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What is the best Star Alliance credit card?

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What credit card should you get if you want to redeem for flights with a Star Alliance airline? Let’s find out!

What is the best UK star alliance credit card?

Who are the members of Star Alliance?

The bulk of major global airlines have formed three alliances – oneworld (which includes British Airways), Star Alliance and SkyTeam.

Star Alliance is the largest of the three, both in terms of member airlines (26) and destinations serviced (almost 1,300).  This means that it can be handy to have access to miles in a Star Alliance frequent flyer programme in order to redeem across these carriers.

The full Star Alliance member list is: Aegean, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels, Copa, Croatia, EgyptAir, Ethopian, EVA, LOT, Lufthansa, SAS, Shenzen, Singapore, South African, SWISS, TAP, Thai, Turkish and United.

Picking a UK credit card to earn Star Alliance miles

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.  bmi also had an insanely cheap redemption chart because, as a primarily short-haul airline, they assumed that no-one would be able to run up high balances.  They got that wrong ….

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

What is the best Star Alliance credit card in the UK?

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 to get your free Experian Credit Score.

All of these cards add a 3% foreign exchange fee so you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad.   Unfortunately there are no travel rewards card without a foreign exchange fee.  One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.

Another option is to open an account with online bank Starling. It comes with a debit card which charges no fees on FX cash withdrawals up to £300 per day and no fees at all on overseas transactions. You can fund Starling by moving money to and from your existing bank account via their app. Our review of Starling Bank is here and you can apply here.

What is the best Star Alliance credit card?

Which Star Alliance airlines have their own UK credit card?

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

The only UK card which allows you to earn Star Alliance miles directly is the Miles & More Global Traveller Card from Lufthansa.

This card is currently suspended to new applications. It is planning to relaunch in Summer 2021, when it will switch to a Visa card.

The earning rate is an impressive 1.25 Miles & More miles per £1 spent.  There is a sign-up bonus of 5,000 miles. It looks as if this will remain when the card is relaunched.

What is the best Star Allance credit card?

Which Star Alliance airlines are Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners?

You can earn American Express Membership Rewards points with, primarily, these five cards:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Amex Reward Credit Card ARCC

American Express Rewards

The only ‘free for life’ Amex card which earns Membership Rewards Read our full review

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

Looking at the Amex Membership Rewards catalogue you see the following Star Alliance airlines are transfer partners:

  • SAS: 1 mile per 1 Membership Rewards points
  • Singapore Airlines: 1 mile per 1 Membership Rewards point

Click the links to our reviews above to learn more about these three cards and their sign-up bonuses.

Mariott Bonvoy American Express credit card is the best star alliance credit card

Which Star Alliance airlines are Marriott Bonvoy American Express transfer partners?

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express awards points in the Marriott Bonvoy hotel loyalty scheme, covering 30 hotel brands. 

You can convert Marriott Bonvoy points to 44 airlines.  The transfer rate is nominally 3 : 1, with the credit card earning 2 point per £1. This is increased to 3: 1.25 if you convert 60,000 Bonvoy points at once.

Here are details about the card, which comes with a sign-up bonus of 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points:

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

Read our full reviewApply here

Other information:

  • 15 elite night credits per year which gets Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status
  • Free night, up to 25,000 points, when you spend £25,000 per year.
  • Upgrade to Gold Elite status when you spend £15,000 in a card year
  • Annual fee: £75

Representative 38.8% APR variable based on an assumed £1,200 credit limit and £75 annual fee. Interest rate on purchases 22.2% APR variable.

See if you qualify for the 20,000 points sign-up bonus +

You will receive 20,000 points as a sign-up bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card if you spend £3,000 within 90 days of signing up.

To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card.

You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s American Express account.

You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held a Business American Express card.

For clarity, you can still apply for the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card even if you do not qualify for the bonus.  You would still benefit from the 15 elite night credits per year, the free night (up to 25,000 points) for spending £25,000 and Gold Elite status for spending £15,000.

