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Some of you might remember Black Wednesday, the day that sterling crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. June is feeling like Black June for those of us who have enjoyed the no-annual-fee benefits of airline-branded credit cards offered by MBNA and others. Slowly but surely, letters are arriving into postboxes announcing the imminent closure of accounts.
The reasons for this are fairly well-known. In an effort to “protect consumers” – pardon my sarcasm since we all know that retail prices won’t be lowered – the European Union decided to cap bank interchange fees at 0.3% – i.e. the amount that payment processors can charge merchants. American Express was supposed to be exempt from this fee, until it got caught up in some sloppily-worded legalese. Understandably, no bank can make any profits by earning 0.3% from merchants and spending 0.5-1% or more to buy miles from an airline, especially when most airline co-branded cardholders are savvy enough to pay off their balances in full each month.
The latest credit card to receive the chop is the Lufthansa Miles & More card. It will be closing on 28 July, 2018. (although you can still use your cards until October, albeit without earning miles…)
This is a substantial blow, but not because there aren’t other ways to earn Miles & More miles via a UK credit card. The main benefit of holding (and occasionally using) the Miles & More card was the fact that it kept your Miles & More miles from expiring!
Here’s what Miles & More says on its website…
Benefit from no mileage expiration with Miles & More Credit Cards
- Your award miles will not expire after 36 months, but will remain valid for an unlimited time if you meet the following conditions:
- You have been a Miles & More Credit Card holder for at least 3 months, and
- Each month you need to make a minimum of one purchase (that is not returned or refunded) which is eligible for miles with your Miles & More Credit Card.
- This is only valid for the Miles & More account on which the award miles for the Miles & More Credit Card are credited.
- If you meet these conditions, none of your award miles will expire – it doesn’t matter if you earned/will earn them with flights, purchases or specials offered by other Miles & More partners
- Expired miles cannot be reactivated by using the Miles & More Credit Card.
- If one of the above conditions is not met, the mileage expiration is reactivated. The reversion will be announced in your Miles & More account statement and will become effective as of the following quarter. Award miles that were exempted from expiration and/or would have normally expired during this time will remain valid until then
What will happen?
Good question… Miles & More is already guilty of charging excessive surcharges for most reward flights. But if it reverts to being a “hard expiry” programme, its value will decrease even more. And of course many M&M members have miles that are older than 36 months, which have been kept alive due to the credit card. Will those now expire in the autumn?
In the communication to cardholders, we are told to expect further details from M&M in due course. I suspect that Rob at HeadforPoints will also be on the case… But barring a miracle, it’s time to start burning any M&M miles you might have.
Does this impact you? Let us know in the comments section…