You Were Right and I Was Wrong (Credit Card Smackdown Watch)

The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard®

Barclays bank has upped their signup bonus on the Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard to 50,000 points — 20,000 after first purchase and 30,000 more after meeting minimum spend within 90 days.

The card comes with a $79 annual fee, and the points are surprisingly useful (though I recommend that even if you do get the card and collect Miles & More points, that you’re 25% better off earning them via the Starwood American Express than through this card).

Miles & More is a great way to get domestic premium cabin awards on United (35,000 miles roundtrip compared to 50,000 miles in the United MIleage Plus program) and also to get first class awards on Lufthansa and Swiss, given the greater availability afforded to Miles & More members than to the members of their Star Alliance partners.

When I first wrote about the offer on Friday some folks commented that they had found a link to the card that required a lower minimum spend — just $2500 instead of $5000.

There was no landing page for this ostensibly better offer, but I woke up early Saturday morning, read through the terms and conditions page on the application, and verified that it said you’d get the same bonus. So I posted an update to the original post with that offer. It did look better for most.

Barclays sometimes approves you for a lesser card than the one you applied for. There was some speculation that this wouldn’t happen with the $5000 spend link, but that it could with the $2500 spend link, and so risk averse folks should take the higher spend requirement.

Well, that was clearly false, since I re-read the terms and conditions of the applications and both offers flagged that you could be given the lesser card. So I declared the lower spend requirement to be better. And I did so despite initial reservations that the $2500 minimum spend requirement link would even work, Barclays has a tendency to leave up applications that don’t actually work. They appear to submit, but they go into a black hole.

Well, my readers schooled me on this one.

First of all it seems folks aren’t actually having success with the $2500 minimum spend link, anyway. My initial reaction was to wait until there was confirmation that the link worked. I ignored that, and I look a bit foolish for it.

Second of all, several readers pointed out to me that while it’s possible to get a lesser card with either application, that with the $2500 minimum spend link you risk getting not just the lesser card, but also a lesser signup bonus — just 5000 miles instead of the possibility of 50,000.

For instance, Jamie pointed out that the terms of the standard $5000 minimum spend signup offer said,

Premier World and Platinum Miles & More MasterCard cardmembers will receive 20,000 bonus miles upon the first use of your new Account for a purchase or balance transfer within the first 60 days that the Account is opened. Cardmembers will receive an additional 30,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening.”

So even if they downgraded you to the lesser card, it was right there in black and white that you’re still supposed to get the same bonus.

Ok, so some of you were even a little less polite about this nuance that I missed, for instance:

As usual, you prove your inability to read and comprehend basic contract language.

I certainly hope this isn’t usually the case, but in this instance it was. My bad.

With the $2500 minimum spend link you risked getting only 5000 miles (if the link even worked) while with the $5000 standard link you could get the full miles either way, or at least that’s what the terms said. Pretty appealing.

While most folks with good credit and without too many outstanding cards/too much outstanding credit would probably still have gotten the regular offer from either link (if the lower spend requirement link worked reliably), it was actually reasonable to argue that the higher spend requirement was a better offer.

And though it was a very reasonable argument even with the data available at the time, I didn’t treat it as reasonable. I was wrong for that. And now there’s even more data which suggests the ‘riskier’ bet isn’t working reliably.

If it helps at all, my motives were good I think — lots of folks were arguing that the ‘affiliate link’ which also offered them referral credit (as it does for me) was better and based on my read at the time I didn’t think that it was, so I wanted to get that idea out there.

But indeed, I need to eat my words. The 50,000 point signup bonus offer after $5000 in spend does appear to be the best available offer for the Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard®.

(Note that cards in this post offer credit to me if you’re approved using my links. I try to offer only the best available cards, and most lucrative deals available for those cards. So if you’re aware of better deals than I’ve featured please do let me know! The opinions, analyses, and evaluations here are mine. The content is not provided or commissioned by American Express, by Chase, by Citibank, US Bank, Bank of America, Barclays or any other company. They have not reviewed, approved or endorsed what I have to say.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I got hosed with a Barclays US Air link about two months back. Been timed out of Barclays apps now as it claims I have made too many requests even though non of them have really gone through. Very annoying.

