Full Review of Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard
Premium rewards for purchases from any of 19 airlines
Three easily earned one-time bonuses
Lacks benefits, even on Air France and KLM
- Premium Rewards for Purchases From Any of 19 Airlines: You can earn this card’s best rewards of 3 miles per dollar with many more airlines than the two that are in its name. Air France and KLM are part of the SkyTeam alliance of 19 airlines, and you can earn that premium rate for purchases with any of them. That means you can earn the same number of miles for purchases from Delta, say, as from Air France.You can also use miles to buy or upgrade tickets not only across the SkyTeam alliance but in a still-larger one: Flying Blue, the joint loyalty program for Air France and KLM. While you earn the card’s 3-miles-per-dollar rate only on purchases from the two airlines, you can earn and spend Flying Blue miles for flights with the program’s 35 airline partners.
- Three Easily Earned One-Time Offers: This card’s one-time mileage offer, while not especially lucrative, is easy to earn and represents an excellent return on spending. New cardholders who spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening an account receive 25,000 Flying Blue miles. Based on a valuation of 1.6 cents per mile, we estimate the value of that to be $400 when used to buy flights. That spend of $1,000-in-90-days also earns you a second one-time offer, in the form of a $100 statement credit—an amount that exceeds the card’s $89 annual fee. The third one-time offer, in the form of the other rewards currency of the Flying Blue program, requires no spending at all. Upon approval for the card, you receive 60 Experience Points (XP). Customarily earned by flying, these points help you to earn elite status. The bonus gets you more than halfway to the 100 XP points you need to reach Silver status, which earns you benefits such as priority check-in, seat discounts, a boost in your mileage-earning rate with the program, and a free checked bag.
- Anniversary Bonuses: This card also provides annual bonuses in both of the rewards currencies of the Flying Blue program. Every year on your card anniversary you receive 5,000 bonus miles, provided you’ve charged at least $50 to the card over the previous year. Worth an estimated $80 when used to get flights, this bonus essentially equals in value the card’s $89 annual fee. Independent of spending, you also receive a 20-XP bonus automatically on your card anniversary. There’s an opportunity to earn a further 40 XPs after spending a total of at least $15,000 on the card within the anniversary year.
- Lacks Benefits, Even With Air France and KLM: Co-branded airline cards that charge an annual fee, as this one does, typically come with a number of benefits, including those with their co-branded carrier or carriers, such as free checked bags or discounts on in-flight purchases. But the only travel-related benefit offered by the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard is that, like many travel cards, it doesn't charge foreign-transaction fees. The card also lacks any other benefits of note, except the ability to use the card for overdraft protection if you also have a bank account with Bank of America, the card’s issuer.
This Card is Best For
Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard is an unusually good choice for customers not only of Air France or KLM Royal Dutch Airlines but of many other carriers. In part, that’s because air purchases made with this card earn a generous 3 miles per dollar spent at any of the 19 carriers of the SkyTeam alliance, including Delta and Alitalia. And the miles you earn with the card, and from flights, can be earned and redeemed with an even-larger number of Air France/KLM Fly-Blue partners, also including Delta and Alitalia.
Those who travel (or use the card) only occasionally will also find the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard an economic choice, since justifying the cost of the annual fee is unusually easy. The value of the card’s 5,000-mile bonus alone, awarded for just $50 in annual spending, all but equals the cost of the $89 annual fee. The rewards from spending just $185 a year on the card would equal the remaining $9 of the cost.
Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard One-Time Offer
You receive 25,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 or more within the first 90 days after you open the card’s account. We value this bonus offer at $400 when redeemed for flight purchases through Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and SkyTeam and Flying Blue member airlines.
Upon card approval, you'll also receive 60 XPs, those being the rewards that allow you to gain status in the Flying Blue program.
Rewards Earning Details
You earn 3 miles per dollar spent on flights booked directly with Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and on purchases made directly with any airline members of SkyTeam. You earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all other purchases.In addition to its initial bonus offer, this card offers some ongoing annual bonus opportunities. As long as your account is active, you'll get 5,000 miles each year after making $50 in purchases, a benefit that alone is worth $80. You also get 20 XPs each year on your account anniversary, and the opportunity to earn an additional 40 XPs by charging $15,000 in purchases on the card within a year.
All bonus miles and XPs will be posted to the cardholder's account within four to six weeks after they're earned.
In order to earn miles and XP, you must be a member of the Flying Blue program. If you aren't already a member of the program, you'll be enrolled when you sign up for this card. It takes anywhere from six to four weeks for miles to be credited to your Flying Blue program
Rewards Redemption Details
Miles can be redeemed towards flights with Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, or any of the 35 or so airline partners of those two carriers in the Flying Blue program, which include Delta Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
You can also spend Flying Blue miles directly with a number of hotel, car rental, and retail merchants who are partners in the program. You can also spend them with Bitebird, which provides WiFi hotspots around the world, and for museums and other experiences in France and the Netherlands.
