Why the $2500 Minimum Spend (Non-Affiliate) Offer is Best for the Lufthansa Mastercard

See update below.

Here’s the affiliate link offer with $5000 minimum spend which many commenters believe is the better option.

Here’s the non-affiliate link with $2500 minimum spend required.

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.

There’s a common misconception, though, that the affiliate (‘standard’) offer for 50,000 points after $5000 minimum spend for a new Lufthansa Mastercard that I first wrote about on Friday late afternoon may be the best offer to use for the card — even though it has a higher minimum spend requirement to earn the full signup bonus than another competing offer — because the $2500 minimum spend one that I learned about late Friday night (and posted in the wee hours of Saturday morning) runs the risk of your being given a lesser card, with lesser signup bonus, if you don’t qualify for the World Mastercard version of the offer.

This distinction is false, however.

Like many Barclays offers, there’s a ‘good’ offer for their top of the line card and a ‘less good’ offer for a less premium version of the card that they reserve the right to give you if they decide not to give you the premium card.

And that’s a feature of the Lufthansa Mastercard, period, and doesn’t depend o which signup link that you choose.

That’s because there’s a World Mastercard version of the Lufthansa co-brand offer, and Platinum version of the Lufthansa co-brand offer.

Here’s what the standard (affiliate link) version of the terms and conditions for the card says about this issue.

I agree that if I am not approved for a World account that I may be approved for a Platinum account.

About This Offer: You must be at least 18 years of age. This offer is available only to applicants who are residents of the United States, with the exception of Iowa, Puerto Rico and the US territories, and may not be available if you already have or have had an account with us. If at the time of your application you do not meet the credit or income criteria previously established for this offer, or the income you report is insufficient based on your current obligations, we may be unable to open an account for you, or you may receive a Platinum card. Platinum benefits differ from World benefits. Please review the materials provided with your card for details.

But even if the distinction were true, which would you rather have happen? Remember, Barclays has already done their credit pull.

  1. Reject you outright for the card, you get nothing.
  2. Approve you for a lesser offer with fewer points, you get those fewer points.

The Platinum Mastercard gives you 5000 points and has no annual fee. That’s not a lot, but as my grandfather used to say “it’s better than a hole in the head.”

You’re not going to have a greater likelihood of being approved for the World Mastercard 50,000 point offer going through the $5000 minimum spend requirement link than the $2500 minimum spend requirement link.

And both offers contain language about possibly being approved only for the lesser card.

You’re better off a $2500 minimum spend requirement to earn the full 50,000 point signup bonus than you are with a $5000 minimum spend requirement. The only reason to go for the higher spend requirement is if you want to offer a tip to your favorite blogger.

Update: Several folks are arguing in the comments that the $5000 minimum spend (affiliate offer) will provide you with the same up to 50,000 point signup bonus even if you are approved for the Platinum card, while the $2500 will not. I’m skeptical, but we’ll have to wait and see when someone applies using the standard offer, gets the lesser card, whether they receive the full bonus or not. I’d be thrilled to be proven wrong. But in the interests of full disclosure and best available information I’m happy to bring you this debate.

Those arguing that the standard $5000 minimum spend offer is better, at a minimum, aren’t wrong that if the minimum spend is no problem for you to meet it becomes the better offer. Either offer gets you the full 50,000 point bonus once you meet minimum spend if you’re approved for the World Mastercard. And there’s at least some chance, based on the interpretations of some readers here, that the $5000 minimum spend offer will still get you the big bonus if you’re approved for the lesser card while the terms of the $2500 minimum spend offer don’t contain that same ambiguity.

File this one under developing

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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 think the distinction is that the $5k offer will award you the 50k points regardless of which card you’re given. Plus, in this day of Manufactured Spend, finding creative ways to spend the extra $2500 shouldn’t be too difficult.

  2. Gary,
    Tyre affiliate Link is better because by the t&c of the bonus it says both platinum and world will get 50k while the noon affiliate says one will get less

  3. Language in the terms for the affiliate offer says 50,000 points for either card. $2,500 minimum spend specifically lists lower bonus on the Platinum card.

    From the $5,000 minimum spend offer terms:
    “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.”

  4. As usual, you prove your inability to read and comprehend basic contract language. Much like you (incorrectly) implied Citi could proactive “take” AA gated at LHR and NRT as a means of forcing AA to remain a Citi partner, you miss interpret the terms here.

