Brim Financial and Air France/KLM Flying Blue have now launched the loyalty program’s first co-branded credit card in Canada.
This new credit card offers an earning multiplier for Flying Blue elite members, accelerated earning on Air France/KLM tickets, and free Boingo Wi-Fi worldwide. Let’s take a look at all the details.
Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard by Brim Financial
First announced in June 2022, the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard represents the European-based loyalty program’s first foray into the co-branded credit card space here in Canada. Being issued by Brim Financial gives it a younger-leaning edge, given Brim’s usual target demographic.
With respect to Brim, adding Air France/KLM as a new partner represents a major expansion of their credit card portfolio beyond their rather pedestrian in-house Mastercard offerings.
Welcome Bonus and Annual Fee
As a welcome bonus, the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard is offering 30 Experience Points (XP) for the first year. The card also offers 30 XP on an ongoing annual basis, so you’d earn a total of 60 XP in the first year, followed by 30 XP every year thereafter.
As a refresher on Air France/KLM Flying Blue elite status, Experience Points (XP) are the only currency that matters for earning status. XPs are normally earned based on the fare and distance flown on paid flights with Air France, KLM, or SkyTeam partners, as per the chart below.
Air France/KLM offers the following elite status tiers based on XP:
- Explorer: 0 XP
- Silver: 100 XP
- Gold: 180 XP
- Platinum: 300 XP
Each XP requirement is incremental, so a member with Gold status would need an additional 300 XP to earn Platinum, and Platinum members would need another 300 XP to maintain Platinum status. Flying Blue also uses a rolling 12-month basis for status earning, rather than calendar dates.
Therefore, 60 XP in the first year offers a jump-start towards Flying Blue Silver status, which comes with one extra checked bag, priority check-in and boarding, and a 25% discount when booking a seat. However, you’d still need to organically earn 40 XP to achieve Silver status.
The annual fee of the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard is $132, and is waived for the first year, allowing you to give the card a try for no money out-of-pocket upfront.
- Get 60 XP towards Flying Blue status in the first year, and 30 XP in subsequent years
- Earn up to 30x Flying Blue miles with select merchants
- Earn 5x Flying Blue miles on Air France/KLM flights
- Earn 2x Flying Blue miles on food and drink
- Earn 1x Flying Blue miles on everything else
- Minimum income: $80,000 personal or $150,000 household
- Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $132
Earning Rate on Everyday Spending
The Air France KLM Flying Blue World Elite Mastercard comes with the following earning rates on everyday spend:
- 5 bonus miles per euro spent on Air France and KLM flights
- Up to 30 miles per dollar spent on merchant partners
- 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants and bars
- 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else
The 5x bonus earnings on Air France and KLM flights are over and above what members regularly earn in the Flying Blue program. Members at the most basic tier will earn 4 miles per euro spent as the base rate, up to 8 miles per euro spent for Flying Blue Platinum members.
On top of these base earning rates, holding the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard will give you 5 bonus miles per euro spent, but only applies on transactions connected to the cardholder’s Flying Blue number (it won’t apply if you use your credit card to buy an Air France/KLM flight for someone else), and excluding government-imposed taxes and fees.
The multiplier of “up to 30 miles per dollar spent with merchant partners” refers to Brim’s usual rotating list of partner retailers, similar to what’s offered on the Brim World Elite series of credit cards. You’ll want to check the Brim app to see which vendors are eligible for bonus rewards.
For the rest of the earning rates, 2 miles per dollar spent on dining isn’t the most exciting multiplier, but it’s better than the categorized earnings on other foreign airlines’ co-branded cards in Canada. For example, the RBC Cathay Pacific Visa Platinum only earns 1.25 Asia Miles per dollar spent on foreign currency, and the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite only has an accelerated earnings rate of 2 Avios per dollar spent with British Airways.
Lastly, 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases is a standard baseline earning in line with the rest of the industry.
It’s worth noting that since Air France/KLM Flying Blue is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards at a ratio of 1:0.75, you can actually earn more Flying Blue points per dollar with a card such as the American Express Cobalt Card.
