Last Updated on January 31, 2023
In this feature of Rewards Canada' Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios we look at the ultimate one for earning Air France KLM Flying Blue miles. This is an ideal wallet for those who like to fly with Air France and/or KLM out of Canada. We have always recommended that you should carry a Visa, a Mastercard and an American Express card in your wallet. The reason why is that there benefits, promotions and earning potential unique to each brand of credit card. We won't go into details in this feature but here we outline one card from each brand that will help you build up those Flying Blue Miles faster than ever. Ultimately, there are a few options that could be utilized for an Air France KLM Flying Blue portfolio but we look at one card from each issuing family that will provide strong Flying Blue mileage earning along with some good benefits and strong insurance coverage while not breaking the bank on annual fees.
What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate Air France KLM Flying Blue Credit Card Wallet? It is the following three cards
A quick overview as to why these three cards make up this portfolio:
The Air France KLM World Elite MasterCard is the obvious choice in this portfolio as it is the only true Flying Blue co-brand card in Canada and you need it to earn extra miles on Air France KLM flights. For American Express it's the Cobalt Card which provides the highest potential Flying Miles earning on many purchases. For the Visa portion of the portfolio there is no card option that earns Flying Blue miles (either directly or via conversion) so we fill the spot with an excellent well rounded Visa card, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card.
Before we jump into maximizing your earning with these cards let's look at their earn rates in Flying Blue Miles per dollar spent (we'll discuss the conversion rates below).
|Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard||American Express Cobalt® Card||Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card|
|Air France KLM Flights||1 mile + 5 bonus miles per EUR Spent||1.5 miles (+ 5 bonus miles per EUR only if you have the AF KLM World Elite Mastercard)||1 point (not Flying Blue) (+ 5 bonus miles per EUR only if you have the AF KLM World Elite Mastercard)|
|Other travel purchases||1 mile||1.5 miles||1 point (not Flying Blue)|
|Grocery||1 mile||3.75 miles||2 points (not Flying Blue)|
|Dining / Food Delivery||2 miles||3.75 miles||2 points (not Flying Blue)|
|Select Streaming Services||1 mile||2.25 miles||2 points (not Flying Blue)|
|Gas||1 mile||1.5 miles||1 point (not Flying Blue)|
|Daily Transit (includes taxi / ride shares)||1 mile||1.5 miles||2 points (not Flying Blue)|
|Entertainment||1 mile||0.75 miles||2 points (not Flying Blue)|
|All other spending||1 mile||0.75 miles||1 point (not Flying Blue)|
TLDR: Use the American Express Cobalt Card for all accelerated category purchases unless Amex isn't accepted then use the Air France KLM card. Only use the Scotiabank card for foreign transactions that are not eats and drinks and places that don't accept Mastercard or Amex.
Right away from the chart you can see that the card that gives you the best earn rates for most purchases is the American Express Cobalt Card. The card earns Membership Rewards points that convert 1:0.75 to Flying Blue. With earn rates of one to five Membership Rewards points it equates to 0.75 to 3.5 Flying Blue Miles per dollar spent. No other card matches this Flying Blue earn rate for accelerated categories. You'll want to try to funnel as much accelerated category spending as you can onto this card. Do note there is an annual cap of $30,000 on the 5x points earning for eats and drinks. If you hit that cap you can move your dining and bar spend to the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard to earn 2 miles per dollar spent. There is no cap on the Cobalt card's 3x and 2x points earning categories.
Your second choice of card to pull out would be the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard and you would use this card for places that don't take Amex or merchants that don't fall into the Cobalt Card's accelerated earn rate categories. So the AF KLM card becomes your go to card for places like the Loblaw family of grocery stores, Costco, Wendy's (if you don't use the app) and other retailers that don't accept American Express. Since this card earns Flying Blue Miles directly there is no conversion rate and it earns 2 miles per dollar for restaurants and bars and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. There is also another reason to hold onto this card and we'll explain that further down in the article.
Likewise if you are shopping where a merchant only accepts Visa you would pull out your Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card for those purchases. On top fo this you'll use this card for transactions in foreign currencies to save the 2.5% charged by the Air France KLM Mastercard and the Amex Cobalt Card. However in terms of eats and drinks the Cobalt Card will earn 5x points globally so you'll want to use it as even with a 2.5% fee you are coming out ahead.
There is also one additional reason to try to funnel as much spending onto the Amex Cobalt Card beyond earning the most points and that is the card's other redemption options. In the world of points and miles it is always good to keep a stash of points in a flexible or hybrid rewards program which American Express Membership Rewards is. By doing so you are not limiting yourself to one program (even though we are focusing on Flying Blue here) as you can redeem for travel via Membership Rewards, use your points for statement credits and even convert to other airline and hotel programs. Essentially you're keeping your options open with the Cobalt Card and with transfers to Air France KLM Flying Blue being almost instant you don't have to convert points until the last minute when you are booking an Flying Blue Reward ticket.
This is where the Air France KLM card comes in handy and that is for booking tickets and flying with Air France or KLM. The benefit it provides is 5 extra Flying Blue miles per EUR spent on Air France or KLM tickets. And the real kicker? You get the bonus just by having the credit card, not for using it to pay for the actual flights. This means you can buy your tickets with the American Express Cobalt Card to earn 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar which translates to 1.5 Flying Blue miles per dollar spent. That's half a mile more per dollar than the Air France KLM card and you'll still get those 5 extra miles per Euro spent just for having the Air France KLM card.
