Ultimate guide to earning and redeeming Lufthansa Miles & More miles

Jun 4, 2020

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Lufthansa Group has grown a ton in recent years. We’ve seen the group buy up a number of European airlines, all while continuing to expand the Lufthansa route network from its hubs in Frankfurt (FRA) and Munich (MUC). One thing you may not know about Lufthansa is that its Miles & More loyalty program is actually used by a number of different airlines around Europe, some of which aren’t in the Star Alliance.

Additionally, the loyalty program has some interesting sweet spots that make it worth taking a closer look at if you’re based in Europe. Plus, U.S. based flyers that frequently fly to Europe on Lufthansa or another Lufthansa Group airline may find more use in earning Miles & More miles than United or another Star Alliance partner.

If you find yourself curious about the Miles & More program, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll run you through everything you need to know about Miles & More, starting with elite status and partner airlines, then moving to earning and redeeming points.

Let’s get started.

Program Overview

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Miles & More is owned by Lufthansa Group, but it’s used as the primary loyalty program for a number of different airlines throughout Europe. Other airlines that use Miles & More as their primary loyalty program include:

  • Air Dolomiti
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Condor
  • Croatia Airlines
  • Eurowings
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Luxair
  • SWISS

Many of these airlines are either entirely owned by Lufthansa Group or have previously been partially or wholly owned by the group. However, some airlines — namely LOT Polish and Croatia Airlines — have never been affiliated with Lufthansa Group but still opt to use Miles & More as a loyalty program.

Miles & More elite status tiers and benefits

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Like most airline loyalty programs, Miles & More offers a variety of different elite status tiers that offer elevated mileage earnings and benefits like lounge access, upgrades and fast track security. In the case of Miles & More, there are three different status tiers: Frequent Traveller, Senator and HON Circle.

Earning Miles & More elite status

Frequent Traveller and Senator status are earned after you accrue 35,000 and 100,000 status miles, respectively, in a calendar year. These are earned by flying on Miles & More airlines (excluding Condor) and Star Alliance airline partners. Additionally, you can earn Frequent Traveller status by flying 30 flights on Miles & More airlines (excluding Condor).

Top-tier Hon Circle status is earned by accruing 600,000 Hon Circle miles over the course of two consecutive calendar years. You can only earn these miles by flying first or business class fares on Miles & More airlines (excluding Condor), and when taking the Lufthansa Express Rail in Germany and Airtrain in Switzerland.

For reference, Hon Circle miles are the same as status qualifying miles, except they’re restricted to first and business class. Here’s a quick overview of how to earn qualifying miles on all Miles & More airlines.

Lufthansa Status Earning Chart Screen Shot for International Flights

It’s true that you need to fly a lot to earn Hon Circle status, but the good news is that Miles & More awards bonus Hon Circle miles when flying premium cabins. Business travelers who book full-fare, intercontinental business class have the easiest route to Hon Circle status; these earn 2 Hon Circle qualifying miles per mile flown, so a 7,680-mile round-trip flight from New York-JFK to Frankfurt (FRA) would earn 15,360 Hon Circle miles.

On the other hand, flights within Germany and Europe earn miles at a fixed rate. For example, despite a flight from Frankfurt (FRA) to Berlin (TXL) clocking in at just 267 miles one-way, you’d earn 500 qualifying miles each way in discounted P fare business class. The same goes for all other German domestic routes on Lufthansa, Swiss domestic routes in Switzerland, etc.

Germany Domestic Flight Earning Chart Status

Intra-Europe flights earn a slightly more miles, especially when flying in business class. For example, let’s say you’re flying from Frankfurt (FRA) to Oslo (OSL). A business class P fare would earn 750 qualifying miles. However, if you booked in a higher fare class, you’d earn a whopping 2,000 qualifying miles. Not bad for a flight distance of just 686 miles!

International European Qualifying Point Earning Chart Screen Shot

So in the end, HON Circle status is for flyers that fly Lufthansa exclusively and in premium cabins. As you’d expect, this is generally business travelers with lots of international travel. You could earn HON Circle status by flying 100,000 miles per year in paid first class, 150,000 miles per year in full-fare business class or a mixture of these with domestic European flying.

