What are the best Star Alliance credit cards for UK residents?

Following the closing of the Lufthansa Miles & More and United Airlines MileagePlus credit cards to new applicants last week, life has got harder if you want to earn Star Alliance miles from a UK credit card.

A couple of weeks ago I looked at the best Star Alliance frequent flyer programme.  I thought today that I would take a look at what is left in the way of Star Alliance credit cards, since access to earning via a credit or charge card is often a key factor in choosing a programme.

When bmi British Midland still existed, it was easier to get around the world with airline miles. British Airways was a core member of the oneworld alliance, and bmi British Midland was part of Star Alliance. Between them, you could redeem to pretty much anywhere. Even better, both schemes allowed one-way redemptions so it was easy to mix and match.

Now that bmi is no more, it is tougher to maintain a Star Alliance mileage balance.

Star photo

One of the key determinants for me when joining a mileage programme is the ability to earn miles via a credit card. There is often a generous sign-up bonus to be had, and earning via a credit card lets you top up your mileage balance if your flying reduces. A credit card is also a good way to ‘top off’ a mileage programme you intend to abandon after one last redemption.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here for a free 30-day trial of Equifax’s online credit report service.   Note that a monthly fee of £14.95 will apply following the 30 day free trial of this product if you do not cancel within the trial period.  You can cancel your subscription at any time.

Most rewards cards are not suitable products if you do not clear your balance in full every month.  You should focus on a credit card with a low interest rate such as the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard Low Rate card. This has a very attractive representative APR of 5.9% variable – and you can transfer your Clubcard points into Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles.

Here is a comprehensive list of Star Alliance partners and their credit card earning opportunities if you live in the UK.

Star Alliance members with their own specific UK credit card

None.  Since the Lufthansa and United Airlines cards were closed to new applicants in November 2017, there have been no dedicated Star Alliance UK credit cards.

Star Alliance members who are American Express Membership Rewards partners

You can collect with the following Star members via an American Express Platinum or American Express Preferred Rewards Gold or Amex Rewards card and then converting your Membership Rewards points to airline miles. Large sign-up bonuses are currently available for these cards – see ‘Credit Cards Update‘. Taken from the Amex Membership Rewards catalogue:

  • SAS – 1 mile per £1
  • Singapore Airlines – 1 mile per £1

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card currently has a sign-up bonus of 20,000 points – this gets you 20,000 miles with SAS or Singapore AirlinesHere is my review.

The American Express Platinum card currently has a sign-up bonus of 30,000 points – this gets you 30,000 miles with SAS or Singapore AirlinesHere is my review.

The free Amex Rewards Credit Card comes in three variants, one of which has a bonus of 10,000 points – this gets you 10,000 miles with SAS or Singapore Airlines.  Here is my review.

Star Alliance members who are Starwood Preferred Guest American Express partners

Starwood Preferred Guest is the loyalty programme for the Westin, Sheraton, W, St Regis hotel group.  You can convert Starwood Preferred Guest points to a number of airlines. The transfer rate is nominally 1:1, with the credit card earning 1 point per £1, but this is increased to 1:1.25 if you convert 20,000 points at once.

The SPG American Express card has a sign-up bonus of 10,000 pointsThis means that you would receive 10,000 miles in most of the schemes listed below.  My detailed review of the SPG card is here.  The representative APR is 36.2% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

These are the Star Alliance members which are SPG airline partners:

  • Aegean (NEW) – 1 mile per £1
  • Air Canada – 1 mile per £1
  • Air China – 1 mile per £1
  • Air New Zealand – 1 point per £65
  • ANA – 1 mile per £1
  • Asiana Airlines – 1 mile per £1
  • Miles & More – 1 mile per £1
  • Singapore Airlines – 1 mile per £1
  • Thai Airways – 1 mile per £1
  • United – 0.5 miles per £1

Star Alliance members who are partners with other credit cards

Apart from SPG, the other UK hotel cards offer poor earnings rates when transferring to Star Alliance airlines. For completeness, though, I have listed them below:

Hilton Honors credit card – earns a poor 0.2 miles per £1 of credit card spend with most partners. This is based on 2 points per £1 on the card and 10,000 points to 1,000 airline miles when you convert. Star Alliance partners are: Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Avianca TACA, Miles & More, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Thai Airways, United.  Representative APR 18.9% variable.

IHG Rewards Club credit card – earns a poor 0.2 miles per £1 of credit card spend, although if you have the IHG Rewards Club Premium credit card, this is doubled to a more reasonable 0.4 miles per £1. Star Alliance partners are: Air China, Air New Zealand (£400 spend = 1 point), ANA, Asiana Airlines, Copa (via Globalpass), Miles & More, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAP Air Portugal, Thai Airways, United.

