Credit & Charge Card Reviews (10): Lufthansa Miles & More Diners Club and Mastercard

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This is my review of the new Lufthansa Miles & More UK payment cards.

It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether of not they are worth applying for. These posts will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page. My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Experian Credit Score.

(EDIT: this review was updated in March 2019 and all of the data was correct as of that date)

Key link: Lufthansa Miles & More charge cards application form

Key facts:  £79 annual fee

These are charge cards, not credit cards, and you must repay your balance in full at the end of each month.

About the Miles & More credit cards

The Lufthansa Miles & More cards – issued by Diners Club, now part of the US group Discover Financial Services – come as a double-pack of a Diners Club card and a Mastercard.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Lufthansa is issuing a Diners Club card, the card that time forgot!  It is very likely that you have never seen a Diners Club card in your life, yet alone used one.

Whilst I tend to refer to this card as ‘the Lufthansa card’, Miles & More is technically the loyalty programme for a number of airlines.  Some of these are airlines owned by Lufthansa Group (SWISS, Austrian, Eurowings, Brussels Airlines) and some are not (LOT, Croatian, Adria, Luxair).

Review Miles & More diners club mastercard charge card

Is there an annual fee on the Miles & More credit card?

Yes, £79 per year, starting immediately.

What is the sign-up bonus?

The sign-up offer is 5,000 Miles & More miles triggered with your first purchase.

You will also receive one voucher to access a Lufthansa airport lounge, including the lounge in London Heathrow Terminal 2.  The voucher has a six month expiry date.

Any other benefits?

You can use your Diners Club card to enter 800 airport lounges across the world.  This is not a free benefit – your Diners Club card will be charged £15 for each visit.

Even more important than earning miles, in my view, is that having the card and using it at least once a month stops your Miles & More miles from expiring.

If you are a base level M&M member, your miles will expire three years after you earn them whether or not you have credited miles to your account in the meantime. This is a particularly mean and nasty expiry policy. British Airways, for example, simply requires that you credit 1 Avios to your account every three years to keep all your miles active.

I had the old version of the Miles & More card for a few years and it was purely for this reason – to safeguard my 200,000 miles. Note that you need to have had the card for three months before your miles are protected.  The snag with this new card, of course, is that you are paying a £79 fee to safeguard your mileage balance whilst the previous Miles & More credit card, issued by MBNA, had no annual fee.

How can you have a Mastercard charge card? 

You can’t, technically.  In a supremely complicated move, your Miles & More Mastercard is actually a pre-paid Mastercard.  When you buy something with it, Diners Club instantaneously loads your pre-paid Mastercard a split second before the retailer sucks the money out.  The charge appears on your Diners Club statement.

Because the Mastercard element is technically a pre-paid card, you CANNOT use it to leave a deposit when you check into a hotel or hire a car.  You would have to hand over your Diners Club card or use another card entirely.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the Miles & More credit card?

You earn 1.25 miles per £1 spent on both the Diners Club card and the Mastercard.

This is at the high end of what you can earn on any miles credit card these days.  The only widely available card which is more generous is the Virgin Flying Club Reward+ credit card – click here – which has a higher earning rate of 1.5 miles per £1 but also has a higher fee of £160.

What is a Miles & More mile worth?

This is clearly a ‘finger in the air’ exercise. I would, however, flag some key pointers.

M&M miles are useless for short-haul.  Lufthansa taxes are so high that they are usually, amazingly, higher than the cost of a cash ticket! (This happens because LH massages the taxes figure on cash tickets on short-haul routes so that its fares match competitors. On redemption tickets, you are hit with the full whack.)  How does 35,000 miles plus £80 of taxes for an Economy ticket from London to Frankfurt sound?  Appalling, I imagine, given that BA only wants 8,000 – 9,000 miles and £35 taxes.

As with British Airways, long haul economy redemptions are also very poor value due to the high taxes imposed.

Long-haul premium cabin redemptions are more in line with BA’s taxes and the number of miles needed is often a bit lower, especially as children aged 2-11 get a 25% discount on their tickets.

The real benefit is availability, which in Business Class is often far better than British Airways, especially during UK school holidays. Lufthansa Senator (Gold) cardholders also get a 50% miles discount for a 2nd ticket on the same flight. This benefit can be used an unlimited number of times.

Lufthansa also has an excellent First Class product. The First Class Terminal / First Class Lounges in Frankfurt are amongst the best in the world, and include private car transfer to and from the steps of your plane.  Here is my 2017 review of the First Class Terminal and the Lufthansa First Class in-flight service.

Miles & More members get decent access to Lufthansa First Class redemptions – far better than Star Alliance partners. Note, though, that SWISS First Class redemptions are no longer available to anyone except Miles & More elite members.

Lufthansa runs monthly mileage sales which have some attractive bargains, albeit that the flights are non refundable.  Intra-Europe flights have been as low as 5,000 miles – although the high taxes still need to be paid.

