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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.

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.

Our article on which Star Alliance frequent flyer programme is best for you can be found here.

Which UK credit cards earn Star Alliance miles?

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.

However, no Star Alliance airlines have their own UK credit card.

The only UK card which did allow you to earn Star Alliance miles directly was the Miles & More Global Traveller Card from Lufthansa. This card was closed in early 2021. There has been no sign of a replacement so far, although there are glimmers of hope as Star Alliance trialled an alliance-wide card in Australia in 2022.

We look at the alternatives below. All of the cards we discuss below 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 cards without a foreign exchange fee, although the Virgin Atlantic credit cards have 0% FX fees in the EurozoneOne option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than the usual rate) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

What is the best Star Allance credit card?

Option 1: Get an American Express card which earns Membership Rewards points

The easiest way of earning Star Alliance miles indirectly with a UK credit card is by transferring American Express Membership Rewards points.

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

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

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

American Express Rewards

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

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

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

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

  • SAS: 1 Membership Rewards points = 1 mile
  • Singapore Airlines: 3 Membership Rewards points = 2 miles

(Handy hint: don’t assume from the transfer rates above that SAS is automatically ‘better’ than Singapore Airlines for any particular redemption. You need to compare how many miles each scheme wants for your preferred flight, and how much each adds for taxes and charges.)

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

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

Option 2: Get the Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card

Whilst American Express Membership Rewards points are easy to earn, SAS EuroBonus and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer are just a fraction of the many Star Alliance frequent flyer schemes.

A better answer may be the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card.

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express awards points in the Marriott Bonvoy hotel loyalty scheme, covering 30 hotel brands.  It comes with a sign-up bonus of 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Here are the full card details:

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

Bonus: 20,000 points

Read our full reviewApply here

Other information:

  • 15 elite night credits per year to help you towards higher 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 45.9% APR variable based on an assumed £1,200 credit limit and £75 annual fee. Interest rate on purchases 28.1% 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.

You can convert Marriott Bonvoy points to 38 airlines.  The transfer rate is nominally 3 : 1, with the credit card earning 2 point per £1. For most partners this is increased to 3: 1.25 if you convert 60,000 Bonvoy points at once.

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 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
  • Singapore Airlines: 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

In most cases, the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card is your best option for earning Star Alliance miles from UK credit card spend.

What is the best credit card for collecting star alliance miles

Option 3: Get a HSBC Premier credit card

HSBC Premier is an option if you want Singapore Airlines, TAP Air Portugal or EVA Air 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. This means that it is out of reach for many readers.

We review the free HSBC Premier credit card here and review the £195 HSBC Premier World Elite credit card here.

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 Lufthansa Miles & More (admittedly a big hole), Egyptair and Ethiopian.  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 point per £1 and the sign-up bonus is 20,000 Membership Rewards points. The points convert at 1:1 into SAS and 3:2 into Singapore Airlines. You can apply here.

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, of course, 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 points from credit cards? – February 2023 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

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

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

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

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% for 3 months if you apply by 31st March) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (34)

  • Chris N says:

    Is there any reason why the Amex Platinum welcome offer is so poor when comparing to those over the pond (some bonuses of 150,000 being mentioned)?

    • Rhys says:

      The same reason all US welcome offers are much richer – because interchange fees are not capped and are often 10x as high as in the UK (2-3% sometimes even as high as 4 or 5, versus 0.2-0.3% here)

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