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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 (June 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.

  • Skywalker says:

    Not a frequent traveller, but a small win.

    I had 95 stray points and couldn’t transfer them.

    Now I have 100+ and can transfer them to someone who can make better use of them 🙂

  • Susan says:

    A double whammy for me. Transferred 30000 MR points to Eurostar last week hours before Amex changed its mind on pro-rata refunds and now this. TLDR:don’t take advice from me, I’d probably lose money on bitcoin.

    • patrick C says:

      Tje bast majority (90%+) of people loses money on bitcoin …

  • Alex says:

    You say that you can include Thalys connection in redemptions for no extra cost but when I try to redeem from London it does not let me pick say Düsseldorf or Aachen so I don’t think that’s true

    • Alex says:

      Also a bit confused by your wife’s case as I had spend more than that and have been downgraded to Classique with zero status points

    • Rob says:

      It’s true. Doesn’t mean the IT works yet!

      • Alex says:

        Oh that’s great – family lives in Duisburg do that’ll be a good redemption

  • david says:

    Great article as per usual Rob. Is Ruffles acceptable or incongruous?

  • Grant says:

    Do you still have to call in order to upgrade? You certainly did with the ‘old’ Eurostar. Given Eurostar’s awful customer service, and the fact that it was impossible to ever get through to anyone, I am not sure how possible upgrading actually is in real life.

    • Rob says:

      Yes

    • NFH says:

      I phoned Eurostar in July to upgrade a ticket in October with points. The customer service was excellent, in stark contrast to a year ago when it was abysmal.

  • Andrew J says:

    Is it possible to upgrade a cash ticket to Business Premier? With the long queues to checkin I couldn’t travel in any other class, and I used the Amex transfer route for this, but at double the price I wouldn’t see it as good value.

    • meta says:

      No. Totally useless scheme now, unless you’re Carte Blanche and above.

    • PH says:

      Never been possible to upgrade from standard / standard premier to business premier with cash or points, except on the train with cash (pointless by then as only getting better meal/drink)

  • Alastair says:

    The ability to redeem to say Cologne for the same price as Brussels is a benefit, but as pointed out the booking engine doesn’t offer this at the moment so I’ll believe it when I see it.
    Incidentally cash tickets from London through to Germany are still just combining the old Eurostar+Thalys fares, there is no ‘through’ pricing loaded yet.
    Have they actually been doing anything to deliver this merger apart from thinking up ways to severely annoy their loyal customers?

    • RussellH says:

      I was looking at Cologne to London fares for next February just a couple of days ago on Deutsche Bahn. ICE + EST fares still significantly cheaper than EST + EST (was EST + THA) – it has always been that way.
      I suppose it might now change?

  • Alastair says:

    The Amex numbers are stark. It’s now 15,000 MRs to go one way from London to Paris in Standard at the base rate. If you wanted to fly, you’d just transfer 4,500 to BA.
    Do Eurostar know how much revenue they’ll lose by not selling points to Amex any more? Because you’d have to be mad to transfer any over.

    • Rich says:

      Well 4500 + £17.50.

      So I’d think of it as £150 for a Eurostar redemption vs £62.50 for BA. Still a stark difference, even if you add in the cost of getting to LHR!

      • RussellH says:

        And the cost of getting from CDG to Paris.

        • meta says:

          Depends on how you value your time, no immigration at Gare du Nord either. I think train still wins for Paris, but it has to be at the right price. £79 ticket + lounge access with Amex Plat, especially at non-peak times is great value. For Brussels, plane is better.

          Points are no longer a factor, it’s nice to have, but not something to actively pursue. Obviously, Eurostar decided that they don’t need loyalty.

          • patrick C says:

            Well if you are truly loyal, the scheme is excellent. Carte blanche and above.
            Many businesses buy the BP tickets due to their complete flexibility. Any train, full refund for 2 months.
            Long distance relationship people likely travek enough for varte blanche.
            So really they killed off the scheme for leisure travellers and amex transfers.
            Flying is almost never competitive, not in brussels either.

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