Related: Credit cards that can help you earn airline elite status

Miles & More elite status tiers and benefits

Crediting flights on Star Alliance partners to Lufthansa Miles & More counts towards elite status. The number of miles you’ll earn varies by airline partner, the length of your flight and your fare class.

To calculate how many miles you’ll earn, find your partner on the Miles & More website and take a look at the earning chart to find the earning rate. Then, multiply the distance of your flight (in miles) by the earning rate for your fare class. In the case of a Z fare United business class ticket from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to London-Heathrow (LHR), you’d earn 5,910 miles. The flight is 3,940 miles and you earn 1.5 qualifying miles per mile flown.

Qualifying requirements are changing in 2022

Miles & More is changing status requirements in 2022. So while you’ll earn status for 2021 and 2022 using the metrics above, earning status for the 2023 calendar year in 2022 is based on the number of Points and Qualifying Points you earn. Points are earned on Star Alliance partner airlines, while Qualifying Points are earned on Miles & More airlines.

Type of flight Economy Premium economy Business class First class
Continental 5 5 10 10
Intercontinental 15 20 50 70

 

The number of Points and Qualifying points you’ll earn is based on your class of service and whether you’re flying within Europe or on an intercontinental flight. Fare class is no longer a factor, so discount fares will earn the same as full-fare tickets. The chart above shows how many Qualifying Points and Points you’ll earn for each type of ticket.

Metric Frequent Traveller status Senator status HON Circle status
Points 160 480 N/A
Qualifying Points 80 240 1,500

 

Each status tier requires a different amount of Points or Qualifying Points to qualify. In the case of Frequent Traveller and Senator status, you need to earn 160 and 480 Points, respectively. Half of those can be Qualifying Points earned on partner airlines. HON Circle requires 1,500 Points over the course of a single year to qualify, but they can now be earned in economy and premium economy.

Further, members can earn additional perks after hitting specific thresholds. For example, Senator members will earn two eVouchers (valid for one-class upgrades) when they reach 700 qualifying points, and 15,000 award miles after reaching 1,000 qualifying points.

Overall, I think these changes are a good thing. They make status earning much easier to understand, and opens HON Circle status up to those that frequently fly in economy class for work and pleasure. Regardless, though, you’ll still need to fly on Miles & More airlines a lot to earn HON Circle.

Related: Complete guide to airline elite status during the coronavirus outbreak

Miles & More elite status benefits

Earning Lufthansa status isn’t easy, but each of the status tiers come with interesting benefits. In fact, top-tier HON Circle status comes with some of the most premium perks of all airline statuses — here’s a look at each of the tier’s respective benefits.

Frequent Traveller

Frequent Traveller is the lowest tier of Miles & More status, but it still has some solid benefits. You’ll have access to Lufthansa Business Class lounges when flying on Lufthansa Group and Star Alliance carriers. You’re also eligible for business class check-in, one extra checked bag, and other Star Alliance Silver benefits.

Further, you’ll also earn 50% more redeemable miles and 25% more status and HON Circle qualifying miles on all paid tickets. This applies to all flights you credit to Miles & More, including flights booked on Star Alliance carriers like United.

These benefits are surprisingly rich for low-tier elite status. Just keep in mind that you can only access Lufthansa Business Class lounges, not Star Alliance partner lounges like United Clubs or the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounges. This is because Frequent Traveller includes Star Alliance Silver benefits, not Star Alliance Gold.

Senator

Senator offers even more benefits for frequent flyers. You’re eligible for access to Lufthansa Senator lounge as well as all Star Alliance partner lounges when flying on a Star Alliance carrier. This includes domestic U.S. United Club access when flying United Airlines, so long as you add your Miles & More number to your ticket.

Further, you can access first class check-in, receive two extra checked bags, and two eVouchers that you can use for a one-class upgrade. You can use one eVoucher for an upgrade within a single region or two vouchers for an intercontinental one-class upgrade. As an example, upgrading from premium economy to business on a transatlantic flight requires two eVouchers.

