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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (10): the NEW 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.

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 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?

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 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 this 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. Wonder if the recent Hilton offer likely to be repeated. . If that hit during a normal travel period for me a good way of racking up Miles & More…

  2. AspirationalFlyer says:

    I’ve just got it – I need about 15,000 miles for a Swiss business class redemption and them I’m done (I.e. will cancel it). As I don’t have Star Alliance status, I’d value access to the Lufthansa T2 lounge at £15 or more too.

    • Concerto says:

      You won’t get far for 15,000 miles and don’t forget M&M European awards went up by 5,000 miles recently.

    • If you need another 5.000 miles, there´s a current 5000 miles bonus for a min 3 days budget reservation.

    • Lady London says:

      Personally if I was flying on a Star Alliance ticket in J that gave me access to the LH lounge at T2, I’d choose to use one of the other lounges in T2 that day. Probably the UA lounge which, for once for a UA lounge, is really good especially the stunning bar, and breakfast.

      Nothing at all wrong with the LH lounge at T2. It’s better than many LH lounges. Just the much longer walk to all the other lounges in T2 (which I think are UA, SQ, AC) is worth it if you can walk that far. As those UA and SQ are a different level of lounge better. If I want to be in a LH lounge I’ll save it for Germany where there;s often not much other choice.

  3. I didn’t check recently but didn’t M&M have once a 50% discount on last-minute reward bookings (like two weeks before departure)? And I remember for definite that one could pay taxes with miles to offset hefty charges you mentioned. My partner and I definitely used both these options in the past to maximise value of our miles.

    • I think they don’t have them any more. It was couple of years back they called them Star Awards or something. You could buy any ticket in economy&business for half miles needed if booking 2 weeks in advance. Now they only do mileage bargains.

    • I think its 50% for dep in the next 2 weeks for short haul, and only 20% for long haul. Only economy though.
      It is 18.000 short haul for oneway completely free (taxes included).

      • Yes, economy only on last minute makes this useless for me.

        meilenschnaeppcheln.de recently on Lufthansa have been for 120-150 or 120-165 days in the future.
        But on Austrian for the next six weeks as Rob says.

        Note that the fees on some other airlines are much lower.
        E.g. My flight tomorrow Middle East – Europe in Business (one long-haul with a short-haul each end) on Ethiopian+Austrian is 35k M&M + GBP80 one-way.
        I think MAN-ADD-DXB would be the same price (but I don’t have a good connection here to check!)

    • RussellH says:

      Just checked MAN-MUC for later this month. Up to and including departure 24 Nov (2 weeks from today) it is 20 000 miles. From 25 Nov it is 35 000, so the Fly Smart deals are still there, but a bit more than 50% full miles price.
      I think the miles prices for taxes+charges went down from 18 000 to 15 000 on European destinations when the miles prices for slights went up.

      You can also fly direct to Germany from EDI or GLA as well as MAN which you cannot do on BA who will charge you twice the avios price. For a European flight at short notice, 20 000 M+M can compare favourably. Plus the bonus of avoiding LHR – surely always worth a few quid.

      • Lady London says:

        You don’t have to fly direct on LH awards. You can choose an indirect routing. Even, IIRC, a stopover between your start and end npoint. Did that a few years ago on a couple of one ways. I would say that;s the only value on LH shorthaul awards. As such, it worked out very well for me.

        Other than that, their fixed 3 year expiry period in a pain and feels really unfair. I’ve lost countless LH miles due to missing the deadline for them to expire – as I have other things to do in my life than keep watching the date of my miles. And my experience of ordering things from their Worldshop (*A business) has been a complete messup by them on the 2 occasions I’ve used that, poor communication, inflexibility, no way to proactively head off a problem as they don’;t give out any working contact details, reply emals are rejected because they recognise my .co.uk address that I;m replying from as in Syria or 1 of 8 other non-Western countries…. etc.

        My advice would be Miles&More Miles are only for “specialists”.
        Having said that, if you are collecting them, I strongly advice you to look at the Miles&More website proactively and regularly. They won’t email regular tasty offers to you that yon can earn amounts of miles, say 1000-3000 on for not going much at all. If you do fly Lufthansa group airlines a lot then you really must do this. Then earning isn’t so tough really. Just the expiry date will get you.

        • RussellH says:

          I agree with some of this, but I have found the World Shop (also two orders) to be everything that I would have expected (so I have not had any reason to experience their contact centre). But I was ordering for home delivery, so maybe not comparable.

