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What is the best replacement for the UK Lufthansa Miles & More credit card?

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MBNA wrote to holders of the Lufthansa Miles & More credit card on Wednesday to tell them that it is closing on 28th July.

This is the last of the MBNA airline credit cards to receive ‘the letter’.  Quite a few of you may have these cards as holding and using the Miles & More credit card stopped your miles expiring.  There is no other way, unless you have Lufthansa status, to stop your Miles & More miles expiring three years after you earn them.

Today I thought I would run through the options if you still want to collect Miles & More miles from a credit card, or want an interesting alternative from another airline.

Please note that even though there are other ways of earning Miles & More miles from a credit card, they will NOT stop your miles from expiring.  Only an official Lufthansa credit card can do that.

Miles and More credit cards to close

Why did this happen?

You should NOT assume that these cards will return under a new issuer.

Two linked events caused this.  The core driver was the European Union cap on interchange fees.  This restricted the fee that payment processors could charge retailers for accepting credit cards to 0.3%.   It is very difficult to run a successful mileage card on this basis.

The second driver was American Express being caught up in the 0.3% cap, even though it was originally expected to be exempt.  American Express decided to pull all of its licensed cards from the market, which means that MBNA, Lloyds, TSB and Barclays had to stop issuing Amex-branded products such as the Miles & More cards.

Best American Airlines UK credit card replacement

What is your best alternative to the Miles & More UK credit cards?

There are a number of ways of looking at this.  Let’s run through them.

Scenario 1:  You want a card which still lets you earn Miles & More miles at a decent rate

The good news is that there are still ways to earn Miles & More miles from a credit or charge card in the UK.  The earning rate is OK too.

The highest miles earning option is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card.   You earn 3 points per £1 spent, and these convert at 3:1 into Miles & More miles.  If you convert in chunks of 60,000 points you get a 5,000 mile bonus, meaning that you are actually getting 1.25 Lufthansa miles per £1 spent.

It isn’t as generous as the MBNA credit card, which gave 1.5 miles per £1 on the American Express element and had no annual fee, but it isn’t bad.

The annual fee on the SPG card is £75 and you get a sign-up bonus of 30,000 points (10,000 Miles & More miles).  This makes the card well worth getting for the first year at least.

Lufthansa is not an American Express Membership Rewards partner.  This means that getting one of the two Membership Rewards cards – either American Express Preferred Rewards Gold or American Express Platinum – is not hugely attractive.

These cards give you 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent.  You would need to convert them to Starwood Preferred Guest at the weak rate of 2:1 and then onwards to Miles & More.  This means that you are only getting 0.5 Miles & More miles for every £1 spent on Amex Gold or Amex Platinum.

These cards do, however, come with good sign-up bonuses.  Amex Gold comes with 20,000 points for signing up, whilst Amex Platinum comes with 30,000 points.  Amex Gold is free for the first year.

Whilst I do NOT recommend this as the best way of earning Lufthansa miles long term (the SPG card is the way to go), taking out a ‘free for a year’ American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, moving the 20,000 bonus points to Starwood and converting them to 10,000 Miles & More miles is worth considering.

Best American Airlines UK credit card replacement

Scenario 2:  You specifically want a Visa or Mastercard to collect Miles & More miles

Earning Lufthansa miles from a Mastercard or Visa now is trickier and less lucrative.  You can’t get anywhere near the 0.75 mile per £1 that the free MBNA Miles & More Visa card offered.

The only slightly decent Visa / Mastercard option is via the IHG Rewards Club Mastercard (0.2 miles per £1, assuming you convert 10,000 IHG points into 2,000 airline miles) or, with the £99 IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard, 0.4 miles per £1.

There is a sign-up bonus on these cards.  The free IHG Mastercard comes with 10,000 IHG points, worth 2,000 Miles & More miles.  The £99 Premium card comes with 20,000 IHG points, worth 4,000 Miles & More miles.

Best American Airlines UK credit card replacement

Scenario 3:  You want a high-earning Visa or Mastercard and are willing to move away from Miles & More

Without a doubt, the two Virgin Atlantic Mastercards are the most generous Visa or Mastercard products available – either the Virgin Reward Mastercard (free, 5000 miles bonus) or Virgin Reward+ Mastercard (£160, 15000 miles bonus).

You get 0.75 miles per £1 on the free card and 1.5 miles per £1 on the paid card.  This is FAR better than any Avios or hotel card.  The free Virgin Atlantic card equals, at 0.75 miles per £1, what you were getting for non-Amex spend from your old free Miles & More credit card.  You also get a 2-4-1 or upgrade redemption voucher for hitting spending targets.  The only downside is that, with no short haul routes, you are unlikely to earn enough miles purely from the credit card to get a good redemption so the cards are best suited to regular Virgin flyers.

