Review of Lufthansa credit card USA version: the good & bad

Lufthansa Airlines jetIn the United States the Lufthansa Airlines “Miles and More” credit card is issued by Barclaycard, and there are two different versions available. Let’s review the pros and cons that come with them, updated for Q4 2014:

Rewards Program

  • Miles and More World MasterCard: 1 mile per dollar spent
  • Premier Miles and More World MasterCard: 1 mile per dollar spent on regular purchases and 2 miles per dollar on ticket purchases from Lufthansa and the following partners: Adria Airways, AirDolomiti, Austrian Airlines Group, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa Regional, Lufthansa Private Jet, Luxair and SWISS

As you can see the main difference between the two credit cards is that one gives 2x miles with Lufthansa and partners, while the other doesn’t. The basic version has a $59 annual fee and the Premier version is $79.

Benefits

You won’t see some of the usual perks you get with domestic airline cards. There are no waived checked baggage fees (although Lufthansa allows one free checked bag up to 23 kg for all economy passengers anyway). The card also doesn’t give you priority boarding (a perk reserved for its HON Circle frequent fliers and Star Alliance Gold members).

However there is one perk that stands out on both versions of the card: the companion ticket feature. You get one economy-class companion ticket after the first use of your new card account (either purchase or balance transfer) and after you’ve paid the annual fee. For every year you remain a cardmember, you’ll get another economy companion ticket on your cardmember anniversary.

However there are a few drawbacks that come with this Lufthansa companion ticket offer. It’s not a totally free ticket since you will have to pay various fees, taxes, fuel surcharges, etc. on the second ticket (but that’s to be expected with companion airfare regardless of who’s offering it). The ticket must also be used for an itinerary that begins in the United States and isn’t valid for certain destinations. The real drawback, though, is that you can must book in H class or higher in order to be able to use the companion ticket.

Airlines all have various fare classes, which determine the number of rewards miles you get for a seat and the cancellation policy. Prices will vary depending on where and when you fly, but suffice it to say H class seats are not the bargain-priced ones, meaning you might end up paying more than you’d like for your ticket, just to use the companion ticket.

So the H class requirement is definitely something to take into account when weighing the pros and cons of this benefit.

Mileage Expiration

If a purchase is made at least once per month with the Lufthansa credit card, the affiliated miles won’t expire.

That may not seem too tricky, but it’s not as generous as many domestic airline programs (which generally require you to have activity only once a year or two).

An alternative?

Despite the drawbacks, I wouldn’t necessarily say Lufthansa’s USA credit card is a bad deal. After all, the annual fee is quite reasonable. If you already book in higher fare classes, the companion benefit can save you a lot of money on international flights.

If you regularly fly Lufthansa, check out the Starwood Preferred credit card from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner). Yes, that’s a hotel card, but let me explain…

The Starwood rewards program is perhaps one of the best on the market for airline miles because you have the ability to transfer your points you earn to more than 30 airline frequent flier programs — including Miles & More.

Your Starpoints can be transferred to your Lufthansa Miles and More account on a 1 for 1 basis. Plus, for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer, you get 5,000 bonus Starpoints. This benefit is part of the SPG program and you don’t need to the Starwood Preferred Guest card to take advantage of it. However, the card can help you earn more Starpoints, which you can then transfer. The Starwood Preferred Guest card would not give you double miles on Lufthansa and partner airlines as the Miles & More would, but you’d earn extra points at Starwood properties (and have only a slightly higher annual fee of $95 after a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year). Analyze your travel habits to see which is a better fit.

If you’re interested in the Starwood Preferred guest card, check out in this review of the Starwood American Express card.

Updated April 2017

 
Comments
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Marjorie Vonstein

I just today applied for the companion Barclay charge card. Now after reading the comments,I guess that this card has problems,What is the H type ticket,Is this also the same as the ecomony rate for a ticket.

Do Not Get Lufthansa Card

Taxes are so high! $500 in taxes/fees for a “free” RT ticket. On UA/US I can get same ticket for $78 in tax/fees. I’m sorry I wasted a credit card inquiry on this card. what a waste of time/spending.

Lufthansa has the tendency to rip off customers on mileage and service. One of the customers sued the airline because the miles value got downgraded.

I find the airplanes outdated, on long distance flight I don’t even have a screen in my seat. I saw that business customers received the same breakfast as in economy class. Lufthansa maybe thinks customer will not notice that, same BS as with the credit card

I have Lufthansa credit card by Barclays. It seems you need to reserve a year ago to find a seat if you’re lucky. Just a waste. You will have miles, but not be able to use. I have close to 150,000 miles, but not able to book for summer.

Bernhard Hinrichs

The comparison is great, but for me one important issue is missing: how many point do I need to get for example a transatlantic flight to Germany. Via points it seams you need more than 100K points, and with miles you need only 50K miles. If you are getting one mile for each dollar spent on the LH-card, that helps you more than if you are getting one point +25% points, but the “cost” for one flight is twice as high. Any comment on this relation?

Don’t get the Lufthansa credit card by Barclay’s. It’s a marketing ploy from Barclay that seems to only want to get your annual fees. The free companion ticket combined with the paid ticket often comes out more expensive than the advertised fares at the Lufthansa website. Lufthansa is not adding a good service to its brand with the Barclay’s credit card.

Bernhard Hinrichs

Might be, I have had bad experience as well, but the relation miles spent=miles I need to get a free flight (not the companion ticket) is still very interesting, but the service I got in the past is very poor, you are right…..