Of all the surprises that the miles and points industry threw up in 2018, I think Lufthansa launching a Diners Club charge card must be close to the top of the list.
For only the second time, Lufthansa is offering an increased sign-up bonus. You will receive 10,000 Miles & More miles if you sign up TODAY, 31st July, after which it will presumably drop back to 5,000 miles.
I have this card and I have included my feedback below.
The Lufthansa credit card really is from Diners Club! And it isn’t a credit card.
Yes, Diners Club, the card that time forgot, is back. Unfortunately, just because the card is back, it doesn’t mean anyone is accepting it.
Diners Club was the first ever ‘deferred payment’ card, I think, but I can’t remember the last time I saw one before this launched and I’ve certainly never had one until now. If you thought using American Express was tricky at times …..
The good news is that it is actually a double pack. You ALSO receive a Mastercard, featuring a smart picture of the virtually unknown Boeing 747-8 with the extended upper deck:
What is the card called?
The Miles & More Global Traveller Card
Who is behind the card?
The Miles & More Global Traveller cards are issued by Affiniture Cards Ltd which is Diners Club in disguise.
However, the companion Mastercard card is issued on behalf of Affiniture by Cornercard UK Ltd. Cornercard is a Swiss bank which offers a Lufthansa-branded card in Switzerland. This complex structure is required because Affiniture / Diners Club does not have a licence to issue a Mastercard itself.
What is the sign-up bonus?
10,000 Miles & More miles, until tonight, 31st July 2019. This credits with your first purchase – there is no spend target to hit.
From 1st August it will presumably drop back to 5,000 Miles & More miles.
What is the on-going earning rate?
This is the interesting bit.
You earn 1.25 miles per £1 spent. This is a VERY good rate for a Mastercard, even one with an annual fee. It isn’t as good as the market leading Virgin Flying Club Reward+ Mastercard (1.5 Virgin Atlantic miles per £1) but the fee is 50% lower.
What is the annual fee?
Is there a foreign exchange fee?
Yes, 2.99%, so don’t use it outside the UK
What is the interest rate?
There isn’t one. This is a charge card and NOT a credit card.
You MUST repay your balance in full each month.
You MUST pay by Direct Debit. There is no option for cheque payments. You can make interim payments mid-cycle by BACS if required – I have done this in months when my balance was going to be high and I didn’t want to risk not having enough money in my current account on payment date.
What the heck does this bit of the T&C’s mean?
“My Mastercard says pre-paid on it, do I have to add funds before I can use it?”
“No. The card works in the same way as your Diners Club Charge Card with all charges and credits appearing on your monthly statement. The card is automatically “loaded” with cash from your account for every transaction you make. You don’t have to do anything, nor do you have to have a credit balance on your Mastercard.”
What this means is that Diners Club will, in effect, load your pre-paid Mastercard a fraction of a second before the money is authorised for the payment. You don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary. The risk here is that you get a higher rate of declined transactions because each transaction must be authorised TWICE – once by Mastercard and then a split second later by Diners Club as it decides whether to load your pre-paid Mastercard or not.
Can I get a supplementary card?
No. They are not allowed. No idea why.
Is there an app? Can I use it with Apple Pay?
There is no app. You can use the Mastercard with Apple Pay / Android Pay, but not the Diners Club card.
Any other problems I may face?
You do not automatically get Section 75 protection if a retailer goes bust as this is not a credit card. I don’t know if Diners Club is voluntarily offering cover, as Amex does to charge card holders.
The Mastercard, as a pre-paid card, may not work at places requiring preauthorisation, eg hotels and car rental outlets.
Changing the PIN on the Mastercard is easy, as it can be done at any bank. Changing the PIN on the Diners Club card requires you to use a cash machine run by Cardtronics – there is a list here. If your local corner shop has an ATM, it is probably from Cardtronics.
One other lesson I learnt the hard way – after you call to activate your Diners Club card, you need to wait until the next day before using it or changing the PIN. The Mastercard activates immediately when you call. Online activation is not possible. The good news is that Diners Club doesn’t try to sell you anything when you call to activate.
One other point to note is that, for some reason, the Mastercard looks cheap. Your details are not embossed on the front, they are printed on – but in a font which makes it look like embossing!
What other benefits do I get with my Miles & More Global Traveller Card?
