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Barclaycard is once again offering a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus on the Miles & More Premier World Mastercard, so if you’ve been thinking about diversifying your Star Alliance miles portfolio, this is a good opportunity to do so. With this offer, you’ll get 20,000 miles with your first purchase or balance transfer, and an additional 30,000 miles after spending $5,000 within the first 90 days.
Here are the terms:
- Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase and payment of the annual fee
- Earn an additional 30,000 award miles when you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
- Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
- Cardholders receive a companion ticket after first purchase and payment of the annual fee and annually thereafter
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
- Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Star Alliance member airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, and other partners
- $79 Annual Fee. Please see Terms and Conditions for complete details
Barclaycard ups the bonus on this card about two or three times a year, and this time the offer will be around for about two months, through November 30, 2014. That’s good news if you’ve recently applied for another card (or a few), since it gives you time to strategize and decide if you’re interested in this one as well.
Should You Apply? The Bonus and Benefits
Before you apply for a new card, ask yourself how much use you’ll get from the miles it gives you as well as the other card benefits. This card comes with a sizable sign-up bonus, but you do have to meet a $5,000 spending requirement to earn it. The only category spending bonus it offers is 2x miles per $1 on Miles & More airlines.
Another good reason to think about applying for this card is that it’s a Barclaycard product. If you’re already maxed out with American Express, Citi, and/or Chase, then you might want to look to other credit issuers and airline programs. Barclaycard is strict about multiple credit card applications in a single day, so if you’re thinking about applying for the US Airways Premier World Mastercard while it’s still around, don’t plan on getting both cards at the same time.
The Miles & More card gives cardholders an annual companion ticket on account opening and every year on the cardmember anniversary. According to the card terms, there are some other restrictions. The companion ticket is good only for economy travel from the US to Europe/Middle East/Africa and Far East, and must be booked in H class (not full-fare economy, but also not the most discounted fare) or higher on Lufthansa-operated flights only. This means the companion ticket is limited in terms of flexibility, and since there are also taxes and fees to consider, the companion ticket isn’t as good a deal as it sounds.
For instance, this non-stop round-trip fare from New York (JFK) to Dusseldorf in March is $1,024.
You could pretty much get a business class ticket for that amount! Or just buy two cheap economy fares and still save yourself about $1,700. So you really have to bargain hunt to make the companion ticket worthwhile.
Also, keep in mind that Lufthansa only gives you 50% of the normal mileage on the cheapest fares, so this program isn’t for anyone who wants to get full mileage on discounted tickets, since you have to be strategic about your mileage accrual.
While the companion ticket benefit is mostly a bust in my opinion, accruing Miles & More miles might still be a good idea for a lot of reasons. It’s the award program of Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels Airlines and Austrian, as well as some lesser known airlines like Adria and even LOT. The good thing about stocking up on Miles & More miles is that these airlines open up a lot more premium cabin awards to their own members in advance, just as Singapore does for their KrisFlyer members, while folks with miles in partner programs like United MileagePlus don’t see nearly the same amount of award space. If you want to accrue miles specifically for business or first class awards to Europe, stocking up on Miles & More might be a good idea, simply so you have access to that extra award space.
Just beware that, as with economy tickets, the taxes and surcharges on these tickets can be expensive. For instance, this round-trip business class ticket in March from New York to Munich would incur over $1,000 in taxes and fees, which you would still have to pay on an award ticket.
While that’s a lot more than you’d pay by using your United miles for a business or first class award, keep in mind that with United’s recent massive devaluation, you would pay more with a MileagePlus redemption. Here’s the number of United miles you’d need in each class to fly from North America to Europe aboard Lufthansa, SWISS or Austrian:
- Economy: 60,000
- Business: 140,000
- First: 220,000
However, using Miles & More miles, you’d need the following amounts:
- Economy: 60,000 (only 50,000 on Lufthansa, Swiss or Austrian themselves)
- Business: 105,000
- First: 170,000
While that’s still a lot of miles, it’s much better in business class (35,000 fewer miles) and especially first class (50,000 fewer miles).
Lufthansa is also part of The Star Alliance, so you can use these miles on any of the partner airlines, and United is in fact a great option to squeeze a lot of value from your miles. Flying domestically is actually one of the sweet spots in the Miles & More award chart, since round-trip domestic flights are 25,000 in Economy, 35,000 in Business and 50,000 in First.
You can potentially book business class award tickets for just 17,500 miles each way or 35,000 miles round-trip, including on United’s transcontinental premier services planes. You earn more miles than that with the sign-up bonus alone on the Miles & More card. 50,000 miles is also enough for a round-trip economy award for US residents originating in the US to Europe on Lufthansa, SWISS or Austrian – other carriers will be 60,000 miles. You can also book one-way awards with Miles & More.
As a reminder, Lufthansa Miles & More is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest, so you can top up your account for a specific award using Starpoints, and you get a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer increments of 20,000 points.
Ultimately, while this card isn’t for everyone, and some of its benefits (notably the companion ticket) are forgettable, it’s still a solid product that is co-branded with a strong mileage program, and the current 50,000-mile sign-up bonus is worth considering if you’re looking to diversify your miles.
Know before you go.
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