Barclays increased 50,000 mile sign-up bonus on the Lufthansa Miles & More World Mastercard

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Update: This offer for Barclays Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® is expired, but there’s currently an opportunity to earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within first 90 days of having the card. Learn more about the special offer here.

We’ve gotta give Barclays some props for what they’re doing in the US credit card market, as they’re slowly starting to give American Express and Chase a run for their money as far as their sign-up bonuses go. In this case they just increased the sign-up bonus on the Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World Mastercard.

The official version of the increased sign-up offer is for 20,000 miles after the first purchase and an additional 30,000 miles after spending $5,000 on the card within 90 days.

However, there’s an unofficial sign-up offer which is also for 20,000 miles after the first purchase and an additional 30,000 miles after spending $2,500 on the card within 90 days. The catch is that if you’re not approved for the Premier card and are instead approved for the Platinum card (which sometimes happens with Barclays) you get only 5,000 miles, which isn’t the case with the official offer, which gives you the 50,000 miles for both offers. Furthermore, there’s no landing page to this offer, and in the past Barclays has sometimes auto-declined applications for unofficial links, so there is some risk with this offer.

Through both offers there’s an annual fee of $79, which isn’t waived for the first year. The card offers two miles per dollar spent on airline purchases and one mile per dollar spent on everything else, so really isn’t very attractive beyond the sign-up bonus. The card also comes with a companion certificate valid on coach fares, though unfortunately it’s only for higher fare tickets, so probably isn’t of much value to most of us.

In terms of redeeming Lufthansa miles, they have a zone based award chart, which can be found here. As you can see the redemption rates aren’t especially attractive. The other catch is that they impose fuel surcharges on award redemptions in most cases when the operating airline would as well. Miles & More miles are valid for 36 months from the date of issue.

Given that, there are only thress instances where Lufthansa miles are notably worthwhile:

For travel within the US

Lufthansa charges just 25,000 miles for a roundtrip domestic US coach award, or 35,000 miles for a roundtrip domestic US business class award. They even offer one-way awards at half the cost of a roundtrip.

While 25,000 miles is the standard roundtrip coach award cost, the 35,000 miles for a domestic business class award is pretty damn good. It’s worth noting that Lufthansa will charge the business class price for United domestic three cabin business class or United domestic two cabin first class, both of which book into the “I” (business class) award fare bucket. Unfortunately US Airways first class awards book into “O,” which is the first class award fare bucket and wouldn’t be eligible for those rates.

For travel in Lufthansa first class

Nowadays Lufthansa only releases first class award space to Star Alliance partners at most 15 days out. The only way to snag it before then is to redeem through Miles & More. A one-way first class ticket between the US and Europe costs 85,000 Miles & More miles, plus fuel surcharges.

This sign-up bonus gets you a good ways towards that, and given that you can transfer in points from Starwood it might not be too expensive to make up the difference.

For travel in Swiss first class

If you think Lufthansa is restrictive with releasing first class award space to Star Alliance partners, take a look at Swiss’ policy. They don’t release any first class award space to Star Alliance partners anymore. Not even a day before departure.

Despite that policy, they actually release a good amount of first class award space to Miles & More members, often a handful of seats per flight:

And Swiss does have one of the world’s best first class products, in my opinion, with amazing in-flight catering. So if you haven’t yet flown Swiss first class and want to use miles, Miles & More is your only option for doing so.

Is this a better deal than the Barclays Arrival?

The sign-up bonus was also recently increased on the Barclays Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® which offers a 40,000 mile sign-up bonus, good for up to $440 towards the cost of travel. Earning the sign-up bonus on that card requires just $3,000 worth of spend within first 90 days, and while there’s an $89 annual fee, it’s waived the first year.

So which should you sign up for — the Arrival card or the Lufthansa card? Well, you can actually get approved for more than one Barclays credit card at a time, so if you wanted to you could pick them both up at once. And since most people are limited in inquiries with American Express and Chase, both of these sign-up offers are valuable if for no other reason than that they’re not American Express or Chase cards.

But if you wanted to get just one, which is a better offer? To simplify the offers, as I see it, you can get two roundtrip domestic coach tickets or three one-way domestic United first class tickets with the Lufthansa sign-up offer, and it’ll cost you $79. The alternative is more or less $440 of travel cash without an annual fee the first year and with a lower spend requirement, with the Arrival sign-up offer. Assuming you’d have no problem redeeming for three domestic one-way first class tickets with United, I’d say the Lufthansa card is a better offer. That being said, if you don’t have a specific use in mind I’d probably go with the Arrival card given how much more flexible the miles are, the lack of an annual fee the first year, and the lower spend requirement.