The American Express Cobalt Card itself does not have a lot of travel benefits outside of its decent insurance coverage. However It does have Amex Offers, which are offers provided to cardmembers throughout the year where you can receive statement credits or bonus points for shopping with specific retailers. In the past Air France KLM have been included as merchants in Amex Offers. The card also has American Express Experiences which include Front of the Line concert tickets and other special event offers.
Finally, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card provides you with No Foreign Transaction fees and Visa Airport Companion lounge access with 6 annual passes. Those 6 passes alone are worth the fee you pay for this card and the passes can be used at the Air France KLM lounges in Montreal and Toronto not to mention over 1,300 other lounges worldwide.
You'll also want to note that you can technically use the Membership Rewards points earned on the Cobalt Card or the Scene+ points earned on the Passport Visa Infinite Card for Air France KLM flights purchased with cash. As both cards have a book travel with anyone you like and redeem points against the charge redemption option you can buy your Air France or KLM flights on either card, earn the 5 extra Flying Blue Miles per Euro since you have the AF KLM card as well and then redeem the MR or Scene+ points towards the charge. For example, if your Air France flight is $975 and you have 40,000 Scene+ points, you can buy your ticket on the Passport Infinite Card and then redeem those 40,000 points for a $400 statement credit against those flights and only end up paying $575. You'll still earn the 5 extra miles as the redemption of the Scene+ points has nothing to do with AF KLM. Same goes for the Cobalt Card. (This also works for the taxes and fees on Flying Blue reward tickets)
If you live in or near a city that Air France KLM serves in Canada (Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City) and tend to fly economy class to Europe or beyond you need to have Air France KLM Flying on your radar. After some permanent changes the program provides the best potential value for transatlantic economy class reward flights. With Flying Blue you can fly for as little as 15,000 miles one way between Eastern Canada and Europe or North Africa or 20,000 miles one way from Western Canada.
Recommended reading: Confirmed! Air France KLM Flying Blue’s 15,000/20,000 mile Transatlantic redemptions are here to stay
This means you can spend as little as $4,000 on the Cobalt Card to get a one way reward flight to Europe/North Africa which is virtually unmatched by any other card or program in the market. There is one exception which is British Airways/Aer Lingus to Dublin and the UK. BA just happens to also be an Amex transfer partner so you are covered there as well. You really do get the best of all worlds with the Cobalt Card.
The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard provides 30 XP as the welcome bonus on the card. XP are Flying Blue's elite status qualifying points. In the first year the card will provide 60 XP as you get the 30 XP as the welcome bonus and the card provides an annual 30 XP bonus. 60 XP is more than half way to the 100 XP required to receive Flying Blue Silver Elite Status.
The American Express Cobalt Card offers up 30,000 welcome bonus points over the course of 12 months. It is awarded as 2,500 bonus points for each month that you spend $500 or more on the card. Those 30,000 points work out to 22,500 Flying Blue Miles
Finally the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card offers 30,000 Scene+ points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months. The welcome bonus also includes a first year annual fee waiver so you won't pay the $150 fee in the first 12 months. Those points are worth $300 towards any travel such as the Air France ticket example above.
If you do end up getting yourself this Ultimate Air France KLM Flying Credit Card Portfolio you'll be more than half way to Silver Elite, have 22,500 Flying Blue Miles + 30,000 Scene+ Points. And that doesn't include the points you earn on your actual spending to receive those bonuses.
Air France KLM World Elite MasterCard® powered by Brim Financial
Annual Fee: $132 Primary Card (Waived in first year)
2023 Top Overall Travel Rewards Card | 2023 Top Hybrid Travel Rewards Card
In your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember, you can earn 2,500 Membership Rewards® points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your Card. This could add up to 30,000 points in a year. That’s up to $300 towards a weekend getaway or concert tickets
Monthly Fee $12.99/month of Cardmembership ($155.88 annually) | Additional Cards: $0 | Annual interest rate 20.99% on purchases and 21.99% on funds advances
Canada's Choice for Top No Foreign Transaction Fee Rewards Credit Card 2022
Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ Rewards points in your first year (that’s up to $400 towards travel) and first year annual fee waived1. Offer ends Apr 30, 2023
Annual Fee: $150 | Additional Cards: $0 for first card $50 for each additional | Minimum Income $60,000
As Membership Rewards points can be converted to Flying Blue you have a variety of cards you could actually choose from several other American Express cards like the Gold Rewards Card or The Platinum Card. These cards will earn less points (Flying Blue miles) but provide more benefits. The Platinum Card is well known as the best airport lounge access card in Canada so if you fly a lot and need lounge access this is the card to get.
On the Visa side you also have quite a few options. You could go with the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card however you would have to book your Air France KLM flights directly with RBC. You'd still earn those 5 extra Flying Blue miles but honestly you'd get more value from Scene+ points over the Avion points. You could entertain a no fee Visa card in which case we'd recommend the Scotiabank Scene+ Visa Card.
On the Mastercard side you wouldn't want to consider any other cards as there aren't any more that provide the option to earn Flying Blue Miles and you would be foregoing one of the key drivers of this portfolio the 5 extra miles for Air France KLM flights just by having the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard.
This feature was first posted on January 31, 2023 and is updated regularly.