The best long-term cards for an Avios / Asia Miles / Etihad Guest / Singapore Krisflyer collector (if you have a high income) are the HSBC Premier Mastercard or HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard There earn 0.5 miles per £1 on the free card and 1 mile per £1 on the £195 World Elite card.  You need to open a HSBC Premier current account and meet their strict income and investment criteria, however.

If you simply want a free Visa or Mastercard and collect Avios, the best option is the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard.  You get 1 Clubcard point per £8 spent which translates into 0.3 Avios per £1.  However Tesco rounds down each transaction to the nearest £8 which means your actual earning rate is lower.  You get extra value because Clubcard points have many uses – as well as Avios, you could send them to Virgin Flying Club or a totally different Clubcard partner altogether, such as Uber or hotels.com.

Scenario 4:  You want a credit card which allows you to collect a different sort of Star Alliance miles

I ran through these options yesterday in my article on the United Airlines card.  Rather than repeat it all again, I suggest you click here and read that article.

Put simply, by using either the Starwood Amex or Amex Gold or Amex Platinum you can earn 1 Star Alliance per £1 spent with the following airlines: Aegean, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, SAS, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and United Airlines.

Reviews and to apply

Here are my reviews of the cards mentioned above, which also explain the sign-up bonuses available:

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express – review, apply 

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – review, apply 

American Express Platinum – review, apply 

HSBC Premier Mastercard – review, apply 

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard – review, apply 

IHG Rewards Club Mastercard – review, apply 

IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard – review, apply 

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard – review, apply 

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard – review, apply 

Tesco Clubcard Mastercard – review, apply 

Please read this important interest rate information:

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express – representative APR 39.7% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – representative APR 57.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit, interest rate on purchases 22.9% APR variable.

HSBC Premier Mastercard – representative APR 18.9% variable

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard – representative APR 59.3% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit

IHG Rewards Club Mastercard – representative APR 18.9% variable

IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard – representative APR 41.5% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard – representative APR 22.9% on purchases

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard – representative APR of 63.9% including the fee, assuming a £1200 credit limit

Tesco Clubcard Mastercard – representative APR 18.9% variable

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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Comments

  1. Miles and more appear to still offer cards across Europe. Is there anyway of getting one of these without a permanent address?

    • Bagoly says:

      The application form at https://antrag.miles-and-more-kreditkarte.com/ch/app/cash?execution=e1s1 has a field for country, and a field for non-German tax residency.
      i.e. it is possible to apply for the solely-M&M branded credit cards (actually issued by DKB) while resident outside Germany.
      I’m not sure how their asking for Taxpayer ID helps their credit check – surely the tax authorities do not give out information?
      Identification verification can be done at a Deutsche Post office on a visit to Germany – I did this successfully.

      I still got turned down, probably because my credit record in my country of current residence is too thin.
      Has anybody succeeded?

      This can make sense for UK residents if you have material spend in EUR – you can settle the credit card for no exchange spread with payment from Revolut, Monzo etc.

      • RussellH says:

        I have had a DKB personal current a/c since Sept 2013 which I opened because there was a big M+M bonus for opening the account and the terms were much better than I would have got for changing my German business a/c to a personal a/c at a traditional German Bank. I did not need ID verification at the time, but DKB will expect you to communicate in German.
        The a/c comes with both a V-Pay debit card (VIsa, but Europe only) and a Visa Credit card (which is unusual in the way that it operates – my credit limit is €100,–, but it also works as a savings a/c, but which no longer pays me any interest).
        The credit card works world wide and you use the credit card for cash withdrawals, NOT the debit card, which carries high cash withdrawal fees. The debit card is very useful though, for all the businesses that only accept German debit cards and no other cards. It is free to use for purchases anywhere in the Eurozone plus Sweden and Romania.
        I do not know if I would find it easier to get a DKB M+M credit card while already being an a/c holder, but it would not really be either cost effective or practical for me.

  2. Mark West says:

    I called M&M yesterday to confirm details about the expiry date of miles in my account. To clarify, I have Frequent Traveller Status (silver) which WILL NOT be renewed as from February 2019 as my travel patterns have changed. I have miles that were earned more than 36 months ago. There are SOME months where I was not able to use the MBNA card or add points as I was working in locations where the card was not accepted.

    The agent assured me that when I loose status, the ‘clock starts’ from that point and I will have 36 months to use all the miles I have in my account. I clarified a number of times that some of the miles that I have are older than 3 years and she said that nothing will expire until 36 months after the ‘downgrade’ to ‘member’…. I hope this is the case… Has anyone heard different?

