Brim Financial has announced they have entered into a partnership with Air France KLM to issue a co-brand credit card for the two airline’s frequent flyer program Flying Blue. Rewards Canada readers will be very familiar with the program as it gets regular coverage here and I am pretty sure some of you are probably jumping up with joy at this news!
The press release from Brim Financial didn’t provide a lot of detail about the partnership outside of mentioning this is Brim’s first airline partner and:
Brim’s partnership with Air France-KLM will offer more targeted rewards
to loyal Flying Blue customers and will be an enhancement to their
customer and digital strategy in Canada.
There is no other information as to a timeline for the launch of the card, what type of card it will be (although we’re pretty certain it will be a Mastercard, see the next section), the card earn rates, benefits or insurance coverage nor if there will be multiple versions.
What type of card will the Canadian Flying Blue credit card be?
Air France KLM Flying Blue currently has partnerships with all major
There are American Express, JCB, Mastercard and Visa co-brand Flying
Blue cards in various countries around the world. Here in Canada the
frequent flyer program already counts American Express Membership
Rewards as a partner and the Brim partnership will most likely be a Mastercard. The reason behind us thinking it will be a Mastercard is that is what Brim issues for themselves and for their partnership with Canadian Western Bank. If I recall correctly this is the only credit card payment network the Fintech company is approved to issue at this moment.
We can assume at the very least they will offer it as a World Elite Mastercard meaning it will have all the perks afforded to all Canadian issued World Elite cards. This includes Mastercard Travelpass by DragonPass which is an airport lounge access program that provides access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide including the AF KLM lounges in Montreal and Toronto. One would think a good selling feature for the card would be providing unlimited free access to the Air France KLM lounges for the cardholder and one guest.
World Elite Mastercards also provide free Boingo global Wi-Fi access which includes free Wi-Fi on WestJet flights.
Seeing that Brim has no foreign transaction fees on their cards it could
be possible the AF KLM card will offer the same. That being said, Canadian
Western Bank’s Mastercards that are issued by Brim do not feature a no
FX fee so we know Brim’s technology allows for either option.
They also mention a digital experience will be offered with the card(s) Does this potentially mean you’ll be able to earn extra Flying Blue miles for shopping online with your card or at Brim’s merchant partners like you can currently do with Brim’s proprietary products?
Of course these are all assumptions but all avenues would seem to point to the Air France Flying Blue Credit Card being a Mastercard and a World Elite at that based on them wanting the card to be targeted to loyal Flying Blue members.
The new card should keep your miles from expiring!
Flying Blue has a pretty stringent policy that only provides three methods of keeping your miles from expiring:
- Take an eligible flight on Air France, KLM, Aircalin, Kenya Airways,
TAROM or other airline partners at least once every 2 years
- If you’re an Elite or Elite Plus member
- If you make a purchase with an eligible co-branded credit card at least once every 2 years
This has made it difficult for many Flying Blue members in Canada who weren’t travelling very often to keep their miles alive. As the Brim Flying Blue Card will be a co-brand card we can speculate with quite certainty that it will qualify for rule #3 and help those not so frequent but frequent enough travellers keep their miles so they can redeem them for something of value.
Why Brim and not another issuer?
Again I’m just going down the assumption road but knowing the industry my guess is most of the big players didn’t even bid on this RFP due to existing co-brand relationships, their own proprietary programs and what will most likely be a small portfolio. TD and CIBC are already big into Aeroplan, RBC has British Airways, Cathay Pacific and WestJet, BMO has AIR MILES, MBNA has Best Western and Alaska Airlines and Scotia is currently sinking a lot of money into Scene+. That would leave the likes of American Express, Brim, Desjardins, National Bank of Canada and Neo.
I am a little surprised American Express didn’t
win this co-brand opportunity but it is entirely possible they didn’t
even bid on the RFP for the same reason that I feel the other big issuers may not have bid. American Express already has three major co-brand
partnerships with Aeroplan, AIR MILES and Marriott (and that’s tough to
compete against) plus they already have Air France KLM as a Membership
Rewards transfer partner.
Finally you have the portfolio size which I would estimate will be in the range of 2,000 to 4,000 cardholders in the first year and have the potential to grow to around 10,000 in three to four years. For the big issuers this small number of cardholders doesn’t represent a viable investment for them but for the likes of startups such as Brim, it is perfect for getting their feet wet in this fun world of travel co-brand partnerships!
In the end I don’t believe a lot of issuers would have bid for this partnership and obviously of those that did, Brim proposed the best deal to Air France KLM.
Wrapping it up
It is exciting to see a new airline credit card coming to Canada! It has been quite a few years since we have seen a new one and my fingers are crossed this one works out. I have a good feeling that it will survive seeing that between the two airlines they serve half a dozen major Canadian cities coast to coast so there should be a good base of frequent or even semi-frequent flyers in those regions that will jump on this card. The card may also appeal to travellers from other SkyTeam airlines as they are the only airline alliance without a co-brand card in Canada after the Capital One Delta SkyMiles card was discontinued many years ago. I am personally quite excited about this new card and truly hope they make it a very appealing and valuable card to have.