All that said, keep in mind that you’ll generally get the best value by redeeming miles for flights. We value each Flying Blue mile at an average of 1.6 cents when used to book air travel.
You can transfer miles to a family member or friend, but there's no direct way to transfer miles to another loyalty program with this card. You can, however, transfer miles or points from some of those programs to Flying Blue, and so allow them to be used for purchases from Air France, KLM, and their Flying Blue partners. Among those options are to transfer American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards to the Flying Blue program, and so convert them to miles. There are also some hotel partners that allow such conversions. The transfers have varying rates, however, with some of them dismally low, and there may be restrictions. For example, you can transfer Hilton Honors points only when you have at least 20,000 in your account, and the rate is 10,000 Hilton Honors points (worth an estimated $45, by our valuation) for 1,000 Flying Blue points, which we estimate are worth only $16.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
In order to make the most of this card, first spend the $1,000 necessary within the first 90 days of opening an account in order to earn the 25,000-mile bonus, which we estimate is worth $400 when used for flights on Air France, KLM, and their airline partners.
Next, use your card to earn 3 miles per dollar spent on direct flight purchases with Air France, KLM, and their fellow members of the SkyTeam airline alliance. You can, of course, also use this card for other purchases, too. At 1.5 miles per dollar, this spending earns you a passable 2.4 cents per dollar when used for flights.
Finally, spend enough on this card annually to earn the anniversary mile and XP bonus. Earning the 5,000-mile bonus requires only $50 per year in spending, but spending must be pushed to $15,000 or more for the year to earn the additional 40 XPs.
Let’s assume that you only use this card for flight and hotel purchases for intermittent travel. We’ll say you take two return trips per year to Paris from the U.S. on Air France and spend $560 per round-trip flight, the average according to Cheapflights.com. Further, let’s say you spend two nights in a hotel on each trip, at $150 per night.
Overall, you'd earn 4,410 miles on this card. At a value of 1.6 cents each when used for flights, those miles have an estimated value of $70. (However, keep in mind that these purchases would also qualify you for the 5,000 miles bonus, worth $80, when you spend at least $50 a year on the card. And our mileage total does not include the miles you would earn from the actual travel itself.)
Frequent travelers will naturally earn bigger benefits with this card, as will those who use the card regularly for other spending. Let’s assume, then, that you double the travel schedule above, using the card to purchase four round-trip flights per year and staying in a hotel for two nights per trip. As in the scenario above, we’ll estimate that each round-trip flight costs an average of $560, while each hotel stay costs an average of $150 per night. Doubling the earnings detailed above, that purchasing would earn you 4,820 miles, worth an estimated $140. Let's further assume that you also charge to the card $16,000 per year for various daily living expenses—such as food, gas, clothing, entertainment, and personal care. Those miscellaneous purchases, which earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent, would yield a further 24,000 miles which, at 1.6 cents apiece, would be worth $384 when used for flights.
Overall, you'd earn 28,820 miles on this card worth $461. (However, once again keep in mind that these purchases would also qualify you for the 5,000 miles bonus, worth $80, when you spend at least $50 a year on the card. And our mileage total does not include the miles you would earn from the actual travel itself.)
Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard Outstanding Benefits
- Overdraft protection if you also have a Bank of America bank account
- $0 liability guarantee
- Online and mobile banking
- Paperless statements
- Chip-enabled card
- Free monthly FICO score
- Digital wallet technology
Bank of America, which issues the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard received a score of 798 out 1,000 in J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The bank ranked in seventh place among 12 major credit card issuers. The score was a little below the national average of 806 points for all issuers.
Bank of America offers mobile apps for iOS and Android. These apps allow for account access in general, including the ability to keep track of credit card transactions. Scored out of a possible 5 by users, Bank of America’s mobile app has a score of 4.8 stars in the Apple App Store and 4.7 stars on Google Play.
Bank of America offers a host of standard security features on its cards, including fraud monitoring, account alerts, and zero liability for fraudulent purchases.
This card comes with chip technology, digital wallet technology, overdraft protection, and online and mobile banking.
The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard offers unusual versatility in the travel providers—especially the airlines—from whom you can earn and spend the miles you earn in using the card. In addition, the card’s ongoing annual mileage reward for very minimal spending brings instant value in exchange for the card’s annual fee, which may make this a good option, even for those that typically prefer an annual-fee-free card. What the card isn’t is a well-rounded travel card that offers benefits to help make flying more comfortable and convenient. For that reason, you’ll probably want to pair the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard with at least one other general travel card that fills in the features it lacks. Among those choices are the American Express Blue Cash Everyday which would, for no annual fee, allow you to add rental-car insurance and a 24/7 global-assistance travel hotline. Paying $150 a year for the American Express Green card adds such additional travel features as a $100 LoungeBuddy credit.