Lufthansa 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 KarpSeptember 4, 2020

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Our Take

3.9

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

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Balance Transfers for 15 billing cycles

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

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

$95

Annual Fee

$550

Annual Fee

$250

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

16.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®, Lufthansa airline’s loyalty-program card in the U.S., has potentially valuable benefits if you have specific needs — for example, if you want to regularly fly where Lufthansa and its Miles & More partners can take you, which generally means Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

But the card comes with significant downsides. Among them: a lack of useful bonus-spending categories, which limits how quickly you can rack up reward miles. And potentially steep taxes and fees on award tickets devalue rewards you earn.

A potential upside is the card’s 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 hundreds of dollars.

Overall, unless you have a specific need to fly Lufthansa or its partners, you might skip this card because it doesn’t keep pace with the best airline credit cards from major U.S. carriers.

Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®: Key features

  • Card type: Airline.

  • Annual fee: $89.

  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 award miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days and payment of the annual fee.

  • 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.

  • Companion ticket: Annual economy-class companion ticket. Taxes and fees apply.

  • Lounge access: Two one-time-use Lufthansa Business Lounge vouchers annually.

  • Travel discounts: 15% off hotel bookings and car rentals.

  • Intro APR on transfers: 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first fifteen billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.

  • 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 hundreds of dollars. You can also redeem miles for hotel stays, car rentals, merchandise and gift cards, among other redemption options.

Other benefits

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

Far simpler is the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.. Earn 2 points per dollar on all purchases and redeem points for any travel expenses using the card's Purchase Eraser feature. The annual fee is $95.

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 flying Lufthansa, including direct Miles & More partners: Adria Airways, AirDolomiti, Austrian Airlines Group, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Eurowings, LOT Polish Airlines, Luxair and SWISS. Still, it’s not a line-up of airlines popular with most Americans.

Annual fee

No one likes to pay an annual fee, but it can be worthwhile if you get enough benefit from a credit card every year to easily compensate for it. The fee on the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® is $89.

Some 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 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 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.

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