Earlier this year the world’s oldest and largest airline partnership Star Alliance, which boasts 26 worldwide members including Singapore Airlines, ANA and Lufthansa, revealed that it would be launching its own co-branded credit card.
This first within the alliance industry will reportedly allow members to earn points from spending, then transfer them to any Star Alliance frequent flyer programme for redemption, a significantly increased flexibility compared to the more typical airline-specific co-brand cards we’re used to seeing.
The upcoming credit card was first announced by Star Alliance in mid-May 2022.
Australia looks to be the first market
Unfortunately for most of our Singapore-based readers it appears that Australia has been chosen as the launch market for this product, dubbed the “HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card”, based on details now shared by Singapore Airlines.
The HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card will have an annal fee of AU$450, waived in year one for a limited time.
HSBC is an ideal launch partner for the product, operating across many countries with popular Star Alliance loyalty programmes, including Australia, Germany, Singapore, the UK and the USA.
‘Star Alliance Points’ to be the alliance currency
According to the details released by Singapore Airlines for the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card applicable to Australia-based residents, the new ‘central currency’ for this card is set to be called ‘Star Alliance Points’, earned from your general spending.
For the Australian card, Singapore Airlines has confirmed that you will:
- Earn 1 Star Alliance Point for every AU$1 spent on eligible purchases, up to AU$3,000 per statement period.
- Earn 0.5 Star Alliance Points per AU$1 spent on eligible purchases thereafter.
Each Star Alliance Point will convert to 0.8 KrisFlyer miles.
This means rather lacklustre earn rates of around 0.8 mpd (and 0.4 mpd for spend in excess of AU$3,000 each month), though remember in the local launch market (Australia), these earn rates are not uncommon, even though they’d be scoffed at in Singapore!
If and when a similar card is launched here, earn rates would no doubt match the market norms, otherwise the product would simply fail on arrival.
SIA obviously does not confirm whether any different exchange ratios exist for transfers into other Star Alliance FFPs, like United MileagePlus or Turkish Miles&Smiles, but we expect the ratio will vary for each programme.
Star Alliance Points transfer automatically to your chosen FFP
According to details provided by Singapore Airlines for this HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card, you will be able to nominate the carrier as your “Status Airline” on first signing up.
Star Alliance Points then earned will be “converted and credited automatically” into your KrisFlyer account each month, a similar principle that (rather annoyingly) applies to the airline’s own co-brand Amex cards, starting the three-year expiry clock ticking almost immediately.
Sadly this means you almost certainly won’t be able to accrue Star Alliance Points as a single universal currency, to avoid small (potentially useless) balances in several schemes across the alliance, as many had hoped when this concept was first announced.
What will be interesting to learn, and what SIA is not mentioning about the product, is whether you’ll be able to switch your preferred “Status Airline” at specified intervals (e.g. monthly, or quarterly).
If you’re fixed to a single FFP throughout your membership, or even on a per-year basis, the value of this proposition is limited for our readers, even if a similar Singapore-based version emerges in due course.
Fast track to KrisFlyer Elite Gold (Star Alliance Gold)
Interestingly this HSBC card in Australia will allow customers to fast track to KrisFlyer Elite Gold status, by spending AU$4,000 in the first 90 days (3 months) of card membership.
Thereafter, you will be able to retain this status level, which is equivalent to Star Alliance Gold status, with a spend of AU$60,000+ in each 12-month period from account opening (i.e. in each card membership year).
That’s equivalent to averaging a spend of AU$5,000+ each month.
For those who don’t already have it, this membership will unlock global lounge access when flying with Star Alliance member airlines, priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling, plus an additional checked baggage allowance.
Other perks for the Australian HSBC Star Alliance card include:
- Domestic and International Travel Insurances with Rental Vehicle Excess Insurance in Australia, Transit Accident Insurance, Extended Warranty Insurance, and Purchase Protection Insurance.
- 0% interest for 6 months on flight bookings made directly through participating Star Alliance Member Airlines website using your HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card.
Full details to follow
The application and T&C links for this new card are still not functional on the Singapore Airlines website at the time of writing, and the HSBC Australia site doesn’t have the details loaded yet, so we may have to wait a few more days to see the finer details on this one.
Here’s SIA’s rundown on the card details so far.
Could a Singapore Star Alliance card follow?
Perhaps the most interesting aspect surrounding this new product launch is whether we might see a Star Alliance Credit Card offered here in Singapore in due course.
The Star Alliance CEO certainly alludes to launches in more countries over the years.
That would be an interesting proposition, given the relatively good value of programmes like Turkish Miles&Smiles, ANA Mileage Club, Avianca LifeMiles and Aegean Miles+Bonus for redemptions in this part of the world.
Lots of questions still remain about this Australian product, let alone a future Singapore-based card, including the various transfer ratios that will be offered for Star Alliance Points to partner miles, plus the exact mechanics of deciding which programme your points credit to, and how often this can be changed.
Singapore Airlines is already promoting the card to its Australian members, and of course encouraging them to nominate KrisFlyer as the partner airline on sign-up, but we’ll have to wait and see how flexible the transfer options actually are before getting too excited about a potential future version rolling out here in the Lion City.
Singapore Airlines is lauding the benefits of the new HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card for its Australian members, even before applications or a full set of terms and conditions are apparently available.
The proof will clearly be in the details, since the concept should apply similarly across both launch and future markets.
It will be really interesting to learn those finer details of the card, since we expect a similar format (hopefully with local market-comparable earn rates!), if and when the concept extends to Singapore residents in future.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)