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Co-branded American Express cards: France and the Netherlands

Old Nov 4, 13, 2:57 pm
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Between 1 September 2013 and 31 March 2018 the co-branded Gold & Platinum Flying Blue American Express cards also gave you Level Miles for purchases at AF/KL.

The Gold card will give you 1.5 Level Miles & Award Miles for AF/KL purchases; the Platinum card will give you 2 Level Miles & Award miles for AF/KL purchases.

As of 31 March 2018 the Flying Blue American Express co-cards give the main cardholder additional XP's when reaching the membership anniversary:
  • Silver: 15XP;
  • Gold: 30 XP
  • Platinum: 60 XP
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Co-branded American Express cards: France and the Netherlands

Old Jun 23, 13, 7:24 am
  #16  
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
At card issuer level, OTOH, you do have competition to secure a contract with a given scheme. I would suspect that there is much jockeying at the moment between MBNA and Amex to be the one selected by BA for a BAEC miles earning card when the current Amex contract runs out.
I'm certain you are right on that indeed. It will be a key contract to bag. Amex uses outrageous APR (I think something crazy like 50% annual for the premium plus version!!) but does give a lot of advantages to those who have it (mostly a companion voucher valid for any routing/class when people spend 10k or so) and many UK-based top tier flyers seem to have one so I guess it will take a lot from MBNA to "steal" that contract from BA although, as you point out, the former BMI mastercard gives them a legitimate opportunity to have a go at it!

Incidentally, BA also has a very famous credit card deal in the US with Chase (again, ridiculously generous advantages usually) and I don't think FB has a similar card in the US either.

Finally, just to echo your point on how odd it is that FB don't bother to offer a credit card in the UK market: as you mention, so many airlines do - apart from FB's two main competitors (BAEC and LHMM), in fact, if I'm not wrong, even Ryanair has or had a UK credit card!
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Old Jun 23, 13, 8:33 am
  #17  
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
I remember that BA tried a pseudo-card in France but quickly stopped.
I had the French BA Amex card. IIRC, it was discontinued because Citicorp decided to stop operating it in France.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 10:32 am
  #18  
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Very interesting comments. They all make sense.

The banking habits in France are indeed different. I remember when Oney introduced their card (not linked to a specific bank). They had to give a rebate to customers rather than some freebies like air miles and they did not seem to be very successful. The BA card (which I was a visa, not Amex) was not successful either. I think that French are very traditional in their banking habits from Caisse d'Epargne to major banks. There not many different banks either.

In HK, where there is huge competition among credit card, people use numerous cards. And many cards are co-branded with Asia miles. And several airlines have co-branded credit card.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 10:36 am
  #19  
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
My guess is (for once ) slightly different from Goldorak's and would have more to do with comparative banking habits. My perception of France is that a majority of people have much fewer credit cards than, say, in the UK or the US, and still tend to get it/them through their primary banking institution (ie where they have their current account). In the UK, it is perfectly usual for someone to, say, have their current account with NatWest but get an RBS mastercard and an MBNA visa card etc. This means that there is a strong market for 'niche' cards which have ties with airlines, supermarkets, or even sportsclubs. My feeling is that this is still not very usual in France because typically, someone who has their current account at LCL or the SG will tend to get their credit card from LCL or the SG as well. Amex is the key exception, so probably the only 'logical' target for a special co-branded credit card, but as said, it is not widely accepted. All this is, however, totally unscientific an interpretation on my part and just a hunch.
No problem dear Orbitmic
And your explanation is a good one. I think that these co-branded CC (with supermarkets, etc) were even not allowed in France until 2 or 3 years ago. Please do not ask me why or why the AF Amex was an exception
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Old Jun 23, 13, 10:44 am
  #20  
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Originally Posted by ajs123 View Post
Yet another change! I am sick of all these constant changes. What's next? Spending requirements for FBG or FBP a la DL? I have not received the official notification, but will all AF/KL related expenses be considered for level miles?
This is getting OT, but I think that it is a likely development. With DL moving partly away from AFKL and several partners recently added to ST, it would seem logical that AFKL follow the same route as DL and UA.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 10:50 am
  #21  
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Originally Posted by JOUY31 View Post
I had the French BA Amex card. IIRC, it was discontinued because Citicorp decided to stop operating it in France.
Originally Posted by brunos View Post
The BA card (which I was a visa, not Amex) was not successful either.
Sorry, I meant the BA Diners Club card in France.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 11:48 am
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there is no room for competition in France, the market is owned by card issuers (Visa and Mastercard)

all banks have to work with one of them or with both

and everyone has to use a credit card

therefore, there is absolutely no point for any company to offer a cobranded card

waiving annual card fees is the only promotion that is offered, what a shame...
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Old Jun 23, 13, 12:49 pm
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So for the Gold card we will pay 30 euro a year extra, just for the level miles?

For people who qualify on segments it is now even easier to either step down to Silver or the plain Green Amex..
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Old Jun 23, 13, 12:57 pm
  #24  
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
This is getting OT, but I think that it is a likely development. With DL moving partly away from AFKL and several partners recently added to ST, it would seem logical that AFKL follow the same route as DL and UA.
Considering how good FB usually is at offering "the worst of both worlds" I wouldn't be surprised if you were right, but I do think that olivedel's point that the reason why DL and UA have reverted to that is because they essentially offer 100% miles on all Y fares (plus lots of non-flight promotions that still give level miles) is a very good one in my view. In another thread, someone else (I believe irishguy28 but please forgive me if it isn't) mentioned that if FB wanted to go in that direction at all, it would make more sense to them to remove qualification by segment (either in general or at least to Platinum) as by nature, considering the low earnings FB offers, this would very naturally exclude people with low spend from the tiers in question. In my view, this would be a more likely evolution than the minimum spend one but I may be wrong.

Finally it will be interesting to see if AA follow UA and DL or not. After all, AA literally invented frequent flyer programmes and if they don't follow suite, I wonder if it will have an impact on people in non-hub cities (or in joint-hub cities like Chicago) switching allegiance. Interestingly, it wouldn't only be people with low spend: risk aversion is a key aspect of human behaviour and some people who easily spend $15-20K/year may well feel threatened by the $10k threshold imposed by UA even if they will undoubtedly make it over and again so some of them may well be up for grabs too.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 1:08 pm
  #25  
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Originally Posted by macaron95 View Post
there is no room for competition in France, the market is owned by card issuers (Visa and Mastercard)
But so is it elsewhere: most cards in the UK are Visa or Mastercard (with some non-Amex Amex, however).

What makes the UK environment more significantly different, I suspect, is that many French cards are not credit cards but debit cards, where the potential for revenue from card users (as opposed to merchants) is virtually nil (other than a fixed card fee). Also, interest rates are much more controlled in France than in the UK. The rates of interest charged on quite a few credit cards in the UK would, I believe, be illegal in France as above the "taux d'usure".

It is therefore a much less lucrative market than in the UK, which is another factor for less competition.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 1:17 pm
  #26  
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
Also, interest rates are much more controlled in France than in the UK. The rates of interest charged on quite a few credit cards in the UK would, I believe, be illegal in France as above the "taux d'usure".

It is therefore a much less lucrative market than in the UK, which is another factor for less competition.
Definitely - see my example above of the BA Amex premium which has the ridiculous typical APR of 56%!! And believe it or not, it is not one of the worst, quite a few credit cards offer typical three figures APRs! So indeed, credit card companies make a lot of money and do have an incentive to try and sell people as many credit cards as possible. In France, not only would they make much less money from the few non-regular payers but if by chance someone did get trapped in that particular spiral, then the commission de surrendettement should hopefully prevent them from losing everything (and thereby prevent the said bank or credit card company from repossessing their property easily).
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Old Jun 23, 13, 1:55 pm
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
But so is it elsewhere: most cards in the UK are Visa or Mastercard (with some non-Amex Amex, however).

