It’s now possible to earn Star Alliance Gold status through credit card spend alone, and to earn transferable Star Alliance points in the Star Alliance Rewards program.
Star Alliance has launched its first stand-alone credit card, in the Australian market. This is expected to expand. And Australia makes sense as a place to do this, since there’s no local Star Alliance carrier there (and hasn’t been since Ansett’s demise two decades ago) though Virgin Australia has close relationships with United and Air Canada.
There are two things which are interesting about the product.
- Earn Star Alliance Gold in your choice of program. You designate one program for Star Alliance status (from among Air Canada; Air New Zealand; EVA Air; Singapore Airlines; South Africa; THAI; United) and then card spend earns status – AU$4,000 within 90 days of approval for the first year, then AU$60,000 per membership year to keep it. (AU$30,000 spend earns the program’s level that’s equivalent to Star Silver.)
- Transfer Star Alliance points into the program of your choice. There are now Star Alliance points, earned from credit card spend, and they’re a transferable currency.
The same 7 airlines (Air Canada; Air New Zealand; EVA Air; Singapore Airlines; South Africa; THAI; United) are transfer partners for Star Alliance Rewards. Points transfer 1000 into 800 points in all of the programs except Air New Zealand where transfers are 1,250 Star Alliance points to 10 Air New Zealand Air Dollars.
Star Alliance points don’t transfer 1:1, but earning is based on 1 point per Australian dollar and (1) the Aussie dollar is weak, and (2) interchange is capped there. So you expect low earning cards. Instead, you only earn 1 Star Alliance point per dollar for the first $3,000 each month, then half a point per dollar.
Australians will likely want Star Alliance Gold status with a partner that confers Virgin Australia lounge access.
The product for the Australian market is the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card and it’s quite innovative. It has no annual fee the first year (a great deal for status), then AU$450. I’m not a fan of HSBC for its public support of China’s draconian security law that ended independence for Hong Kong and jailed pro-democracy activists, journalists, and even office-holders.