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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 airports served (1,200).  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.

What is the best Star Alliance credit card?

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 may see some activity here in 2024.

Until / unless a new Lufthansa or joint Star Alliance card appears, you need to look for alternatives.

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

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) 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.

Important: SAS is due to leave Star Alliance to join SkyTeam if Air France KLM gets EU approval for its plan to take a partial shareholding in the airline. This is unlikely to happen until 2025 at the earliest.

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 31 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: £95

Representative 54.8% APR variable based on an assumed £1,200 credit limit and £95 annual fee. Interest rate on purchases 31.0% 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 need a minimum personal income of £20,000 to apply for the card.

You can convert Marriott Bonvoy points to 40 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.

There is a preferential conversion rate to United Airlines – which is a Star Alliance member – of 2:1 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 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
  • 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: 0.66 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 £95 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 2024 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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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.

Virgin Money is offering double points on spending until 14th April (£5,000 cap) to new customers when you apply for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard. Click here to learn more.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios 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

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 bonus points 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:

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

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) and free for a year 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

2% cashback on all your business spend for 3 months (1% thereafter) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (34)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • TJones says:

    Correction in the conclusion: the Marriott card is £95 not £75.

  • Stuart says:

    What is the best SkyTeam credit card?

    • Rob says:

      A Virgin Atlantic one now, which is why we don’t have a similar ST article!

      • Stuart says:

        Is the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold card the best for AF-KL in the UK? KL is well suited for flying from so many non-London airports to AMS for onward connections (and to a lesser extent AF via CDG), there must be a lot of UK Flying Blue members.

        • Rob says:

          Yes, an Amex MR card is best. Amex Rewards Credit Card is free for life but no benefits, Gold has a fee but more benefits and annual spend bonuses.

          • Stuart says:

            Thanks Rob. As I said, there must be tonnes of us UK based Flying Blue members as KLM serves loads of UK airport (more than BA) – yet we get almost zero news articles, Miles/XP (KLM’s equivalent of TPs) run tips etc.

        • TeesTraveller says:

          Don’t expect much Flying Blue coverage on here as a) focus on HFP is on their London/SE readership profile and b) there is no Flying Blue UK credit card to generate referral income.

          I actually agree that there are a hell of a lot of Flying Blue flyers using airports such as Teesside, Leeds, Humberside, Norwich, Southampton, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham where BA is not a realistic option (bar the odd weekend flights form London City based planes). Also if you use Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester or Belfast, BA is nothing really different to Air France, KLM or Lufthansa when it comes to travelling with a connection via a hub.

          Having said all that it appears from the outside that KLM UK could do a lot more to leverage what they have here – Amsterdam is effectively the UK’s second hub airport with about 100 flights a day from the UK on KLM alone and across all carriers, only Dublin saw more flights from the UK in November.

          • Rob says:

            I did sit with Ben Lipsey who runs FB at our awards last night – but now VS is in SkyTeam I see no reason for them to push FB here.

  • memesweeper says:

    Anyone know when did we see the last enhanced bonus for signing up for the Marriott Amex? Wasn’t it 40k before xmas?

    • Rob says:

      Never goes above 40k. No promo due imminently – I know the Feb schedule!

      • Henry says:

        Rob, do you also know when is next BAPP increased bonus? There is a 50k right now via BAEC but my 2-year wait period ends on 1st March

        • Rob says:

          No

        • JDB says:

          @Henry – BA/Amex have also been trying a Dutch auction with BAPP SUBs unlike the ‘strategy’ on Plat bonuses! It was 70k last January, 60k in August and now 50k. It would appear that 70k was probably pitched too high.

  • BJ says:

    Lufty M&M was not the only *A card in the UK, United also had one which pre-dated the first Lufty card IIRC.

  • PGR says:

    Typo for Air New Zealand conversion rate? (I hope!)

    • Rob says:

      Not a typo.

      • David says:

        Wow. What a joke.

        • Rob says:

          That’s a ridiculous thing to say.

          Free flights on ANZ start at 125 points (not a typo). The most expensive redemption possible (First Class, 10000+ km) is 2,500 points (not a typo). You seriously expect a 3:1 conversion rate from Bonvoy?!

          • Matt B says:

            I suspect the poster didn’t realise the AirNZ redemption rates…

          • Rob says:

            I know! Just thought the original comment was a bit bizarre if you hadn’t checked their pricing first 🙂

          • Jonathan says:

            Too be fair, it’s not always at all easy to find out how much cash and points you’ll need for redemption, some airline programs are a lot more difficult than others, I once needed to look for reward availability on TK, and before they’ll let you what’s available (if applicable) they ask you to login into your account, even if you don’t have one, and you’re intending on via another Star Alliance program.

            AA makes theirs very easy too see what’s available, although going a day or so earlier could see your redemption increase by double the amount of points, if using theirs

          • Occasional Ranter says:

            TBF it still doesn’t work out that great. Let’s look at UK to Oz/NZ in J.

            It’s 90k Avios on QR = 90k Amex points.

            It’s probably 2 x 7.5k-10k km sectors on a Star Alliance partner = 2600 Airpoints dollars = 520k Marriott points = 347k Amex points.

            Air NZ earning rates via actual flights or credit card point conversions ARE terrible.

  • Jonathan says:

    I’m interested too see what’ll potentially happen with an Emirates co-branded credit card, since there hasn’t been one since the death of the wide portfolio of airline credit cards by MBNA a number of years ago.

    Hopefully something good and competitive will come along, and by holding the card, it can give immunity to the hard expiry policy of their SkyWards points

    • BBbetter says:

      More likely a card from QR.

    • The Paw 🐾 says:

      +1 on the waiving of the hard expiry. Also hope that the paid card comes with silver status.

      • Jonathan says:

        Something that baffles me is why many of these airlines like to keep the policies going, they must have numerous people complaining to them about losing their points, I heard about someone who was planning on booking a ticket for her daughter, but was unforeseeably hospitalised, and when she ready to go home, she found her points had been wiped due to the expiry policy

        • NicktheGreek says:

          Unfortunate for the consumer, yes, but the airline has just been able to write off £xxx of exposure for zilch. Why would they be in a rush to alter this unless forced to?

        • The Paw 🐾 says:

          The bean counters are eager to take the liabilities (miles) of the balance sheets…..

  • newbz says:

    SAS may not be in Star Alliance for much longer, it seems…

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