    • the real harry1 says:

      Somebody posted the rules on losing status —> points expiry, above – it is clear that the clock starts ticking on the 36 months expiry only once you lose status; with continued status, there’s no expiry

      in this context, it’s irrelevant whether you had months with no card activity/ no points activity/ points earned more than 36 months ago

    • I have a call with LH on Thu where apparently all will be revealed.

      • Mingus says:

        Very interested: I am sitting on 400k M&M, need to know whether to cash in for an iPad!

  3. The card is actually closing on 28th July, not 21st.

  4. Thank you for a very informative article, but I’m afraid you seem to have left out the names of some cards you are mentioning in quite a few places… For example: “The best long-term cards for an Avios / Asia Miles / Etihad Guest / Singapore Krisflyer collector (if you have a high income) are the or . “

    • Crafty says:

      Turn off ad blockers.

    • This is an IT error caused by a recent adblocker update. You need to turn it off. You should have seen a warning banner yesterday telling you this.

  5. Roger1* says:

    Pending Rob’s call with M&M on Thursday next week, Mrs Roger and I have miles due to expire at the end of the month so we may need to act quickly to avoid losing them altogether.

    ISTR Rob or Anika saying the LH shopping catalogue was not worthwhile (I agree) and that some of us should contemplate moving M&M miles to Heathrow Rewards. I’ve searched the M&M and HR websites but can’t find the relevant link – HR to M&M vouchers OK but not M&M to HR.

    Can anybody see the link? Thanks.

    • If you have any plans in next 12 months to go to Japan/US, you can have flights on United or ANA for very cheap. Some European partner airlines also have low taxes on short-haul (i.e. LOT, CA for £35ish one-way economy, £50ish for one-way business class). Why are your miles expiring at the end of June? If you spend at least £1-2 per month on the card they will expire at the end of the quater, that’s September.

      • Roger1* says:

        Thanks, meta (if the last comment was for me). Because AwardWallet and M&M tell me so. But we have June credit card transactions, so we may have a grace period after all.

        I get the point that using the card at least once monthly extends the life of accrued miles. What isn’t clear to me is what happens to miles if the card is not used every month. i.e. the expiring miles are presumably those earned in Q2 2015. If I didn’t use the card in July 2015, would the Q2 2015 miles disappear?

        For this and other practical reasons, the LH group has never appealed. I disliked the non-optional ‘optional’ payment charge and LH, LX, OS etc have rarely been competitive for us.

    • Bagoly says:

      https://www.headforpoints.com/2012/08/06/selling-miles-and-more-miles-baa-worldpoints/ but rubbish rate.
      Minimum 7.5k miles get £20.
      I let 6k expire rather than do that, because the 1.5k miles are worth more than £20 when enabling a long haul business class redemption.

  6. Roger1* says:

    Thanks for the link, Bagoly.

    Is shopping vouchers the only offer? I was hoping to transfer M&M miles to Heathrow Rewards points. Oh dear.

  7. Chris says:

    “The highest miles earning option is the credit card. ”

    Did you forget to put the name of the card in that sentance?

  8. Roger1* says:

    Thanks, Rob.

    We’re unlikely in the short term to earn enough miles from flights for suitable M&M flight redemptions so I’m inclined to cash out now and consolidate on BA, AA (without a credit card) and VS.

    LH Worldshop vs Heathrow vouchers? Perhaps donate to charity for the feel good factor? I’ll investigate.

  9. I couldn’t help but desperately hoped that the legacy stand-alone M&M Visa Platinum, which doesn’t tie to Amex, wouldn’t be affected by this, but it is! So literally no more airline credit cards from MBNA.

    If there’s no alternative official UK M&M credit card (with main benefit of stoping the miles from expiring) I might as well switch to SAS Eurobonus, since the points expire after 5 years (compared to 3 years on M&M) and you can transfer Amex MR points too.

  10. Hi guys, Can you clarify a few things:
    1. SPG card – website does not show interchangeability with Lufthansa M&M, where did you get these stats from?
    2. Do you know why the M&M card is being pulled and why no one else is picking it up?
    3. You say: “there is no other way to stop your Miles & More miles expiring three years after you earn them” – but it was my understanding Miles shouldn’t expire so long as you are depositing miles within that 36 month period? So that, if I fly at least ONE Star Alliance Flight before the 36 months is up, shouldn’t I be ok?

    • Miles & More is on the list! I have done it. The article explains why the card financially makes no sense any longer unless Lufthansa wants to run it at a loss like Virgin as a marketing tool. The expiry policy you quoted is wrong – you cannot escape expiry without status.

