The 50k mile bonus offer is back on the Lufthansa card mentioned in this post until 6/30/14. Get it now!

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchases or balance transfer
  • Earn an additional 30,000 award miles when you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Cardholders receive a companion ticket after first use of the account and annually after each account anniversary
  • No Foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance member airlines and on other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee. Please see Terms and Conditions for complete details

Application Link: The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard

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The Lufthansa Miles & More World MasterCard offers 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5k in three months. I got the card a few months ago for one reason: as a way to conserve United miles.

In some situations Lufthansa miles are far more valuable than United miles. If you want to fly:

  • economy class to Europe
  • domestic first class
  • domestic economy
  • first class to Hawaii
  • Swiss First Class
  • Lufthansa First Class if you want to book more than 15 days in advance
  • business class to Australia

… you are better off using Lufthansa miles. If you want to fly:

  • economy class to Southern South America
  • economy class to Hawaii
  • economy class to the Caribbean
  • business class to the Caribbean
  • economy class to Central America
  • business class to Central America
  • economy class to Australia

… United and Lufthansa miles are equally useful. For most other itineraries, United miles are better.

So for some trips–meaning for some people–Lufthansa miles are more valuable. For some trips–and for some people–United miles are more valuable. But whichever group you’re in, you should collect Lufthansa miles.

How can that be?

The basic precept to maximize the value of your miles is to use each type of mile for its most valuable use. For instance if you use your:

  • American Airlines miles for off peak awards, Explorer Awards, and Cathay Pacific First Class
  • United miles for business class to Europe or east coast to Hawaii
  • Delta miles for partner awards like Virgin Australia and Korean
  • US Airways miles for one of its many sweet spots or off peak awards
  • British Airways Avios for west coast to Hawaii, Boston to Ireland, or short expensive American Airlines flights
  • etc, etc, etc, these are a very few examples of the best uses of the preceding miles

you will easily get more than two cents of value out of each of your miles, making 20,000 miles sign up bonuses worth $400 of travel!

One key thing you can do to ensure you can use each type of mile for its best use is to be a points omnivore, collecting a lot of as many different kinds of miles and points as you can.

Let’s consider the opposite of a points omnivore. If your frequent flyer balances are currently 1 million Avios and nothing else, you will have a hard time always using the Avios well. But if you had 200k of each of the five types I just listed, you can guarantee you use the right type for your next trip.

How does all that relate to the value of Lufthansa miles?

Lufthansa miles are very often a good substitute for United miles, and occasionally better than United miles.

If you use your Lufthansa miles on such awards to substitute for United miles, thus saving the United miles, you’ll keep the United miles for their highest value uses.

If you can use your Lufthansa miles where they are more valuable than United miles, you can unlock both of their best uses.

My Plan for my 55,000 Lufthansa Miles

I got the Lufthansa Miles & More World MasterCard a few weeks ago after two calls to reconsideration. After I spend $5k on the card, I had 55,000 Lufthansa miles.

I am going to redeem 35,000 miles for a one way flight from Honolulu to Newark in United First Class on a fully flat bed.

I am going to redeem 17,000 miles for a one way flight from New York to LAX in United business class on a fully flat bed.

(Both awards will be parts of other trips.)

Those 52,000 Lufthansa miles will save me 65,000 United miles, since the first award would be 40k United miles and the second would be 25k.

Coincidentally, I just spent 65,000 United miles on an incredible Thai Airlines First Class award booking that would have been prohibitively expensive with Lufthansa miles: 145k Lufthansa Miles and at least $350 in fuel surcharges.

By using the right types of miles:

  • Honolulu to Newark in a flat bed
  • New York to Los Angeles in a flat bed
  • Phuket to Vienna, mostly on a Thai A380 in First Class

…will cost me 52k Lufthansa miles, 65k United miles, and no fuel surcharges instead of 65k United miles, 145k Lufthansa miles, and several hundred dollars in fuel surcharges.

Those mile and cash savings are not academic. Stretching my miles means I get more travel.

That’s the basic, best plan for miles redemptions: use each type of miles for its best-value use. And the way to facilitate that: have balances with several types of miles.

That’s why I got the Lufthansa Miles & More World MasterCard. It was not just 55k miles after the spending requirement. It’s a way to stretch all my other miles farther too–especially my United miles.

If I want United miles, why not just get United miles?

Beyond the point I made about getting Lufthansa miles for the times when Lufthansa miles are a better deal, there are two huge reasons I can’t just collect more United miles so easily.

  1. There are a finite number of cards to earn United miles. United cards and Ultimate Rewards cards are great, but it’s nice to earn Lufthansa miles through the Lufthansa card to substitute for having to earn more United miles.
  2. All the cards that earn United miles and Ultimate Rewards are issued by Chase. I don’t want to go overboard on Chase applications. The Lufthansa card is issued by Barclay’s, and there are only a few good Barclay’s offerings.

Recap

I don’t think–overall–Lufthansa miles are more valuable than United miles. But in limited quantities, like earning 55k from the Lufthansa card, I think they are basically equally as valuable as United miles since they can often substitute for Lufthansa miles.

I’ll be using the bounty from my Lufthansa card to stretch my United miles farther and to take advantage of the sweet spots on Lufthansa’s chart.

The Lufthansa Miles & More World MasterCard with 20,000 Lufthansa miles after first purchase

 

  • Earn up to 35,000 award miles with qualifying transactions
  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Complimentary Companion Ticket after first purchase, then annually thereafter
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

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Application Link: The Lufthansa Miles & More World MasterCard

20 COMMENTS

  1. How do you figure that the LH miles are better than UA for coach flights US-EU? Unless you get US metal (and that’s likely the worst in-flight experience of the options) you’re paying a few hundred dollars just to save 10k points. That’s a pretty bad CPM rate to trade IMO.

    • Might be worth it if you can make a flight on LOT work since LOT doesn’t levy fuel surcharges. Miles & More also runs those “mileage bargain” promotions for 30,000 LH miles round-trip that might (emphasis on might) be worth the fuel surcharge.

  2. Is Lufthansa a transfer partner with any credit cards? I’m more concerned about sustainable point acquisition, a one-time deal is fine but not that exciting.

  3. Mile wise, Lufthansa M&M definitly has some sweet spots, but the surcharges are just insane in 95% of the cases. I just paid 104k + $750 in taxes+surcharges for 2 oneways MUC-FRA-DEN in C. DEN-FRA-MUC would have even been worse. The two oneway return flights SFO-LHR-MUC, booked with UA miles in C (lie flat), were only 100k and only $74 in taxes (for 2).

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