Co-branded American Express cards: France and the Netherlands

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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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Old Jun 22, 13, 12:29 pm
  #1  
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Co-branded American Express cards: France and the Netherlands

[Comment Gajan: post has been moved to separate thread as changes relate to NL as well as FR]

More changes...

Platinum goes from € 570 to € 600 annually, Gold from € 140 to € 170.

Hertz is a new partner with a 15% discount, and 1.5 award miles per euro spent.

And... expenditure on KLM/AF tickets or products with the FB branded AMEX will not only give award miles, but now also level miles. The usual 1.5x for Gold and 2.0x multiplication factor exists, i.e. when you spend € 1000 on the FB AMEX Gold at KLM/AF you get 1500 level miles.

BTW... a stupid mistake was made in the fulfliment process and I was sent one full package with the letter saying that my Gold card would now be € 600 per year instead of € 570, and another letter with the envelope saying (in Dutch): 'Please note that we sent you a mailing containing a letter and a folder. The letter contained wrong information. This envelope contains the correct letter. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience.'

I think the word 'shambolic' applies here

Last edited by Gajan; Jun 22, 13 at 1:07 pm
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Old Jun 22, 13, 12:47 pm
  #2  
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In my opinion the (gross) increase of € 30 is OK, considering that level miles can now be earned on purchases relating to AF/KL expenses.

I have not received the documents just yet, but it is supposed to be sent out shortly (within coming week).
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Old Jun 22, 13, 2:52 pm
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So essentially, the FB Amex stop giving level miles a couple of years ago with grand statements as to how FB wanted to be a frequent flyer programme and not a frequent buyer programme just so that now, they partly reverse those changes albeit only for AF and KL products? The sense of gross amateurism relating to absolutely every aspect of FB never stop being confirmed day after day...

PS: For the record, I'm glad they introduced the poor changes some years ago - that was what gave me the necessary kick in the backside to cancel my FB Amex at the time. I ended up getting a much better Amex Platinum with much higher benefits for a little bit more than my former FB Amex gold, and I managed my Platinum for life anyway with several hundreds of thousands of level miles to spare. At the time I called, the Amex people told me that they were receiving hundreds of calls of people cancelling their FB Amex and in a way, I am glad that they lost those customers whom they will probably never regain as a result of being so ludicrously petty.
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Old Jun 22, 13, 4:07 pm
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
So essentially, the FB Amex stop giving level miles a couple of years ago with grand statements as to how FB wanted to be a frequent flyer programme and not a frequent buyer programme just so that now, they partly reverse those changes albeit only for AF and KL products? The sense of gross amateurism relating to absolutely every aspect of FB never stop being confirmed day after day...
I fail to see the contradiction: the majority of AF/KL products are linked to flying. So granting level miles would be IMHO a welcome fine tuning of the program rather than a proof of "gross amateurism".
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Old Jun 22, 13, 4:16 pm
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Originally Posted by JOUY31 View Post
I fail to see the contradiction: the majority of AF/KL products are linked to flying. So granting level miles would be IMHO a welcome fine tuning of the program rather than a proof of "gross amateurism".
May I beg to disagree? They shoukd have done this obvious move at the time they changed the rules. Not now.
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Old Jun 22, 13, 4:27 pm
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Originally Posted by carnarvon View Post
May I beg to disagree? They shoukd have done this obvious move at the time they changed the rules. Not now.
Thanks, that is exactly what I meant and you put it far more accurately than me. The "old" French FB Amex was coherent. You paid quite a lot of money for the card (compared to many of the free ones you could get and considering that the insurances were in fact not very good especially for travel not fully paid for by the card). Withdrawing all the level miles benefits to then reintroduce some of them feels to me like FB chose to define their credit card benefit as they go along with a bit of a yoyo effect. If they wanted to only provide level miles on AF-KL travel-related products and services, then IMHO, they did not need to go through a phase of cancelling level miles altogether. I think it is fair to say that FB has generally been looking for a workable partner credit card formula for far too long and changing their approach far too often. At one point they tried a visa instead, the FB Amex have been different in France and the Netherlands, then changed but not fully harmonised, then changed again, I think they also have a Swiss mastercard which has a far more generous welcome bonus than the rest (15000 miles), etc.

