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HSBC’s new Star Alliance frequent flyer card: What can you get?

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The HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card can fast-track your frequent flyer status and earns points for partner programs – including Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.

Launched on 15 November 2022, this is the first time a major airline alliance has partnered with a bank to launch a co-branded credit card.

"Being the world's first credit card with airline alliance means greater choice in [how they earn and use points]," HSBC Australia's head of wealth and personal banking, Jessica Power, said at a press conference for the launch.

Star Alliance brings together 26 airlines.

With this new credit card, you'll be able to earn points and transfer them to frequent flyer programs for 7 member airlines, including Air New Zealand, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines and United.

It's generally been more difficult to earn points with Star Alliance partners through a credit card in Australia, compared to earning Qantas Points or Velocity Points.

"This is a product exclusively tailored to Australia," Star Alliance's director of loyalty and managing director in Australia Renato Ramos said at the press conference.

"These 7 member airlines represent 92% of the passengers transported by Star Alliance [airlines]," he said, adding that they are also the ones that fly to and from Australia.

Key details of the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card

The HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card.

  • 1 Star Alliance Point per $1 on eligible spending up to $3,000 per statement period, then 0.5 points per $1.
  • Star Alliance Gold Status when you spend at least $4,000 in the first 90 days.
  • Complimentary domestic and international travel insurance.
  • Introductory $0 annual fee in the first year then $450 per year.
  • 19.99% interest rate for purchases, with up to 55 days interest-free if you pay the closing balance by the due date on each statement.

See Finder's HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card review for more details.

The introductory offer on this card sets it apart from most frequent flyer or rewards cards in Australia.

Instead of bonus points, it offers fast-tracked Star Alliance Gold Status when you spend $4,000 in the first 90 days.

You can choose which of the 7 frequent flyer programs you get gold status with when you apply for the card, with benefits matched across the alliance.

"It's very challenging to have access to gold status just by flying… and that's how we differentiate this product," Ramos said.

How does this compare to sign-up bonus points?

Star Alliance Gold Status gives you access to benefits including airline lounges, priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling, extra baggage and other privileges when travelling with Star Alliance member airlines.

Depending on the frequent flyer program, it can also help you book reward flights or upgrades. But you still need points to get them – and there's no clear dollar value for status.

Usually, you only get (and keep) higher status by flying with a partner airline to earn status credits.

For example, to get Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Elite Gold Status you need to earn 50,000 Elite miles in a year.

In flight terms, that would mean taking 2 business class flights between Sydney and London in a year.

Or in standard economy, you'd be looking at 3 return flights from Sydney to London and a one-way flight between Sydney and Singapore.

With either of these scenarios, you'd need to fly with Singapore Airlines (not a partner) and the cost of the flights would be a lot more than the introductory $4,000 spend requirement on this card.

The American Express Velocity Platinum and Qantas Premier Titanium are the only other credit cards in Australia that offer a Status Credit benefit.

But neither of them offers actual silver or gold status.

In comparison, the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card will also help you maintain higher status in future years, offering Silver Status if you spend at least $30,000 in a year and Gold Status if you spend at least $60,000.

HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card point transfer rates

The Star Alliance Points you earn with this card need to be transferred to a partnered frequent flyer program before you can use them.

And the 1 Star Alliance Point gives you a different number of points or miles depending on the transfer.

  • Air Canada Aeroplan: 1,000 Star Alliance Points = 800 Aeroplan points
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints: 1,250 Star Alliance Points = 10 Airpoints Dollars
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands: 1,000 Star Alliance Points = 800 Infinity MileageLands miles
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer: 1,000 Star Alliance Points = 800 KrisFlyer miles
  • South African Airways Voyager: 1,000 Star Alliance Points = 800 Voyager miles
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus: 1,000 Star Alliance Points = 800 Royal Orchid Plus miles
  • United Airlines MileagePlus: 1,000 Star Alliance Points = 800 MileagePlus miles
How do these transfer rates compare to other credit cards?

In most cases, 1 Star Alliance Point transfers to 0.8 frequent flyer points or miles, which is slightly higher than the "1 point to 0.5 point" transfer rate offered by many rewards credit cards.

But some frequent flyer credit cards offer higher rates of points per $1 that you don't need to transfer.

Bottom line?

The HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card has created a buzz in the frequent flyer community, following leaked details last week.

Its status offer is unique and valuable for frequent travellers who want lounge access, extra baggage and other silver or gold perks.

The points are more flexible than Qantas or Velocity Frequent Flyer credit cards, but both the transfer rates and earn rates are similar to many rewards cards.

Its $450 annual fee after the first year is also at the higher end for frequent flyer and rewards cards.

So, it's worth comparing a few and then choosing one you'll get the most value from.

Note: We updated this article on 15 November 2022 with more details, including a link to Finder's review of the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card and an example of earning gold status through flights.

Want to keep your frequent flyer points balance growing? Check out the latest credit card sign-up deals.

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