HSBC Premier is also an option if you want Singapore Airlines miles.  It has an excellent Visa / MasterCard rate (0.5 miles per £1 on the free card, double on the paid card).  You need a HSBC Premier current account, however, which has tough income and savings criteria.

So, there are plenty of options here for anyone wanting to earn Star Alliance miles from a credit card. As far as I can see, the only members with no earning ability are Egyptair, Ethiopian and EVA Air.  Shenzhen Airlines uses Air China’s PheonixMiles programme, which can be accessed via Starwood, IHG, Marriott and Hilton.

Conclusion

The free (in year one) Amex Gold card is your best choice if you want SAS or Singapore Airlines miles.

For other Star schemes, SPG is my preferred choice.  The Starwood Amex has a number of partners at a decent conversion rate of 1.25 miles per £1 (assuming you convert in 20,000 point chunks) and may be a good way to hedge your bets about which Star programme you want to redeem through.  You can also redeem your Starwood points for hotel rooms if you change your mind!  My full review of the SPG card is here.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Save 50% on IHG weekend stays this winter via a hidden MasterCard deal
See the amazing new Emirates First Class Suite ..... which you are very unlikely to fly
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Didn’t see any options for Turkish miles here – did I miss something?

  2. It is also possible to apply for the German Lufthansa card even if one does not live in Germany.
    See https://antrag.miles-and-more-kreditkarte.com/web/antrag/main?execution=e1s1 where there is a drop-down box for country.
    It’s all in German (and the account is in EUR) but it can be done.
    ID verification involves visiting a DeutschePost branch in Germany.

  3. An update on my Miles&More CC application the weekend before the closure. I didn’t get instant decision. Yesterday, I received a phone call. They wanted to verify whether I work where I said I worked, so they called my work number. Following verification, they said that I got approved. If anyone is still waiting on their application/cards, they might want to check with MBNA.

  4. O/T but related. An update on my Miles&More CC application the weekend before the closure. I didn’t get instant decision. Yesterday, I received a phone call. They wanted to verify whether I work where I said I worked, so they called my work number. Following verification, they said that I got approved. If anyone is still waiting on their application/cards, they might want to check with MBNA.

  5. I mentioned this on the MBNA closure article, but thought probably worth repeating here… If you’re looking for United miles, I’d say Marriott via SPG is the best option. SPG points transfer at 1:3 to Marriott, then Marriott convert across, currently with a 20% bonus – 112,000 Marriott gets 50,000 United. That would mean 37,333 SPG to get 50k United. Personally I’d still value the SPG higher though (£560 vs £375).

    https://www.marriott.com/rewards/usepoints/morerew.mi

  6. OT but is the only way into Garuda redemptions via Flying Blue?

    • Trust me, to try and get a Garuda redemption on FB is very difficult in my experience, despite pleading phone calls etc.

      • Thanks that’s really handy. What route were you trying? Mine would be intra Indonesia but if it’s a ball ache I simply wont bother transferring and use the MR elsewhere.

        • I’ve had no problems with booking Garuda flights with FB in the past. Somesweet spots e.g Flying in J to Hongkong is 15000 miles cheaper with FB than OneWorld.

          For internal flights you could also consider flying Citilink a decent Garuda subsidiary as they fly from Halim in Jakarta avoiding a lengthy trip to CGK.

          You can compare flights through Traveloka. Avoid Lion Air.

      • I got Heathrow to AMS 3 years ago!

        • Looking to go from Yogyakarta to Manado so Garuda via Bali afaik but 17k in J. 4 hrs in the air.

  7. The hsbc card is also an option for Singapore Airlines, no?

  8. Great to know there are Aegean miles earning options in the UK! Thanks.

  9. I’d avoid crediting to Air China personally. Opened a phoenix miles account when I flew with them to Australia a couple of years ago and never understood anything about the programme. Still get e-mails from them written completely in Chinese.

    • Chinese airline schemes are painful to use if you don’t reside in China / don’t know Chinese. However, with Phoenixmiles you can redeem a one-way flight between EU and HK in Cathay First for only 34k miles.

      • How do you manage that? 🙂 I’ve been looking at the Cathay redemption chart on their website and it seems to be 60k for a one way ticket?

        • It’s 55k in km, so roughly 34k miles.

        • Thanks – I think this amounts to evidence of what you said about it all being a bit impenetrable… the program is called Phoenix MILES, the points convert as MILES, but the reward chart prices in km!

        • Kai – do you know whether SPG points convert at 1x or 1.6x? Have googled and found mixed answers…

        • Actually the entire program is in KM despite the name, which is the case for all Chinese airline programs. SPG converts at 1x unfortunately, so not really worth it.

  10. Just posted this in bits – 31k increase in price on the route I’m flying in Jan (Suites to NZ), glad I booked before price rise!

  11. BlueHorizonUK says:

Add your comment here:

*