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Flying Blue — the shared loyalty program of Air France and KLM — just announced its latest mileage sale. Through the end of the year(!), members can buy Flying Blue miles with up to a 100% bonus.
At the current exchange rate, this translates into the ability to buy miles for as little as 1.6¢ per mile. That's the best rate we've ever seen Flying Blue offer!
A Note on Buying Points
Before we look into some of the possible value, it's important to first recognize that buying miles should typically be a last resort. Loyalty programs tend to sell miles at a price point far higher than the redeemable value they can deliver. Consequently, without a discount, you're better off saving your money and building your balance using other (cheaper) methods.
However, there are a few unique scenarios where buying miles can make sense. If you're just on the cusp of having enough miles for a sweet redemption, buying the remaining miles can be quick and easy. Moreover, if you have your heart set on a fancy premium cabin, buying enough miles for an award redemption is likely cheaper than paying the cash rate. Lastly, if you're struggling to meet a minimum spending requirement, buying miles can be a nice way to reach the target via an investment in future travel.
- This promotional offer is available for mileage purchases between July 27, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
- Flying Blue elite members may receive a maximum of 100,000 bonus miles. Explorer (non-elite) members may receive up to 75,000 bonus miles.
- Flying Blue elite members can purchase an unlimited amount of miles throughout the calendar year. Explorer members can purchase up to a maximum of 75,000 miles per calendar year.
- Miles will be deposited within 72 hours of purchase.
- You may withdraw your full mileage purchase (no partial withdrawals) for any reason within 14 days of purchase.
- The full terms and conditions are available here.
Flying Blue sells miles in units of 2,000 at the cost of €55 (~$65 at current exchange rates) per unit. This promotion offers a tiered bonus percentage depending on the total amount purchased.
- 2,000–10,000 miles — 50% bonus (~2.2¢ per mile)
- 12,000–28,000 miles — 75% bonus (~1.8¢ per mile)
- 30,000–75,000 miles — 100% bonus (~1.6¢ per mile)
Opportunities to Leverage this Promotion
Flying Blue is a powerhouse loyalty program full of lucrative sweet spots. In addition to utilizing some unique geographical interpretations to determine award rates, it also offers monthly award discounts for spontaneous getaways. Well, at least it does under normal circumstances. The Promo Rewards program has been suspended temporarily, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Let's look at a few examples where buying miles can save you money compared to paying a cash rate.
Los Angeles — Tel Aviv in Air France Business Class
- Mileage Rate: 106,000 miles + $507 round-trip
- Typical Cash Price: $3,249 round-trip
- Redemption Rate: 2.6 cents per mile
- Cost to Purchase Miles (at 1.6¢ per mile): $1,696
Atlanta — London in Virgin Atlantic Business Class
- Mileage Rate: 53,000 miles + $236 one-way
- Typical Cash Price: $9,248 one-way (or $4,151 round-trip)
- Redemption Rate: 3.5 cents per mile (based on half the round-trip price)
- Cost to Purchase Miles (at 1.6¢ per mile): $848 one-way
Los Angeles — Paris in Air France ‘La Premiere' First Class
- Mileage Rate: 220,000 miles one-way
- Typical Cash Price: $11,223 round-trip
- Redemption Rate: 5.1 cents per mile
- Cost to Purchase Miles (200K at 1.6¢ per mile + 20K at 3.2¢ per mile ): $3,840
To be fair, this example is more of a proof of concept rather than a viable option. But, since Air France's ‘La Premiere' is said to be one of the world's best first-class experiences, I felt it was worth mentioning.
As I mentioned in the ‘Offer Details' section, to buy more than 75,000 Flying Blue miles in a year, you have to have Flying Blue elite status. Likewise, to book Air France's chic first-class product with miles, you need to have at least Flying Blue Gold status.
Since the maximum bonus is 100,000 miles for Flying Blue elites, you'd be required to do this in two purchases. The first 200,000 at 1.6¢ per mile, and the remaining 20,000 at the poor rate of 3.2¢ per mile. Still, in the end, you'd save thousands of dollars compared to paying the astronomical cash rate for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Notes on Price Comparisons
- I've based all of these examples on the minimum mileage required between these destinations. You can find this using Flying Blue's award calculator.
- In some cases, I've opted to compare one-way award prices to half the rate of a round-trip cash fare. This is because one-way cash fares are often much more expensive than round-trips. Since I wanted to avoid using misleading cent per point values, I based my calculations on the more conservative price.
Maximize Your Purchase
Like many other loyalty programs, Flying Blue partners with Points.com to process mileage purchases. As Points.com is a third party, the purchase won't code as ‘travel‘, and likely won't trigger any travel-oriented category bonus.
With this in mind, the best credit card to use is one that bonuses online purchases or a card optimized for everyday spending. It's worth noting that since Flying Blue mileage purchases are charged in Euros, mileage purchases likely will process as a foreign transaction. If you want to maximize your earnings while avoiding a foreign transaction fee, you should consider using one of these cards:
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
- Discover it® Miles
Other Ways to Earn Flying Blue Miles
Flying Blue is one of the few loyalty programs that partners with every major transferable currency. Consequently, Flying Blue miles are some of the easiest to accrue via credit card sign-up bonuses and spending. Simply transfer the miles you need whenever you want to complete a redemption.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards Points — 1:1 transfer ratio (transfers process immediately)
- American Express Membership Rewards Points — 1:1 transfer ratio (transfers process immediately)
- Citi ThankYou Points — 1:1 transfer ratio (transfers process immediately)
- Capital One Miles — 4:3 transfer ratio (transfers process immediately)
- Marriott Bonvoy Points — 3:1 transfer ratio plus a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred (transfers typically take one to three days to process)
Additionally, Flying Blue partners with Bank of America to offer a co-branded credit card. The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard® currently offers a respectable 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening, as well as 1.5X miles per dollar spent. While not a terrible offer, you may be better off sticking to cards that earn transferable bank currency. This would offer more flexible redemption options while also providing similar earning abilities.
We don't see buy miles promotions from Flying Blue all that often, and this one brings a lot to the table. Not only does Flying Blue offer a best-ever rate, but it also gives loyalty members over five months to pull the trigger.
With that said, it's not exactly the best time to be planning international travel. Additionally, Flying Blue miles are among the easiest to acquire without paying for them—thanks to its many transfer partners.
Are you buying Flying Blue miles for 1.6¢ each?
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