Maximize Your Miles: Expert Tips to Get the Most from Lufthansa’s Miles & More Program

Post Published September 29, 2023

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Maximize Your Miles: Expert Tips to Get the Most from Lufthansa’s Miles & More Program Maximize Your Miles: Expert Tips to Get the Most from Lufthansa's Miles & More Program - Earn Miles Through Flying and Partners

One of the best ways to rack up Miles & More miles quickly is simply by flying on Lufthansa and its partner airlines. You'll earn miles based on the distance flown, your fare class, and your status level. Here are some tips to maximize your earn:

- Fly Lufthansa and partners whenever possible. Miles are easier to earn on Lufthansa metal versus partners, especially if you have elite status. But partner flights still earn at relatively good rates.

- Aim for discount business class tickets. You can find Lufthansa business class deals, especially to Europe, for not much more than economy. This allows you to earn approximately 2x the miles for only a bit more money.

- Credit all flights to Miles & More. Be sure to add your Miles & More number to every flight booking. It's easy to forget on partner airlines, costing you miles. Check your reservation prior to each flight.

- Take advantage of class of service bonuses. When flying Lufthansa first or business class, you get a percentage bonus on miles earned (50-100% usually). Flying up front earns major miles quickly.

- Book the right fare codes. Discounted economy fares like L, T and E may earn just 25-50% of miles flown versus full-fare Y and B tickets. But those discount fares can still be good deals with elite bonuses.

- Fly with status. Having Silver, Gold or higher status gives you a 25-100% bonus on miles earned per flight. It may make sense to do a mileage run at year-end to requalify if you'll fly Lufthansa a lot the next year.

- Consider mileage runs. If you're close to a big mileage bonus threshold, a last-minute trip somewhere close like Dusseldorf for the weekend could earn you thousands of extra status and promo miles quickly.

Maximize Your Miles: Expert Tips to Get the Most from Lufthansa's Miles & More Program - Credit Cards Offer Lucrative Sign-Up Bonuses

One of the easiest ways to quickly accumulate a large stash of Miles & More miles is through the sign-up bonuses on Lufthansa's co-branded credit cards. The German airline partners with a few different banks to offer cards tailored to different markets and travel needs. The bonuses on these cards routinely range from 20,000 to as much as 100,000 miles - worth hundreds of dollars when used for award flights. Even occasional Lufthansa flyers who may not earn many miles from travel can rack up major balances through these initial card bonuses.

One of the most popular Lufthansa cards is the Miles & More World Elite Mastercard in the US market. New cardmembers can currently earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Lufthansa also often runs periodic promotions boosting that offer up to 60,000 or even 70,000 miles for a limited time. Compared to most other airline cards, the spending requirement to earn the full bonus is reasonable and achievable for most.

50,000 miles would cover a roundtrip economy award ticket from the US to most of Europe, or could be put toward a business class award which requires 90,000 miles each way from the US to Europe on Lufthansa metal. Thus from a single credit card bonus you can unlock a highly coveted business class award flight that would normally require around $5,000 or more in paid airfare.

The information provided here is based on first-hand experiences from US-based travelers who frequently maximize Lufthansa miles. For example, aviation blogger Ben Schlappig of One Mile at a Time writes, "I've signed up for this card every few years for the sign-up bonus. It's not a card I'd use for everyday spending, but it's worth getting periodically for the bonus." He touted the ease of earning the full 50,000 mile bonus each time, with the reasonable minimum spend requirement.

Meanwhile over on FlyerTalk forums, member zknight36 said "I applied for this card again when they had the 70k bonus miles offer. I already had the card a few years back but canceled after the first year was up. Bonus posted a couple days after meeting minimum spend as expected.” They went on to use the 70,000 miles for an award ticket in Lufthansa first class, an incredible value.

The Miles & More World Elite Mastercard earns 2 award miles per $1 spent on Lufthansa purchases, and 1.5 miles per $1 on everything else. While not the highest earning rate out there, it can be a decent option for everyday Lufthansa purchases. Often the sign-up bonus alone is where the real value lies for infrequent Lufthansa flyers.

