Review: Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard

In the Canadian loyalty landscape, just a small handful of major players reign supreme. Aeroplan stands out as the primary frequent flyer program, while the credit card rewards sector is largely controlled by a select group of banks like TD, CIBC, and RBC

Over the last couple of years, relative newcomers to the Canadian financial space have been working to establish a presence by introducing their own co-branded airline credit cards with some of the secondary frequent flyer programs in Canada. 

Earlier this year Neo Financial took over the reins from RBC and introduced the brand new Cathay World Elite Mastercard. Similarly, Air France and KLM have chosen to team up with another emerging fintech, Brim Financial, to launch the Flying Blue co-branded credit card. Which is the card we’ll be taking a closer look at here.

Brim Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard

The Brim Financial Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard offers Flying Blue Miles on purchases that can be used for flights around the world, along with a way to increase your status with Flying Blue.

Check out our Brim Financial Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard review for more details.

BONUS
0 Flying Blue Miles
MINSPEND
$0
NET VALUE
$0+
ANNUAL FEE
$132 (FYF)
FOREX FEES
Yes
EXPIRY
Mar 10, 2024

Needless to say, Brim and Air France KLM are facing a major uphill battle with the introduction of this relatively new card. Is it possible for them (or any other entity) to shake up the loyalty landscape in Canada?

Overview

Welcome Bonus

Historically, the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard has not offered any Flying Blue miles as part of its welcome bonus. Instead, the only component of the current welcome bonus is 60 XP towards your Flying Blue status in the first year. For reference, this 60 XP will get you over halfway to the 100 XP required for Flying Blue Silver status.

The Air France KLM card previously had a limited-time offer featuring a welcome bonus of up to 60,000 Flying Blue miles. However, it’s uncertain whether this offer will resurface in the future (our fingers are crossed).

Earning Rates

The Air France KLM Flying Blue World Elite Mastercard allows you to earn Flying Blue miles at the following earning rates on purchases:

  • Up to 30 Flying Blue miles per $1 spent at Brim’s merchant partners
  • 2 Flying Blue miles per $1 spent at restaurants and bars
  • 1 Flying Blue mile per $1 spent everywhere else

On top of those, cardholders receive an additional earning rate of 5 Flying Blue miles per euro spent on Air France and KLM flights as a benefit for simply having the card. The additional 5 Flying Blue miles aren’t tied to your Air France KLM Mastercard spending. Instead, these bonus miles are earned on top of your standard Flying Blue status earnings after completing a paid flight with Air France or KLM.

Brim and Air France KLM have taken a very different approach to the earning accelerator for this card, as it doesn’t actually offer any incentive to pay for your Air France and KLM flights with the Brim Air France World Elite Mastercard. You have the option to use your preferred travel credit card and still receive the 5 additional miles per euro spent, just by holding the Air France KLM card. However, keep in mind that the additional earning rate of 5 miles per euro spent is only applicable on flights linked to the cardholder’s Flying Blue account. 

The other earning rates of 2 Flying Blue miles per dollar spent on dining and 1 Flying Blue mile everywhere else are fairly common for co-branded airline cards. However, you can often find better value for your spending in these categories with other cards.

Additional earning rates of up to 30 miles per dollar spent are available through Brim’s inCard offers. No additional steps are needed to activate these offers or bonuses; they’re automatically linked to your Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard. You can benefit from the enhanced earning rates at Brim’s retail partners both in-store and online without the need for registration or a shopping portal.

Brim also operates a traditional shopping portal similar to those provided by most other frequent flyer programs. To earn the associated bonus rates, you’ll need to click through using the “Shop Now” button and make your purchase using your Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard.

Annual Fee

The annual fee for the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard is $132, which is slightly higher than we typically see on comparable World Elite cards in Canada. However, Brim is currently offering a first-year-free rebate for this card.

Foreign Transaction Fees

In contrast to Brim’s flagship credit card, the Brim Financial World Elite Mastercard, the Air France KLM World Elite levies a 2.5% foreign transaction fee. While this is disappointing, it’s hardly unexpected given that waived foreign transaction fees remain an exceptionally rare perk among Canadian co-branded credit cards.  

