Star Alliance to launch its own credit card, add railway partner

The co-branded card would let you earn miles or points in the frequent flyer program of any member airline.

By David Flynn, May 13 2022
Star Alliance to launch its own credit card, add railway partner

Star Alliance plans to introduce a credit card for earning miles with the frequent flyer scheme of any of its 26 member airlines.

While almost every airline offers a variety of credit cards in its own market, this Star Alliance-branded card would be a first from the global group.

The card will debut in a single country later this year, although Star Alliance has yet to reveal which country this would be or which financial institution would back the card – and “if we are successful we will be rolling it out to the next market in the course of the year,” Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh revealed at an overnight media briefing.

The move is expected to see Star Alliance introduce its own form of rewards currency, even if this acts simply as as internal exchange mechanism for card spending to be converted into points or miles with a Star Alliance member airline.

“You will spend on your credit card and collect points,” Goh told Executive Traveller. “Those points are convertible to miles on the frequent flyer programme of your choice.”

Leveraging airline loyalty programs into highly-profitable businesses “is quite the holy grail for most individual airlines,” Goh said, and Star Alliance plans to realise a similar revenue stream from its own branded card.

Star Alliance points and perks on railways?

Goh also said Star Alliance will add a “non-airline partner” to its roster, with indications this could be one of Europe’s railway operators.

Rail has long been an alternative to flying for many business travellers, especially on Europe’s fast rail services, and recent years have seen a continued shift towards rail driven by environmental considerations.

Star Alliance member Swiss already has a ‘Swiss Air Rail’ partnership with SBB Swiss Federal Railways linking Zurich Airport with SBB stations at Basel, Lugano and Geneva, and will launch a new Swiss Air Rail route between Munich Hauptbahnhof and Zurich Airport in July 2022.

Frequent flyers could soon earn points as miles on European train trips.
Frequent flyers could soon earn points as miles on European train trips.

With six trains a day running in both directions, the rail ticket can be included in the Swiss air fare; travellers will earn Miles & More points as they ride the rails, while first and business class flyers along with HON Circle and Senator status customers enjoying use of Munich Hauptbahnhof’s DB Lounge.

All travellers using Swiss Air Rail from or to Munich will also enjoy automatic seat reservation and free WiFi access.

France now bans air travel on routes where there’s a train or bus alternative of less than 2.5 hours, such as from Paris to Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon

Europe’s high-speed rail operators continue to claw away at a large slice of the business travel market, with the ‘Green Speed’ merger between Eurostar and Franco-Belgian rival Thalys increasing their network’s reach and non-stop appeal.

Meanwhile, French startup Midnight Trains aims to reinvent overnight sleeper trains as a ‘luxury hotel on rails’ experience featuring private suites with their own bathrooms, and a seasonal menu with cocktails available à la carte or as room service.

The network of luxe sleeper trains would radiate from Paris to the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and Denmark from 2024.

Going big on biometrics

Goh also revealed over 60,000 frequent flyers have now signed up to use the fast biometric gates it has installed at Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg and Vienna airports.

Star Alliance will expand its contactless biometrics program at selected airports in Europe.
Star Alliance will expand its contactless biometrics program at selected airports in Europe.

Participating passengers on Star Alliance members Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines use their passport and airline app to pass through security and special biometric-enabled boarding gates on a quick ‘contactless’ basis.

“We’re now in advanced discussions on the rollout across the terminal,” Goh said, “for bag drop, pre-security, lounge access, and also for boarding.”

“All the infrastructural changes that will need to be put in place require a significant amount of investment. I think it will not be too long… we’re talking about 12-24 months, before the hardware is available to be installed at the airport.”

Very interesting news! I like the idea of Star having its own currency which can be exchanged for other airlines' points, I would actually like to see this be an 'open' mechanism so that you could easily aggregate miles which might otherwise be scattered in small piles across several airlines into a single loyalty program,

CX

16 May 2015

Total posts 16

Can't Imagine Air New Zealand being very happy with this. Although if they only manage to expand by one country a year NZ having such a credit card is probably many years away.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 389

Smart move! As long as the earn rates and 'conversion' rates for this card are decent, I could see myself getting this Star Alliance card if it comes to Australia and using it for Miles & More.

11 Jan 2019

Total posts 6

  • This is good news. Does anyone know if it will be MasterCard or Visa ? I am guessing fares purchased with UA will give you miles directly into your Mileage Plus account. Does anyone know when it will be set up in Australia. ?? I recently had a terrible experience paying for a fare online with UA. I did the flights,seating then when it came to the "Purchase Now" page...I clicked it on....got transferred to my Bank's webpage link and a message came up.."this link is broken" I called the Bank call centre, they told me to go to a branch.....I went to three branches on the same day,they could not help me. I knew if I rang UA they would charge me US$50 pp to do the assisted reservation.....BUT...when I went online to their chat room and told them what happened they were so helpful and waived the fee. It took an hour to do the Res ,and seating ,they could see the link broken and used an internal method to process. Result 👍👍. When I went to activate my free flight insurance, with the bank credit card ,the same thing happened. Page broken. So frustrating. I made a formal complaint to my Bank and they responded by saying they are aware of the problem.(So Fix It ) I wonder if any other subscribers have had the same issue. ??? Cheers, 🙋‍♂️👋👍

11 Jan 2019

Total posts 6

This is a great article, Love the French connection. Only in France 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂🙋‍♂️

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 19

I'm guessing the *A currency will be a bit like Avios really...


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