Learn more about the card benefits +

You will receive 15 elite night credits per year in Marriott Bonvoy.  The first batch will arrive within 60 days on applying and then in Spring in each subsequent year.

15 elite nights will automatically get you Silver Elite status in Marriott Bonvoy and put you nearer to Gold Elite and higher tiers.

If you spend £15,000 per card year, you will be upgraded to Gold Elite status in Marriott Bonvoy.

If you spend £25,000 per card year, you will receive a free night voucher, valid at any hotel where reward nights cost up to 25,000 points.

These are the Star Alliance members which are Marriott Bonvoy airline partners.   The earning rates shown ignore the 25% bonus if you convert 60,000 Bonvoy points (20,000 miles) at once.

  • Aegean: 0.66 miles per £1
  • Air Canada: 0.66 miles per £1
  • Air China: 0.66 miles per £1
  • Air New Zealand: 0.66 points per £66
  • ANA: 0.66 miles per £1
  • Asiana Airlines: 0.66 miles per £1
  • Avianca: 0.66 miles per £1
  • Copa Airlines: 0.66 miles per £1
  • Miles & More: 0.66 miles per £1 (currently suspended)
  • Singapore Airlines: 0.66 miles per £1
  • South African Airways: 0.66 miles per £1
  • TAP Air Portugal: 0.66 miles per £1
  • Thai Airways: 0.66 miles per £1
  • Turkish Airlines: 0.66 miles per £1
  • United Airlines: 0.73 miles per £1
What is the best star alliance credit card?

What other Star Alliance airlines have credit card partnerships?

The IHG Rewards Club credit card earns a poor 0.2 miles per £1 of credit card spend.  Star Alliance partners are: Air China, Air New Zealand (£400 spend = 1 point), ANA, Asiana Airlines, Copa, Miles & More (currently suspended), 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.

What is the best credit card for collecting star alliance miles

Conclusion

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.

Want SAS or Singapore Airlines miles?

The free (in year one) American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card is probably your best choice if you want SAS or Singapore Airlines miles.  You earn 1 mile per £1 and the sign-up bonus is 20,000 Membership Rewards points. You can apply here.

Want Miles & More miles?

The Miles & More Global Traveller Diners Club and Mastercard is a good option if you have a lot of non-American Express spending and so cannot make full use of the Marriott Bonvoy American Express.  Unfortunately, you will need to wait until Summer 2021 to apply for this card as it is currently suspended.

Want miles with any other Star Alliance airline?

The £75 Marriott Bonvoy American Express is probably your best choice for Star Alliance miles with all other airlines. 

The Marriott Bonvoy Amex has a number of partners at a decent conversion rate of 0.825 miles per £1 (assuming you convert in 60,000 Bonvoy point chunks) and may be a good way to hedge your bets about which Star Alliance programme you want to redeem through.  

You can also redeem your points for Marriott hotel rooms if you change your mind about airline miles!  My full review of the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card is here. You can apply here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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.

Comments (39)

  • Layerden says:

    Not sure why the Aqua card does not get much love here. Fee free FX and cashback what is not to like?

    • Rob says:

      It is aimed at ex-bankrupts and can give that impression to people who look at your credit report. They offered us a pile of money at one point to promote it but we turned it down.

      And it no longer offers cashback ….

      • stevenhp1987 says:

        When lenders look at your credit report they don’t see who the lender is. They just see it’s a credit card with x limit and your payment history.

    • The real John says:

      Rob has a misguided view that other lenders know who provides your credit cards.

      I don’t think they do cashback any more

      • Charlieface says:

        Well they do see who issues the card and not the name of the card, in this case that would be NewDay who also provide a bunch of department store cards and the like, so it means nothing

        • callum says:

          What makes you say that? I was certain they can’t see who your other lenders are – though I can’t actually find confirmation of that so perhaps I was mistaken?

        • stevenhp1987 says:

          No, they don’t see who issues the card or who the lender is.

          I used to work for a finance company as a developer integrating with said systems.