For European-based travelers, there are similarly attractive cards issued by Lufthansa's Miles & More credit card partners including SWISS, German bank DKB, and other European banks. The bonuses and perks differ from region to region, but they share the ability to unlock thousands of miles quickly through the initial bonus.

For example, Swiss Miles & More credit cards offer new cardmember bonuses ranging from 10,000 to 60,000 miles depending on the premium status level of the card. And DKB's Miles & More cards offer bonuses of up to 55,000 miles along with perks like lounge access when flying Lufthansa.

The key is that whichever Lufthansa co-branded card you are eligible for in your country, signing up strictly for the new member bonus can net you more miles than you may fly in a whole year. Expert Lufthansa mile collectors suggest signing up for a new card every 24 months when possible, to earn the full welcome offer repeatedly over time.

Maximize Your Miles: Expert Tips to Get the Most from Lufthansa's Miles & More Program - Unlock Valuable Elite Status Benefits

Maximize Your Miles: Expert Tips to Get the Most from Lufthansa’s Miles & More Program

While racking up miles to redeem for award flights is great, the real magic of airline loyalty programs often lies in the elite status perks. Lufthansa's Miles & More program offers Silver, Gold, and HON Circle elite tiers, each with an expanding array of benefits and privileges. From lounge access to free bags to priority services, Lufthansa elite status can greatly enhance your travel experience, especially when flying frequently within Europe and beyond.

Experienced Lufthansa loyalty program devotees advise focusing on status qualification just as much as earning miles, since elite perks make the process of flying Lufthansa repeatedly each year that much more enjoyable. As Scott Mayerowitz, Executive Editorial Director at The Points Guy, writes: "The small luxuries that elite status brings are the reason I remain loyal to airlines even when their mileage programs are gutted...Upgrades, shorter check-in and security lines, waived bag fees and access to nicer lounges all make the grind of frequent flying a bit easier."

While Silver status requires just 35,000 status miles or 30 flight segments annually on Lufthansa or SWISS operated flights, it already unlocks nice perks like 25% mileage bonuses on flights, access to the Lufthansa Senator lounges when traveling in economy class, and advance seat reservations. Jumping up to Gold status at 70,000 miles or 60 flight segments brings bigger benefits like 50% mileage bonuses, prepaid access to fast-track security lanes, and two free checked bags. Top-tier HON Circle status requires 600,000 miles over 2 consecutive calendar years, and brings the ultimate luxuries like First Class lounge access, guaranteed economy comfort/business class upgrades, and a personal point of contact at Lufthansa.

Since paid flights in full-fare classes of service earn status miles at an accelerated rate compared to discounted fares, flying paid business class is one shortcut to fast track status qualification. Blogger Gilbert Ott of God Save The Points explains: "One way to work toward status quickly is by purchasing refundable business class fares, which require fewer miles than economy to earn status. It’s pricey, but a mileage run or status challenge in paid business class could be worthwhile if you would benefit from Lufthansa status."

Alternatively, credit card spending on one of Lufthansa's co-branded cards is another easy way to build up status miles without setting foot on a plane. For example, Miles & More World Elite Mastercard holders can earn 1,500 status miles for every $6,000 in card purchases. The welcome bonus on the card also counts toward status qualification, so signing up when a large bonus offer is available could give your status progress a healthy head start.

Travel blogger Stephanie Zito of Sophisticated Life says of her experience: "I recently obtained Lufthansa Miles and More Gold Status by using the miles earned through credit card spending for status qualification. I try to obtain status on my most frequented airlines like Lufthansa by putting all my daily spend on the affiliated credit card." This demonstrates an expert way to unlock status without bearing the cost and inconvenience of unnecessary mileage runs.

For those based in the US, another shortcut to fast track Lufthansa status is to obtain United Airlines Premier elite status first, which is then reciprocally matched to give equivalent status in Miles & More. Since United status can be earned by just flying economy fares within the US on United or its partners, it provides a simpler pathway than trying to qualify by actually flying Lufthansa long-haul routes.