      • Thanks. Could you link to the SPG site with the ref to LH M&M transferability?
        Thanks in advance.

  11. Just called Miles and More UK after having received the MBNA letter. They said that whether or not you have status the miles expire only 1 year after the credit card ends. This also applies to miles that are older than 3 years. They did not have any further information than that but said that I “should not worry”.

    • I have a call at 4pm tomorrow with them so let’s see.

      • Gulliver says:

        So….what’s the scoop?

        • Not allowed to say but it seems better than expected. Letters arriving within 2 weeks.

        • Anthony says:

          I just got this email reply today:

          Dear Mr xxxx,
          We apologise for the late reply. Your award miles will remain safe in your account until 30 June 2019. After this date they will start to expire according to the Miles & More Terms & Conditions. Notification about the date and the number of miles due to expire at the end of the relevant quarter is published online under http://www.miles-and-more.com > My Miles & More > Mileage account <. As you have subscribed to our online newsletter, you will also be notified two months in advance. Where there is no indication, your miles are safe for the time being.
          At the moment we do not offer an alternative credit card to our members residing in the United Kingdom but we are currently evaluating options and will keep you informed in our website and in our newsletter if a new partnership is negotiated.

  12. Anthony says:

    Quick question, I have one card for each airline group (Oneworld, SkyTeam & Star Alliance) now my MBNA cards won’t keep my miles safe, what is the best replacement Star Alliance airline membership I should join to keep all future points collected safe?

    My mix has always been
    Oneworld – BA Exec moved to Avios & protected by collecting shell points
    SkyTeam – Delta (don’t expire)
    Star Alliance – Miles & More protected by MBNA

      • Anthony says:

        Thanks, I read that but I was looking more towards stopping expiry rather that best value, I’m an infrequent Star Alliance flyer and am more interested interested in keeping any points I have alive.
        Even if it was a program that allows you to keep points alive with activity.
        I am also able to earn points on any of these regularly (but I don’t think any will keep the Star Alliance account live):

        AER CLUB – Aer Lingus
        AEROFLOT
        ALITALIA
        ANA MILEAGE CLUB – ANA
        ASIA MILES
        AVIOS TRAVEL REWARDS PROGRAMME
        BALTICMILES – Air Baltic
        BRITISH AIRWAYS EXECUTIVE CLUB
        CHINA EASTERN
        ENRICH – Malaysian Airlines
        ETIHAD GUEST – Etihad
        FLYING BLUE – Air France & KLM
        IBERIA PLUS – Iberia
        JET PRIVILEGE – Jet Airways
        MERIDIANA CLUB
        MILES & MORE – Lufthansa
        PPS Club and KrisFlyer – Singapore Airline
        QATAR PRIVILEGE – Qatar Airways
        VIRGIN ATLANTIC FLYING CLUB – Virgin Atlantic
        VUELING CLUB – Vueling

        ANA and Singapore cant be kept alive with activity from what I can see.

      • Anthony says:

        Do you think United would be the best Star Alliance FFP to join in place of Miles and More, my only criteria is a FFP that is easy to stop miles expiring as I will never make status and am looking for a program for long term saving, United appear the easiest.
        Even though i’m not a frequent flyer with Star Alliance I have managed to save 165,458 miles over the years which is not bad, but those are going to have to be spent as I have no way to protect them now, might just take Bicester village vouchers, I have been waiting for ages for Bicester village to do another Miles and More offer.

  13. Ingmar says:

    Here’s what I got from Lufthansa (not MBNA) today via email; Miles will be protected until mid 2019.

    Dear Mr. XYZ,

    Up until now, you’ve been able to earn award miles using your Miles & More Credit Card account. However, as you’ve already been informed, MBNA Limited (the credit card issuer) will no longer be participating in the Miles & More programme from 29 July 2018.

    What does this mean for your award miles?
    You remain a valuable member of the Miles & More programme with access to 36 airlines and more than 270 global non-air partnerships – giving you the chance to earn miles anytime and anywhere.
    You will no longer be able to earn award miles with your Miles & More Credit Card account issued by MBNA.
    Any award miles older than 36 months will start expiring as from 30 September 2018.1)

    Good news – extra mileage protection

    Despite this change, Miles & More will be happy to extend your mileage protection until 30 June 2019. After this date, however, your award miles will start to expire in accordance with the Miles & More Terms & Conditions.

    We are currently looking to establish a suitable new partnership in the UK. This should, of course, comply with the highest standards you would expect from a Miles & More Credit Card. We will keep you informed about any developments on miles-and-more.com and in our regular newsletter. Please visit here for more information about your credit card.

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