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Flying Blue — the collective loyalty rewards program for Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, among other smaller airlines — offers a co-branded credit card in the U.S.
Issued by Bank of America®, the card earns miles that can be used for flights not only on these airlines but for any travel in the larger SkyTeam Alliance network they are part of, including Delta Air Lines. Monthly promo awards offered by Flying Blue can save you up to 50% off the cost of miles on select routes.
While the card can be an enticing choice for some travelers, even many Flying Blue loyalists may be better off with a general travel card. Here are five things you should know about the Air France credit card.
1. Rewards are healthy
When you say "bonjour" to a new Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard®, you’ll receive the following bonus: Get 50,000 Bonus Miles after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. Plus, you’ll earn 60 XP (experience points) upon approval, good toward achieving status in the Flying Blue loyalty program.
On an ongoing basis, the Flying Blue credit card earns these rewards:
3 miles per $1 spent directly on Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and SkyTeam member airlines purchases.
1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases.
While some co-branded airline cards may earn more on certain everyday purchases such as gas or groceries, it’s hard to find one that earns more than 1x per $1 spent on all other purchases.
2. It’s light on some fees, heavy on others
The card does come with an annual fee of $89, but that's a bit less than other popular airline cards that charge $95 or more. The annual fee is not waived the first year.
You can’t go wrong bringing the card with you when your friends wish you "bon voyage" on that overseas trip, since it doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees.
If you need to carry a balance, though, the Air France card isn’t the best choice. The ongoing APR is 15.99% - 23.99%, Variable, depending on your creditworthiness.
3. You’ll get an anniversary bonus each year
The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard® gives an extra kicker each year you hold the card, which is uncommon among airline credit cards at this price point. When you spend at least $50 per year on the card, you’ll receive 5,000 miles each year on your cardholder anniversary.
Based on NerdWallet’s analysis, the value of Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles is 1.4 cents each. That means the anniversary bonus you’ll receive is worth around $70.
This is a baseline value from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 1.4 cents or more in value from your Flying Blue miles.
» LEARN: 5 Flying Blue award sweet spots
4. Your bags won’t fly free
Unlike many other airline credit cards, the Air France card does not offer free checked bags.
Checked-bag fees with Air France start at $40 and can go as high as $300, depending on the route and the type of baggage. You can save 20% on most fees if you pay for your bags online rather than at the airport, but in any case, holding the card won’t waive the fees.
5. Other cards that offer 'backdoor' Flying Blue miles could be better
Even Air France-KLM loyalists could be better off using other credit cards to earn Flying Blue miles. That’s because Flying Blue is a transfer partner of many popular credit card programs, including:
You could use an eligible card from one of these rewards programs to rack up points, and transfer them over to Flying Blue when you’re ready to make a booking. Having a stash of flexible points like these could help fund a wider variety of travel expenses, since you can also use credit card points to book hotels, car rentals and other airlines, or even redeem for cash back.
Occasionally, AmEx and Citi add bonus miles to point conversions. During these promotional transfer periods, the bonus can be as high as 30% more miles in your Flying Blue account, which can make flexible credit card points even more attractive.
Plus, other cards may earn more rewards on everyday purchases. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, earns 5 points per $1 spent on travel booked through Chase; 3 points per $1 spent on eligible dining, select streaming services and eligible online grocery purchases; 2 points per $1 spent on all other travel; and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Or, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns 5 miles per $1 spent on eligible travel booked through Capital One and 2 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases.