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Co-branded American Express cards: France and the Netherlands

Old Nov 4, 13, 1:57 pm
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Last edit by: Gajan
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, 10:19 pm
  #31  
 
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I found it: https://www.smiles.fr/. This is the loyalty program run by a company called Cofinoga. The company issues co-branded cards with a number of retail chains, such as Galeries Lafayette, Casino/Geant, Monoprix, etc. You can collect Smiles at these stores and at other partner stores, restaurants, and also when buying tickets at SNCF. THe "awards" - called "gifts" - are gift vouchers, products from a catalogue, rebates, or even Air France tickets. For instance, an AF ticket costs 3980 Smiles + 773 EUR. The SMiles site having been structured by people that have gone to the same school of confused artists as the ones that have structured the SNCF or AF sites it is impossible to find out how many EUR it takes to accumulate 3980 Smiles. However, there is a "promo" going on where in one of the partner stores you get an immediate EUR 10 cashback in exchange for 1000 Smiles. Assuming the same exchange rate, that would value the NYC ticket at approx. 813 EUR. So basically it's not a "free ticket plus some taxes" scheme but a "discounted tickets" scheme. But still no clue about the earn/burn rate

Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
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?
The way this works is that there is a payment and a credit function, which is not the same thing. These cards can be used for payment only at the partner stores. You are then being sent a bill at the end of the month, which you can settle in full. If you don't settle in full, then the credit function kicks in, by which you basically get a credit at some very high APR.

On top of that, once you are a cardholder, you'll be inondated with marketing offering you a consumer credit which is paid out on your account. You can then use that for buying your T-Shirt. But that credit offer does not come from the store itself, it comes from Cofinoga, the institution behind the cards and the loyalty scheme.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 10:36 pm
  #32  
 
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Originally Posted by carnarvon View Post
So France. Bunch of ENA cronies controlling the market. Lobby group fostering its own interests WITH the help of public authorities. <sigh>
That is one way to see it.

The other way to see it that the country's banks got together and put in place a national payment system which allows for payments to pass easily and relatively inexpensively between customers of all banks. All countries that I know have that. These banks then created an offspring with a common platform for card payments. Not sure if this is more about being a lobby or organizing things on a national level which makes a lot of sense.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 11:18 pm
  #33  
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
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.
Thank you San Gottardo for these precisions. ^
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Old Jun 24, 13, 12:23 am
  #34  
 
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Further updates to co-branded Amex cards (NL and FR)

Actually, rereading what I wrote earlier, I am no longer certain whether not allowing cobranded cards came from Groupe Carte Bleue or from groupement carte bancaire. In any case, it was one of the two, and American Express not being a member of that network did not make it subject to the ban.
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Old Jun 24, 13, 6:19 am
  #35  
 
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
I found it: https://www.smiles.fr/. This is the loyalty program run by a company called Cofinoga. The company issues co-branded cards with a number of retail chains, such as Galeries Lafayette, Casino/Geant, Monoprix, etc. You can collect Smiles at these stores and at other partner stores, restaurants, and also when buying tickets at SNCF. THe "awards" - called "gifts" - are gift vouchers, products from a catalogue, rebates, or even Air France tickets. For instance, an AF ticket costs 3980 Smiles + 773 EUR. The SMiles site having been structured by people that have gone to the same school of confused artists as the ones that have structured the SNCF or AF sites it is impossible to find out how many EUR it takes to accumulate 3980 Smiles. However, there is a "promo" going on where in one of the partner stores you get an immediate EUR 10 cashback in exchange for 1000 Smiles. Assuming the same exchange rate, that would value the NYC ticket at approx. 813 EUR. So basically it's not a "free ticket plus some taxes" scheme but a "discounted tickets" scheme. But still no clue about the earn/burn rate



The way this works is that there is a payment and a credit function, which is not the same thing. These cards can be used for payment only at the partner stores. You are then being sent a bill at the end of the month, which you can settle in full. If you don't settle in full, then the credit function kicks in, by which you basically get a credit at some very high APR.

On top of that, once you are a cardholder, you'll be inondated with marketing offering you a consumer credit which is paid out on your account. You can then use that for buying your T-Shirt. But that credit offer does not come from the store itself, it comes from Cofinoga, the institution behind the cards and the loyalty scheme.
well, that's the French way of creating customer loyalty.... spend a million, get a slap in return


that's why i would always avoid retailers' programs and stick to American Express

Amex charges annual fees for a good credit card with high limits and good insurance, which is good for travellers
after all, its program is not that bad
and they don't spam you but tons of promotional emailings to earn peanuts like others

Amex should be more agressive for acquiring more members
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Old Jun 24, 13, 7:58 am
  #36  
 
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Originally Posted by macaron95 View Post
well, that's the French way of creating customer loyalty.... spend a million, get a slap in return


that's why i would always avoid retailers' programs and stick to American Express

Amex charges annual fees for a good credit card with high limits and good insurance, which is good for travellers
after all, its program is not that bad
and they don't spam you but tons of promotional emailings to earn peanuts like others

Amex should be more agressive for acquiring more members
You can get the same (or better) insurance cover, high spending limits, etc with many VISA and Mastercard programs. For instance my bank gives me a pack of four credit cards, one each in CHF, EUR, USD, GBP, a good loyalty program, excellent insurance cover, the full enchilada - for a fraction of the price of AMEX Platinum or Black.
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Old Jun 24, 13, 8:14 am
  #37  
 
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
You can get the same (or better) insurance cover, high spending limits, etc with many VISA and Mastercard programs. For instance my bank gives me a pack of four credit cards, one each in CHF, EUR, USD, GBP, a good loyalty program, excellent insurance cover, the full enchilada - for a fraction of the price of AMEX Platinum or Black.
well, probably in other countries,

but in France, requesting higher limits is sometimes a pain in the a**

the decision belongs to the bank

for instance, i have tried with multiple banks to raise the limit while having a solid positive balance on my accounts and this never happened and prevented me from spending my own money as wished

with Amex, no question asked

last time i was stuck aboard with my visa and was never able to reach my bank outside business hours

hopefully Amex can be called 24 hours a day

btw i'm not talking about the Amex Platinum here, just silver and gold


and i'd be more than happy to pay annual fees for an Amex than the cost of a package with my bank that includes a visa (or MC) with crappy services
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Old Jun 24, 13, 8:23 am
  #38  
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
You can get the same (or better) insurance cover, high spending limits, etc with many VISA and Mastercard programs. For instance my bank gives me a pack of four credit cards, one each in CHF, EUR, USD, GBP, a good loyalty program, excellent insurance cover, the full enchilada - for a fraction of the price of AMEX Platinum or Black.
And perhaps even more importantly, you can get better Platinum Amex with better insurance if you don't take the FB co-branded one! I actually used to find the FB Amex Gold insurance very mediocre, I should hope the Platinum one does better but it costs much more than a normal Amex Platinum anyway. Some Amex also give you things like Priority Pass which is quite useful to me, not least when I fly AF's orange competitor on domestic routes...
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Old Jun 24, 13, 8:25 am
  #39  
 
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Originally Posted by macaron95 View Post
(...) last time i was stuck aboard with my visa and was never able to reach my bank outside business hours
Hopefully Amex can be called 24 hours a day (...)
There is not discussion that Amex is much better to deal with than any bank when stuck abroad. You can get a replacement card at any Amex office nearby, use local Amex etc... Speak with Amex in France.

The only exception (no system is perfect) is if you need to speak with the financial department about blocked card for financial reasons (spending limit or else). They work Mon-Fri. And if your card is blocked during the weekend you're stuck. They had mis-allocated a payment and no one could help...
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Old Jun 24, 13, 8:45 am
  #40  
 
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
And perhaps even more importantly, you can get better Platinum Amex with better insurance if you don't take the FB co-branded one! I actually used to find the FB Amex Gold insurance very mediocre, I should hope the Platinum one does better but it costs much more than a normal Amex Platinum anyway. Some Amex also give you things like Priority Pass which is quite useful to me, not least when I fly AF's orange competitor on domestic routes...
I also get Priority pass with my card package, with 10 free entries per year. Used it once in 8 years, in an Alaska Airlines lounge at LAX T3 when taking a Virgin America flight. Not that the lounge itself had great things to offer though
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Old Jun 24, 13, 9:28 am
  #41  
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Back on topic:

Been informed by Amex NL that the increase in annual fee is 30, level miles can be collected on AF/KL expenses as per 1 September 2013.
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Old Jun 24, 13, 9:34 am
  #42  
 
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Did not received any communication from Amex on that purpose yet.

- Remove level miles a few years ago
- Add 30€ on fee
- Add level miles on AF/KL products expenses (as a new privilege for card holder)

Are you f* kidding...
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Old Jun 24, 13, 9:38 am
  #43  
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Originally Posted by FranckM View Post
- Add level miles on AF/KL products expenses (as a new privilege for card holder)
This is genuinely new for the Dutch-issued cards. They never previously allowed level mileage earning.
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Old Jun 24, 13, 10:30 am
  #44  
 
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Originally Posted by Gajan View Post
Back on topic:

Been informed by Amex NL that the increase in annual fee is 30, level miles can be collected on AF/KL expenses as per 1 September 2013.
so typically, someone travelling this summer will not be rewarded
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Old Jun 24, 13, 12:55 pm
  #45  
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
And perhaps even more importantly, you can get better Platinum Amex with better insurance if you don't take the FB co-branded one!
Do you mean French or Dutch? The Dutch FB Plat Amex has excellent insurance!
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