Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Why on earth do we recommend a Diners Club card?

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This article looks at the UK Lufthansa Miles & More payment card.  Slightly (OK, very) weirdly, it comes as a double pack of a Mastercard and a Diners Club card.

We were, to put it mildly, a little surprised in 2018 when Lufthansa launching a Diners Club charge card.  I ended up getting the card, however, and it is a ‘keeper’ in my wallet for reasons I will explain.

You can find out more, and apply, here.

Is the Lufthansa Diners Club credit card any good?

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.  I’ve certainly never had one until now.  If you thought using American Express was tricky at times …..

The good news is that the card comes as 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?

5,000 Miles & More miles.  This credits with your first purchase – there is no spend target to hit.

Since the card launched, there have been two periods when the bonus was increased to 10,000 miles.  We haven’t seen any increased bonus in 2020.

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.

Lufthansa Miles & More mastercard credit card uk

What is the annual fee?

£79

This is a sunk cost.  You do not receive a partial refund if you cancel the card during the year.

Is there a foreign exchange fee?

Yes, 2.99%, so don’t use it outside the UK if you have a card offering 0% FX fees.

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 set up a Direct Debit when you apply.  However, if you ring Affiniture to ask for their banking details, you can make mid-month payments by BACS to reduce your balance.

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.

As I have this card myself, I can confirm that you don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary and it works exactly as a normal credit or debit card would.

Any upside to this?

Yes.  The Mastercard should be accepted – and will earn miles – at places where credit cards are refused but debit cards are accepted.

You cannot use it to pay off credit card bills or make deposits into bank accounts.  These transactions are treated as cash withdrawals and you are charged heavy fees.

You CAN use it to pay HMRC for personal tax bills, whilst earning miles.

Readers report suggest that you should not use it for business taxes because the card is designated for personal use.  You should expect a call from Affiniture if you do.

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 BUT the website is designed for mobile.  Put a shortcut on your home screen and you won’t know it isn’t an 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 Cardtronicsthere 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!

Lufthansa UK Diners Club and Mastercard credit card review

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 Marriott Bonvoy American Express for earning Lufthansa miles?

This card has the same earnings rate (1.25 Miles & More miles per £1) and the same fee (£79 vs £75) as you get indirectly via the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card. 

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

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 Marriott Bonvoy Amex may be a better option.  My full review of the Marriott Bonvoy American Express and you can apply here.

However …..

Lufthansa has suspended the transfer of points from most other loyalty programmes into Miles & More.  You cannot, at present, send points from Marriott, IHG, Hilton or Hyatt 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 Marriott Bonvoy American Express 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 5,000 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.

I am also using the card to pay my personal HMRC bills.  These are genuinely free miles as my only alternative would be paying by debit card or bank transfer.

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.  German school holidays rarely align with UK school holidays so there is less of a squeeze on seats.

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 might be worth getting it JUST for the sign-up bonus (£79 for 5,000 miles) but once transfers from Marriott Bonvoy restart you can happily cancel it and stick with the Marriott Bonvoy 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.

A better option for a Mastercard or Visa to use alongside – for most HfP readers – a British Airways American Express or one of the two Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Receive a companion voucher, letting you book two flights for the Avios of one, when you spend £20,000 in a card year
  • Annual fee: Free

Representative 22.2% APR variable

See if you qualify for the 5,000 Avios sign-up bonus +

You will receive 5,000 Avios as a sign-up bonus on the free British Airways American Express card if you spend £1,000 within 90 days of signing up.

To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card.

You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s British Airways American Express account.

You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held a Business American Express card.

For clarity, you can still apply for the British Airways American Express card even if you do not qualify for the bonus.  You would still benefit from the companion voucher and the other card benefits.

Learn more about the card benefits +

When you spend £20,000 on the British Airways American Express card, you receive a companion voucher entitling you to book two Avios redemption flights for the miles of one.  This voucher is valid for one year.  (Full taxes and charges need to be paid on both tickets.)

This voucher is the most valuable perk available in the UK airline and hotel credit card sector in my view. It could save you 150,000 or more Avios when used for a long-haul redemption in a premium cabin.

