If you find it really hard to get a decent status in an airline or hotel loyalty program and don’t understand how some people manage to achieve it the reason is simple. Generally designed for the American market, their mode of operation is unsuited to the travel industry in Europe.
In a previous article we talked about ways to make it easier to get premium status in a loyalty program. And in the proposed means there were the co-branded credit cards.
Co-branded credit cards not widely available in Europe
The problem with co-branded credit cards, as we said, is that they are almost non-existent in Europe and rarely offer really interesting benefits.
To compare, put yourself in the shoes of an American traveler. For example member of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. The average person will think that Silver (10 nights) is feasible, Gold (25 nights) hard, Platinum (50 nights) very, very hard, and Titanium (75 nights) and Ambassador (100 nights) unattainable.
Marriott offers co-branded loyalty cards to its U.S. resident customers.
For example, Amex or Chase “business” that “offer” 15 nights per year (so a silver) to everyone and a gold for anyone who spends $35,000 with their card over the year, regardless of the type of spending). Or an Amex that gives a gold automatically and a platinum at $75,000 of annual spending. It’s still very high but when you have a professional use of your card the gold is very easily reachable.
Let’s say our passenger is a member of the Delta Skymiles program.
Delta also offers co-branded cards with Amex.
Well, we recognize that it is a bit “light” and that even by spending a lot the customer will have to work hard to obtain an interesting status.
At Hilton the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend holder earns a gold and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card holder earns the coveted diamond status for $400 in dues per year! Very profitable.
Otherwise the Diamond requires 60 nights or 30 stays per year.
Nothing as nice in Europe except ….. with Air France !
Air France is the good European player
We are not always kind to Air France’s Flying Blue loyalty program, but when they do things right we might as well say so.
Thus, depending on the type of Air France co-branded Amex card you have, you earn “XP” each year to obtain a status.
Knowing that a Gold status is 180 XP and a Platinum at 300 XP, an Amex Gold saves you the equivalent of a long haul business class and a Platinum the equivalent of a very long haul first class. From experience we can tell you that this is anything but negligible.
Nothing is free, everything has to be earned and of course obtaining a high status requires a minimum investment. But there are many ways to make your life easier and we regret that the one of co-branded credit cards is so neglected in Europe (knowing that you can’t request a card in a country where you are not resident).
If you wonder why you have the impression when traveling that there are more “status” passengers living in the United States now you know that the effort is not the same for them, and even more so if we talk about cards and/or business expenses.