What makes the UK environment more significantly different, I suspect, is that many French cards are not credit cards but debit cards, where the potential for revenue from card users (as opposed to merchants) is virtually nil (other than a fixed card fee). Also, interest rates are much more controlled in France than in the UK. The rates of interest charged on quite a few credit cards in the UK would, I believe, be illegal in France as above the "taux d'usure".

It is therefore a much less lucrative market than in the UK, which is another factor for less competition.

that's correct, i should have mentioned it

cards in France are debit cards
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Old Jun 23, 13, 3:22 pm
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Originally Posted by Goldorak View Post
No problem dear Orbitmic
And your explanation is a good one. I think that these co-branded CC (with supermarkets, etc) were even not allowed in France until 2 or 3 years ago. Please do not ask me why or why the AF Amex was an exception
In France the Groupement Carte Bancaire did not allow for co-branded credit cards until some years ago (I think it is longer than 2 or 3 years ago, but not 100% certain). AMEX is not linked to the Groupement Carte Bancaire, so it wasn't subject to that rule.

However, there is a diverse and rich landscape of other store-branded cards, issued by insititutions like Cofinoga and Sofinco. France is one of the countries with the highest penetration of store cards. They have a credit card functions with a function (and level of interests) akin to the Anglo-Saxon cards, they have a loyalty program attached, and usually a network of non-competing commercial partners (for instance there is one card for Galeries Lafayette and a hoast of partners, and another one for Printemps and a hoast of partners). Points could be collected and used with all partners, for products, services, flowers, dinners, free car wash, whatever. If I remember correctly some of the Cofinoga-issued cards have/had (?) a partnership with Air France. The Cofinoga people told me that 80% of all "points" were used not for flowers or TV sets but for AF flights between Paris and Nice. That was 12 years ago though, so 1) I can talk about it now and 2) not sure this is still the case.

One more point: the French market is actually dominated by VISA, Mastercard is much less important and until some years ago hardly existed. This is because Groupe Carte Bleue, the organisation managing the French Carte Bleue (basically a domestic debit card, something like Switch in the UK) was linked to VISA.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 4:18 pm
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
(...) This is because Groupe Carte Bleue, the organisation managing the French Carte Bleue (basically a domestic debit card, something like Switch in the UK) was linked to VISA.
So France. Bunch of ENA cronies controlling the market. Lobby group fostering its own interests WITH the help of public authorities. <sigh>
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Old Jun 23, 13, 5:06 pm
  #30  
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
However, there is a diverse and rich landscape of other store-branded cards, issued by insititutions like Cofinoga and Sofinco. France is one of the countries with the highest penetration of store cards. They have a credit card functions with a function (and level of interests) akin to the Anglo-Saxon cards, they have a loyalty program attached, and usually a network of non-competing commercial partners (for instance there is one card for Galeries Lafayette and a hoast of partners, and another one for Printemps and a hoast of partners).
Absolutely true - and indeed, I always refuse them the way I refuse most credit cards in the UK! But am I correct that with those cards, the credit function is only valid at the designated store partners? (so you can use the carte galleries Lafayette to buy stuff there -- indeed they try to push you to use it when you go there through special promotions etc -- or monoprix, but not if you want to pay for your Zara tshirt right? Again, sorry if the question is totally stupid, as I said, I tend to stir away from those although I think I did get an Ikea one once when I was buying a lot of furniture in one go and then cancelled it a few months later!

And yes indeed about everything else you mention! And another specificity is that all those French cards, the debit cards, credit cards, store cards, all seem to have a fee which again is a French idiosyncracy, especially considering how little you get out of them (I think you need to pay extra if you want your debit card with "debit differe").
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