Another great perk of Senator status is access to Companion Awards. This lets you add a companion to all award tickets at a 50% mileage discount. This applies when flying award tickets on Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, Air Dolomiti, Eurowings, Luxair, LOT Polish Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Croatia Airlines.

Miles & More Senator status also gives you access to other Star Alliance Gold benefits like preferred baggage handling, priority boarding on Star Alliance partners and other various perks. Like Frequent Traveller, you’ll earn 50% more award miles and 25% more status qualifying miles on all flights.

HON Circle

HON Circle is the cream of the crop when it comes to Miles & More status. It includes all Senator status benefits mentioned in the last section, but also includes First Class Terminal access at Frankfurt (FRA) on all Miles & More flights regardless of the class of service. This is a huge perk as the terminal is a dedicated space for first-class and HON Circle travelers, with upgraded lounges and more.

Plus, you’re eligible for a limousine transfer on flights operated by Air Dolomiti, Austrian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa and SWISS. Where applicable, a limousine will pick you up from the plane, drop you off at the lounge and then drive you back to your flight. This is generally reserved for first-class passengers, so it’s a treat to experience on all flights.

You’ll also receive six upgrade eVouchers, which can be used in the same way that Senator members can use certificates.

Earning with Miles & More

Miles & More miles are significantly harder to earn than other airline miles. The loyalty program doesn’t have transfer partners and cannot transfer in from hotel loyalty programs like Marriott Bonvoy. But that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to earn — here are all the best ways.

Earn by flying on Miles & More and Star Alliance carriers

You can earn Miles & More miles by flying on Miles & More and Star Alliance airlines. Tickets booked with a Miles & More member airline — like Lufthansa and Swiss — will earn miles based on fare cost. If you’re traveling on a Star Alliance partner flight that’s not ticketed by a Miles & More airline, you’ll earn miles based on distance flown. On multi-airline itineraries that include a Miles & More member, you’ll earn miles based on fare cost.

For example, say you book a round-trip ticket from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA) through the Lufthansa website, with one leg operated by Lufthansa and the other by United. You’ll earn miles based on spend. Miles & More awards 4 points per Euro spent on these tickets (excluding taxes). If you have elite status, you’ll earn 6 points per Euro spent.

On the other hand, you’ll earn miles based on distance flown if you’re flying on a Star Alliance partner flight that’s not ticketed by a Miles & More airline. For example, if you’re flying on a Singapore Airlines flight booked with Singapore Airlines over the phone or a United Airlines flight booked through United.com.

The number of miles earned depend on the length of your flight and your booking class. Simply find your partner airline on the Miles & More website, look at the chart underneath the “Status miles / Booking class system” header. Then, find the fare class of your ticket in the chart and multiply the number under the Miles column to see how many miles you’ll earn.

South African Airways Earning Miles & MoreFor example, a South African Airways fin M fare economy class would earn 790 miles on a flight between Cape Town (CPT) and Johannesburg (JNB). This is because the flight is 790 miles one-way and M fares earn 1x the distance flown.

Related: The best websites for searching Star Alliance award availability

Spend on a Miles & More credit card

In the U.S., Lufthansa and Miles & More offers a cobranded credit card issued by Barclay’s called the Miles & More World Elite Mastercard. You can use this card to earn Miles & More miles on all of your purchases and it includes some added benefits, like two Lufthansa Business Class Lounge passes and an annual companion ticket.

Further, the card has a welcome bonus that usually hovers around 50,000 Miles & More points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. Plus, you’ll earn 2 miles per dollar spent on Miles & More ticket purchases and 1 mile per dollar everywhere else.

This card has an $89 annual fee and can be a good option for those set on earning Miles & More miles. However, if you frequently fly on other airlines, you may want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card instead. This card earns 2x Ultimate Rewards points on all travel purchases, and the points can be transferred to airlines like United, Singapore Airlines and others. TPG values these points at 2 cents per point, 0.6 cents higher than Miles & More points.

