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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.

  • Rich says:

    It’s bad, but it’s not quite as bad as I’d feared. If they actually offer through tickets to Cologne, Dusseldorf, Alps etc for 1000 points.

    I wonder if it’s valid on the weird new ski service that they’re advertising (charge at Lille).

    • Alastair says:

      Eurostar always charged the same for Lyon, Marseilles etc in points terms as they did for Paris when they operated their own trains so it’s kind of similar if they now offer this to Germany.

  • Rich says:

    Any changes to lounge access via Plat?

    I assume we can’t suddenly use the ex-Thalys lounges?

  • Eric says:

    That is just fantastic news. I had just transferred 15000 MR to buy a ticket and was waiting for it to post, and now they’re worthless. And Amex couldn’t give a hoot.

  • GJS says:

    Really frustrating. This was my preferred Amex transfer route. Sitting on a few hundred thousand points that were meant to be for future school holiday trips.

  • Jenny says:

    All this talk of flexibility with statuses is frustrating. I have a BP journey booked FOR TOMORROW which would have taken me very close to CB level and another journey likely for December which would have taken me over. In any case my membership year was from March so I’d definitely have made it- might email them to see if there’s any flexibility for me……

    • executiveclubber says:

      There won’t be — Eurostar is the epitome of French customer service

      • Alex Sm says:

        I still can’t recover that they could not reconcile my name being spelled Alexander and Alexandre in two different places claiming it’s two different people!

      • Peter says:

        My experience with French customer service (eg utilities, mobile providers…) shows that you really need to be persistent. After being contacted 30 times with the same issue, someone will probably cry harcèlement and solve your problem!

    • marcb86 says:

      Definitely call them. You may get lucky with a customer service agent like I did.

  • SteveCroydon says:

    I won’t be redeeming my stash of AX MR points on Eurostar. Might just as well drip feed them to Avios when they become depleted.
    Went to Paris for the day 3 weeks ago. The lavatories at StP were filthy at 6:30am. One loo in the cafe coach was blocked with pee and paper on the 7am train. The facilities at GdN were equally awful in the evening. Bogs is the only word to describe them!
    When is there going to be competition on the Euro Tunnel route? What happened to DB’s plans? ES needs a “Bishop Brennan” style “kick up the aarrrsse”!

    • RussellH says:

      Not just DB’s plans, which were from over 13 years ago.
      RENFE (Spanish Railways) announced plans in 2021, Trenitalia more recently published planned links from Paris to London.
      Most recently, in late July, the FT reported that Mobico (AKA National Express) is part of a consortium planning a service from 2025. Apparently none of the other investors were prepared to comment.
      Seems very unlikely to me that they could get approval for the train sets to run through the tunnel in time, and if they did, and got the paths (probably not a major problem), where on earth are they going to carry out security and post leaving-the-EU immigration checks? Space is already incredibly tight at both St Pancras and Gare du Nord, waiting is even worse than the average airport departure ‘lounge’, and that is aying something!
      As I have mentioned before, I have always assumed that the facilities were designed on the assumption that they would only be needed for a few years, pending the UK finally joining Schengen.
      But until either that happens, or someone comes up with a completely different system of checks, I cannot see that there can ever be more than one passenger operator through the tunnel.

      • BahrainLad says:

        The RENFE S-100 which have been modified for use in France (with the addition of TVM and KVB signalling, used also on HS1 and the platforms/station throat at St Pancras) can operate all the way to London. The tunnel’s onerous safety rules were relaxed over a decade ago and it’s an urban myth that they persist. Most modern TGV-based trains that are allowed to run in France would also be allowed to run through the tunnel.

        • SteveCroydon says:

          I think the EU and UK competition authorities are well overdue for an investigation of services through the TML.

          • RussellH says:

            But given the lack of terminal infrastructure, what could they usefully do?
            Sure, GetLink and HS1 would like to see more trains, but as things stand, if you insisted on more than one operator, you would have to deprive Eurostar of a significant number of train paths. They are already deliberately not filling some trains because they are unable to process the passengers in the space available.
            Eurostar would (not unreasonably) expect compensation for that.
            You also risk effectively downgrading the service if a delayed passenger with CIV rights to take the next train cannot do so because it is being run by a different operator.
            Are you going to have to check tickets again at the time of boarding, which will delay boarding?

    • Rich says:

      Stratford International! It has two unused platforms, a crossover outside the station, and it was designed to be … International! And it’s fantastically will connected now (well, Stratford 10 mins away is)

      It would need the departure terminal fitted out, but it seems madness that nobody is developing it.

      • Rob says:

        The issue is partly down to who will foot the bill for a pile of French immigration officials to be based there.

      • Alastair says:

        Unfortunately the only way to turn international trains at Stratford is by completely reconfiguring the station so that the current domestic platforms become international and vv. More likely that trains would just carry on to STP and reverse there, potentially in the station itself.

  • Richard T says:

    Although one way trips were previously advertised at 500 points and returns at 1000, in practice they were often 750/1500 or 1000/2000 anyway (there was dynamic pricing when trains got busier). If the new pricing doesn’t also do that, then the devaluation is actually less than the worst case.

    • meta says:

      It is actually the same. I just checked.

      London-Paris this Friday, 6 Oct. 13 out of 17 trains are priced as 1500 points one-way in Standard, 2500 Standard Premier. Friday 13 Oct, all trains are priced at 1500. You need to be booking at least a month in advance to get 1k redemptions and there are still odd 1.5k ones at peak times on some days.

      • Rob says:

        This might change though. Logically there will be fewer redemptions going forward and so the ‘value’ allocation will last longer. We won’t see the impact of this for 3-4 months though.

        • Olivier says:

          It isn’t how it works, there is no allocation. When a single standard fare is priced up to £126, it will be 1,000 points. If more , it will be 2,000.

          • Olivier says:

            That values a MR at 0.84 max in the case of standard tickets bought as one way.

          • Rob says:

            We’ve always been told it was an allocation but what you say would not surprise me.

  • RussellH says:

    I just reached Avantage this summer, and have retained it. Not sure how useful it really is, though.

    • BahrainLad says:

      You can sit in a soul-less red-coloured room about 5 minutes walk from Gare du Nord and drink a free machine coffee, vs paying to sit in a pleasant cafe instead.

      • RussellH says:

        Not much use when I am in Belgium – go there much more often than Paris.
        🙂

        • Rob says:

          Avantage get access to a Brussels lounge.

          • RussellH says:

            But you still have to check in for London 60 mins early, and there is no Avantage lounge in the terminal. The Eurostar lounge is on Place Horta, and only useful if travelling on what used to be called Thalys.
            TBH, I prefer the cafes on Place Horta, even if some of the waiters are utterly incompetent.

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