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Starting at some point today through Sunday, September 16, American Express is offering a 35% bonus on transfers of Membership Rewards points to Air France/KLM’s loyalty program, Flying Blue. If you’re not yet a member of Flying Blue, you can join here.
The normal ratio is 1:1, but during the promo, if you were to transfer 1,000 Amex points, you’d end up with 1,350 Flying Blue miles. Note: Flying Blue charges huge fuel surcharges and taxes on most transatlantic awards, though Delta domestic flights and many intra-European awards have reasonable fees. They also allow one-way awards on Delta, so this bonus could be a decent way to get Delta flights at a discount, though only low-level awards are bookable with Flying Blue miles.
So, in order to get up to a roundtrip business-class award redemption from North America to Europe, which requires 100,000 miles, you’d need to transfer 75,000 miles to get a total of 101,250 miles – so it’s basically like getting a 25% discount on an award redemption.
Personally, when it comes to big point transfers, I’d rather wait for a more lucrative bonus like the recent 50% British Airways one, or, fingers crossed, a good Delta one to come along, but if you’re looking to top up your account for a particular award without having to use quite as many points as you would normally, this could be a good option to save a few thousand of them.
Also remember to check out Flying Blue’s Promo Awards, half-price discount awards which the program runs all year long, but changes the gateway city pairings every two months. That means you can fly roundtrip from certain North American cities to Europe and beyond for as low as 25,000 miles in coach and 50,000 miles in business class on Air France, KLM and Air Europe – each of which have different cities and cabins they discount.
The current list of awards, which runs until October 31, isn’t really exciting since all the awards between North America and Europe are for coach tickets, and because Flying Blue charges hefty taxes on awards, even though you could book a coach roundtrip award ticket for 25,000 miles, the taxes on it could be in the $450 range, meaning that if you can buy that same ticket for $650, it’s probably not worth spending $200 less and using 25,000 points since it’s less than a cent per point in value – plus you don’t earn miles on award tickets.
One more thing to note: September 30 2012, Flying Blue Elite members who buy or gift award miles will receive a bonus of up to 50%. You can buy an unlimited number of award miles to top up your own account balance or gift up to 40,000 miles to your friends and family.
Buy & Gift Miles:
- 2,000 – 8,000 Award Miles = No bonus
- 10,000 – 18,000 Award Miles = 10% Bonus
- 20,000 – 28,000 Award Miles = 20% Bonus
- 30,000 – 38,000 Award Miles = 30% Bonus
- 40,000 – 58,000 Award Miles = 40% Bonus
- 60,000 – 88,000 Award Miles = 45% Bonus
- 90,000 – 100,000 Award Miles = 50% Bonus
Flying Blue miles normally cost 53 euros ($68) per 2,000, breaking down to a price of 3.4 cents each. Let’s say you wanted to get the full 50% bonus, so you bought 100,000 miles for a total cost of $3,400 and got a bonus 50,000 miles – bringing your per-mile cost down to 2.33 cents each. Not a good deal- especially since you can buy Amex points directly from Amex at 2.5 cents a piece- plus you’d get the 35% bonus on the transfer to FlyingBlue. However, you can only buy Amex points if you are transferring all of them to a partner, so it’s not an option for everyone, so buying miles to top up for an award might make sense.
For my thoughts from the last Flying Blue promo with up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles, you can read this post.