UPDATE: The 50,000 mile bonus is expired. You can now earn up to 35,000 award miles with qualifying transactions, along with the following benefits:
- 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
Back in October I wrote about the increased sign-up bonus on the Lufthansa Miles & More MasterCard, which at the time didn’t have an expiration date. The expiration date of this offer has now been updated to December 15, 2013, so you have till Sunday to apply for this card under the current offer. My guess is that the offer will then go back to the 20,000 miles after the purchase that it previously was.
This isn’t the first time Barclaycard has offered this sign-up bonus — back in May they also had the same 50,000 mile sign-up bonus. You earn 20,000 miles after the first purchase and an additional 30,000 miles after spending $5,000 on the card within 90 days. The card does have a $79 annual fee, which isn’t waived for the first year.
When it comes time to redeem Lufthansa Miles & More miles, there are a few things worth noting.
- They have a zone based award chart.
- Miles & More imposes fuel surcharges on the majority of award redemptions, which can add up quickly.
- Lufthansa Miles & More miles are valid for 36 months from the date of issue, even if you have activity in the account.
In the past I’ve written about the following redemption options for maximizing Miles & More miles:
For travel within the US
Lufthansa Miles & More charges just 25,000 miles for a roundtrip domestic US coach award, or 35,000 miles for a roundtrip domestic US business class award. They even offer one-way awards at half the cost of a roundtrip.
- While 25,000 miles is the standard roundtrip coach award cost, the 35,000 miles for a domestic business class award is among the lowest premium cabin redemption rates for any airline.
- Lufthansa will charge the business class price for United domestic three cabin business class or United domestic two cabin first class, both of which book into the “I” (business class) award fare bucket.
- Unfortunately US Airways first class awards book into “O,” which is the first class award fare bucket and wouldn’t be eligible for those rates.
So after you’ve completed the minimum spend you’d have more than enough miles for either four United one-way domestic coach tickets or three one-way domestic business class tickets.
For travel in Lufthansa first class
Nowadays Lufthansa only releases first class award space to Star Alliance partners at most 15 days out, and even within that time frame they’re stingier than ever before. Sadly even for cabins that are half empty a couple of days out they’re often still not releasing space. A one-way first class ticket between the US and Europe costs 85,000 Miles & More miles, plus taxes and fuel surcharges.
This sign-up bonus gets you a good ways towards that, and given that you can transfer in points from Starwood it might be a good value to make up the difference and book Lufthansa first class. The Starwood Personal American Express and Starwood Business American Express each offer 25,000 point sign-up bonuses, and points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred.
For travel in Swiss first class (for bookings made before January 1, 2014)
Swiss, which is part of the Lufthansa family, does not release any first class award space to their partner airlines. None whatsoever, not even day of departure. So literally the only way to book Swiss first class on miles is through Miles & More, through which they ironically release a fair bit of award space, often multiple seats per flight.
- Swiss is even changing that policy as of January 1, 2014, at which point they’ll be restricting Swiss first class award space only to Miles & More HON & Senator members.
- If you can earn the necessary miles before January 1 (probably a bit late through this sign-up offer), this is literally your last chance to book Swiss first class on miles as a non-HON/Senator member.
And Swiss does have one of the world’s best first class products, in my opinion, with amazing in-flight catering. So if you haven’t yet flown Swiss first class and want to use miles, Miles & More is your only option for doing so. They charge 85,000 miles for a one-way first class award between the US and Europe, plus taxes and fuel surcharges.
Due to the United devaluation, has the value of Miles & More miles increased?
The funny thing is that as it is, you can only redeem partner miles for travel on Lufthansa 15 days out at most, and even then availability is restricted. However, United is devaluing their award chart as of February 1, 2014, at which point a one-way first class partner award between the US and Europe will cost you 110,000 miles in first class. Meanwhile Lufthansa charges just 85,000 miles plus fuel surcharges, so I’d say Lufthansa miles have become a better value for first class Lufthansa redemptions. And that doesn’t even account for the fact that availability through Lufthansa is much better (and available much earlier) than through partner airlines.
This is a very good sign-up bonus, especially given that the card is issued by Barclays. United’s award chart devaluation makes this offer even more valuable for travel on Lufthansa, in my opinion.