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Book Eurostar train travel across Europe: Everything you need to know

by Staff

If you’re already based in Europe, the iconic Eurostar train likely needs no introduction; if you’re only visiting the continent, however, you may not be quite aware of the service or how speedy and convenient its connectivity is between the U.K. and mainland Europe.

If you’re looking for an easy (and typically cheaper) alternative to flying in Europe, then Eurostar might be just what you’re looking for. It provides easy access to several countries — if you’re short on time during your vacation, you could opt to take a daytrip from London to Paris using this train service.

Keep reading to find out more about traveling on Eurostar, including how to book tickets and save on fares by using your points and miles. Plus, check out our in-depth overview of each fare type on the Eurostar.

Eurostar trains travel to several destinations

COLBY KIRKPATRICK/THE POINTS GUY

Eurostar began operating in 1994 and is one of Europe’s most well-known high-speed train services. The train currently offers direct service to London; Paris; Brussels; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Amsterdam.

Further connecting Eurostar services will take you to Antwerp, Belgium; Liege, Belgium; Dusseldorf, Germany; Duisburg, Germany; Essen, Germany; and Dortmund, Germany.

EUROSTAR.COM

In addition to operating its own trains, Eurostar serves as a connecting rail service for other high-speed carriers to destinations like Disneyland Paris.

Related: 7 reasons why your next family vacation should be a train trip

What are the different ticket types for Eurostar trains?

COLBY KIRKPATRICK/THE POINTS GUY

The fare classes on Eurostar come in three tiers. The lowest and most affordable is Standard, which is the equivalent of coach or economy class with an airline.

Next up is Standard Premier, which is akin to premium economy. Finally, there’s Business Premier, which is Eurostar’s version of business class.

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The fare classes are broken down as follows:

Ticket type Standard Standard Premier Business Premier
Luggage Two pieces of full-size luggage, plus one piece of hand luggage Two pieces of full-size luggage, plus one piece of hand luggage Three pieces of full-size luggage, plus one piece of hand luggage
Change fees Unlimited ticket exchanges up to seven days before departure Unlimited ticket exchanges up to seven days before departure No change fees and free cancellation
Food and drink included Food and drinks are available for purchase from the onboard Eurostar Café A light meal and drinks served at your seat A three-course meal with Champagne served at your seat
Seat assignment Standard seat Extra legroom and more spacious seats Extra legroom and more spacious seats
Check-in and security Standard check-in and security Standard check-in and security Dedicated fast-track ticket gates
Lounge access No lounge access No lounge access Lounge access (if your departure station has one)
Wi-Fi Free Wi-Fi Free Wi-Fi Free Wi-Fi

With regards to pricing, the cost of fares in Standard and Standard Premier fluctuates based on seasonality, peak periods and destination. Business Premier, on the other hand, remains fairly consistent year-round in terms of pricing. Eurostar tickets can usually be booked up to 330 days before your return travel date.

Generally speaking, if you’re considering a trip from London onward, you can expect prices to fall somewhere within the following margins for a one-way trip:

Fare type Average ticket cost (one-way)
Standard 51-172 pounds ($65-$219)
Standard Premier 97-270 pounds ($123-$343)
Business Premier 325 pounds ($413)

If you’re looking to snag a bargain, it’s worth keeping your eye out for flash sales, which Eurostar regularly runs throughout the year, often with tickets for as little as 30 British pounds (around $38).

How do Eurostar trains compare to flying?

COLBY KIRKPATRICK/THE POINTS GUY

Compared to flying to your destination and transiting through European airports, traveling via Eurostar is much more low-stress.

The most obvious difference is the security experience, which, compared to that at an airport, is effortless, with no removal of liquids or large electric items. Although queues can mount up during busy periods, we’ve found that we’re through security in under 10 minutes when we travel with Eurostar.

Check-in is similar to airport check-in in that you must show your ticket and passport at a desk or kiosk. London’s St. Pancras International Station, however, is currently testing biometric face scans, which may make checking in even faster.