    The issue is not whether one would be approved for a Platinum version over a World version–for the most part these distinctions are of no consequence. The issue is that the non-affiliate link you discuss gives only 10% of what the affiliate link gives when approved for Platinum. The fact that you cannot understand that is alarming.

  5. @jorgen cool out man just because he misread or misunderstood something dies but mean he can’t read and understand. If you don’t think he can just stop reading his blog and leave everyone alone

  6. Unfortunately, DBest seems to be right, Gary. This makes it tricky to decide which offer is “best” in my opinion. From the official offer link:

    “Applicants who are approved for the Premier World and Platinum MasterCard will receive 20,000 award miles after the first use of the new account for a Purchase or Balance Transfer (that is not later returned or rescinded) and have paid the Annual Fee on the account and will receive an additional 30,000 award miles after at least $5,000 in Net Purchases (that are not later returned or rescinded) has been charged to the new account in the first 90 days after account opening.”

  7. oh and by the way, if you get the lesser card (which happened to a friend of mine this weekend), you wont have a chance to call to ‘up’ the bonus. They aren’t like the other children, and play nice

  8. @Jorgen Habermas – you are mischaracterizing what I wrote about the Citi-AA agreement. And your math skills are off when you write that the non-affiliate card “gives only 10% of what the affiliate link gives when approved for Platinum” .. even if one gave 5k vs 20k that would be 25% not 10%. There do seem to be some contradictory terms in the t&c of the affiliate offer, but i am quite confident you will not receive a 50k bonus for the Platinum Mastercard offer.

  9. I think it’s a rumor about the lesser card getting a lower bonus. At least, I found it was a rumor when I applied for the Barclay US Air, got the lesser card, and got the full bonus. At first I was furious and called in, but they assured me (despite what the “wise” folks on FT said) the lesser card got the same bonus and I did. There, like here, it had that stupid language about Platinum “may” get different benefits. Annoying.

  10. Gary,

    Appreciate the sentiment but I don’t know how you can misunderstand the section quoted by Jaime. It’s certainly enough for me to sign up under a $5k spend offer. What’s the point of driving people toward the non-affiliate link in this case. Worst case you have to spend a little more (not hard) and even if they try to stiff you with a lesser bonus, the language is clear enough that I don’t see how you’d lose an argument over the bonus.

  11. Not the same card, but I was approved in the past for a non-Premier US Airways MC card (one step down), and still got the full 40K first purchase bonus.

  12. I will tell you my experience with the US Airways Mastercard, because Barclays can be very confusing. I think it would make sense that the same policy will apply for this card.

    I applied for the Premier World MC under the old Preferred Chairman’s link so I could get 40k miles with first spend and 10k miles annually with an $89 fee (which if I remember is/was waived the first year). I did not get approved instantly and called the recon line, whereupon (after a fair amount of hassle) I got approved for the Platinum MC.

    I was super bummed, because I wanted the Premier World and was happy to pay the $89 for the annual 10k bonus (mind you, this was in January 2013), and did not want the $49 annual fee Platinum card without the annual bonus. But when my card arrived, it confirmed the annual 10k bonus and the $89 fee which, I was under the impression, existed for the Premier World.

    Sure enough, my card does say Platinum and I STILL have the annual bonus and higher fee; the difference? A higher APR, at 24.99% instead of 15.99%.

    So my guess: same deal here. If the sign-up link is for 50k miles with x spend, you will get that when reaching that spend. The name of the card will just likely impact the APR.

  13. I applied through the non affiliate link ($2500 spend) and the application was rejected because it was expired offer. They told me to use the ($5000 spend) offer.

  14. The only bad news I can think of here if I remember correctly is the Lufthansa program has expiring miles?

  15. @D Wonderment – expiring after 3 years but credit card activity EVERY MONTH can apparently forestall expiration

  16. It seems clear to me that the Platinum card offered in the affiliate link comes with the same 50,000-mile signup bonus as the Premier card, whereas the Platinum card in the non-affiliate link only offers 5,000 miles.

    Another difference between the Platinum options in the affiliate and non-affiliate links is that the affiliate Platinum card earns two points per dollar on Lufthansa and one point per dollar on all other purchases — just like its Premier counterpart — but the non-affiliate Platinum card only earns 1/2 point per dollar (even for Lufthansa purchases!). Probably a distinction without a difference since the appeal here is the signup bonus, but still interesting. I have screenshots comparing the terms and conditions here.

