The 50,000 mile bonus offer has returned on the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® from Barclaycard.

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The Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® now comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. After meeting the spending requirement, you’ll have enough Lufthansa Miles & More miles for a roundtrip in business class to Europe.

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We’ve seen the same bonus run three times in the last two years, and it has been overwhelmingly popular. The normal bonus on the card is only 20,000 miles.

On the earning side, I think every aspiring traveler should get the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® for its:

  • sign up bonus
  • frequent targeted category bonuses
  • potential secondary spending bonus

Beyond the 55,000 miles you’ll get for spending $5,000 on the card in the first three months, occasionally the Lufthansa Miles & More card offers targeted category bonuses. For the first three months of 2014, I earned 3 miles per dollar at grocery stores with my Lufthansa card. Others were targeted for 6 miles per dollar.

And many of us also were offered 15k Bonus Lufthansa Miles for Spending $500 or $750 Per Month for Three Straight Months on the card.

With these promos, I earned over 73,000 Lufthansa miles on the card in less than a year.

On the redemption side, Lufthansa Miles & More miles can be used on any of the 27 Star Alliance airlines including United, Lufthansa, and Air New Zealand. There are three types of awards where Lufthansa miles shine:

  1. Mileage Bargains awards (30k miles roundtrip to Europe in economy, 55k miles roundtrip to Europe in Business Class)
  2. Awards without fuel surcharges (Alaska, Hawaii, domestic, Caribbean, Central America, and South America)
  3. Awards you can’t book with United miles (Lufthansa First Class more than 15 days in advance, Condor flights)

But the card is not for everyone. It depends on how you want to redeem the miles because for some awards, Lufthansa miles are a terrible value.

In this post, I will go in detail on the three classes of high value awards with tons of specific examples to show the best uses of the 50,000 mile sign up bonus.

This post is also a full primer of the Miles & More program for people who don’t know much about it and explains how to book online and by phone, two ways to save miles on a Miles & More booking, and comparisons between Miles & More and United MileagePlus.

What is Miles & More

Miles & More is the frequent flyer program of Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Swiss Air Lines, Adria Airways, Croatia Airlines, Luxair, Brussels Airlines, and Germanwings.

Miles & More is such an important program because those airlines–at least Lufthansa, LOT, and Swiss–release more and better award space to Miles & More members than to their partners like United.

Also since Miles & More member airlines are part of the Star Alliance, Miles & More miles can be used on all Star Alliance partners including United flights.

Award Chart

Lufthansa has a competitive award chart with United Airlines with particularly good deals on some routes and in business class. Here’s a visualization of the chart in economy class.

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Economy class awards tend to be about the same price with Lufthansa miles or United miles. Notable examples where Lufthansa offers cheaper awards are from the continental United States to Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe.

Business class awards are much cheaper on Lufthansa’s chart than on United’s chart. First Class awards are cheaper than United partner awards since United’s big devaluation.

For instance, USA to Europe with Miles & More miles is only 50,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 105,000 in business, and 170,000 in first class.

Lufthansa Award Chart
Footnote 4

For comparison, United charges 10,000 more miles for a roundtrip economy award, 10,000 to 35,000 miles more for a roundtrip business class award, and up to 50,000 miles more for a roundtrip in first class.

Another sweet spot is on domestic flights. Unique to Miles & More–to my knowledge–is the fact that it charges the same amount for domestic trips whether those trips are wholly within the USA or wholly within a much smaller country. That makes domestic flight on United a great deal with Miles & More miles.

Roundtrip prices within US 48

You can fly in United First Class on a two-cabin plane or United Business Class on a coast-to-coast p.s. service with a flat bed for only 17,000 Lufthansa miles one way.

Three Types of Awards to Book with Lufthansa Miles

1. Mileage Bargains

There is a humungous list of discounted flight awards called Mileage Bargains that allow for economy travel to Europe for 30,000 miles roundtrip or business class travel for 55,000 miles roundtrip.

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If your home city and destination city match up, you can save big miles.

Mileage Bargains awards have the normal fuel surcharges. If you book Lufthansa across the pond in business class, expect to pay about $1,000 in taxes and fuel surcharges roundtrip. If you book LOT in economy class, expect to pay only $160 out of pocket for a roundtrip in addition to your 30,000 miles.

2. Awards without fuel surcharges (or very low fuel surcharges.)

All prices for one way unless otherwise noted.

