise in points, does that mean the 2 year expiry clock has been reset ?

  • PH says:

    I’m most upset by the new logo

  • PH says:

    “ There will be Carte Blanche members turning up at St Pancras this week expecting to get Fast Track security and lounge access and being turned away.” — did they issue physical cards? Because I suspect flashing that would still get you through fast track

    • Ben says:

      Not any more sadly. Also means I couldn’t access a Railteam lounge this week, as no proof of Carte Blanche status.

  • TheGaffer says:

    I was within 20% of Carte Blanche and only had to do one more trip in my account year, and have been kept at Avantage. Feel totally ripped off.

  • Adam says:

    Was in Carte Blanche, with the renewal date of April 2024. Been dropped down to Advantage with 3k points this year.. I’ll be flying now for my next few trips 👍

    • Nancy says:

      This is so unfair, I have the some problem, do we have any solutions for that?
      I have been emailed to them, they keep explaining me how it works and neglected my main questions.

      “ Thank you for getting in touch, please accept my apologies for the delay in getting back to you.
      As you are aware, we have recently made some changes to our Club Eurostar loyalty programme.

      When we launched the new Club Eurostar programme on 1 October 2023,
      your membership year was reset and your club level assigned based on the number of status points you have earned in the previous 12 months.

      As we believe that you are in the correct club level, by resetting your membership year you now have a full 12 months to either maintain your current club level or upgrade to a higher club level.

      The more you travel with us, the better it gets. As you earn more points, you’ll move up club levels and earn bonus points on every trip.

      Avantage members earn 25% in bonus points, Carte Blanche members earn 50% in bonus points, and Étoile members earn 75% in bonus points every time they travel.

      Thanks again for getting in touch, we really look forward to welcoming you onboard again soon.

      Kind regards,

      William

      Eurostar Customer Care”

      • Rhys says:

        Call them. We’ve been told they have significant flexibility to adjust status.

    • MV says:

      likewise – crap way to deal with valued regular customers

      • Rob says:

        As I put in the comments a few times, if you ring Customer Services they will have been given CONSIDERABLE leeway to put you back.

  • Callum says:

    Worth double-checking if Eurostar put you in the right status level after the migration! They downgraded me from Carte Blanche to Avantage because I had booked trips via a corporate booking platform and claimed points retrospectively – even though I spent £2,600 on the Eurostar from March through June. My Carte Blanche status has now been reinstated after a few phone calls and emails back and forth (of course each time being told I was wrong and that I was correctly placed in Avantage).

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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