airberlin now offering oneworld status via credit card spend – would a UK credit card do this?

This isn’t a post you can take advantage of, unless you live in Germany or Austria, but it is another example of how the credit card industry is shaping the loyalty business.

airberlin is now giving status miles when you spend on their branded Visa cards.


The German card offers 1 status mile per €1 on purchases

The Austrian card offers 1 status miles per €1 on purchases AND cash withdrawals!

Not many people will be able to achieve status purely on the back of credit card spend.  You will need to spend €25,000 to get the equivalent of BA Bronze, €50,000 to get the equivalent of BA Silver and €100,000 to get the equivalent of BA Gold.  However it will certainly help people who do only a modest amount of oneworld flying achieve a decent level of status.

That said, some people will certainly be trying to play games with the Austrian card.  Withdrawals of cash on the credit card are charged at 3% plus a flat fee of 35 cents.  An average spender may be tempted to pay the fees required to top up their normal spending in order to hit the €50,000 target required for BA Silver-equivalent.

There is currently no UK airline credit card which gives status by default. Etihad Guest does give Silver status after one return flight to UK credit card holders.

It is different with the hotel credit cards:

the Marriott card comes with Silver status

the Hilton card comes with Silver status and Gold for spending £10,000

the Starwood card comes with Preferred Plus status and Gold for spending £15,000

the IHG Rewards Club basic card comes with Gold status

the IHG Rewards Club Premium card comes with Platinum status

Will we soon see our first UK instance of a credit card giving airline status for spending?

(To see our complete list of all current UK credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. Erico1875 says:

    @ 3% thats €1500 + to get Silver.
    Is status worth that?

    • Callum says:

      No, but if you put your normal spending on the card you won’t need to rely on cash withdrawals for anywhere near that amount. Add in any OneWorld flights you’re taking and this could be a really useful way to move up to the next level if you’re not too far off.

    • Nope. If you didn’t fly a huge amount and had no status, the, 1500EUR could buy you many seat selections, access to 3rd party lounges and a few cash tickets you’d otherwise have redeemed using bonus airmiles.

  2. sandgrounder says:

    An Amex BA Platinum charge card with a TP top up each year would be a great idea. Not so much for those who get status the traditional way, of course…..

  3. N I Flyer says:

    Amex membership rewards can be converted to Finnair. Finnair points can be converted to tier points within Finnair Plus programme up to a limit. This is the closest that I have found so far as to buying status with a UK card.

    • Very interesting! I will take a look. Thanks. Learn something new every day ….

      • Brendan says:

        15k points to get 5k tier points up to a max of 45k tier points = 135k points when you need 90k tier points to get oneworld sapphire doesn’t seem like it would be worthwhile!

    • Polly says:

      V useful, yes Rob worth a look that option, for those of us not getting MP cards any more with our Plats!

  4. Andrew s says:

    I wonder how much “Status” costs the airlines? Sure they have to provide the lounges and administration but surley cannot be a huge amount?

  5. simon says:

    As some one that spends over 100k a year on a personal card for work spend but always misses silver by a couple of hundred tier points I would love a Credit Card that counts toward status.

  6. Varth Dader says:

    e50,000 is only 1,619 3V cards – based on a 10k limit you’ll have that done by the end of summer

  7. Worth a mention. Never know when I might have to work a year or so in Germany or Austria and as I’d be using hotels I’d easily make that sort of spend.

    Closer to home, I don’t think BA should do something similar. It would get abused too much, instead of TP runs people would do manufactured spend runs.

    The bmi plus card gave you a small status miles boost every year, maybe the BA PP card could give a 150 TP bonus each year, nothing exciting, but combined with the higher Avios earning may make more consider paying the annual fee.

  8. If airberlin is willing to sell status for credit card cash, there may be an opportunity for a small uk card issuer to persuade them to partner with them. It would be good if someone like Sygma Bank who issue the Flybe card could be persuaded.

    I assume that MBNA and Amex wouldn’t want to touch it for fear of upsetting BA.

    • Amex was happy to give away Cathay Gold which cost BA quite a lot of money as people stopped chasing BA status!

      • It would be great if Amex did partner with airberlin in this way. I could justify the £450 fee for Amex Platinum to myself due to the oneworld status with Cathay Gold but think I’ll be cancelling once the Cathay Gold expires (I know technically I could cancel now and keep Cathay Gold). Whilst the Priority Pass is useful I could buy it directly on its own for less, and its lack of Heathrow T5 means I would even consider whether it was worth it.

        A deal such as the airberlin could keep a lot of those cardholders on board, and would also encourage large expenditure through the Amex Platinum card. I tend not to spend a great deal on this card as I have another better Avios earning card.

  9. Scotlish says:

    I thought I’d just mention that you can apply for the German card from the UK, you just need to have a German bank account which you can get with or with ease (I’m personally with Comdirect), you can also apply for the German Hilton HHonors Visa which offers better value for money than the UK HHonors card (in my opinion), for those ineligible for a UK AMEX you could try your luck in Germany too.

    It would also appear you can apply for the Austrian card too as you can pick Großbritannien however I’m unsure as to whether you need an Austrian bank account. I would presume you can use your British account as it asks for IBAN/BIC in place of an account number/sort code (it’s a one or the other thing) although as I haven’t gone through the application I cannot be certain.

    Just thought I’d clear up the misconception that you need to live in Germany (and possibly Austria) in order to apply for the card 🙂

    • Better vfm Hilton card sounds good – is there a link to info? Could be an interesting post, Raffles.

      • Scotlish says:

        This is the link to the HHonors Visa in Germany, benefits are Gold status (only reason for the card), 10,000 welcome points, 2 point per euro spend (3 if spent in a Hilton property). I have the card and it’s a good card in my opinion, especially the Gold status compared the UK one which only offers Silver unless you spend £10k. The only thing you that makes the UK card better is the free night credit which to some would be a deal breaker.

        There’s a 48€/yr fee though but more than worth it if you use it daily and stay at Hilton properties regularly.

    • Polly says:

      Thank you for that, v useful for those of us whose MP cards will expire later this year. And yes, it would be worth keeping the plat then once we had BA silver equivalent with someone in OW.

      • Hmm … I would be interested to see if they actually let you have one. The UK is pretty strict and the Germans are even worse – remember that very few even have credit cards!

        • Scotlish says:

          From experience I can tell you that DKB will issue the HHonors credit card without issue to UK customers, likewise you can be issued a Lufthansa credit card. I believe American Express issue cards to non-German customers too although I’ll need to check as I haven’t had one issued myself (not bothered applying).

          Germany isn’t actually strict when it comes to issuing credit cards, all you need is a German bank account (as before or and you can then apply for any card you like (unless explicitly stated it’s only for German residents) so for the Germans being worse in strictness, they’re not at all, rather they’re relaxed which in a way is worrying but that’s for another topic :p

          Hope it’s useful to an extent 🙂

        • Very useful! Ironically my German wife has closed all of her local accounts ….

        • Thanks – that’s interesting info both on the card and the German bank account front 🙂

        • Scotlish says:

          You’re both welcome, when I first discovered this a while back I was surprised too but since it’s been incredibly beneficial especially on the HHonors status front.