I am happy to value Miles & More miles at my standard 0.75p valuation.  The best value is in Business Class redemptions.  First Class reward seats carry a disproportionate premium – although Lufthansa First Class is an exceptional experience – and economy rewards are pointless due to the taxes.

If you can redeem during the monthly ‘mileage sales’, you will receive an even better deal.  These cover a lot of destinations but you do need to travel during the following six weeks or so.

How does this compare to a cashback credit card?

My default comparison card is the Amazon Platinum Mastercard which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback. The representative APR is 21.9% variable.

The Miles & More credit card is substantially more generous than this, although you are paying an annual fee.

The sign-up bonus of 5,000 miles is modest and is worth less than your annual fee for the first year.

However, the sheer number of points needed for a long-haul redemption in Business or First Class – the only redemptions worth bothering with because of the taxes – means that this card is of little long-term use if you do not fly with Star Alliance and collect the bulk of your miles that way. The only exception would be if you had substantial amounts of credit card spend.

Is Miles & More a good card to use when travelling?

No, as Diners Club and Mastercard add a 3% foreign exchange fee to every purchase.  You might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. Unfortunately there are no travel rewards card without a foreign exchange fee. One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.

If you want a dedicated credit card to use abroad, take a look at the Virgin Money Travel Credit Card (click here).  This card is free and charges NO foreign exchange fees.  It also offers 0% interest on purchases for 12 months and 0% interest on balance transfers for 12 months, with no fee.  Representative APR 19.9% variable.

Other points to note

You need to apply a scarcity factor to Miles & More miles. They are not an American Express Membership Rewards partner and there are relatively few large-scale ways other than flying for a UK resident to earn miles. You can get 500 here, 250 there from a hotel stay or Heathrow Rewards conversion, but these are not the serious numbers required for a worthwhile redemption.

Lufthansa has even scrapped the sale of miles, so you can’t top up your account easily even if you are willing to pay.

That said, one way of getting a slug of Miles & More miles cheaply is via the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card. This offers a sign-up bonus of 30,000 points which converts to 10,000 Miles & More miles.

You can also indirectly earn Miles & More miles via the Starwood Amex at the effective rate of 1 mile per £1, or 1.25 miles per £1 if you convert your SPG points in 20,000 point chunks to get the 5,000 mile bonus.  Earn miles via credit card spend on the Starwood Amex will not stop your Miles & More miles from expiring, however.

Conclusion

I will end up getting the new UK Miles & More credit card soon.  I don’t necessarily want to, but I need to protect my existing Miles & More balance from expiry even if it means paying a £79 annual fee to do so.  Whilst I could spend them all quickly on a family holiday, it is important for me to have access to Star Alliance miles for occasions when Avios and Virgin Flying Club miles are no use.

Oddly, if you are a loyal Miles & More flyer – which means you have status in the programme – you might not want to bother with this card long term.  Your miles won’t expire due to having status which means that you might not find the £79 annual fee offers value.

The on-going earnings rate is very strong.  1.25 miles per £1 is very good in the current market, especially as the forthcoming relaunched Lloyds Bank Avios Mastercard will only offer 0.4 miles per £1, albeit with no annual fee.

The application form for the Lufthansa Miles & More Diners Club and Mastercard cards can be found here.

(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. Does Miles & More do status matches to a tier that prevents miles from expiring? I’ve got onpy a balance of about 35k to protect, so not really worth paying the annual fee for this.

  2. Do both these cards support Apple Pay? Diners Club’s web site states that it supports Apple Pay and Apple’s UK web site states that Cornèrcard UK supports Apple Pay.

  3. OK, my final update on this, based on my most recent email exchange with Diners Club:

    1) If you haven’t yet received your Diners Club card, they’re having major production issues which is nothing to do with the influx of applications. It’s more to do with actual card production.

    2) If you haven’t yet received the 10,000 point bonus, they don’t know when you will. To quote them “we don’t have a finite date at the moment”

    3) If you haven’t received the points earned from the your first statement, point 2 relates

    4) The annual fee has been charged, and they are not looking to recompense people for the issues caused by the delayed issuance of cards

    5) They believe that lounge access will be given by showing your Mastercard. It won’t. At least not at the Manchester lounges anyway

    6) If you’ve had an email confirming issue of your first statement but haven’t yet been able to sign up for online to see your transactions (because you don’t have the DC card yet), call them and they’ll give you enough detail to be able to sign up

    Sorry to say this..but what a cowboy outfit.

    • Still waiting for my Diners Club card, well over 7 weeks after applying and 3 weeks after getting both PINs and Mastercard. Called them again today and told to wait another two weeks. But they’ve never been able to explain why, other than to say they were overwhelmed by applications. Today they did tell me my card number so I could register online and see my statement, which I’d had no sight of till now and after they’d debited my bank account for the fee. They had no problems getting that bit right. Wonder if Lufthansa/Miles & More are aware of what has to be the most shambolic credit card launch I can remember. They also told me the 10,000 bonus points should be applied 6 weeks after the qualifying transaction, but were less certain about when or how I’d get the lounge voucher.

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