With the Cobalt Card, you can earn 5 MR points per dollar spent at grocery stores, restaurants, and bars, which is equivalent to 3.75 Flying Blue miles per dollar spent after the conversion ratio is factored in.
Perks & Benefits
The main perk of the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard is that 30 XP are awarded annually just by holding the card. For those pursuing Flying Blue elite status or who fly quite a bit with Air France/KLM on cash tickets and are close to the next status tier, 30 XP will come in quite handy.
If this boost pushes you to Air France/KLM Gold status, for example, you’d get lounge access prior to Air France/KLM and SkyTeam flights, as well as the ability to book Air France La Prèmiere using Flying Blue miles.
Flying Blue normally miles expire after 2 years of inactivity, so using your Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard would count towards account activity to prevent miles from expiring.
As with Brim’s entire portfolio of Mastercards, cardholders will receive a Boingo Wi-Fi membership. One notable omission among the perks and benefits is the lack of a foreign exchange waiver, as using your Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard internationally will incur a 2.5% foreign exchange fee.
As part of its integrated financial “platform-as-a-service” product, Brim also places a great emphasis on dynamically targeted offers for cardholders. Hopefully, Air France/KLM’s choice of Brim Financial over Canada’s more established but less nimble banks means that there will be more such targeted offers coming our way.
The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard comes with Brim’s usual World Elite insurance offerings, including:
- Car rental insurance of up to $65,000 MSRP
- Generous coverage for trip cancellation or trip interruption
- Hotel burglary insurance
- Event ticket protector insurance
- Mobile device protection
While mobile device protection has become more commonplace over the years, event ticket protector insurance is unique to Brim Financial.
Car rental insurance up to an MSRP of $65,000 is a step below the insurance offering on their name-brand Brim World Elite MasterCard, which covers cars up to an MSRP of $85,000.
Should You Apply For the New Air France KLM World Elite MasterCard?
While it’s great to see more airlines investing in the co-branded credit card market here in Canada, I ultimately can’t recommend applying for the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard unless you’re extremely loyal to the Air France/KLM Flying Blue program and spend quite a bit on flights with these airlines.
The bonus 5 miles on paid flights is the biggest benefit to using this card, since a bonus of 30 XP every year isn’t going to be useful for someone who is organically earning very few XP to begin with.
Without the draw of a welcome bonus in the form of Flying Blue miles, the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard falls a bit flat at its launch. I can’t be the only credit card enthusiast who had been hoping for a juicy welcome bonus to celebrate the card’s launch, helping to boost our Flying Blue balances.
Moreover, I had definitely hoped for unique digital-forward Brim specialties in terms of ways to earn Flying Blue miles, but it looks like the “up to 30 miles per dollar spent” on merchant partners is the same as the limited earnings on Brim’s regular Mastercards, only earning Flying Blue miles instead of Brim Rewards points.
Ultimately, I’d say the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard falls into the same categories as the RBC Cathay Pacific Visa Platinum and RBC British Airways Visa Infinite, which is that the unique perks on offer are valuable to those extremely loyal to the airline, but not really a great day-to-day card for most travellers.
For those looking to rack up large amounts of Flying Blue miles without being an elite member, then, American Express Membership Rewards remain king.
As mentioned above, the Amex Cobalt Card earning 5x MR points on groceries and dining easily outclasses the 2x miles on dining on the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard, even when taking into consideration the transfer ratio of 1 MR = 0.75 Flying Blue miles.
The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard has officially launched in Canada, adding to our growing collection of co-branded credit cards available from foreign airlines.
With a welcome bonus of 30 XP and an annually awarded 30 XP just by holding the card, the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard will be a worthy card to keep for Flying Blue loyalists to either tip them over the edge of earning elite status or give them a head start.
Air France and KLM’s choice of a digital-forward bank like Brim Financial comes with more agility to push unique spending and retention incentives, and that’s something I hope to see more of as the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard becomes more established.