          I joined M+M years ago, as I did regularly fly to Germany on LH, but only to discover that the tickets I was given did not qualify for miles (I was not paying).
          And now, earning is on a cash basis if you buy direct from LH. We did book the 2-4-1 offer to Hong Kong, written up here a couple of months ago, but because the fare is so cheap we would only get some 6000+ miles. Current plan is to credit to United instead, then use them on a European shorthaul.

          And yes, absolutely, the fixed expiry date is a total pain, but £79 is not worth paying to protect 12 500 miles while I slowly earn 100 miles every so often at Holidaycheck.

  4. Concerto says:

    The issue is going to be to get those stays right at the end of the month of October to credit correctly.

    • I’ve just got the card and not very impressed. I spent just over £250 in the first month to trigger the bonus although only been given 110 MM miles for that spend which is far from 1.25/£. Also I paid Virgin money a £200 solicitors fee for a mortgage renewal and Diners have treated it as an ATM withdrawal and refused to take off charges that came to £7. Customer service seems very lacking in knowledge and not consumer orientated.

      • Lady London says:

        What you said @Adam. Borderline incompetent outsourced personnel/systems can be encountered online, incompetent systems for sure, and especially “not consumer orientated”.

        Other than that, they’re a pleasure to deal with! Although not always, if you land in Germany when you phone them. The South African call centre that they previously had, were really excellent. But nowadays you seem to land in Germany when you call them. Which can be great, but can also be an uphill struggle sometimes.

      • I managed to get them to give me the Diners card number over the phone, thus enabling me to register online to see my most recent statement from Mastercard use (as with others my DC hasn’t arrived as yet and you can’t register with the MasterCard).

        They charge the annual fee in first statement which I presume doesn’t earn points. But no sign of the 10,000 point bonus and the points I did earn haven’t posted to M&M yet.

        They’re nice enough to speak to, but the product itself feels poorly thought out and frankly six weeks to issue a piece of plastic is laughable, no matter how busy they are.

  5. Also good use are intra-US and Asia flights. They can be useful when there are no Avios seats on American or Cathay.

    • The best use is clearly somewhere in Australia to Tahiti/Fiji,… for only 27k in business. Intra-southamerica is also attractive.

  6. Got my MasterCard but still waiting for my Diners card. Don’t know whether I can spend on it yet without the Diners? When I activated the chap said they’d been overwhelmed with applications and there the Diners had only started being issued this month.
    Hope to get it soon as I have M&M miles I need to save

    • I’m the same, got the MasterCard but still waiting on the Diners arriving. I’ve been using the MasterCard although have had a couple of declines on it when trying to buy heating oil and firewood. It appears if you want to spend over £300 on anything fuel related you need to call them first as otherwise they’ll decline it. I don’t know what other limits they’ve got set but this makes it pretty useless as a card. I just used a different card for these transactions and they went through fine.

  7. Bit off topic.

    I have the Amex Plat and the SPG Amex.

    I want to refer both of my parents for an SPG Amex.

    Of course I can refer them using my spg amex but can I refer them using my Amex Plat and is there a benefit to doing it that way ?
    Cheers.

    • 1) Yes
      2) Yes – 18k MR for you from Plat (=£180) vs 9k new Marriotts from SPG (=£45).

      • So I can refer them to the SPG AMEX from the Plat Amex ???

        How do I do that ?!

        Cheers.

      • Wouldn’t they tripple the 9k into 27k in new Marriott like they have with SPG points ?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Nope 9k is the new bonus, everything is now referred to in new points (which are 1/3 old SPG value)

          Dropped from 5k old SPG which would have been 15k points. I’ll console myself with 18k MR for referral though 🙂

  8. Is there any sign of reasonable customer service with the DC/MC M&M card?

    After initial hesitation (do I really need this card?), I went ahead and applied. That was over a month ago. I’ve had no response whatsoever. As at the end of October, there had been no search recorded at ClearScore.

    Does anyone have a useful e-mail address or phone number? Thanks.

    • The phone number for customer services is 01244 470910. They seem reasonable so far, just seem to decline far more things than other cards would.

  9. I don´t want to be a PITA, but you are very flexible (?) in the way you value 1 mile. Here you say 0.75p, but on the 4th of August you said “I would value a Miles & More mile at 1p”.

