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Bank of America has just launched the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard.
Air France KLM Flying Blue has been one of the international programs most keen on that sweet, sweet U.S. credit card revenue. They’re a transfer partner of American Express, Chase, and Citibank. And now they have their own US-issued co-brand.
Key features of this $89 annual fee (not waived the first year) card:
- Initial bonus. 25,000 miles after $1000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening.
- Earning. 3 miles per dollar on all SkyTeam airlines, 1.5 miles per dollar on all other spend.
- Anniversary bonus miles. 5000 miles each account anniversary provided you’ve spent at least $50 during the year, you have to use the card sometime and can’t just stick it in a drawer to earn 5000 miles for the card’s $89 annual fee.
- Credit towards elite status. Silver status requires 100 elite tier points. You receive 60 tier points on card approval. You also receive 20 more on your account anniversary and an additional 40 on the account anniversary for $15,000 spend within the anniversary year. (Anniversary tier points or ‘experience points’ post 4-6 weeks after account anniversary.)
My primary interest in Air France KLM Flying Blue elite status is that some status (e.g. Silver) is required to book awards in Air France first class, though even then it’s generally at rulebuster pricing.
Copyright: radututa / 123RF Stock Photo
The Value in Air France KLM Flying Blue
Air France’s website is reasonably good for booking awards including partner awards. For instance you can often book Delta flights for fewer miles than Delta would charge their own members, and Delta’s transatlantic availability is surprisingly good in the off season.
I’m a fan of Air France KLM Flying Blue for the strong availability offered to their own members in Air France business class, more space than partner airlines have access to.
Air France has some unique partnerships as well with Air Mauritius, Aircalin, Air Corsica, Bangkok Airways, and Ukraine International Airlines.
There are a couple of cautions though. Air France does add fuel surcharges to award tickets. And they’ve been known to have super-aggressive anti-fraud procedures. They may put an account on hold or require a customer to go to the airport to issue tickets that opens an account, transfers in points, and immediately books travel. Presumably someone earning regularly with a co-brand credit card would avoid this.
How the Card’s Value Proposition Stacks Up
The initial 25,000 mile bonus isn’t huge, but Bank of America bonuses usually aren’t.
It’s interesting that the card earns 1.5 miles per dollar on all spend. However there are American Express cards that do that too (or even more, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express earns 2 points per dollar on the first $50,000 of spend each year) and American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Air France KLM Flying Blue. So this isn’t the fastest-earning card for people who want Flying Blue miles, and earning transferable points lets you choose Air France or transfers to another airline, you get to pick later.
Still, 1.5 miles per dollar is generous, in line with the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard. Bank of America is presumably able to do this because Flying Blue generally charges less for their miles than many other airlines.
Three points per dollar on all SkyTeam airline spend is nice, since it’s better than you’ll do paying for Delta tickets with a Delta co-brand credit card. However plenty of cards bonus airfare this generously or even more so regardless of airline for instance travel booked directly with airlines earns 3 points per dollar with the American Express® Gold Card and 5 points per dollar with the Platinum Card® from American Express.
So this is a nice addition, but hard for me to argue that it’s a go-to card for spend for anyone except those looking to boost their status with Air France KLM.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® Earn 65,000 AAdvantage miles.