The information for the Miles & More World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Book hotel rooms and rental cars

Booking Hotels with Miles & More

You can also earn Miles & More miles when you book hotel rooms with the Miles & More hotel booking platform. You’ll earn a minimum of 1,000 miles per night and more expensive hotels generally earn more points. Just note that you generally won’t be able to earn hotel points or use hotel elite status benefits on these bookings, since you’re booking through an Online Travel Agency (OTA). However, many boutique and independent hotels are listed on the Miles & More portal, so it may be worthwhile to use it to book hotels that you wouldn’t otherwise earn points with.

You can also book rental cars through the portal, but you may not be able to use car rental status benefits or earn rental car status. As always, make sure to wage whether earning Miles & More points outweigh these possible exclusions.

One thing to keep in mind: always cross-check hotel and rental car prices when using the Miles & More hotel portal. While the prices are usually comparable to booking direct, sometimes the price can vary. Additionally, all prices are listed in euros, so make sure to use a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Related: How to save on rental cars

Redeeming with Miles & More

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

We generally recommend redeeming your Miles & More miles for award travel. While you can redeem for merchandise, hotels and gift cards, this isn’t recommended as you’ll get a much lower redemption value than for flights.

Here’s how to redeem for flights as well and a list of some of my favorite Miles & More redemptions.

Redeeming Miles & More miles for award flights

Miles & More employs a standard award chart, meaning that flights don’t fluctuate in price. Award flights are priced based by zone and class of service, and you can book any Star Alliance flight that has award space. As for pricing, award flights are surprisingly reasonable. For example, transatlantic flights are 30,000 points in economy, 46,000 in premium economy class, 56,000 in business class and 91,000 in first class. You can view the complete Miles & More award chart on the loyalty program’s website.

Do note that Miles & More adds fuel surcharges for most tickets — in practice, this is about $320 per ticket for intercontinental flights. The only exception are Air Canada flights within North America and United Airlines flights within North America, South America and Oceania; these awards incur minimal taxes and fees.

Redeeming points for flights is easy — head to the Miles & More website and navigate to the spend miles page. Scroll to the center of the screen, enter your flight details and click the blue Search flights button at the bottom of the screen. Then, your flight options will appear at the center of the screen; click on the flight you want to book and follow the on-screen prompts to book.

In my research, I’ve found that nearly all Star Alliance partner flights show on the Miles & More booking website. This means that there’s no reason to call in to book award tickets, and you can rely on the Miles & More search engine to show reliable flight results.

Related: 6 tips for booking Lufthansa first-class awards

The best uses of Miles & More flights

Redeeming Miles & More miles is one thing, but finding a great redemption is another. The award chart is very reasonable and there are some real sweet spots to be found. Here’s a look at a few of my personal favorites as a U.S. based traveler — use them as a jumping-off point for redeeming your Miles & More points.

Lufthansa First Class

Miles & More doesn’t offer the best redemption value for transatlantic tickets in Lufthansa first class, but it does have the best available award space. Lufthansa only opens first class award space to its partners two weeks prior to departure, but this isn’t the case for Miles & More. You can access Lufthansa first class award space months beforehand, so it’s easier to plan vacations on one of the world’s best first-class products.

Lufthansa First Class (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)
Lufthansa First Class (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

North America to Oceania

Flights from the U.S. to Australia, New Zealand and the rest of Oceania cost just 71,000 miles one-way. If you book these awards on United Airlines, you won’t pay high fuel surcharges either, given you a great way to fly Down Under on points and miles.

North America to Southeast Asia

Likewise, flights from North America to Southeast Asia cost just 71,000 miles one-way in business class. You’ll have to pay fuel surcharges on these tickets, but you can fly awesome business class products on carriers like Air CanadaAll Nippon Airways (ANA) and EVA Air for a fraction of the price of a revenue ticket.

Bottom line

Lufthansa Group’s Miles & More program is one of the most rewarding loyalty programs on the market. HON Circle and Senator status offer standout benefits, and its redemption rates for premium class awards are some of the best out there. However, it’s also one of the hardest mileage currencies to earn, especially for those of us that are based in the U.S.

Are you a Miles & More elite member? Let us know your favorite status benefits in the comments.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy

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