You can access a curated portfolio of airport lounges for £15 per visit.
Does this credit card stop my Miles & More miles from expiring?
Yes. Miles & More has a VERY aggressive expiry policy – your miles expire 36 months after you earn, irrespective of what activity you have.
There are only two ways to stop expiration. You either need Miles & More elite status or you need to hold a Miles & More payment card. Miles expiry will stop when:
- You have been a holder of the Diners Club card for at least 3 months and
- You make at least one miles-earning purchase on the card each month going forward
Is this card better than the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express for getting Lufthansa miles?
Here is an important thing to remember: this card has the same earnings rate (1.25 Miles & More miles per £1) as you get indirectly via the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card, which has a £75 fee.
The only caveat is that you need to convert your Marriott Bonvoy points in chunks of 60,000 (£20,000 of card spend) to get the 1.25 Miles & More miles per £1 rate. On the other hand, Marriott Bonvoy points are MASSIVELY more flexible than Miles & More miles because there are another 40 airline partners plus of course hotel room redemption options.
If you have Lufthansa status – and so don’t have a problem with miles expiry – the Starwood Amex may be a better option.
Lufthansa recently suspended the transfer of points from most other loyalty programmes into Miles & More. You cannot, at present, send points from Marriott, IHG, Hilton, Hyatt or Heathrow Rewards to Miles & More.
This is all to do with a German court case over whether Miles & More miles are an e-currency or not. I would expect hotel transfers to return once this case is settled, but that could be many months away. There is no certainty that transfers of Marriott points earned via the Starwood Amex will ever be possible again into Miles & More.
This means that the official Miles & More Diners Club / Mastercard package is the only option at the moment.
Should you get these cards?
SCENARIO 1: Do you collect Miles & More miles but don’t have status?
Get the cards. I think it is clearly good value for the first year:
You are paying a £79 fee but getting a bonus of 10,000 Miles & More miles. These are worth more than £79 if used well. There is no spend target with the bonus arriving after your first purchase.
For the rest of the first year you are getting an excellent earnings rate of 1.25 Miles & More miles per £1
Having the card stops your existing Miles & More miles expiring. A lot of people will (reluctantly) end up paying £79 per year long-term for this card simply to protect their valuable existing stash of miles. Remember that Miles & More miles usually expire three years after you earn them irrespective of your activity.
Personally …. I am currently using my Mastercard to protect my existing 150,000 Miles & More miles. I also like having some extra non-Avios and non-Virgin Flying Club redemption options. The Diners Club card is hidden away and unlikely to ever be used. The £79 fee I paid for Year 1 was worth it purely for the 10,000 miles sign-up bonus, so I have no problems with that.
I am less keen to pay £79 per year for Year 2 onwards but that will depend on when we find a good opportunity to spend our existing Miles & More balance. Given that it is never easy using Avios during UK school holidays for a family of four, having access to all of the 29 Star Alliance airlines via Miles & More is worth having. This October half term, we are travelling down to the Middle East on Lufthansa in Business Class. Getting seats for four of us on the exact day we wanted was easy because German schools are not on holiday at the same time.
SCENARIO 2: Do you collect Miles & More miles AND have elite status?
If you have Miles & More status you don’t necessarily need this card. It is worth getting it JUST for the sign-up bonus (£79 for 10,000 miles is a decent deal) but once transfers from Marriott Bonvoy restart you can happily cancel it and stick with the Starwood Amex. This is a more effective way of earning 1.25 Miles & More miles per £1, with the VERY valuable extra benefit of also being able to use your points for hotels or other airlines.
SCENARIO 3: Do you not collect Miles & More miles yet?
You probably shouldn’t get this card unless you spend SUBSTANTIAL sums (£50k+) per year on credit cards. You can only get good value for their miles on long-haul premium redemptions and only a big spender will earn enough purely from card spend. Not being able to top up your account via hotel transfers is a real impediment to earning enough for a redemption if you’re not flying Star Alliance.
Lufthansa is also making noises about moving to dynamic redemption pricing in the medium term which would destroy any value from premium cabin redemptions.
A better option for a Mastercard or Visa to use alongside – for most HFP readers – a British Airways American Express is the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard or one of the two Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercards.
You can apply for the new Miles & More cards here. If you want to jump on this offer, the higher 10,000 mile bonus is only available until tonight, 31st July.
(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.