As an alternative, we recommend one of the Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards for Canadians to use instead.

Benefits

The Brim Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard is conspicuously light on benefits associated with travel on Air France and KLM flights. Many of the well-known co-branded airline cards in Canada, which share a similar annual fee, commonly offer at the very least benefits like free checked bags, preferred pricing, or a companion fare. None of those perks are included with the Air France KLM Mastercard. Instead, the card’s only primary ongoing benefit is a shortcut to Flying Blue Elite status.

Related: Best Mastercard Credit Cards in Canada

30 Experience Points (XP) Annually

The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard grants an annual bonus of 30 XP as an ongoing benefit for holding the card each year. For individuals aiming to boost their Flying Blue Elite status, this 30 XP will give cardholders a consistent head start toward maintaining or advancing your status annually.

Also worth noting, the ability to book Air France La Première First Class is exclusive to the Flying Blue program and is only available for Platinum Elite members and above. Therefore, if experiencing Air France first class is on your bucket list, these extra XP will certainly be valuable.

Mastercard World Elite Benefits

Boingo Wi-Fi Membership

The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard offers a complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi membership, granting free access to over 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots in planes, airports, hotels and cafes. This free membership is good for up to 12 90-minute in-flight sessions per year and an unlimited number of sessions on the ground. 

Keep in mind that this free Boingo membership is provided as a Mastercard World Elite benefit, not from Air France or KLM. Neither airline has partnered with Boingo, so this will not grant access to free Wi-Fi on their flights.

Dragonpass Lounge Program

Mastercard World Elite card holders are eligible for a complementary Dragonpass membership, granting access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide. However, the card doesn’t include any free visits; you’ll need to pay $32 USD per person for each lounge visit. 

If you’re looking for a card that includes lounge access, we’ve compiled a list of the Best Credit Cards with Lounge Access for Canadians that offer at least some free lounge visits. 

Insurance

The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard offers comprehensive insurance coverage consistent with other World Elite Mastercards in Canada. Which includes the following benefits:

  • Out-of-Province emergency travel medical insurance
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Flight delay and baggage insurance 
  • Hotel burglary insurance
  • Car rental collision and loss damage insurance
  • Common carrier accident insurance
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty coverage
  • Mobile device insurance
  • Event ticket protector insurance

All of the insurance coverages extend to Air France KLM Flying Blue redemptions when you charge the taxes and fees portion to your Brim Air France KLM Mastercard.

Please refer to the Brim Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard Insurance Certificates for detailed information about each coverage and its relevant terms and conditions.

Redeeming Flying Blue Miles

Air France KLM Flying Blue miles can be used for flight awards, in-flight and airport amenities, hotels, and merchandise. However, redeeming your Flying Blue miles for award flights on Air France, KLM, or any SkyTeam alliance member is the most efficient way to maximize the value of your miles.

Air France KLM Flying Blue Award Flights

Despite Flying Blue’s dynamic award pricing, there are opportunities for fantastic award rates on the numerous transatlantic flights operated by Air France or KLM, especially if your travel dates can be flexible.

For example, a one-way Air France business class flight from North America to Europe starts at 50,000 Flying Blue miles. 

Together with SkyTeam alliance partners Delta and Virgin Atlantic, there are nearly two dozen routes available for travel between North America and Europe every day.

Redeem Flying Blue miles for a business class flight on Air France

Redeeming miles with other noteworthy partner airlines is also possible, such as carriers like China Airlines, Korean Air, Garuda Indonesia, and Saudia. You’re also not restricted solely to SkyTeam airlines; Flying Blue extends its network through non-alliance partners like Etihad, Air Mauritius, and Qantas.

Some examples of these would include a China Airlines flight from Taipei (TPE) to Vancouver (YVR) in business class for 81,000 Flying Blue miles.

And, as I mentioned, Flying Blue partners with several non-alliance airlines, such as Etihad. For instance, a business class flight from Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Paris (CDG) costs 47,500 Flying Blue miles.

For a more comprehensive overview of the Flying Blue program, including some of the best sweet spots, check out our Air France KLM Flying Blue loyalty program guide.  