When you add that to very frequent changes to earnings, spending, what is or is not charged in fees and taxes, what is or is not bookable by whom (e.g. the P awards available to all, then to elite only, now to all again it seems, first in classic, then in flex only, now in a weird "changeable promo" version), in my mind, this meant that the FB Amex yoyo simply added to the rest to suggest a completely incoherent (what I label amateurish) management of the programme as a whole. Another way of saying it is that there are hardly 3 months without something significantly changing in the FB programme rules as a whole. Granted, 99% of those changes are negative and this one, at least is a minor positive for people with the card (I agree with Gajan that the €30 fee increase is relatively minor for those few benefits brought back in) but the sense of incoherence persists, stronger than ever.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 2:50 am
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Slightly OT, but anyone know why there is no FFP competition among credit cards in France.
The countries I know (HK, UK, US) have very strong competition. Even very competition for the same major FFPs. For example UK has many credit cards with BAEC. HK has many credit cards with Asia Miles. I remember that BA tried a pseudo-card in France but quickly stopped. Any reason why 1) AMEX has exclusivity for FB in France and possibly elsewhere, and 2) no other FFPs are linked to a French credit card?
It is always possible to use a "foreign" card (e.g. my HK BA-linked card earns me 2.5 miles per EUR10), but there are huge forex fees.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 3:56 am
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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?
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Old Jun 23, 13, 4:03 am
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
Slightly OT, but anyone know why there is no FFP competition among credit cards in France.
The countries I know (HK, UK, US) have very strong competition. Even very competition for the same major FFPs. For example UK has many credit cards with BAEC. HK has many credit cards with Asia Miles. I remember that BA tried a pseudo-card in France but quickly stopped. Any reason why 1) AMEX has exclusivity for FB in France and possibly elsewhere, and 2) no other FFPs are linked to a French credit card?
It is always possible to use a "foreign" card (e.g. my HK BA-linked card earns me 2.5 miles per EUR10), but there are huge forex fees.
Good remark.
I believe it is mostly linked to the number of FF in France : obviously only AF can bring on the table a very significant number of their FFP members to subscribe to the Amex card. Of course, there are a lot of members of BA and LH FFP in France, but 99% of those people are also FB members and a great majority of them will likely prefer to credit CC purchase to FB because that's the FFP they use the most.
Regarding competition between several CC for a single FFP in one country, I'm pretty sure that there is an exclusivity agreement between AF and Amex for an airline co-branded Amex in the French territory. Probably a win-win situation as obviously AF has the largest base of FF in France and AF avoids a competition from another FFP. And this co-branded card has allowed Amex to "flood" the French market (before the AF Amex, very few merchants were accepting Amex in France). So OK they likely have lost many customers since the end of the qualifying miles but I believe their market remains very significant. And Amex also avoids an AF co-branded Visa card, because the day such a card exists, Amex is dead in France because of acceptance rate of Visa vs Amex. So for the examples you are quoting (UK, HK) may be Amex was better established in those countries and/or the local airlines didn't want to be tied-up to only one CC company. Just my 2c !

Last edited by Goldorak; Jun 23, 13 at 10:31 am
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Old Jun 23, 13, 4:11 am
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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?
Not impossible but I don't see this coming immediately, as I guess they would have announced it with the last changes. And in the case of FB, they don't need to introduce this minimum spending scheme : they can do it indirectly by simply suppress the segment qualification scheme and keep only level miles. With all the flights earning only 25%, you need to spend a fortune to reach Elite plus status. LH has also introduced indirectly this kind of rule in their last changes to M&M.
We have to keep in mind that this minimum spending requirement for elite levels is spreading and may become a global trend : I read on Airliners.net that UA is introducing a similar rule la DL (I haven't checked on the UA FT forum yet). So, IMO, it won't be long before others follow : AA first, taking the opportunity of the US merger and FFP alignments and then it may spread on the other side of the pond.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 4:53 am
  #11  
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Originally Posted by ajs123 View Post
I have not received the official notification, but will all AF/KL related expenses be considered for level miles?
I think that is supposed to be the case.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 5:07 am
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Originally Posted by Goldorak View Post
We have to keep in mind that this minimum spending requirement for elite levels is spreading and may become a global trend : I read on Airliners.net that UA is introducing a similar rule la DL (I haven't checked on the UA FT forum yet). So, IMO, it won't be long before others follow : AA first, taking the opportunity of the US merger and FFP alignments and then it may spread on the other side of the pond.
It is already on FT, dear Goldorak !
I think this trend will spread in all FFPs that give 100% miles to most - if not all - reservation classes in Y.

FB has the other policy to grant mileage with a factor determined by your reservation class in Y.
While the goal is more or less the same, each of the method has its advantages and drawbacks.
For example, while the "qualifying dollars" approach still awards 100% of miles regardless of the reservation class, the "reservation class" approach still makes you qualify when flying other airlines in the same alliance.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 6:03 am
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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?
You have not received official notification because it was supposed to be announced later next week by high level executives at both companies.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 6:07 am
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
Slightly OT, but anyone know why there is no FFP competition among credit cards in France.
The countries I know (HK, UK, US) have very strong competition. Even very competition for the same major FFPs. For example UK has many credit cards with BAEC. HK has many credit cards with Asia Miles. I remember that BA tried a pseudo-card in France but quickly stopped. Any reason why 1) AMEX has exclusivity for FB in France and possibly elsewhere, and 2) no other FFPs are linked to a French credit card?
It is always possible to use a "foreign" card (e.g. my HK BA-linked card earns me 2.5 miles per EUR10), but there are huge forex fees.
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.
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Old Jun 23, 13, 6:33 am
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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.
I would agree with orbitmic on this. There is much more competition for a variety of reasons between credit card issuers in the UK than there is in France in general and offering miles or other perks is one element in the competition.

Just a factual correction on what brunos said with respect to the UK: there is only one credit card offering BAEC miles: the BA Amex from American Express (well two cards: two variants of the BA Amex: one which is free-free and one which is fee-based, with different earning ratios but both from the same issuer: Amex).

It is true that you can get avios from other card issuers. You can get avios from two of the LLoyds TSB cards but that is for the consumer avios scheme rather than BAEC. You can also indirectly get miles that convert to avios in your BAEC miles though the bmi-branded cards from MBNA but this is a historical anomaly: these are legacy cards, which are not open to new consumers and which will presumably disappear once the BA Amex contract comes for renewal and BA decides whom to go with for the renewal.

I cannot think of any FF scheme for which cards from two different issuers are available in the UK. OTOH, you do have a number of Frequent Flyer or Frequent stayer schemes for which a credit card is offered (BA, LH, UA, AA, Hilton, Priority Club, SPG, ...) but in each case it is always a single card issuer. So, at consumer level, you have competition between credit cards with FF perks but they are between cards in different schemes rather than the same scheme. Interestingly, Flying Blue, unlike LH's M&M, has no dedicated card in the UK (although you can earn indirectly by transfer from generic Amex Membership rewards cards) so FB does not seem particularly interested in having a go at the UK market, notwithstanding the coverage of a wide number of airports (it seems to me that there would be room for more consistency here).

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.
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