Update 6/30/2014: The current welcome bonus has been reduced to 35,000 miles. All links in this post go to the following offer:
Application Link: Miles & More® Premier World MasterCard®
- Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
- Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
- Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
- Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
- Annual Companion Ticket after first purchase
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
- Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines and other partners
- $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members
The Premier Miles & More World MasterCard® 50,000 miles offer is one of the best current airline credit card offers available. This is a series that will cover the basics of the Miles & More frequent flyer program and the best uses of Lufthansa miles. In this post I will cover how to get the most out of your Miles & More awards and how to book them.
[The current 50k offer is published to end on June 30, 2014. As always, if you decide to apply for the credit card through my links the support is greatly appreciated!]
Lufthansa Miles & More Basics Series
Part 1: The Program and Award Chart
Part 2: 9 Great Uses of Lufthansa Miles
Part 3: Booking Awards and Maximizing Your Miles
Part 4: Maximizing the 3 Region Award Chart
Maximizing Lufthansa Miles
When booking Miles & More awards there are big trade offs between booking either two one ways or one round trip award. Both methods will get to you a round trip ticket, but each has its own set up rules.
Benefits of one ways:
- Save miles when price is rounded down to next 1,000 miles
- Can book 2 one ways to use 2 open jaws
Benefits of round trips:
- Allowed 2 stopovers and 2 open jaws
Depending on your itinerary you may want to book a round trip award using two one ways to get two open jaws. It really comes down to your individual travel plans and which destinations you plan on visiting. Since I love to use stopovers to see additional destinations for the same amount of miles Lufthansa miles offer a huge value by allowing 2 stopovers per round trip.
Avoid High Fuel Surcharges
Lufthansa miles are much more valuable if you can avoid booking on airlines that charge high fuel surcharges. Several of the Miles & More partner airlines that you can book on have low or no fuel surcharges:
- US Airways (all flights)
- United (domestic flights)
- Polish LOT
- Air New Zealand
There are actually quite a few airlines that don’t have fuel surcharges in Star Alliance. All flights to South America except on Air Canada will not have fuel surcharges. All US Airways flights and Air New Zealand do not have fuel surcharges either. You can fly to Central America, South America, Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands without paying any fuel surcharges.
For all the airlines that do not charge fuel surcharges you can check airport taxes for destinations using ITA Matrix to figure out how much they will cost. To price out any awards that are not on Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels Airlines, and a few other european carriers you have to call in to Miles & More at 800-581-6400 (8am-8pm ET Monday - Friday).
Miles & More Stopover and Open Jaw Rules = 2 stopovers & 2 open jaws
Lufthansa has very generous stopover and open jaw rules that allow you to book some very interesting award trips. Lufthansa allows 2 stopovers and 2 open jaws on round trip awards. You do not get stopovers on one way awards.
These stopover and open jaw rules are much more generous than most US Airlines and since you can stay at a stopover destination for as long as you want, you can make creative trips. Say for example, a round trip economy award to Europe would allow you to stop at 3 destinations for 50,000 miles.
On round trip awards you’re allowed one stopover per direction--two stopovers per round trip. The award has to cover two or more regions and cannot be in the region of your first flight (origin).
You could book a round trip from the US to Santiago, Chile with a stopover in Lima and return home from Buenos Aires and have a stopover in Bogota on your flight back. Since all airlines (except Air Canada) that fly from North America to South America don’t have fuel surcharges you could book this award for 60,000 points and ~$220 in taxes and fees.
Two open jaws are allowed on round trip awards. If you book a round trip award that visits two regions and you travel overland from regions, you will pay the award price for the more expensive region. To get around this you can book two one ways. This will essentially give you two open jaws, but you will not be able to add stopovers.
“Should the airport of departure and the final destination be located in different award zones (open-jaw flight), the higher award zone always applies and is used for mileage redemption.”
For example if you fly to Barcelona (Europe) and return home from Marrakech (Northern Africa) your award will be priced out for flying to the more expensive region--Northern Africa.
To review more info about Miles & More’s policies you can visit their terms and conditions page.
Save Miles by Booking One-ways
Miles & More allows you to book one way awards for half the price of round trip awards. One advantage of booking one ways is that the awards will be priced out in multiples of 1,000 and always rounded down!
You won’t save huge miles by booking one ways, but if you are not planning on using the free stopovers that you get with a round trip, then you can save up to 2,000 miles on an award. This is one of the benefits of booking one ways.
A normal round trip business award from the US to Europe is 105,000 miles, but when you book the trip as two one ways the total is 104,000 miles (each one way is 52,000 miles). Plus you get the option of having 2 open jaws.
3 Region Awards
You can book a round trip award that visits 3 regions for a fixed price of 100,000 miles in economy, 185,000 in business and 290,000 in first class.
The 3 region awards can make some great awards, but the trick is you can ONLY visit 3 regions--not even connect through a 4th region. So booking them can be a huge value if you get the routing right, or a huge pain if you can’t. If you are booking a normal 2 region round trip and your flight lands in a 3rd region en route to your destination, the 3 region award price kicks in. You can get around this by choosing direct flights that don't have layovers in a 3rd region.
A tip for booking a 3 region award is to include a flight to one of Star Alliance partner’s hub, such as Lufthansa’s in Munich or Frankfurt. By connecting your 3rd destination through a hub you are more likely to find a direct flight. An example would be flying from the US to Munich, then to Sao Paulo on a direct flight, and returning home on another direct flight. This award can price out to be less than $500 round trip!
