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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.

  • pigeon says:

    Are upgrades also on an entire journey basis – eg 600 points to upgrade London to Cologne ?

    • Rob says:

      Don’t know. Does Thalys have Standard Premier?

      • Alastair says:

        It has Comfort which is the same (First Class seats without a first class service)

      • pigeon says:

        Also the app ominously says the upgrades are “from” 600 points.

        Might just be the way it’s written rather than a deeper meaning, though.

        • Rob says:

          I think it’s the way it’s written because the site does this in various places.

  • Scooter says:

    I was 600 points or so off of retaining Carte Blanche for next year (based on when the old scheme renewed at end of Nov). Now been reduced to Avantage and need 2900 points to get to Carte Blanche (before oct 24). Feels like a massive kick in the teeth to have Carte Blanche taken away – along with the 100% increase in points for a journey (was 500 now 1000). feel robbed of (at least) 2 months of carte blanche and have messaged them to understand why!

  • LittleNick says:

    Always wanted to do a Business Premier redemption but a 100% increase on 3000 to 6000 now makes that near impossible, shame I suppose.

    • pigeon says:

      I don’t want to be mean, but unless you like turning up very early, you aren’t missing much in Business Premier!

      1. Yes it has priority security / passports with 15 min checkin, but in standard you could just turn up 30 mins out and the staff will take you to the front of the queue anyway.

      2. Only differences onboard from standard premier are hot vs cold food, and champagne. Seat of course the same.

      If it’s Amex points you’re using, you are better off using them for an upgrade on BA.

    • pigeon says:

      I’d literally do 5 upgrades to standard premier before I book a Business Premier reward outright…

      • Rob says:

        Apart from Fast Track, where’s the value? You can get 3 years of Eurostar lounge access for £50 by getting Amex Plat for a month and then cancelling 🙂

        • jjoohhnn says:

          But only until they remove the pro-rata refund of course!

        • Lady London says:

          Minus the other 11 months of Plat you’d still have to pay? Amex has impressed everyone…not..by doing a U-turn, which if they want to keep their credibility as a financial institution they should not have done, on their formerly well announced decision to stop refunding unused Plat subscription months if someone cancels…. for now.

          But so long as Amex doesn’t have another try and make a clear statement with a believable strategy, that finally clarifies in a guaranteed way that cancellation of a Plat partway through the year will have all remaining months refunded, no one is going to invest any more in Amex than they might already have done.

          And no one with a brain would currently expect a pro rata refund given the U-turn and now the silence from Amex.

        • LittleNick says:

          Well maybe it’s a bit of a novelty but wanted to try hot food and champagne on board and up until very recently I have never had Plat so didn’t have lounge access. And I do typically turn up pretty early before any flight/booked travel.

          • pigeon says:

            Problem is at 6k Eurostar points, that’s 90k Amex points.

            You’re probably better off going to a 1 one star ( maybe even 2 star) for dinner and then using pay with points / statement credit on Amex…so not great value I’m afraid. Or getting a long haul upgrade to club world / virgin upper class.

          • Alastair says:

            Oh for the days of Leisure Select, when you could go to Paris for the weekend for around £140 return from Waterloo and have a hot meal and so much free fizz they had to pour you off onto the platform at Gare du Nord on arrival

        • Alex says:

          how exactly this works ?

          • Rob says:

            Get Amex Plat, cancel it for an 11-month fee refund, don’t throw the card in the bin 🙂

            Eurostar lounge access (no guests) is an Amex Plat benefit in London, Paris and Brussels. Because they don’t sell lounge access there are no credit card machines to take a swipe – all they do is look at your card to check it hasn’t expired.

          • meta says:

            They also as of maybe a year ago also check against the ticket. So you can’t just give your Platinum to anyone. I tried with my father by bringing an extra supp. It didn’t work.

  • Roy says:

    One option would be to run the trains from Stratford International, which I believe was built with international departure/arrivals areas which have never been used.

    Before the pandemic, Getlink (owners of the tunnel) were trying to get an operator interested in running a “low cost” competitor service on the London to Paris route using Stratford International and Roissy stations.

    • Roy says:

      Sorry, this was supposed to be a reply to the discussion about more competing operators.

    • John says:

      Not enough people want to travel to and from Stratford to make it worthwhile slowing down the trains to stop there. Apparently, Eurostar did do some market research to confirm this.

      Unfortunately it’s not possible to reverse trains at Stratford without them going to st Pancras / blocking the route so that doesn’t help either

      • Roy says:

        The train still has to go to St Pancras, but the passengers don’t. It gets round the fact that the passenger terminal at St Pancras simply can’t cope with any more passengers (and there isn’t room to expand it).

      • Rich says:

        People will trek out to Marne-laVallée or Massy to get a cheap Ouigo. I bet they’d take the Liz Line to Stratford if somebody was undercutting Eurostar.

        • Lady London says:

          Yeah but then they’re stuck with rubbish OuiGo train quality and some truly ferocious nonrefund conditions for often not really that much less than taking a railcard would get them.

          The other trains to a avoid at all costs in France if there is any alternative unlesd there is an absolutely huge price gap are the TER trains.

    • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

      But who will pay for both UK and French immigration officers to staff it?

  • Roy says:

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

    Correct. There is now an explicit distinction between status points and reward points in all the text on the website. You get bonus reward points based on elite status – but qualification is, of course, based on status points.

    • Marc says:

      Which is a lot clearer than it used to be. When they used to do points offers it was hidden in the Ts and Cs that they didn’t count towards status.

  • tintin38 says:

    Have been completely screwed over by this monster devaluation. Had over 3,000 points prior to the change, which I was saving for 2 business premier seats to Paris to start our honeymoon. Now we can only redeem these for one seat and pay for the other at a cost of £325.

    A hard earned lesson to never keep high balances in any frequent traveller account and currency. In this case the lack of prior notice was especially sinister and underhand and I haven’t checked the T&Cs for any notice periods but am sure Eurostar has a legal get out of jail card 🙁

    • Lady London says:

      Eurostar has ‘form’ for changing conditions after people have already invested in them. A while back they unilaterally changed their conditions on semiflexible tickets to remove most of the flexibilty. They also applied the new very much worse conditions to tickets of this type that had already been purchased.

      To this day, I still wonder how they got away with this legally. Hence why I’d put investment in MR points as they are flexible but Eurostar can’t sell me on any benefit that can’t be used close to immediately.

      For similar reasons of trust about honouring promises and introducing unannounced negative rules to something (IME both), I will never really trust Accor or leave any balance with them for too long.

  • Dace says:

    I am currently suspecting the the Amex news will be a devaluation of transfer rates. I am moving all my MR points currently. Risky, but I prefer to do that right now. The turn around with the pro-rata tells me they’re going to take something significant away, and am guessing it will be transfers out.

  • Ben says:

    Anyone remember when a roundtrip eurostar ticket was 9,000 avios with no taxes / fees.

    • meta says:

      Yes, it was my first redemption in 2010 I think.

    • Lady London says:

      Yesss. That was a fair price at the time.

      Thalys members are definitely better off with this merger, than Eurostar members. We might benefit if they open the promised new destinations on Thalys. But I’m guessing it will only be a couple of more Easterly and Northerly destinations in Germany.

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