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When a 75% Bonus Isn’t Good Enough: 4 Better Options for Getting Flying Blue Miles

March 16, 2019
8 min read
Air France A330 business class CDG-IAH_EMcnutt-13
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Flying Blue is the mileage program for KLM, Air France and a number of other airlines. And since a program change in June 2018, the Flying Blue program has been absolutely illogical. While this has mostly been a bad thing, there are some ridiculous redemptions that you can get for reasonable rates.

Also, Flying Blue does a monthly Promo Rewards deal that can drop a one-way economy flight to Europe to just 10k miles or business class as low as 13,250 miles one-way. So, there are some reasons that award travelers might want to use Flying Blue miles.

This week, Flying Blue launched a buy miles promotion offering up to 75% bonus miles when buying miles. While 75% bonus miles might sound great if you're looking for more miles, Flying Blue miles are typically sold at a laughable rate of 2.75 euro cents per mile -- which is currently 3.12 US cents per mile.

That means we'd need a large bonus or discount to make buying Flying Blue miles worth it. And a 75% bonus doesn’t cut it. So, if you're looking to get more Flying Blue miles for a redemption, let's discuss your options that we would recommend considering first.

1. Transfer Citi ThankYou Points

Flying Blue is blessed with having a bunch of transfer partners, so we have the luxury of ranking them by TPG's valuations. And Citi ThankYou Points are currently at the bottom of the options with a valuation of 1.7 cents per point. ThankYou Points transfer to Citi at a 1:1 ratio and the transfer is instantaneous in TPG testing.

There are plenty of good ways to build up your Citi ThankYou Point balance -- particularly after recent improvements to the Citi Prestige. The new earning structure on the Prestige means you'll get:

  • 5x points on dining and air travel
  • 3x points on cruise lines and hotel purchases

The $95-annual-fee Citi Premier® Card is currently offering a 60,000-point sign up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months and actually offers better earning rates in some categories:

  • 3x on all travel -- including gas stations, as well as airfare, hotels, car rental agencies, public transportation, tolls and parking
  • 2x on restaurants and entertainment

That's a lot of potential Flying Blue miles for those who want to build up points for a redemption!

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2. Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Don't have any Citi ThankYou Points now? The next option is Chase Ultimate Rewards points -- which TPG values at 2.0 cents per point. Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Flying Blue miles at a 1:1 ratio in increments of 1,000 points, and the transfer is usually instantaneous.

Just like Citi points, it's easy to rack up an Ultimate Rewards points balance. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is currently offering a 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.

Other great ways to build your Ultimate Rewards balance is through sign-up bonuses and meeting minimum spending on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening and 3x on dining and 2x on travel) and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card (100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening).

3. Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points

If you still need more Flying Blue miles, we'd recommend transferring American Express Membership Rewards points -- which TPG also values at 2.0 cents per point. Amex MR points transfer to Flying Blue miles at a 1:1 ratio and the transfer is also usually instantaneous.

Which Amex card is right for you depends on your spending profile:

  • 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel: The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 5x points on airfare and prepaid hotel rooms on Amex Travel: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 4x points on dining at restaurants and US supermarkets (up to $25k in purchases each calendar year); then 1x: American Express® Gold Card
  • 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on American Express® Gold Card
  • 2x points on purchases (up to $50k in purchases per calendar year) then 1x points: The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • 1.5x points on all purchases over $5,000 (up to 1 million additional points per calendar year): The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

4. Transfer Marriott Bonvoy Points

Based on TPG valuations, your last transfer option should be Marriott Bonvoy points. You can transfer Marriott points to Flying Blue miles at a 3:1 ratio. Plus, you’ll score an additional 5,000 Flying Blue miles for each increment of 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer. In TPG testing, transfer times take three days.

Between the ratio and the bonus for transferring 60k points, the calculations get a little complex. But, based on TPG's valuation of 0.8 cents per Marriott point, here's how much value you're giving up by transferring Marriott points to Flying Blue miles:

  • Less than 60,000 points: 2.4 cents per Flying Blue mile
  • 60,000 Bonvoy points => 25,000 Flying Blue miles: 1.92 cents per mile

You can stock up on Marriott points by applying for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, which is offering a bonus of up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Enjoy complimentary Platinum Elite status with your Card for the 2021 status year. Offer Expires 1/13/2021.

Or, you can sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, which is offering 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Buy With Up to a 75% Bonus

If you’ve exhausted the options above and can get more than 1.78 cents of value from your Flying Blue miles, it can make sense to take advantage of this buy miles promotion, which is in effect now through April 10, 2019.

Here's how the current promotion is arranged:

Miles PurchasedBonusCost in Euros
(in cents)
Cost in USD
(in cents)
2,000No bonus2.753.12
4,000 - 8,00040% bonus1.962.23
10,000 - 38,00050% bonus1.832.08
40,000 - 75,00075% bonus1.571.78

If you’re planning on utilizing this promotion, here’s how to do so:

  1. Visit Flying Blue's Buy Miles page
  2. Click Log In
  3. Enter your Flying Blue number or email address as well as your password
  4. Select the number of miles you'd like to buy
  5. Enter your payment details (see below about which card to use)
  6. Accept the terms and conditions and click "buy miles"

Keep in mind that the usual terms and restrictions for purchasing Flying Blue miles apply to this promotion, including the following:

  • You must purchase at least 2,000 miles. Miles must be purchased in increments of 2,000 miles.
  • Non-elite members can only purchase 75,000 miles per account, per calendar year, and bonus miles don't count toward the 75,000 mile annual limit.
  • Elite members can get up to 100,000 bonus miles and have no limit to the number of miles they can buy in a calendar year.
  • Miles may take up to 72 hours to post to your account.
  • You have the right to withdraw your purchase in whole and not in part within 14 working days of the date of purchase without penalty and for any reason, provided that the purchased Miles are capable of being retrieved in full from your account or the person whom you purchased them for.

Which Credit Card to Use

Flying Blue miles purchases are processed by, so you generally won’t get any travel category bonuses from this purchase. But, there's one notable exception that we've found in our buy miles test purchases: the Ink Business Preferred surprised us by earning 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all purchases.

If you don’t have the Ink Business Preferred, make sure to use the best non-bonus category credit card for your situation. If you have a card on which you're working toward a sign-up bonus, that's probably going to be the best option.

Based on TPG’s valuations, the Amex Blue Business Plus’ 2x Membership Rewards (on the first $50,000 per year; then 1x thereafter), Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% cash back on purchases, or the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card 2 transferable miles per dollar spent would be the most rewarding choices.

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Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.