Lufthansa Miles & More Credit Card
Updated: Oct 29
Perhaps the most valuable sign-up bonus on a US-based credit card at the moment with a low spend requirement is that of the Lufthansa Miles & More Credit Card by Barclays, offering 100k miles after $3k spent in 3 months from opening & incurring an annual fee of $89.
Image courtesy Barclays
In case you're unfamiliar with Lufthansa, it's a highly-rated airline based out of Germany. In 2023, it's ranked #21, right behind Delta at #20 (the top-ranked US-based carrier), overall by Skytrax.
Lufthansa is one of the biggest airlines in the world, with plenty of options flying on Lufthansa from the US to the Eastern Hemisphere, especially Europe:
Image courtesy Skytrax
Lufthansa's partner network, where you can also use their miles on 40 airlines, is extensive, including but not limited to Star Alliance, the biggest airline alliance in the world, with carriers like United, Air Canada, Avianca (based out of Columbia), ANA (based out of Japan), Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, & Turkish Air.
How to Get the Sign Up Bonus by 10/31/23
Here's that info in basics, per a Lufthansa Miles & More email to me:
Is the card worth spending much on? No Beyond the $3k SUB.
This card is definitely worth spending $3k on to achieve the sign up bonus.
Beyond that, to avoid a bit of risk of a card shut down, it's a good idea to spend a bit each month on (i.e. a $5 or $10 recurring subscription on something you'd already be spending on anyways) or at least once every 6 months-12 months on if you want to be a little more risky while you'll still likely be fine since it incurs an annual fee, with annual fee incurring cards having a lower likelihood of shut down for no usage.
1. "Earn 2 award miles per $1 spent on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners.2
2. Earn 1 award mile per $1 spent on all other purchases."
Even though it's difficult to obtain Lufthansa Miles & More Miles, with no transfer partners from other US credit cards, the spending multipliers on the card are weak, and there are no spending thresholds on the card that achieve extra perks. You're better off buying their miles during their best point purchase promos, like my dad did recently for Lufthansa Miles & More, rather than spending on their card directly to get their miles in most cases. You can acquire the points for as low as 1.4 cents per point if strong recurring promos like those in the past recently come back around. Because there are cards that easily get 2.5% cashback on general spending (i.e. the Alliant Visa Signature for those w/ $1k in an Alliant account), it makes no sense to get 1.4% cashback effectively instead on general spending by using the card.
How Best to Redeem Your 100k Miles: Introduction
Fuel Surcharges & How to Avoid Them
With many airlines that you use Lufthansa Miles & More miles on, there will be hefty taxes & fuel surcharges. Here are some of the worst offenders, per Upgraded Points:
Image courtesy Upgraded Points
Per that article, "The following fuel surcharges and taxes/fees are assessed on flights between the U.S. and Germany:
Round-trip first class: ~$1,800
Round-trip business class: ~$1,700
Round-trip premium economy: $600
Round-trip economy: $320
Total taxes and fees for round-trip first class are ~$1,996, while business class is ~$1,896, premium economy is ~$796, and economy is $516.
The key to minimizing fuel surcharges here will either be to use a Star Alliance frequent flyer program that doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges or to fly between countries with regulations that limit or prohibit fuel surcharges... Lot Polish doesn't charge as much as most of their European partners, but you're still looking at around $200 each way.
Fuel surcharges can be lowered substantially, including but not limited to by using extra points effectively when the points used in place of the charges are equal to or greater than 1.4 cents per point in redeemed value. For more details including how to reduce fuel surcharges, see:
Lufthansa Miles & More Standard Award Chart
Is it worth holding onto after the 1st year? Probably Not, Despite the Companion Certificate Sounding Good in Theory, But not so Much in Practice
That really depends, but according to One Mile at a Time, it's not viable in most cases, and in my investigation into his statement on the subject, I tentatively agree due to the higher cost of the booking codes (that OMAAT mentions) that the companion certificates typically require vs the public cost of the same itinerary & same class. Prior to that investigation, here's what I had to say on the subject:
If you're located in the US near a Lufthansa departing airport & able to take advantage of the annual companion ticket that comes just by holding the card for travel from the US to Europe on a highly-rated airline, it's... worth it. If you're located on the West Coast, the value gets even higher for an annual trip as long as you're not looking to go to the far east where it'd typically be better to use another airline even though Lufthansa flies there due to the fact that you'd increase your costs and flight time compared to a more direct route with a departure flying West.
With many companion tickets with similar annual fees, there's a spend threshold you'd need to meet or a higher annual fee involved before you'd get a companion certificate, which typically is only good for domestic travel, that tends to not be as pricey as travel to Europe, at least in economy. The fees associated with those domestic companion tickets will regularly be lower than those with the Miles & More ticket, but unless you're getting high value (i.e. saving >$1k by a domestic 1st class ticket with the $550/yr annual fee incurring Delta Reserve), it's easier to get higher value from the Miles & More card's annual certificate as long as you'd be going to Europe regularly anyways.