Editorial Review

Barclaycard Miles & More Review: Potentially Valuable for Flights Abroad

This card may offer useful benefits if you fly where Lufthansa and its partners can take you. Just be aware of perks that come with taxes and fees.

Gregory KarpFebruary 8, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

3.6

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: This card can offer value if you’ll use rewards to fly with Lufthansa and its partners, can capitalize on perks like the companion pass and airport lounge vouchers, and are familiar with reward limitations.

Barclaycard Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®

Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®

Annual Fee

$89

Regular APR

17.74% - 26.74%, Variable

Intro APR

0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first fifteen billing cycles

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$89
Annual Fee
$89
Intro APR
0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first fifteen billing cycles

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first fifteen billing cycles

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • Has annual fee

  • Needs excellent credit

Alternate Pick: Greater flexibility

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Book directly or transfer points

This card earns 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. You can transfer points on a 1:1 basis to about a dozen airline and hotel programs or you can use them to book travel through Chase at 1.25 cents per point. However, you won't get any airline-specific perks. Annual fee: $95.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

17.49% - 24.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.49% - 27.49% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

0% APR for 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®, Lufthansa airline’s loyalty-program card in the U.S., is full of potentially valuable benefits — if you happen to fly where Lufthansa and its Miles & More partners can take you, which generally means Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Notably, the card comes with an annual companion ticket, essentially a buy-one/get-one deal on an economy class ticket for a traveling partner. (But on that freebie you have to pay the taxes and fees, which can be high.) Add the sign-up bonus, and this card could be a strategic way for a couple to help pay for a dream vacation to Europe, for example.

But the card’s spending rewards are lacking for use as an everyday payment tool.

Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®: Key features

  • Card type: Airline.

  • Annual fee: $89

  • Sign-up bonus: Limited Time Offer: Earn 75,000 award miles: Earn 50,000 award miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days and payment of the annual fee, then an additional 25,000 award miles after spending $20,000 in purchases within the first year.

  • Rewards rate: Earn 2 award miles per $1 spent on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners and 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else.

  • Intro APR: 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first fifteen billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 17.74% - 26.74%, Variable

  • Balance transfer fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee: None.

  • Credit score required: Excellent.

Highlights of the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®

Companion ticket: The primary cardmember is eligible for an economy class companion ticket after using the card a first time and on the cardmember anniversary every year after. You must book by phone. The potential catch is that the companion ticket is subject to restrictions and taxes and fees, which can raise the price considerably. Besides sometimes hefty taxes, a companion pass comes with a weekend surcharge, generally $60 round trip, for example.

Rewards: Book award flights on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines — including United Airlines in the U.S. — and other partners. Taxes and fees are not included and could be quite costly for some redemptions. In fact, the card’s terms and conditions say taxes, fees and carrier charges could total up to $1,800. You can also redeem miles for hotel stays, car rentals, merchandise and gift cards, among other redemption options.

Convert to elite-status miles: Convert award miles earned on purchases into elite-status miles. Once every year, you can convert 5,000 to 25,000 award miles at a 5-to-1 ratio. For example, 5,000 award miles converts to 1,000 status miles. For reference, the loyalty program’s lowest elite status, called Frequent Traveler, requires 35,000 status miles.

Lounge passes: Cardholders get two free one-time-use Lufthansa Business Lounge vouchers annually.

Travel discounts: Get up to 15% off hotel bookings and car rentals.

Drawbacks and alternatives to consider

Complexity: As with most airline loyalty programs, Miles & More can be confusing and will take effort to use well. And you’re locked into using awards on Lufthansa and its partners, as opposed to awards on general travel cards, which can erase a wide variety of travel expenditures.

Spending rewards: Double miles for Lufthansa-related spending and a single mile per dollar for everything else is lackluster for use in everyday spending, such as buying groceries, dining out or filling your vehicle’s gas tank. At least the double miles rewards apply to more than just Lufthansa, including direct Miles & More partners: Adria Airways, AirDolomiti, Austrian Airlines Group, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Lufthansa Regional, Lufthansa Private Jet, Luxair and SWISS.

Other travel cards offer more: Other travel rewards cards offer higher point-earning potential and simpler redemption options. Consider the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. Earn 2 points per dollar on all purchases, and through January 2020, earn 10 points per dollar spent on hotel stays booked at hotels.com/venture. Redeem points for any travel expenses using the card's Purchase Eraser feature. The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

Some excellent travel rewards cards even come with no annual fee. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, for example, gives you 3 points per dollar spent on an array of categories important to travelers, including flights, hotels, car rentals, gas stations, transit, rideshares and restaurants, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. It also has a great sign-up bonus for a card with a $0 annual fee: Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value.

Should you get the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®?

If you’ll use Miles & More rewards to fly with Lufthansa and its partners and are familiar with reward restrictions and potential added taxes and fees, the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® could be a valuable product to hold as a membership-type card rather than as an everyday-spending credit card.