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®
The 50,000 mile Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard® offer is currently one of the best airline credit card offers available. It’s one of the few welcome bonuses that is worth a roundtrip flight to Europe from the US. Since it’s a valuable recurring offer I’m updating and adding more info to this series that will cover the basics of the Miles & More frequent flyer program and using Lufthansa miles.
[The current 50k offer is a limited time offer and 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!]
Part 1: The Program and Award Chart
Part 3: 10 Great Uses of Lufthansa Miles
Part 4: Stopover & Open Jaw Rules
Part 5: How to Book Awards
The increased 50,000 mile bonus offer for the Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard® is currently one of the best airline credit card offers on the market. You'll earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within 90 days, and after meeting the spending requirement you will have enough miles for a round trip ticket to Europe from the US or two round trip flights within the continental US.
In my opinion this is a great offer considering it will get you a round trip award flight to Europe, if you end up grabbing this card be sure to read up on how to maximize your miles with this series!
When you use airline miles to book an award ticket you will always pay for government taxes and fees, but depending on what airline you fly on, you may also pay fuel surcharges. Fuel surcharges are additional fees that an airline charges to cover part of the cost of the ticket and are non-revenue earning. Essentially you are paying for the fuel cost to fly you to your destination.
Most of the time you will not be charged a fuel surcharge on award flights within the US, however, on international awards you are more likely to incur them. Lufthansa charges fuel surcharges on all of their award flights and also many of their partner airlines, so to maximize your miles it is best to book awards that do not include fuel surcharges.
You can unlock more value using Lufthansa miles by choosing to redeem the miles with specific airline partners or by flying to specific regions around the world.
If you end up applying for the The Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® and earn the 55,000 miles from the card, you should consider the best options for using your miles.
When you purchase a flight with cash, the cost of the ticket can be broken down into three parts:
On all paid tickets the bottom line is the total cost of the ticket, and it’s not necessarily important how much of the ticket is base fare vs. fuel surcharges.
One of the easiest ways to see how a ticket fare is broken down is by using the ITA Matrix. Fuel surcharges will almost always be listed under the codes “YR” or “YQ.” Here is an example of how ITA Matrix easily shows you how much you are paying in fuel surcharges:
In this example the fuel surcharges came out to be $290 on a one-way ticket from Portland to Tokyo flying on American Airlines.
However, when you book an award flight you can break down the cost of the ticket similarly, but you won’t always pay fuel surcharges:
It’s clear that to get the most value from your airline miles you always want to avoid paying fuel surcharges, afterall the lower your total fees are, the more you save. When you really start to research the cost saving opportunities on award tickets you can even go as far as flying into or out of different countries to avoid high airport taxes.
Unfortunately, Lufthansa passes fuel surcharges onto many of its partner airline award tickets booked with Lufthansa miles. However, depending on the airline you fly on, you can largely avoid or minimize the cost of fuel surcharges.
That means on many Lufthansa partner award flights you can still pay $0 or very low fuel surcharges. This will only leave you paying the normal government taxes and fees which are unavoidable. This post will outline which Lufthansa partners charge zero or low fuel surcharges on some routes.
You can use Lufthansa miles and pay no or low fuel surcharges for flights within North America and to Hawaii and Alaska, Europe, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia.
Overall the Lufthansa award chart is very competitive and their stopover and open jaw rules are among the most generous across all airline programs. You can get a stopover in each direction and can book a stopover on one-way awards. To easily compare award charts across different airlines see my Airline Award Chart Comparisons.
|Region||No or Low Fuel Surcharges ($0 - $100)||Mid-level Fuel Surcharges ($100 - $300)||High Fuel Surcharges ($300+)|
|Europe||LOT||Condor Airlines, Turkish Airlines||Air Canada, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Swiss, TAP, United|
|Central American & Caribbean||Avianca, TACA, Copa||Air Canada|
|South America||Avianca, TACA, Copa, United|
|Middle East/ N. & Central Africa||Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines||United, EgyptAir|
|South Africa||South African Airways|
|South East Asia|
|Central Asia/Far East||Air China||Asiana Airlines, EVA, Singapore Airlines||ANA, Air Canada, United, Thai Airways|
|Australia/New Zealand||Air New Zealand||Air Canada, United|
An important point to remember when using Lufthansa miles is that if you connect through a third region on your itinerary, the award will automatically be priced out at the 3 region award level. That means that the airline and destination combinations included in this chart are not exhaustive, but rather include most of the options for one-way or round trip award options.
It is possible to fly to many more destinations on each partner,however you may connect through a third region and pay the three region award price. This is only a good value if you want to add a stopover within the third region to see more destinations.
You will never pay fuel surcharges on award flights out of Brazil. In fact, it is against Brazilian law to charge fuel surcharges on flights, which means you can fly out of Brazil on any Star Alliance partners and pay no fuel surcharges.
This means that you can book unique award tickets that includes Brazil and avoid fuel surcharges on some of the best airlines to Europe from South America. For instance, you can book a three region award from the US to Brazil to Europe and pay no to very low fuel surcharges. This award would look something like this:
US to Brazil: Avianca, Copa, United
Brazil to Europe: Lufthansa, SWISS, Singapore Airlines, Air China
Europe to US: Polish LOT (low fuel surcharges around $200)
You could also do something with an award to travel from the US to Africa or Asia with a stopover in South America.
Star Alliance airlines which fly in/out of Sao Paulo (GRU):
Star Alliance airlines which fly in/out Rio de Janeiro (GIG):
Lufthansa miles can offer amazing value if you know how to use them and by choosing the right airline to fly on, you can pay no fuel surcharges. On top of this you can incorporate stopovers on one-ways to create unique trips and get a ton of value from your miles. Because of this Lufthansa miles are among some of the best miles to use for award flights within the US, to South America, and flying on select airlines to Europe, China, and New Zealand.
On the other hand, you can expect to pay fuel surcharges using Lufthansa miles on partner airlines which were included in the mid-level and high fuel surcharge list within this post. This means award flights to many European cities and the Middle East may cost more using Lufthansa miles than on United or other airline miles.