The new and widely reported, Star Alliance Credit Card that is issued by HSBC in Australia has been officially unveiled today and is now open to eligible applicants residing Down Under.
With HSBC now officially advertising the product we’ve finally come to learn all the details of the product as well as the terms & conditions under which the card can be applied for.
Star Alliance has teased for quite some time that they are working on a universal credit card product with local banking partners that would provide benefits for any Star Alliance loyalty program the customer chooses, and the first such card is now ready to enter the market in Australia.
Both Star Alliance and HSBC as the issuing bank have now released further details about the product including sign-up links on HSBC’s website.
You can find the product on the HSBC Australia site here.
The HSBC-issued Star Alliance credit card will let the user earn Star Alliance Points as a universal rewards currency within the Star Alliance Rewards Program which can be converted into the miles or points format used by the loyalty program of the seven Star Alliance frequent flyer programs the customer participates in:
- Air Canada
- Air New Zealand
- Eva Air
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
These are the only seven programs currently participating and the number is definitely small compared to the twenty-seven member airlines. Popular programs such as ANA Mileage Plan, Aegean Miles&Bonus, Lufthansa Miles&More and SAS Eurobonus are noticeably absent.
You earn Star Alliance Gold Status when you spend $60,000 or more on purchases in a qualification year. Earn Silver Status when you spend $30,000 or more on eligible purchases in a qualification year. You can check the full list of Status benefits at
The mileage-earning features with this card are subject to a cap on the ratio:
- Earn 1 Star Alliance Point per $1 spent on eligible purchases, up to $3,000 per statement period and 0.5 Star Alliance Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases thereafter. The earning of Star Alliance Points is uncapped4.
- Points earned are transferred to your Star Alliance rewards account monthly.
- Convert5 your Star Alliance Points to award miles or points in your chosen Frequent Flyer Program of a participating Star Alliance member airline find out more about Star Alliance Rewards This link will open in a new window.
Keep in mind that earning 1 Star Alliance POINT doesn’t mean it will be worth the same in the program you’re transferring to as the conversion page shows.
For most programs, 1000 Star Alliance Points will be worth 800 miles so not the greatest ratio at the end of the day.
As far as mileage is concerned it gets slightly more interesting for those members who already carry star Alliance Gold status with the airline as HSBC will then credit you a one time amount of 40,000 points in lieu of awarding status:
EXCHANGING STAR ALLIANCE STATUS FOR STAR ALLIANCE POINTS
You are entitled to designate as your Participating Status FFP a Frequent Flyer Program in which you already hold status at a tier equivalent to Star Alliance Gold. If you do so, when you fulfil the requirements for the conferral of Star Alliance Gold status under the HSBC Card Terms in a given Qualification Period, you may request that forty thousand (40,000) Star Alliance Points be credited to your Star Alliance Rewards Account instead of the conferral of the status. You will be given an opportunity to request this option at the time when we prompt you to select your Participating Status FFP upon the first status qualification in any given Qualification Period. If you fail to make such a request within 14 days, we will assume that you are opting for the settings that you have in the Rewards Portal at the time. If you do request this alternative, no new Status Period will be created for that Qualification Period.
40,000 points would be 32,000 Miles so a nice extra amount. However, I’d argue that if you don’t need the star alliance status in the first place then there is really no reason to carry such an expensive card.
The Annual Fee will be $0 in the first year, then $450 in subsequent years, and is subject to change. Therefore, the first annual fee will be debited on the 12-month anniversary of the first transaction on your account and annually thereafter. The $0 Annual Fee in the first year does not apply to existing HSBC customers transferring from another HSBC credit card. In order for the fee to be waived you’d have to lodge a new application.
Here is a comparison to other HSBC Australia credit cards:
This is the most expensive card by far in the HSBC portfolio and I think the only real purpose of maintaining this card is for someone who wants to keep Star Alliance Gold status. The miles are almost irrelevant given the bad ratio.
In terms of earning ability, it’s just as bad as the Lufthansa Miles&More Mastercard in Germany that only issued 0.5 miles per Euro spent for personal customers but to be fair at least that card doesn’t cost $450/year. A 3% foreign transaction fee is also quite horrible and let’s also keep in mind that in Australia itself many travel-related merchants such as hotels charge you a credit card fee when you decide to use one instead of a local bank debit or cash.
Star Alliance issued the following press release:
HSBC Australia and Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance, today announced the launch of the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card in Australia, providing customers with greater choice when earning and using their airline points.
Australian customers can earn Star Alliance Points on their everyday eligible credit card purchases that can be converted to miles/points in participating Star Alliance member carrier frequent flyer programs. The card is the world’s first credit card created with an airline alliance and will be issued exclusively on Visa credit. It brings together seven launch Star Alliance carriers on a single credit card platform.
Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance, said: “Star Alliance is delighted to launch this industry-first loyalty product together with HSBC and Visa. This is very much consistent with a key strategy of Star Alliance which is to offer a loyalty proposition that others talk about.
“This unique product is an outcome of strategic discussions with our member airlines for the Australian market. It will offer a new world of loyalty experience with not only the ability to earn points, but also a fast track to Star Alliance Gold Status through everyday spending. Star Alliance Gold Status offers a range of benefits such as lounge access and priority boarding across all Star Alliance member carriers.”
At the time of the launch, the participating member airlines and their respective frequent flyer programs are: Air Canada – Aeroplan®, Air New Zealand – Airpoints™, EVA Air – Infinity MileageLands, Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer, South African Airways – SAA Voyager, THAI – Royal Orchid Plus, and United – MileagePlus®.
The HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card provides Australian residents a fast track to Star Alliance Gold Status in the first year of their account, when they spend AUD$4,000 on eligible purchases within 90 days from card approval. Star Alliance Gold Status gives customers access to over 1,000 airline lounges worldwide, priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling, as well as excess baggage allowance on eligible fares and other privileges when travelling on flights operated by Star Alliance member airlines.
Jessica Power, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking at HSBC Australia, said: “HSBC and Star Alliance are both globally focused, and this new card is a great fit for Australians who enjoy international travel.
“While many credit cards allow users to earn points, we wanted to provide customers with a way to access all the benefits of airline status privileges through their everyday spending.”
Commenting on the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card, Riaz Nasrabadi, Visa’s Head of Product for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, said: “Visa is proud to exclusively support this partnership between HSBC Australia and Star Alliance. With international travel top of mind for many Australians, this product will enable access to all the benefits and security of a Visa card together with seamless access to airline privileges.”
Aside from the ability to earn miles and status, there are some side benefits that come with this card including an insurance bundle, 12 months 0% balance transfer as well a 6-month interest-free flight purchases if the ticket is bought directly with one of the seven participating Star Alliance carrier:
One thing that really baffles me is that this expensive card isn’t even branded as Visa Infinite or at least Signature. There are lower grade (well, cheaper) cards which are featured in the chart I posted above and they are Platinum cards. The HSBC Premier is a Mastercard World. And this Star Alliance card is… nothing? Just a plain Jane?
Star Alliance has launched its first universal credit card product in partnership with HSBC in Australia and customers can now apply for this card (or contact HSBC to switch an existing card product).
I find this an extremely difficult niche product, to be honest. There are a range of decent credit cards available on the Australian credit card market that allow earning miles with Star Alliance carriers at rather comfortable rates, issued by American Express, Diners Club, St. George, and Westpac. Even HSBC’s other cards are more attractive as far as the annual fee and benefits are concerned. The only difference here is really the Star Alliance Gold status which also comes with a rather high $60k/p.a. spend requirement from year two.
Would you like to see such a credit card in your country?