During the entire month of February 2012, you will receive a 25% bonus when you transfer your Amex Membership Reward points to the AirFrance-KLM Flying Blue program. Typically, points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, but for this limited time you’ll receive 1,2500 Flying Blue miles for every 1,000 Membership Reward points.

Now, just because there is a bonus does not mean to immediately transfer your points there. There are definitely some pros/cons to this program which I will walk you through:

Pros:

  • Unlike Delta, you are able to book one-way awards.
  • They often have generous 50% off promotion awards available. These vary every so often – see the January/February promotion here.

Cons:

  • Extremely high taxes and fees. This is common with most international carriers. Make sure to take this into consideration when booking a ticket as it might not be worth it.

Best Usage: Ultimately, it makes sense to use Flying Blue typically when you are able to take advantage of the 50% off promotion and booking a business class seat. For all other award tickets, the fees might be too high to make it worth it.

50% off Promotion Awards: As mentioned before, the Flying Blue program runs a 50% off award promotion for the entire year with the cities changing every two months. This means that you can fly from the included US cities to Europe for 25,000 miles in economy and 50,000 miles in business. The current promotion is for January and February and award tickets must be booked by February 27, 2012 for travel through Februruary 29, 2012. You can see all promotional city pairs here, but just want to highlight some good ones (I’ve listed the miles needed for round-trip):

  • New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Mexico to Europe (on KLM – 25,000 miles economy/50,000 miles business)
  • Washington DC, Detroit, Toronto, and Montreal to Europe (on Air France – 25,000 miles economy/50,000 miles business)
  • Lima to Europe (on KLM – 70,000 miles business)
  • Buenos Aires to Europe (on Air France – 50,000 miles economy/80,000 miles business)
  • Johannesburg to Europe (Air France – 30,000 miles economy)
  • Dubai to Europe (Air France – 20,000 miles economy)
  • Tokyo to Europe (KLM – 80,000 miles business)
  • Beijing and Singapore to Europe (Air France – 40,000 miles economy/80,000 miles business class)

So with the combined Amex and 50% off promotions, you can really score big with a economy or business class ticket. For a US to Europe ticket you will need to transfer 20,000 Amex points for economy or 40,000 Amex points for business class – which is an amazing deal!

Before you transfer your points, I’d check award availability first. Steps to do this:

  • Enroll in the Flying Blue program
  • Log into your account
  • You can then search for award availability

The dates in the horrible yellow/green color show the dates with the 50% off (the lowest award availability).

This flight I selected from Washington DC to Paris has pretty steep taxes and fees and will cost $595.55 in economy or $812.87 in business class! I plugged the same dates and city pairs into Kayak and saw I was able to get comparable paid flight for around $732 – clearly making the economy class redemption not worth it (to use 20,000 points to save $137 is a horrible value). However, for business class, a ticket will cost you about $9,400! This means that the business class redemption is an amazing deal, making your Amex points worth 21 cents a piece ($9,400 – $812 / 40,000 points)! Typically, most people redeem their Amex points for around 3-4 cents a piece, so this is great!

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

  • Mary Cooke said,

    I want to close my 2 gold card accounts next month but am hoping for another bonus offer, preferably with US Airways or another Star Alliance member. Any chance of that happening soon? Is it worth keeping the cards, paying the fees, until a bonus offer I like comes up?

  • Matt MSP said,

    Yikes! Why so many fees?

  • dealswelike said,

    @Mary – US Airways is not a partner with Amex membership rewards. While the two fees are high, I have actually been able to get my fees back plus more during various statement credit promotions (see tomorrow’s post). I am not aware of any Star alliance partner bonus coming up. Typically new transfer promotions are announced on the 1st and 15th of each month.

  • dealswelike said,

    @Matt MSP – I know, it is pretty bad! Comparable to British Airways awards.

  • MJLouise said,

    I see FB has some sales on paid flights N American to Europe, even a $550 economy from ORD-IST. Is it possible to use FB points to upgrade to a business class on a paid flight?

  • MJLouise said,

    Sorry I meant to say KLM has a paid fair sale with $550 flight from ORD-IST, can I use FB points to upgrade like you can with British Airways?

  • dealswelike said,

    @MJLouise – Yes, you can use miles for upgrades. Straight form the site: Upgrade awards give access to the next class of travel up from the full fare you paid when flying with AIR FRANCE, KLM and our partners Air Europa, Kenya Airways, Aircalin and TAROM.* You can also give an upgrade award to anyone you choose, even if you’re not travelling with them.”

    The main issue is that this is valid only for full-fare reservation classes. You will need to call the Flying Blue Service Center to see the number of miles required and to see if the sale fare qualifies.

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