  2. Dear Lord! A new CC offer that warrants THREE posts? This is getting to be like a Mexican telenovela. I wonder what will happen next!?!

  3. Sorry but I got confused after all these posts! So which card will enable me to get 50,000 bonus points after the minimum spend (the $2500 min spend or $5000 min spend?) What is the “lesser” card if both cards get the 50,000 bonus points after min spend?

  4. Now that’s the Gary we have all come to know and love.
    And yes, it was obvious all along that your heart was in the right place, recommending a link you thought was better for us than the one that would have benefited you.

    Like some of your other commentators I too went overboard on criticism, for two reasons.

    One, I knew I was right, and I was. And I expect you to be both more knowledgeable and more experienced than I am, so this really confused me.

    But more than that, I am still angry about using the rogue US Air cc link last Feb. Maybe it worked, right up until it didn’t. In my case, I got a “pending” message, and was advised by several blogs to not call reconsideration, so I just waited. A month later I got a letter from Barclays saying my app was never considered because the link was “expired”. “Do not pass Go, do not collect” 35K US Air miles. 🙁

    It was the “we’ll have to wait and see” comment that really pushed me over the edge. I did wait and see with my US Air app, and it cost me 35K miles. So I knew, from my personal experience, that rogue links for Barclays are not like unofficial links from other banks, and that using this one was liable to cost many people 45K, or even 50K, miles.

    I consider this blog to be the class of the miles and points blogs, and found it very frustrating to be advised to make the same mistake with the LH card that I had been advised to make with the US Air card. Especially when the T/C so clearly stated the danger of getting a nearly useless 5K miles instead of the very useful 50K.

    But since your heart was so clearly in the right place, we all could have tempered our frustrated criticism. I know I wish I had….

  5. This card is horrible. Not sure why bloggers are pushing so hard to sell this card with a high spending requirement and mediocre benefits.

  6. @Jason Maybe you could apply for this card, I’ll make the minimum spend, and you can transfer the points to me?
    52K miles are enough for a OW J from ORD to Warsaw on LOT’s new Dreamliner 787, with total fees of $2.50 If that’s “horrible”, may many more horrible offers come our way. :p

  7. @jason – Just because YOU think this is a bad card doesn’t mean everyone will. And if you want LH F more than two weeks out, or LX F EVER, this is one of the cards you’re going to want.

  8. Thanks Gary! I appreciate the shout out. We all know you had the best of intentions with the prior post…especially giving up your affilate credit for a “better” offer. Don’t listen to the haters.

  9. @Brian L. If LH group did not impose steep fuel charges I would apply in a second, even though the spending requirement is very high. But it is my understanding that they impose lots of fuel charges. I guess if you have applied for lots of cards this could be a viable option but for those of us who have not applied that much, this is not a great offer. Gary was honest to correct the link (hats off for his honesty), I have read so many “bait-and-switch” offers from this bank… ( Personally I am going to apply for a pre-approved SW offer I got via email )

  10. @jason – “for those of us who have not applied that much, this is not a great offer.”

    Well, that depends on what your award goal is. If your award goal involves LH/LX F, then this is about as good as it gets.

  11. I think you planned this series of posts ahead of time to bring more attention to your referral link. Kidding of course!

  12. Can you imagine what would happen if SQ offered 50k signup bonuses and killer benefits in the US.. it’s all we’d ever read about. 🙂 I would love to see more of the foreign airlines get agressive with CCs in the US.

  13. @afterbang – Agreed. That would be excellent, especially considering the rumblings among the US legacies about revenue based programs.

  14. @Jason I would even like cards with larger spend requirements and more points. I personally have no issue getting to the higher tiers. Everyone has their own goals and values

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