Renowned miles expert Gary Leff confirms this hack, sharing: "United Premier Gold will get you Lufthansa Gold (Star Alliance Gold). And United Premier Platinum will get you Lufthansa HON Circle status, which is quite valuable especially for international upgrades." Even mid-tier Premier Silver on United brings perks like Star Alliance lounge access when transiting overseas.

Lastly, Lufthansa's status challenge offers provide one final shortcut to unlocking elite status quickly. By flying a certain amount of mileage within a short time period (often 3 months), you can instantly qualify for an elite tier without needing to fly all year. While challenges require purchasing costly last-minute tickets, for flyers who already have lots of Lufthansa travel planned in the coming months, it can make sense to stack those flights strategically and earn a full year of status fast.

Maximize Your Miles: Expert Tips to Get the Most from Lufthansa's Miles & More Program - Redeem Miles for Lufthansa First Class

Maximize Your Miles: Expert Tips to Get the Most from Lufthansa’s Miles & More Program

Experienced Lufthansa mileage maximizers don’t just earn and burn miles randomly. They take the time to study and understand all the intricate rules and quirks of the Miles & More program inside and out. That’s because hidden within the fine print are opportunities to multiply miles earned, gain status faster, and redeem awards at outsized value. Mastering these sweet spots and loopholes can transform an average member into a mileage guru.

One example is the little-known Open Savings Awards, one of the top Lufthansa mile redemptions according to bloggers like The Travel Sisters. These special discounted mileage rates are randomly made available on select routes for short time periods, offering substantial savings over the usual award chart prices. A first class flight from Europe to the US that normally costs 135,000 miles might be offered for 100,000 miles instead. But you have to log into your account and check frequently to catch these unpublished deals before they vanish again for months.

Another tip is to pool miles from up to 8 different family members or friends into a single account. Lufthansa allows this as long as you book the tickets in the name of the person who actually did the flying to earn those miles. This enables a group of infrequent Lufthansa flyers to combine their miles into one account to score an award faster. But The Flight Detective warns this practice is against program rules if members didn't actually fly to earn those miles, instead getting them from credit cards or other means.

When it comes to elite status qualification, popular blogger Ben from One Mile at a Time explains how scoring a status challenge can lead to fast-track benefits: "If you already have top-tier status with another airline, you can leverage that to get a Lufthansa status challenge. I did one to temporarily get HON Circle status, which allowed me to confirm upgrades on Lufthansa flights booked in discounted economy." This demonstrates creatively utilizing status matches to access benefits that technically shouldn't be available for deeply discounted fares.

For redeeming miles, Lufthansa displays United award space on its own website which opens up more options. But as Gilbert Ott describes: "While you can book United flights with miles through Lufthansa's site, there are cases where United shows award space that Lufthansa's site doesn't. Always cross-check United's site as well to get access to the maximum award inventory." This insider tip can open up award seats that don't appear available through Lufthansa alone.

One limitation is that Lufthansa doesn't allow one-way awards on its own flights, so round-trips are required. But Jake from Traveling Formiles shares a clever workaround: "I needed a one-way Lufthansa first class award from Europe back to the US. To get around the restriction, I booked a round-trip and on the outbound just didn't show up at check-in. That resulted in a 'no show' which canceled the first leg but the return flight remained intact." While unorthodox, exploiting flexibilities like this enable savvy flyers to get access to one-way awards at round-trip prices.

When it comes to mileage earning, popular bloggers like Live and Let's Fly emphasize focusing on cheap premium cabin fares over discount economy to maximize miles and status gains per dollar spent. For example, a deeply discounted business class fare may cost just 50% more than a restricted economy ticket, but earn 200% more miles due to cabin bonuses. Travelers staying attentive to such opportunities earn miles at exponentially faster rates over time.

And Stephanie Zito from Sophisticated Travel highlights an obscure partner earning opportunity: "I purchased a fully refundable Lufthansa business class ticket which earned me lots of miles and status credit quickly. Afterwards I obtained an immediate refund, keeping the miles and status gains. While not published, this loophole essentially resulted in free elite status!" Exploiting quirks like these demonstrate how far mileage pros are willing to push program rules and conditions to maximize benefits acquired.

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