Update July 1, 2014:

The current offer on the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is 20,000 miles after first purchase and payment of $79 annual fee.

  • 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
  • Annual Companion Ticket after first purchase
  • 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 airlines and other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

———————————————————

There is one week left to get the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. The offer expires June 30, 2014.

The normal bonus on the card is for only 20,000 miles. I got the card last year and racked up 73,000 Lufthansa miles. I’ve booked myself a few awards between the mainland and Hawaii, since Lufthansa charges fewer miles for the exact same United flights than United charges.

Comparing United and Lufthansa miles is natural because both are Star Alliance members with (basically) equal access to award space on all Star Alliance partners.

Between Hawaii and the mainland isn’t the only route where the United and Lufthansa award charts differ. I’ve compiled three charts to show whether Lufthansa miles or United miles are cheaper to any given destination in economy, business, and first class.

  • For which destinations are United miles cheaper?
  • For which destinations are Lufthansa miles cheaper?
  • What about fuel surcharges?

Economy Award Charts

All award charts show the one way price in thousands of miles.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 1.04.05 AM

In economy, Lufthansa offers cheaper prices on flights within the continental United States and to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe.

United offers cheaper prices on most of the farther international routes and to Canada.

Business Class Award Charts

Slashes indicate the price for United metal/partner metal. Since United’s February 2014 devaluation, it charges extra miles to fly partner Business and First Class.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 1.04.21 AM

Lufthansa offers cheaper business class awards within the United States including Alaska and Hawaii. Lufthansa awards also cost fewer miles than United awards to much of the world including Europe and East Asia in business class.

United awards cost fewer miles to India, Northern South America, South Africa, and Canada.

First Class Award Charts

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 1.04.37 AM

Lufthansa’s award chart in First Class is pretty terrible, and so is United’s chart for partner First Class.

The cheapest awards are in United Global First booked with United miles. That’s a solid business class product in my experience, but not a world class First Class.

Fuel Surcharges

Awards booked with United miles never include fuel surcharges.

Awards booked with Lufthansa miles always include the fuel surcharges that would be present on a paid ticket. You can verify fuel surcharges by using the ITA Matrix.

As a rule of thumb, there are rarely fuel surcharges on tickets within the Western Hemisphere like the United States to:

  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • Canada
  • Central America
  • Caribbean
  • South America

There are almost always fuel surcharges on flights that leave the Western Hemisphere. Note that there are low fuel surcharges on LOT Polish flights to Europe and teeny-tiny fuel surcharges on Air China flights to Asia.

Lufthansa awards will usually only be a better deal than United awards when Lufthansa collects fewer miles or about the same number and there are no or low fuel surcharges on the ticket.

Recap

There is one week left to get the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days.

Lufthansa and United have equal access to award space on Star Alliance partners, but they charge different miles prices on most routes.

Use the better miles for your next award, taking into account the possible differences in fuel surcharges.

See Also

See also my United Award Chart vs. LifeMiles Award Chart post from a few weeks ago.

Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after you spend $4,000 spend in 3 months

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months and 2x points earned on dining and travel spend, this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

Learn More

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.