HSBC and Star Alliance just announced a new co-branded credit card that is the first of its kind: The HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card. Yes! That’s an airline alliance credit card, for the first time, bringing together seven international airlines.
Australia is the first market that benefits from the card (HSBC Australia) with plans of rolling out in other markets including the US and UK (more details to come).
How does the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card work?
The HSBC Star Alliance Visa Card allows customers to earn benefits as common Star Alliance Points, which can then be converted to miles or points in participating Star Alliance members’ frequent flyer programs. The seven initial members are Air Canada, Air New Zealand, EVA Air, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, THAI Airways, and United.
With the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card, you 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 uncapped.
Another key benefit of the card is the fast track to Star Alliance Gold Status. The first year of your account, you fast-track to Star Alliance Gold Status when you spend $4,000 or more on eligible purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. The following years you earn Gold Status when you spend $60,000 or more on purchases in a qualification year. You can also earn Silver Status when you spend $30,000 or more on eligible purchases in a qualification year.
HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card Key Features
- Fast track to Star Alliance Gold Status in year one of your account when you spend $4,000 or more on eligible purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.
- For a limited time, $0 annual fee in the first year ($450 thereafter).
- Earn uncapped Star Alliance Points to convert into award miles or points in your chosen Frequent Flyer Program of a participating Star Alliance member airline. The points do not expire as long as the Star Alliance Rewards account remains active.
- Global lounge access: Airport Lounge Access at over 1,000 lounges worldwide
- Priority at airports: Priority Airport Check-in, Priority Boarding, and access to Gold Track (priority airport security lanes)
- Baggage benefits: Priority Baggage Handling and Extra Baggage Allowance on eligible flights.
- Priority waitlists: Priority Reservations Waitlist and Priority Airport Stand-by.
- Complimentary insurance benefits. Domestic and International Travel Insurance with Rental Vehicle Excess Insurance in Australia, Transit Accident Insurance, Extended Warranty Insurance, and Purchase Protection Insurance. Cover for claims relating to Covid-19 may be available under selected international travel insurance benefits.
- 0% interest for 6 months on flight bookings made directly through participating Star Alliance member airlines. This is great!
- Up to 55 days interest-free on card purchases.
- Apple Pay and Google Pay
- Home&Away Privilege Program. Your gateway to exclusive offers and privileges from our 27,000 selected partners at home and overseas.
- HSBC Instant Savings. Free membership of Frequent ValuesTM by Entertainment Publications gives you access to 4,500 exciting offers at participating stores, restaurants, hotels, and family attractions when you use your card.
Fees and Charges
- Annual Credit Card Fee: $0 in the first year3 ($450 thereafter)
- Cash Advance Fee: The higher of 3% or $4
- Overseas Exchange Fees: 3%
- Multiple additional cards: no fees
- Lay Payment Fees: $30
- Australian residents over 18 years old
- Earn at least $75,000 per annum
- Have a good credit rating
- Proof of identification, address details, income, and employment.
Star Alliance Credit Card – What does it mean for the industry?
As the world’s first airline alliance credit card, the HSBC Star Alliance Visa can open up some controversy. This is the first time there’s a mention of “Star Alliance Points”. Some might say it is the first step towards making the value of frequent flyer points and miles more alike, and maybe even unifying frequent flyer programs (e.g. a Star Alliance program rather than an airline program).
On one hand, it sounds like something good: simplification is always welcome, and it could avoid airlines from imposing stupid or unfair rules on the earnings tables. I remember earning 125 SAS EuroBonus points for a €1500 trip just because the distance I flew was very short. So frustrating!
On the other hand, avgeeks and hardcore flyers might not like it at all. A more stable value across frequent flyer programs means also limited opportunities and loopholes for the most rewarding redemptions. Even today, using tools like AwardFares you can identify available seats on Star Alliance airlines, and which programs are the most lucrative to book those seats.
Unifying frequent flyer programs also means an end to promotions like increased transfer rates between credit card points (e.g. Amex, Chase) and frequent flyer programs.
SAS EuroBonus and Star Alliance Rewards Portal
Scandinavian Airlines SAS is part of Star Alliance. However, SAS EuroBonus is not part of the initial members launched in the Star Alliance Rewards Portal. This means you cannot transfer the points you earn with the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card to SAS EuroBonus, at least not during the initial release phase, using Australia as the testbed.
As a SAS EuroBonus fan and hacker, I was eager to learn more about how we could leverage the card and combine it with the existing strategy. I will keep an eye on the updates and developments, and try to get more information from HSBC and Star Alliance officials regarding future members of the Star Alliance Portal.
HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card FAQ
These are really exciting times ahead. The HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card is a totally new concept and I’m really looking forward to testing it out, seeing the developments, and evaluating its impacts on the industry and flyers. There are still many questions and uncertainties around this product.
Given the world’s current situation (high inflation and loyalty programs being devalued), it’s exciting to see new concepts proposed and the initiatives from HSBC and Star Alliance. Undoubtedly, HSBC was the best candidate for coming up with a product like this, as it is one of the world’s best banks for global users and ex-pats. Kudos on that.
How do you think the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card is going to impact the industry? Let me know in the comments or reach out to me on Instagram!
Until next time.