Limited Number of Segments
The biggest limitation of using Lufthansa miles is the maximum number of flight segments allowed for each award type. The maximum segment rules limit the number of connections you can have, and sometimes this means not being able to add a stopover.
On one way awards you are allowed half the flight segments that are allowed on a round trip award.
Each flight is considered 1 segment and you are allowed the following:
Same region award: 2 segments per direction (4 per round trip)
You are allowed 2 flight segments per direction on a same region award, this just means that you can have one connection and 2 flights. Remember that you CANNOT have a stopover in the originating zone, so no stopovers on domestic awards in the US or other single country awards.
Two region award: 3 segments and 1 stop over per direction (6 per round trip)
On a two region award you are allowed 3 flight segments per direction and up to 6 segments per round trip. Since you can have stopovers on a two region award you are allowed to book two connections and one stopover per direction. The stopover has to be on the way to the destination, meaning the destination has to be the farthest in distance (turn around point).
Three region award: 4 segments per direction (8 per round trip) and 1 stopover
A 3 region award lets you fly between 3 different regions on the award chart (1 region being the originating city). The award is a flat price of 100,000 miles no matter what regions you decide to fly to. You can have up to 4 segments per direction and one stopover during the whole trip.
The trick to booking 3 region awards is that you cannot connect in a 4th region, so you have to have direct flights if you are passing through an additional region. You can use the Star Alliance route map to look up non-stop flights to find an itinerary that stays within the 3 region award price.
Domestic Award Chart
One of the best uses of Lufthansa miles is to redeem them for domestic awards for 25,000 round trip in economy and 35,000 round trip in business class. The domestic award chart applies to flights that stay within one country. It is a great value for flights within the US and you can even use them on partner airlines within other countries. Keep in mind that the same region award rules still apply, so you can only have a maximum of 2 flight segments per direction and no stopovers.
Miles & More publishes a long list of round trip awards to Europe discounted 50% off the normal price. You can book a economy flight to europe for 30,000 miles round trip and a business class flight for 55,000 round trip.
If you can match up the departure and destination cities you can book awards for half the price and save huge miles. To avoid fuel surcharges you can book on Polish LOT and only pay low taxes and fees on a round trip award.
Mixed Cabin Awards
Avoid booking mixed cabin awards at all costs. When you fly one leg of your trip in economy and the other in business or first class your award costs the price of the higher award segment. Again, by booking two one ways you can easily get around this at the price of losing the stopovers.
“If the outbound and inbound flights of the flight award are booked in different classes of service, the number of miles required for the entire trip is calculated with reference to the higher class.”
This could potentially cause a headache in the situation where you cannot find award seat availability on a long segment of a round trip awards that uses stopovers. In this case you just might just have to pay the price.
Booking Online and By Phone
First you need to create an account at Miles & More. Since you will need miles in your account to search for awards be sure to opt-in for the Miles & More newsletters when you’re enrolling for an account to earn 500 miles. This way you can search for awards while you are waiting for you card bonus to post.
After creating an account you’ll need a PIN to log in. You can call the Miles & More Service Center at 800-581-6400 to have your PIN sent to you through email. This will save you from waiting several weeks to receive the actual card and PIN in the mail
With just a few miles in your account you will be able to to search available award space, but unless you have enough miles to actually book an award and won’t be able to price out awards online. Instead, you will have to call Lufthansa’s reservation line and speak with a Lufthansa agent for the exact award pricing. Luckily there is no fee for booking with an agent over the phone!
To make your reservation over the phone, you can call one of the regional call centers:
U.S.: 800-581-6400 8am-8pm ET Monday - Friday
Australia: +61 13-00-655-727 7am-9pm AEST (summer) / 8am-10pm AEWT (winter) Daily
Singapore: +65 62-45-5600 9am-5pm local time Monday - Friday
Germany: +49 69-209-777-777 7am-10pm local time Monday-Saturday
Turkey: +90 212 354 88 99 9am-9pm local time Daily
You can only book awards flights online for Lufthansa, SWISS, and other Lufthansa Group airline awards online. For flights on Star Alliance partners and to book awards with stopovers and open jaws you also have to call in an book over the phone.
Change, Cancellation, Phone Booking and Close in Booking Fees
Miles & More have very customer friendly booking and cancellation fees compared to most domestic US airlines. With Miles & more the fees are:
- No phone booking fee
- No close-in booking fee (note: you must book awards at least 2 working days before departure)
- Change or cancellation fee = $60 (free within 24 hours of booking)
“Flight awards which are cancelled prior to the start of the outbound journey can be refunded subject to a cancellation charge of €50.”
“A charge of €50 or CHF 70/USD 60 is payable for rebooking or cancelling a flight award.”
How Far in Advance can you Book?
Miles & More allows you to book awards up to 361 days in advance. This is especially nice for booking Lufthansa, Swiss, LOT, and Austrian Business/First Class award space. You are basically getting more awards space and can book before you would be able to with United miles.
“You can book your flight award up to 361 days in advance of the desired travel date. Flight awards are valid for twelve months after the date of issue.”
As always, if you decide to apply for a card though my links or Credit Karma banner the support keeps the blog going and is greatly appreciated!
The Premier Miles & More World MasterCard
- Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
- 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 use of the account and annually after each account anniversary
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
- Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance member airlines and other partners
- $79 Annual Fee. Please see Terms and Conditions for complete details
Application Link: The Premier Miles & More World MasterCard
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