    You can get real value out of Miles&More, if you plan accordingly and wisely (forget LH group except Meilenschnaeppchen).

    • My gut view of most airline miles is that I wouldn’t pay more than 0.75p to acquire them and I expect to get 1p+ when I spend them. My spreadsheet of the last 6.7m Avios I redeemed puts me at 1.13p per Avios, based on REALISTIC valuations of what I would have paid otherwise.

      • I´m not talking about Avios. I´m referring to Miles&More miles: sometimes you say 0.7p and other 1p. I´m not saying that either or is correct, but since you are always very consistent with Avios (standard value around 1p, you would never pay more than 0.75p for an Avios); I think your readership would be grateful if you could apply some similar consistency on other programs, this case Miles&More, because on the Hilton-Lufthansa promo you valued M&M at 1p, and suddenly here you are at 0.75p.

        • I agree, although I tend to value all airline miles at the same level and don’t go around saying XX is more valuable than YY as it totally depends on how you use them.

          Eg:
          M&M London to Dubai, Business, 35000 miles one-way
          Avios London to Dubai, Business, 60000 miles one-way

          but:
          M&M London to Frankfurt, Economy, 35000 miles + £80 return
          Avios London to Frankfurt, Economy, 9000 miles + £35 return

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I just keep it simple.

      1p for miles
      0.4p for Hilton/IHG and other hotels
      0.5 for Marriott/SPG points
      Accor have a flat 0.02EUR value ofcourse.

  10. I have around 11,000 Miles and More miles. I hardly ever fly star alliance these days, so it’s definitely not worth getting the credit card. Is there any way I can redeem them for anything, even if it’s just a hotel? I know the value would be poor, but it’s better than letting them expire, and I really don’t see myself earning the required amounts for a long haul J redemption.

    • You can transfer INTO Heathrow Rewards (but only redeem for shopping vouchers) @ 1750 = £5 or use to partpay for a hotel via the Lufty hotel booking site.

      • Thanks Rob. The last time I looked into it the booking hotels thing seemed to be broken. I guess it’s working now? Or maybe I’ll just get myself some money off duty free booze. 😀

      • RussellH says:

        So, for 12 500 miles I could get 7x£5 vouchers? You call them shopping vouchers, but can they be used in bars and restaurants?
        And how long are the vouchers valid – not much point in getting the vouchers, only to find that they also expire in a couple of years, or can only be used in the ‘luxury goods’ shops.

        • “A couple of years” would be hugely generous. You’ll get 12 months I imagine, which is what usual HR shopping vouchers come with. Valid in all the shops and restaurants.

  11. Slightly o/t but M&M earning related, I cannot for the life of me see how many miles Hertz credit in M&M or if they insist on a specific LH CDP (like IHG & Aegean do) – the LH site claims a “minimum” of 500 miles – does anyone know what the actual Hertz earning rate in miles and more is, and if this works with a corporate CDP?

    • Lady London says:

      If you look on the Miles&More site it’s very clear what CDP gets you how many miles, for their offers.

      Personally till recently I have found Hertz’s own program more beneficial than crediting to any air miles program.

  12. I take it adding the Mastercard component of this financial contraption to Curve is a no-go since it’s a prepaid Mastercard? I remember someone saying this in bits, but not sure how many have tried.

  13. Off-topic – I was trying to self-refer myself yesterday from Amex Plat to the BAPP, however I kept on getting an error message when applying for the card. Is it possible to still do self-referrals or has this been stopped now?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      It doesn’t know you are doing a self referral, that’s the point.

      In terms of cross referring cards I just checked my link and can see all other cards including bapp.

      Also applied for nectar two weeks or so ago and new card plus 18k MR posted just fine.

    • Browser issue?

  14. Nick Burch says:

    OT but cards related… Has anyone else this week randomly received a “Welcome to B” letter + debit card + etc from Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank ? Not sure if it’s an admin error on their end (IIRC They’re buying Virgin Money who I do have a card with), or if whoever stole my details in the BA hack is doing something dodgy :/

    (Clydesdale and Yorkshire were adamant when I rang just now that someone had applied a few days ago in my name, and have suspended the account, so it’s all rather odd)

    • BlueHorizonuk says:

      Seems odd that if someone was doing something dodgy they would get the letter, card, pin etc to your actual address?

  15. Applied for the card two weeks ago and still waiting to hear back from them. Has anyone tried making a payment to HMRC with the the “prepaid” card – does it incur fees?

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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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