*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated Mar 13, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
If you frequently travel to Germany and beyond, Lufthansa’s Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® is a solid card to consider. The card has a few perks that help with the airline’s Miles & More loyalty program status and airport lounge access.
But aside from that, the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® has precious few benefits to justify its annual fee. We’ll look at the pros and cons of this card, and show why the United℠ Explorer Card could be a much better alternative.
Where the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® stands out
The card has an annual fee of $89. That fee is waived for Senator and HON Circle Members as long as they maintain their elite status.
New cardmembers LTO: Earn 75,000 award miles. Earn 50,000 award miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days and payment of the annual fee, then an additional 25,000 award miles after spending $20,000 in purchases within the first year. Use those miles to take a one-way inter-European flight in business class.
Earn 2 award miles per $1 spent on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners, and 1 award mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Those partner airlines include Adria Airways, AirDolomiti, Austrian Airlines Group, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Lufthansa Regional, Lufthansa Private Jet, Luxair and SWISS.
Because Lufthansa is part of the Star Alliance, those miles can also be redeemed on 27 member airlines directly at Lufthansa.com. Miles can also be redeemed on the previously mentioned 11 partner airlines.
Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® comes with a free economy class companion ticket every anniversary year the card remains open.
Once a year, cardmembers can convert between 5,000 and 25,000 earned miles into miles that help build status at a 5:1 ratio. For example, 5,000 award miles converts to 1,000 status miles.
Cardmembers receive two free Lufthansa Business Lounge vouchers a year as long as the card remains open. The card also comes with a 15% discount code that can be used with Miles & More hotel and car partners during a calendar year.
Feel free to use the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® when traveling outside the U.S. since it has a foreign exchange fee of 0% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.
Where the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® falls short
Some might not want to do the spending required to get the sign-up bonus, since the bonus miles aren’t enough for a trip between the U.S. and Europe, which runs 60,000 each way in economy.
You’re lucky to get a penny per bonus mile with many airline credit cards. However, when looking at the value of the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®’s bonus miles, they’re more than double that of competing airline cards. That’s pretty good when redemption time comes — but only if you fly Lufthansa regularly.
Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®’s points per dollar spent outside of Lufthansa is low. Competing airline and travel cards offer more in popular spending categories including broader travel, dining and gas.
Make sure your account stays open for at least three months and that you buy something on the card at least once a month to keep your miles from expiring. Miles & More Frequent Travellers, Senators and HON Circle members are exempt from this as long as they maintain their elite status.
If you want to use your free companion ticket, you can’t just book it at lufthansa.com. Instead, you must call the Miles & More Companion Ticket Service at 866-461-5399 and make a reservation. Taxes and fees must be paid on the companion ticket.
The companion ticket can only be used on flights between the U.S. and Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Far East. It can’t be used for premium economy flights and you’ll pay up to a $60 surcharge if you travel on the weekend.
The conversion to status miles is pretty steep, so make sure you only redeem miles when you’re right on the edge of keeping your premium status on Lufthansa. Finally, this card only comes with two free airport lounge passes; there are no travel or purchase protection perks.
Compare it with the United℠ Explorer Card
If you don’t fly regularly on Lufthansa and are looking for a card with better miles per $1 spent and more travel and purchase perks, then this card is a solid option. Because United Airlines, like Lufthansa, is also in the Star Alliance, you can redeem your MileagePlus® miles on the German carrier, along with 26 other partners.
New cardmembers get Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months. That’s enough miles for a round-trip Saver economy ticket from anywhere in the mainland U.S., Alaska and Canada to sunny Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Earning more miles in the popular restaurant and hotel spending categories makes the United℠ Explorer Card stand out compared to the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®. There’s no limit on the miles you can earn, and your miles don’t expire as long as your MileagePlus account remains open and there’s activity on it at least every 18 months. There are no seat restrictions or blackout dates when using miles to book award travel.
Airline benefits that come with the card include a free checked bag for the cardholder and one companion traveling on the same reservation; priority boarding for everyone on the same reservation; two free United Club passes every year; and the ability to use miles to book travel on United and its Star Alliance global partners.
Perks on the United℠ Explorer Card include trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, auto rental collision damage waiver, purchase protection and extended warranty. There’s also an up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck enrollment fees and a 25% statement credit for spending on in-flight food and beverage and Wi-Fi purchases.
The card comes with access to the Visa Signature® Concierge and the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, which comes with room upgrades and free daily breakfast for two, early check-in, late checkout (if available) and other amenities at more than 900 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.
The only airline benefit offered by the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® is two free lounge passes a year. Plus, it doesn’t come with any travel or purchase perks. But the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® has a way to help you maintain elite status on Lufthansa, while the United℠ Explorer Card doesn’t.
|Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®||United℠ Explorer Card|
|Annual fee||$89||$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95|
|Regular purchase APR||17.74%, 21.74% or 26.74% variable||16.49% to 23.49% Variable|
|Rewards||Earn 2 award miles per $1 spent on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners, and 1 award mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.||Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases|
|Sign-up bonus||LTO: Earn 75,000 award miles. Earn 50,000 award miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days and payment of the annual fee, then an additional 25,000 award miles after spending $20,000 in purchases within the first year.||Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months|
|Foreign transaction fee||0% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.||$0|
The bottom line
The Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® is a niche card that doesn’t make sense for most potential cardholders. The only unique benefits of the card are earning and transferring miles toward Lufthansa status, the free companion ticket and the two free lounge passes. So the only good reason to get this card is for the sign-up bonus to build up miles in Lufthansa’s Miles and More loyalty program or if you need help reaching elite status on the carrier.
For U.S.-based customers, the United℠ Explorer Card is a much better option, thanks to airline perks that improve the travel experience along with solid travel and purchase perks. And because Lufthansa and United are both Star Alliance members, you can redeem your MileagePlus miles on Lufthansa and other partner airlines.
The information related to the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.