      • cinereus says:

        +1

    • Andrew says:

      It’s a card for bankrupts and people with a terrible credit history, has a shocking APR, and is powered by New Day.

      Vanquis, Aqua, Capital One… You might as well tell everyone you can’t go out on a Wednesday night bevause there’s a scary woman from the doorstep lender or catalogue company collecting your payments.

      The ICO instructed New Day to pay me compensation when their marketing agency inappropriately target marketed a “rebuild your credit” Aqua card at me.

      • Harry T says:

        @Andrew
        I’ve also received targeted letters from Capital One, Aqua etc, which baffles me. I suspect that Martin Lewis credit club or similar have sold my details. Seems odd to get offers for poor-credit credit cards with paltry limits when I have three American Express charge and credit cards, and multiple other credit cards with high limits. I’ve also never missed a payment and have a comfortable salary!

      • 747_Brat says:

        I get frequent mailers from Vanquis & Aqua. Therefore, curious to know how did you claim compensation. Please could you share your experience.
        Thanks.

      • callum says:

        I know this is something Rob frets about too, but if anyone judged me based on the credit card I was using, there is no way in hell I would ever want to even interact with them – let alone be friends with them.

        How utterly pathetic you’d have to be!

        • Andrew says:

          There are many aspects to our personal and professional lives. For some of us our past or current roles require us to exhibit high standards for our personal finances.

          It may anger you that when you apply for and hold a card that’s heavily promoted as being for people who are former bankrupts or have a terrible credit history and can’t get credit from mainstream banks, that people perceive you as being a former bankrupt, have a terrible credit history and can’t get credit from mainstream banks – but that’s life. Humans make judgements all the time

          • callum says:

            Wrong. It’s not life, it’s YOUR life. I don’t (willingly) interact with such horribly judgemental people.

            Though completely misunderstanding what I have the issue with does perfectly sum up the differences between us! I’m not “angry” that people may perceive me in that way, I’m “angry” that it matters to them. If someone told me they were an ex-bankrupt or had a terrible credit history, why on Earth should I care?

        • Harry T says:

          @Callum
          I’m not worried about other people judging me for the plastic in my wallet, I’m more concerned that lenders would judge me – which may be an irrational fear!

          • Callum says:

            That’s definitely not irrational but I’m not sure it’s something they can do.

            I used to have a strong interest in this area back when I was focused on quickly building up a good record, and I distinctly remember that lenders only see relevant details (i.e. balance, payment history etc) and not the name on each account.

            I feel like if banks knew who else you bank with, they’d actually be using that data, but I can’t find anything to corroborate what I’m saying so take it with a pinch of salt!

          • Callum says:

            I got a Gold Amex while holding a Vanquis and Capital One card, so even if they can see that information I’m not sure they care.

            They make their own judgements based on data, not snotty assumptions like “that guys got an Aqua card, he must be an ex-bankrupt”!

  • memesweeper says:

    @Rob The one mile per £1 rate table for Marriott Bonvoy card looks wrong — based on the old Starwood branded card rate? Later in the article you mention 0.825 miles per pound which sounds correct.

  • Zain says:

    How easy is it to get the Lufthansa card? I’ve got excellent credit but got rejected for the Virgin card a couple of months ago for no apparent reason so I’m concerned this might be similar.

    • Harry T says:

      Virgin reject people with good credit profiles and high incomes. They are probably the opposite of Amex in this regard. You can appeal in writing.

      • 747_Brat says:

        Virgin also doesn’t seem to like me. I applied early in 2019, but got rejected. Appealed the decision, but was turned down. Then I applied again last month, to benefit from the upgrade voucher, but got rejected again.

        Not sure why they don’t like me. I have 8 credit cards with a good credit limit, a good credit score, and perfect payment history. Still no luck with Virgin!

      • Harry T says:

        I appealed and then was allowed to open the Rewards + card (£160 fee) with a terrible credit limit. This was vaguely acceptable until they stopped you earning miles when recycling your credit limit, and wouldn’t give me a decent credit limit. I grew tired of their bullshit and packed it in before I was charged for another year.