(In the interest of full disclosure I earn a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through the official Lufthansa card link as well as the Barclays Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® link, though I don’t earn a bonus for anyone that’s approved through the unofficial Lufthansa link. Regardless of which links you use, thanks for reading!)

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  1. @Lucky,
    ” Well, you can actually get approved for more than one Barclay credit card at a time”
    Can is the word! I was not able to get more than one card. Already had a Barclay card, applied for 3 last round. Only got one.

  2. Recently denied for Arrival card after recon call for too many inquiries in last four months (about 10 new cards) and since I got usairways card two months ago. Hope this is around for another several months.

  3. I know we all hate Y, but if you do US-Europe in Y, its only 50k miles r/t. Just a thought if you want a $79 ticket to Europe.

  4. I recently got this card for exactly the SWISS reasons you wrote about. Having flown SWISS F before it is really to be enjoyed. Anyway, any thoughts on a possible way to approach them about getting some of the bonus miles since my card is only a few months old?

  5. “Well, you can actually get approved for more than one Barclay credit card at a time”

    I thought this has not been working for months, no? I think it’s only 1 card per day now, all subsequent apps will be rejected. Plus they may pull your report again a few days later and see you did an app-o-rama and shut down all your Barclays cards.

  6. @ ABC @ Lantean — It’s true that you won’t get approved for more than one card if you call the reconsideration line, though I’ve heard of many successful reports of getting more than one automatic approval in one day.

  7. @ vitempest — I don’t believe Barclays matches better offers after the fact as a rule, though you can try sending them a secure message and seeing if they’ll match. Otherwise most Barclays cards are churnable, so you might just have luck applying for it again.

  8. Please elaborate on this statement:

    ”Well, you can actually get approved for more than one Barclay credit card at a time”

    Do you mean apply for more than one Barclay card on the same day (which I’ve never heard was true)?

    Or that you can *have* more than one Barclay card (eg you already have a US Air card, then you can get a Lufthansa card) – which seems to be true of any credit card company – no?

  9. @lucky

    were those reports recent? i thought this has changed quite recently… maybe 2-3 months or so.

  10. I believe you cannot be approved for 2 Barclaycards at once. I tried recently last month. However, I did not have an exisiting relationship with Barclays. It is very YMMV.. Barclays is becoming very strict from what I’ve heard and experienced.

  11. Hi Lucky,
    Please confirm that one-way award travel is an option via M&M. Also, how is business class award availability [52.5k miles]? I am looking to book two business or first tickets PAR – SEA on 01/04/14; a rather tight date when it comes to award travel. The PAR-ZRH-ORD-SEA route looks interesting and would offer my first chance to enjoy LX.
    Thank you.

  12. @ David — Yes, one-ways are available at half the cost of a roundtrip. Business availability is also quite good, though the difference between that and Star Alliance availability isn’t as start as it is in first class.

  13. I applied for 3 Barclay cards 2 weeks ago. Had one prior. Score is decent 750. My best guess is that Barclay has realized that addicts are pimping the system and recently changed their procedures. Of course this is just me speculating. I will only apply for one at a time (w/ Barclay)

  14. 2 pts

    1- Its not 2 pts per $1 for Plane tkts, its 2 pts per $1 when you purcahse a tkt on any of Miles & More Carriers. So purcahse a $800 tkt on UA you willearn only 1 pt per $1

    Its Important to look up what those * or (1) refer to

    2- Just as US Bankcorp lost the NW CC when DL took over NW. Most likley Citi will be the surviving bank when US & AA become 1 = Barclays ned to step up now before they lose alot of their CC biz

  15. @ABC – Please tell us what the RESULTS were when you applied for 3 Barclays cards on the same day. Also, which Barclays cards they were, and which card you held previously, how long it had been since your last Barclays application, and how many card applications (to any bank) you have made in the past 4-6 months.

    Without such details, a statement like “I applied for 3 Barclay cards 2 weeks ago” doesn’t tell us anything useful. Details, please.

    Thank you!

  16. How long do Lufthansa miles last before they expire? And what are some of the options for extending them (without flying)?

  17. @Everett Lufthansa miles expire after 3 years, with NO way to extend them at all. The only way to avoid this is to make at least one, however small, charge on the LH card every billing period. If you miss even one time, the 3 year expiration kicks in. And be aware that’s not one per month, it’s one per statement period.

    Although I have heard that if you miss only one, you can get LH to over-ride this. But probably not more than once, and I wouldn’t count on it either.

    But really, with the huge gutting of the HHonors award chart, LH cutting award space with UA miles to 14 days out, the merger of US/AA, etc do you really want to keep any miles more than 3 years? As a very wise man says regularly: “Earn them and burn them”. 😛

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