  17. Rejected for too many new cards! I don’t know what they could be referring to? 🙂

    Churn in progress is 7 Yes, 2 No, 4 Pending…still on the phone

  18. “or you may receive a Platinum card. Platinum benefits differ from World benefits”

    This has nothing to do with the amount of miles received. It is talking about the benefits offered from Visa for a platinum card versus a signature card.

    This situation is the same as for the US Airways cards. The chairmans preferred link ALWAYS gave 40,000 for either version of the card, as discussed in the flyertalk thread, but other links did not…

    If I am wrong, and didn’t get the full 50,000 for the platinum version after using the affiliate link, I would sue Barclays for not adequately disclosing it in their terms.

  19. Has anyone ever been successful getting a signup bonus as an existing cardholder? I got this card on a 20K signup bonus a few years ago purely because LH covers the annual fee for Senator elites. I was making frequent biz trips to Europe on LH and it was convenient to have a “no foreign currency conversion fee” card in my wallet. Of course, this was before I was reading miles/points blogs. I just called Barclays to try and get the “30K after $2,500 spend” portion of this bonus. Even after escalation, I got the answer “sorry”. Anyone else have luck with this?

  20. Both of these offers are lousy. This is a card that you won’t keep given that once you get a lousy first class ticket (lousy domestic first class), it is destined to collect dust in your wallet.

    Save your time and manufactured spending for the Ink Bold or Southwest that give you much more.

  21. @jason no question the Ink card is better, but it’s a chase card and this one is barclays so easy to toss into a set of cards you might sign up for. and i said in my first post this isn’t a card for continuing spend. it’s a good bonus nonetheless offered by a secondary issuer.

  22. @Erik: Other Barclays cards are churnable so I see no reason why this one would be any different. Just apply and don’t waste your time trying to talk to their CSRs.

  23. Gary:

    FYI – not sure if you reported this yet..

    Miles and more offers 20% purchase miles bonus. Not a great deal. But was helpful in rounding out for a award I wanted to book. Offer good til June 30, 2013.

  24. In regards to the Companion Ticket, can this ticket be upgraded with miles? I can not find any where in the T&C about this. I know when I did the European Delivery on my BMW and was given two free tickets on LH, in the T&C it stated no upgrades. Does anyone know for sure?

  25. @Gary — 5k is 10% of 50k, and 50k is precisely what you receive if approved for the platinum or world versions of this card under the affiliate link after meeting the spend requirements.

  26. @Gary “I certainly hope it works out that way”

    Are you now the Oracle of Delphi? Whose post were you responding to with that statement? You hope what works out which way? Considering that comments are all over the place here, that response could mean anything at all. Or nothing….

    I’ve gone from thinking VFW is the class of miles and points blogs, to thinking of it as comparable to Points Envy. I understand not wanting to push an inferior affiliate link over a superior non-affiliate link. But I totally don’t understand pushing an inferior non-affiliate link over a superior affiliate link. And using the reasoning that “we’ll have to wait and see” to favor the uncertain link over the certain link leaves me utterly confused. WTF?

  27. Let’s assume that the $2500 spend link is working and that some people have gotten approvals or rejections using it by now. This is important since a non-public link for the US card returned an “in process” message while in fact it never submitted an application.

    Worst downside of the LH M&M program is miles expire in 3 years period. No extensions for activity except the credit card spend-every-month routine which is ridiculous. Assume you’ll have to use your miles in 3 years.

  28. I agreed that the $2,500 link was the better one, but like others (on FlyerTalk), I can confirm that my application was rejected because it is an expired offer. I called the reconsideration line to confirm. At least there was no pull.

  29. @tassojunior – Why is it ridiculous? Just use your card once every week or two to buy a candy bar at CVS or something. Why shouldn’t LH & Barcalys want people to use their card on a regular basis? Offering spending bonuses would be one way to do that (Chase Sapphire Preferred), this is just another, and it doesn’t cost Barclays as much $.

  30. The 3 year limit is a non-issue for me. The way both miles and points programs are being devalued, airlines are merging, and banks are putting the brakes on cc apps, I’d say the “earn them and burn them” philosophy has never been more apt. I’m sorry to have to say it, but three years is way too long to hang onto miles and points now.

  31. I wonder what happens if you apply for the $5,000 spend card online and then immediately call the reconsideration line at (866)369-1283 and say that you prefer the no annual fee Platinum card over the Premier card. I wonder if they would then give you the lesser card, and would they verify that you would still get the 20K+30K bonus.

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