Most travel hackers take advantage of the loyalty programs of foreign airlines through flexible points currencies, like transfers of Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Executive Club Avios, American Express Membership Rewards points to Singapore KrisFlyer, or Citi ThankYou points to Air France KLM Flying Blue.
But US-based banks also enter into co-branded credit card relationships with the loyalty programs of foreign airlines. Some of those relationships are more familiar than others, so I thought it would be useful to put them all in one place.
So, without further ado, here is the first in a series on foreign loyalty programs with co-branded credit cards issued by US banks, with commentary and analysis as needed.
AeroMexico by US Bank
US Bank issues 2 co-branded credit cards that earn AeroMexico Club Premier miles:
- the AeroMexico Visa Signature Card has an $80 annual fee after the first year, 4,000 annual bonus miles and an annual $99 "Companion Certificate." The current signup bonus is 20,000 bonus miles after first use and a "Complimentary Companion Certificate."
- the AeroMexico Visa Card has a $45 annual fee after the first year, 2,000 annual bonus miles and an annual $99 Companion Certificate. The current signup bonus is 15,000 bonus miles and a Complimentary Companion Certificate.
This is going to sound insane, but bear with me: apparently, the AeroMexico Club Premier award chart is in "kilometers," while the AeroMexico Club Premier credit cards earn "miles." The conversion rate between the two is 1.6 AeroMexico Club Premier kilometers per AeroMexico Club Premier mile. That means you can either multiply the mileage earning by 1.6 or divide the award chart by 1.6 to normalize the ratio between your earning and redeeming rates.
If you're looking at AeroMexico's SkyTeam award chart, this explains why a domestic US ticket costs 40,000 "Premier Points:" once converted into miles it's a standard 25,000-mile roundtrip redemption.
Earning AeroMexico Premier Club Miles
Both US Bank AeroMexico credit cards earn 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) per dollar spent at gas stations and grocery stores. While gas station manufactured spend isn't as widely available as it used to be, grocery store manufactured spend is still available in many parts of the country, which creates an opportunity for these cards to outperform.
Of course, that depends entirely on the opportunities for...
Redeeming AeroMexico Premier Club Miles
Here I'm going to shamelessly lean on Travel Codex, who took a look at the AeroMexico award chart during an American Express transfer bonus back in 2015, while translating those results into bonused spend on the US Bank co-branded credit cards. The sweet spots Omar identified are:
- Roundtrip business class to Europe. 160,000 Premier Club kilometers (100,000 Premier Club miles) require $50,000 in bonused spend at gas stations or grocery stores.
- Roundtrip business class to North Asia. 180,000 Premier Club kilometers (112,500 Premier Club miles) require $56,250 in bonused spend.
- Roundtrip business class to Southeast Asia. 240,000 Premier Club kilometers (150,000 Premier Club miles) require $75,000 in bonused spend.
- Roundtrip business class to the Middle East. 224,000/248,000 Premier Club kilometers (144,000/155,000 Premier Club miles) require $72,000/$75,500 in bonused spend.
Is it worth it?
Having a higher-than-average co-branded credit card earning rate for a SkyTeam carrier and lower-than-average redemptions rates for a SkyTeam carrier together seem like an obvious opportunity to seize for redemptions on SkyTeam partners. However, since AeroMexico Premier Club passes along fuel surcharges on award tickets, the value you'll ultimately get from the program depends on the airlines and routes you fly. AeroMexico does allow one-way redemptions, so it seems most obviously valuable for reservations on carriers with low fuel surcharges in one or both directions.
You can find some of my earlier research on SkyTeam fuel surcharges in my post on Korean Air SKYPASS.