Regarding lounge access, it’s worth noting lounges are only available at the St. Pancras, Paris Gare du Nord and Brussels Midi/Zuid stations.

If you’re used to airline-run business-class airport lounges, you may need to lower your expectations somewhat here. Although comfortable and pleasant, the lounges are somewhat basic — don’t expect too much in the way of food.

Related: The best lounges at London Heathrow — and how to get inside

On board the Eurostar, it’s like most modern trains you may have taken at home. The differences between Standard Premier and Business Premier are nominal. You’ll get slightly more legroom and a slightly more modern seat in both classes than in Standard.

What you’re paying for in these classes is the luggage allowance and food service. If you don’t deem either of those things a huge must-have, you’ll be more than comfortable in Standard.

That said, the food service on the Eurostar is much better than on most airplanes and currently features a menu designed by the renowned Raymond Blanc. Champagne and coffee services are also served free of charge in Business Premier.

How to book the Eurostar train with credit cards

Eurostar Standard Premier seats. JORDAN WALLER/THE POINTS GUY

Travel on Eurostar, booked directly with Eurostar or through an online travel provider, should be coded as travel.

The following credit cards offer bonus points for travel expenses, along with strong welcome bonuses:

Related: 14 best travel credit cards

How to earn points and miles for Eurostar trains

COLBY KIRKPATRICK/THE POINTS GUY

Eurostar operates its own loyalty program named Club Eurostar. For every British pound spent (about $1.27), you will earn 1.2 points. This means you earn around 1 point per $1 spent.

Elite members receive the following points bonuses when booking:

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

Eurostar tickets can now be booked through the Uber app, and you will earn 10% back in Uber credits on Eurostar bookings and National Rail train tickets in the U.K.

Additionally, you can earn 10% back when you purchase your coach tickets with the following U.K. operators: National Express and Megabus. If you decide to opt out of taking public transit, you can also hire a car from Avis, Hertz and other companies in your Uber app. When you book your trip, you’ll receive £10 off (about $12).

You can also transfer 2,000 Accor Live Limitless points and receive 300 Eurostar points.

How to redeem points and miles for Eurostar trains

COLBY KIRKPATRICK/THE POINTS GUY

You can redeem 2,000 Club Eurostar points for a round-trip ticket in Standard class (or 4,000 points for a Standard Premier ticket), though these tickets are limited. For 1,000 more points, you can book any Standard or Standard Premier seats available.

A round-trip ticket can easily cost over $200 in Standard class (and double this at peak periods), making Club Eurostar points very valuable.

Business Premier tickets are available for 6,000 points round-trip for any available seat (saver-level space is not offered).

A one-way upgrade from Standard to Standard Premier is 600 points.

If you don’t wish to redeem Club Eurostar points for train travel, you can transfer 500 Eurostar points and receive 1,000 Accor points.

You can redeem Virgin points through Virgin Red for the following Eurostar vouchers:

  • 2,000 points for a 10-pound E-Voucher (about $12)
  • 5,000 points for a 25-pound E-Voucher (about $31)
  • 10,000 points for a 50-pound E-Voucher (about $63)
  • 20,000 points for a 100-pound E-Voucher (about $126)

We would not recommend redeeming Virgin points in this way under any circumstances, as this will only give you a redemption value of 0.5 cents each, which is only one-third of our current valuation of Virgin points. You can obtain far more value from your Virgin points by redeeming through flights on Virgin Atlantic or partner airlines like Air France, KLM and Delta Air Lines.

Related: Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: How to earn and redeem points for maximum value

Bottom line

Eurostar’s popularity boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic as travelers looked for ways to move around Europe without relying on airlines. As a result, Eurostar fares can be more expensive compared to flights with the same route. For short journeys like between London and Brussels, taking Eurostar is a much quicker and more relaxing experience, while on longer journeys like London to Amsterdam, the price can be similar.

If you want to travel within Europe and like the idea of keeping your feet on the ground, book in advance or redeem points and enjoy the stress-free Eurostar rail experience.

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