        • Doug M says:

          I feel this is a poor card for that reason. The chase a market that they then seem to not want. It’s a strange business model.

          • Harry T says:

            Exactly, Doug! Most people don’t want to pay for a credit card, and those who do likely have higher incomes… makes no sense to then try and discourage high spend.

        • 747_Brat says:

          You made the right decision there!

  • Dan says:

    As someone who mainly flies on Oneworld and has Silver extended until October 2022, I’m keen to learn more about Star Alliance.

    What is an easy way of finding out the amount of miles & taxes needed for a given route? The Lufthansa website is not particularly helpful as I find the BA website must more user friendly for things like this – so keen for those with more experience to advise.

    Also, what is the quickest (and cheapest) route to Star Alliance Gold? With OneWorld, obviously the 1 Long Haul, ex- European city to Asia via Doha plus a couple of Short Hauls can get you silver within the region of £2k – are there such quirks with Star Alliance?

    • David says:

      You are skipping the crucial bit – which start alliance airline.

      You say ” With OneWorld, obviously the 1 Long Haul, ex- European city to Asia via Doha plus a couple of Short Hauls can get you silver within the region of £2k”

      – That is BA, not oneworld.
      Indeed remember the oneworld levels are ruby, sapphire, emerald, etc.

      And the redemption rates and rules, and sweat spots, all vary massievely from airline to airline in staralliance, that same as in oneworld alliance.

      hope that makse sense

      easy/best for status with minimal spending, can be for some people:
      aegean
      turkish

      In this day and age, also got to think about airline saftey if you want to build a pot over time, so I would not be putting my crediting to avianca etc, who have been home to some great deals in the past.

      hope that makse sense.

      • RussellH says:

        Yes, for at least some here, avoiding the LH hard expiration rule will be important. I have been a member of Miles+More for years – initially because it made getting complementray tickets to Germany for tour operators much easier.
        But recently swapped to United because of them changing to no expiry dates.

        PS would love to know about the sweat spots too.
        🙂

    • The Original Nick says:

      @Dan, as you have Silver status with OneWorld (guessing BA) your quickest route to SA Gold is via the TAP Status match which is still ongoing.

      • Dan says:

        Ah yes, that’s right thanks! I’m trying to leave this as late as possible to take advantage of a full year in which travel is more widely accessible. Not sure when the offer will end though, which is the issue of holding off…

        • The Original Nick says:

          I have my match confirmed. I just hope they extend it past the 12 months.

  • Hugh says:

    Starling Bank: I found this fun to open (selfie video) and neat to use. Quirks: you can have a joint GBP account, but the EUR has to be in one name. I’ve held foreign cash cards (Maestro) for about 20 years, with a surcharge of one Swiss franc (or euro equivalent) per transaction and a hefty annual fee. Starling does not charge, provided the account is genuinely not for business use. I switched over to the euro side last month (done on their phone app) and it was a luxury not to be fumbling with coins at every motorway toll booth (in addition to leaping out of the car on the wrong side, which still happens). Found the whole thing very labour-saving.

    • Harry T says:

      Starling Bank are legit, and the app is very well designed. I quite like the green card too.

  • Dev says:

    I find Star Alliance to really suck. There is a level of simplicity with OneWorld that is not replicated in Star. For example, you know that on the cheapest Y ticket, you will get some miles (usually 25%) and some status credit (be it TPs or Status Miles) on OW but on Star, you just never know what you will earn. I’ve experienced extremes on Star .. a LHR-CAI-LHR on Egyptair earned zero on the outbound but 100% on the inbound!

    I just collect with Singapore Airlines as my theory is that if your gonna infrequently collect Star, you might as well aim for the best!

    • Lady London says:

      wheretocredit dot com shows which airline awards how many points/miles for each route according to fare.class.

  • Luke says:

    EVA Air, a Star alliance member can earn miles with IHG rewards credit card.
    It’s a mistake in the article “As far as I can see…there is no earning ability with EVA Air”