Europe

  • Sao Paulo to Frankfurt in Lufthansa Business: 67,000 miles + $36.48
  • Sao Paulo to Frankfurt in Lufthansa First: 105,000 miles + $36.48
  • Houston to Moscow in Singapore Business: 52,000 miles + $194.52

Domestic

  • LAX to JFK in United Business (flat bed on p.s. flight): 17,000 miles + $5.60
  • Honolulu to Newark in United First (flat bed): 35k miles + $5.60
  • Las Vegas to Honolulu in United economy: 20k miles + $5.60
  • Denver to Anchorage in United First: 17,000 miles + $5.60

Asia

  • Beijing to San Francisco in United Global First: 92,000 miles + $32.17
  • Tokyo to Honolulu in United BusinessFirst (business): 35,000 miles + $203.13
  • Tokyo to Honolulu in United Global First (first): 62,000 miles + $203.13

South America

  • Sao Paulo to Frankfurt in Lufthansa Business: 65,000 miles + $36.48
  • Houston to Buenos Aires in United BusinessFirst: 52,000 miles + $2.50
  • Houston to Buenos Aires roundtrip in economy: 60,000 miles + $77.32

Caribbean

  • Newark to Nassau roundtrip in economy: 35k miles + $112

Australia

  • San Francisco to Sydney in United BusinessFirst (business): 67k + $26.42

The takeaway is that there are good value awards with no fuel surcharges or very low fuel surcharges including United flights on domestic routes, to South America, and to Asia.

If you want to go to Hawaii or the Caribbean, Lufthansa miles have the exact same access to Saver award space on United flights as United miles with the same amount of cash out of pocket.

3. Awards you can’t book with United miles

Miles & More offers folks with Miles & More miles better award space than folks with partner miles like United miles.

The most obvious example is Lufthansa First Class. Lufthansa First Class is only available up to 15 days before departure with United miles. With Lufthansa miles, you can book either up to 361 days in advance.

Huge and Tiny Mile Savings

You can book one way awards for half the miles price of roundtrips. If the one way price “should” end in 500, then the miles price will be rounded down to the nearest thousand.

This strange policy means you actually save 1,000 miles by booking many awards as two one ways. For instance, Chicago to Warsaw roundtrip in LOT business class would be 105,000 Miles & More miles. But each direction as a one way is 52,000 miles. So booking two one ways is 104,000 miles.

Children aged 2 to 11 can be booked as award passengers at 75% of the normal miles price! I don’t know any other airline that allows this significant miles discount.

“Children’s awards are only offered on flights operated by Adria Airways, Austrian Airlines Group, Air Dolomiti, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Luxair and SWISS.”

Stopovers and Open Jaws

Much of the rest of my info will come from the online terms and conditions of Miles & More.

One open jaw is allowed. If the open jaw is between regions–like flying to Frankfurt (Europe) and returning home from Abu Dhabi (Middle East)–you pay the roundtrip price of flying to the more expensive region. You can easily get save miles by booking the award as two one ways instead. This is also a way to get two open jaws.

“Simple ‘open-jaw’ flights (e.g. where the outbound flight destination and the inbound flight departure airport are not identical) are allowed. The number of miles required is calculated with reference to the higher region chosen.”

You are allowed two stopovers per roundtrip award, one in each direction. Stopovers can not take place in your region of origin.

Mixing Cabins

If you fly one way in economy and return in first class, you pay the roundtrip first class. Book your roundtrip award as two one ways to save miles in this case.

“If the outbound and inbound flights of the flight award are booked in different classes of service, the number of miles required for the entire trip is calculated with reference to the higher class.”

Change and Cancellation

Change and cancellation fees are a very modest $60. This is a very customer friendly policy. The industry standard is $75 to $150 for changes and $150 to $200 to cancel.

“Flight awards which are cancelled prior to the start of the outbound journey can be refunded subject to a cancellation charge of €50.”

“A charge of €50 or CHF 70/USD 60 is payable for rebooking or cancelling a flight award.”

When can you book?

You can book almost 361 days in advance. Most US airlines allow booking about 11 months in advance. That means you will have access to Lufthansa, Swiss, LOT, and Austrian space about a month before people using United miles.

“You can book your flight award up to 361 days in advance of the desired travel date. Flight awards are valid for twelve months after the date of issue.”

Booking Online and By Phone

Once you have your miles, booking Miles & More integrated airlines is a snap on milesandmore.com.

Unfortunately you can’t even search the availability open to Miles & More members without signing up for the program and having some Miles & More miles in your account.

Luckily new account sign ups right now earn 500 miles as long as you leave the pre-checked boxes allowing emails to be sent to you checked during sign up. A phone agent gave me this tip. When I signed up for a new account to test it, I got 500 miles immediately upon opening the account even though at no point was I told that signing up for emails would earn me 500 miles.

With the miles in my account, I can perform award searches and see space. Unfortunately I can’t price the space. I get an an error message that tells me I don’t have enough miles in my account if I try to select award space to price it.

To price space, you can call the Lufthansa Miles & More center in the US at 800-581-6400 from 8 AM to 8 PM ET Monday through Friday.

In my experience calling, I’ve had to hold for about 15 minutes on each call at which point I was connected to an agent whose competence easily extended to the simple pricings I requested.

The Deal

Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® bullet points:

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase and payment of the annual fee
  • 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 purchase and payment of the annual fee and annually thereafter
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Star Alliance member airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, and other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee. Please see Terms and Conditions for complete details



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