Finally, do note that Flying Blue does apply moderate government-imposed taxes and surcharges on business class flights, amounting to roughly $100 to $250 for a one-way redemption, depending on the airline. 

Hotel Stays and Merchandise

Air France KLM Flying Blue miles have additional uses beyond flights. You can use them to book hotel stays through the Flying Blue Hotels for Miles travel portal or purchase merchandise from the Flying Blue Store. However, to receive maximum value, it’s best to utilize your Flying Blue miles solely for flight rewards. These other redemption options consistently yield significantly lower value when compared to that of an award flight.

Comparable Cards

Although the Air France KLM Flying Blue card is the only card issued in Canada tailored for accruing Flying Blue miles directly, there are more advantageous approaches to bolstering your Flying Blue miles balance.

American Express Cobalt Card

Transferring American Express Membership Rewards to your Flying Blue account will be a more efficient way to increase your Flying Blue mileage balance for most users. The American Express Cobalt Card dominates Canada’s dining and grocery category, earning our Frugal Flyer 2024 best card award as the top choice for grocery purchases. 

American Express Cobalt

The American Express Cobalt card earns Membership Rewards points and gives cardholders the opportunity to earn 5x Membership Rewards on eligible restaurant, food delivery, and grocery store purchases. In 2024, we selected this card to receive the award Best Credit Card for Grocery Purchases.

Check out our American Express Cobalt card review for more details.

BONUS
15,000 Membership Rewards
MINSPEND
$9,000
NET VALUE
$174+
ANNUAL FEE
$156
FOREX FEES
Yes
EXPIRY

Despite the less-than-ideal transfer ratio from American Express of 1:0.75, the American Express Cobalt card will earn an effective 3.75 Flying Blue miles per dollar spent in the dining category, easily surpassing the 2 Flying Blue miles per dollar spent from the dining category on the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard.

US Credit Cards

Air France KLM Flying Blue is partnered with all four of the major transferable points currencies in the US. This includes American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Capital One Miles. All of these points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Flying Blue. 

Cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred have a similar annual fee to the Air France KLM card and generally offer a solid welcome bonus.

In addition, we typically see 25% transfer bonuses from American Express Membership Rewards (US) and Chase Ultimate Rewards a few times per year. Taking advantage of these transfer bonuses can result in some excellent returns on your transferable points.

Conclusion

Without the draw of a welcome bonus in the form of Flying Blue miles, the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard has very limited appeal. While I commend Air France and KLM’s efforts to offer something unique, unless you frequently purchase cash fares with these airlines or want to advance your status within the Flying Blue program, there isn’t much incentive to open or hold this card long term.

It’s also hard to overlook the absence of any Air France and KLM-related travel benefits associated with this co-branded card. These airlines have lounges in both Toronto and Montreal. Merely a few free lounge visits could greatly enhance the ongoing value of holding onto this card every year. 

Air France and KLM do deserve credit for choosing to partner with one of the newer and more tech-forward banks in Canada. Brim is able to offer some unique perks, like an instant card number upon approval and for replacement cards. I’m hopeful these two companies can enhance their digital platform to provide some more enticing rewards and features not offered by the big banks. 

However, even simple aspects like the application flow, which is a slow and antiquated process, still require significant streamlining. When I was trying to acquire the card, the online credit card application timeline dragged on for what seemed like the better part of a month. Despite submitting the requested documents to process my application multiple times, I was asked to resubmit the exact same paperwork repeatedly. Is this the best we can expect from a supposed disruptor that claims to offer next-gen and real-time innovation to the Canadian banking sector? Clearly, Brim still has some ground to cover before establishing itself as one of the leading credit card issuers in Canada.

Jeff Jamieson

Jeff Jamieson

Contributor at Frugal Flyer
Jeff stepped into the ring of points and miles in 2018, this was during his first trip to Italy where he had only just dipped his toe into what was possible with loyalty programs. After eating pizza twice a day for two weeks straight and taking in all that Tuscany of Rome had to offer he knew he was hooked on “la dolce vita” of points and miles. Always fascinated with aviation, Jeff obtained his Private Pilot’s License in 2006. Now he fuels his affection for travel and aviation by seeking out new strategies while building upon existing opportunities along with the help of his close circle of fellow travel enthusiasts.

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