You receive your voucher within a few days of reaching the spending target.  You need to fly the outbound leg of your 2-4-1 flight before the expiry date of the voucher.

If you want more flexibility, the voucher issued with the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is valid for two years and only requires 10,000 of annual card spend.  The Premium Plus card also has a higher earning rate of 1.5 Avios per £1 on general spend and 3 Avios per £1 on spend with British Airways and BA Holidays.

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Get a ‘2 for 1’ voucher, valid on cash or points tickets, when you spend £20,000 in a year
  • Alternatively, claim an upgrade voucher or Clubhouse lounge passes
  • Get free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK
  • Annual fee: Free

Representative 22.2% APR variable

See if you qualify for sign-up bonus +

There is no sign-up bonus on the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard.

You may want to consider applying for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard instead.  This comes with a £160 annual fee but you receive a bonus of 15,000 points with your first purchase.  You also receive a higher earning rate of 1.5 miles per £1 spent.

After the first year, you could downgrade to the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard.

Learn more about the card benefits +

All Virgin Atlantic credit card holders receive free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK.  A list of sites is here.

When you spend £20,000 per year on the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard, you can choose a benefit.  This is what you can pick from:

A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, for a Virgin Atlantic cash flight or a Virgin Flying Club redemption, in Upper Class, Premium or Economy

A return upgrade – on either a cash or miles ticket – from Premium to Upper Class, or from Economy Delight/Classic to Premium.  You can either upgrade 1 x return flight if travelling alone or 2 x one-way legs of two return flights if travelling with someone else.

A Virgin Clubhouse lounge pass (requires a same-day Virgin Atlantic, Delta, KLM or Air France flight)

Here’s the small print:

If you are a Red (no status) member, you need to pay 50% of the miles for your 2nd ticket if you redeem your 2-4-1 voucher in Upper Class.  This means that, for Upper Class redemptions for Red members, it is effectively a ‘2 for 1.5’ voucher. For Economy or Premium redemptions, it is a genuine ‘2 for 1’.

If you are a Gold member, you would receive two Clubhouse lounge passes instead on one if you chose that option

Taxes and charges need to be paid on the ‘free’ ticket as part of your 2-4-1 booking

Vouchers are valid for two years and you must fly the outbound leg of your trip before the expiry date

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Get a ‘2 for 1’ voucher, valid on cash or points tickets, when you spend £10,000 in a year
  • Alternatively, claim an upgrade voucher or Clubhouse lounge passes
  • Get free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK
  • Annual fee: £160

Representative 63.9% APR variable based on a notional £1,200 credit limit and £160 annual fee.  Interest rate on purchases 22.9% APR variable.

See if you qualify for the 15,000 points sign-up bonus +

You receive a sign-up bonus of 15,000 Virgin points with your first purchase.

There are no restrictions on earning the bonus if you are accepted.  However, you cannot apply for a card if you currently, or in the previous six months, had a Virgin Money credit card.

Learn more about the card benefits +

All Virgin Atlantic credit card holders receive free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK.  A list of sites is here.

When you spend £10,000 per year on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard, you can choose a benefit.  This is what you can pick from:

A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, for a Virgin Atlantic cash flight or Virgin Flying Club redemption, in Upper Class, Premium or Economy

A return upgrade – on either a cash or points ticket – from Premium to Upper Class, or from Economy Delight/Classic to Premium.  You can either upgrade 1 x return flight if travelling alone or 2 x one-way legs of two return flights if travelling with someone else.

A Virgin Clubhouse lounge pass (requires a same-day Virgin Atlantic, Delta, KLM or Air France flight)

Here’s the small print:

If you are a Red (no status) member, you need to pay 50% of the points for your 2nd ticket if you redeem your 2-4-1 voucher in Upper Class.  This means that, for Upper Class redemptions for Red members, it is effectively a ‘2 for 1.5’ voucher. For Economy or Premium redemptions, it is a genuine ‘2 for 1’.

If you are a Gold member, you would receive two Clubhouse lounge passes instead on one if you chose that option

Taxes and charges need to be paid on the ‘free’ ticket as part of your 2-4-1 booking

Vouchers are valid for two years and you must fly the outbound leg of your trip before the expiry date

You can apply for the new Miles & More cards 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.