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Guide to the Star Alliance Global Airline Network

Maximize your frequent flyer rewards with 28 member airlines.

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Fact checked

Our pick for a Star Alliance airline card: United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card logo

60,000-mile

Signup bonus after spending $3,000 in first 3 months

  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit
  • Get 2x miles at restaurants, hotels and on United Airlines
  • $0 intro annual fee, then $95
See offer

If you often fly within the US and internationally, joining the Star Alliance could be worthwhile. You will earn miles on member airlines’ flights and you can redeem your miles for flights or cabin upgrades on the same airlines.

What is Star Alliance?

Star Alliance is the world’s largest airline association with the highest number of member airlines, destinations and daily flights. The alliance was established in 1997 by five founding airlines from three continents. It has since grown to 28 Star Alliance members that fly between more than 190 countries.

Star Alliance Member Airlines

Airlines that are part of the Star Alliance include the following:

  • Adria Airways
  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca
  • Avianca Brasil
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EGYPTAIR
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • SWISS
  • TAP Portugal
  • Thai Airways International
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines

How does the Star Alliance work?

If you’re a member of an airline rewards program within the Star Alliance, you can redeem points when flying with 28 member airlines. For example, if you are a member of United Airlines reward program and you travel with Lufthansa, you can still earn United miles for that flight.

Is there a Star Alliance credit card?

No, there isn’t a Star Alliance credit card. But you can get a United Airlines credit card to earn and redeem miles on flights with Star Alliance airlines.

Also, if you frequently fly United Airlines, United Express or any of its select partners, you can earn:

  • Premier qualifying miles (PQM).
  • Premier qualifying segments (PQS).
  • Premier qualifying dollars (PGD).

Once you accumulate enough of all three, you’ll upgrade to a United Premier status, which brings additional perks and benefits on Star Alliance flights.

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What are the Star Alliance status levels and benefits?

If you travel often and own a cobranded credit card of a Star Alliance member airline, you can get one of the two membership levels: Gold or Silver.

Both tiers come with specific perks and benefits, including:

  • Silver
  • Priority waitlisting
  • Priority airport standby
  • Gold

Same benefits as Silver and:

  • Airport lounge access.
  • Priority check-in
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Priority security and immigration
  • Extra baggage allowance

How do I get Star Alliance status levels?

If you have a United Airlines credit card, the Premier status you achieve with your card will automatically apply to your Star Alliance status.

United Airlines Premier statusStar Alliance status
MileagePlus Premier SilverStar Alliance Silver
MileagePlus Premier GoldStar Alliance Gold
MileagePlus Premier PlatinumStar Alliance Gold
MileagePlus Premier 1KStar Alliance Gold

Airport Lounge Access

A woman relaxing in an airport lounge
Enjoy access to over 1,000 of the best lounges worldwide with the following access policies:

  • International First Class
    Access all Star Alliance member airline International First Class lounges by simply showing your boarding pass in International First Class on a Star Alliance flight departing from the local airport. You can also bring one guest with you to relax in style.
    • International Business Class
      Access any Star Alliance member airline Business Class lounge. No guest passes are available for this class.
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    What are the benefits of flying with Star Alliance member airlines?

    An alliance of 28 airlines means you get unparalleled access to airport lounges and have the ability to earn and redeem points with any of its partner airlines.

    • Ability to earn and redeem points across airlines
      This is a significant benefit to regular international travelers. You can earn points or miles for the flights you book on any Star Alliance member airlines. The points on your frequent flyer account can also be redeemed on any of the partner airlines.
    • Airport lounge access
      Long waits at the airport used to be uncomfortable. By becoming a frequent flyer on a Star Alliance partner, you get access to airport lounges all over the world.This feature is available for Gold Status members who fly on any class category, though there are some exceptions for United Airlines domestic flights. Silver members can also access the airport lounges when flying first or business class.
    Title

    Star Alliance offers a number of special fare types. They’re designed for those doing a fair bit of flying, and offer discounts and a personalized itinerary.

    • Round the World Fare
      Star Alliance lets you plan an unforgettable adventure with the Round the World Fare. This fare allows you to fly to more than 190 countries on any of the 28 participating airlines.It’s a multi-destination fare that can take you anywhere from United States to the Middle East to Australia.
    • Circle Pacific Fare
      Visit exciting destinations in 25 countries with one ticket when you take advantage of the Circle Pacific Fare.There are two fare mileage levels available under this category. Simply pick the one that fits your needs.

      You can use it to visit places in North America, South West Pacific and Asia as long as it’s within the mileage of your chosen level.

    Star Alliance benefits for businesses

    • Conventions Plus.
      Obtain discounts for your delegates traveling to international conferences with the Conventions Plus package. If you’re organizing the conference, you’ll only have one point of contact for all of your organization needs. Delegates can also get discounted flights to the conference using the supplied Conventions Code.
    • Meetings Plus.
      Businesses that have international meetings with more than 50 participants can get the Meetings Plus package for group discounts. Meeting organizers also have the benefit of only having to deal with a single point of contact.
    • Corporate Plus.
      Large companies that require employees to travel regularly can take advantage of the Corporate Plus package.
    • Company Plus.
      You’ll have one Star Alliance contact who will organize all of your trips for you and work to secure your discounts.

    What are the differences between Oneworld and Star Alliance?

    Star Alliance, SkyTeam and Oneworld are the three largest airline alliances. The services they offer to passengers are fairly similar. The main selling point of Star Alliance is that it has the largest coalition of airlines, which flies to over 190 countries. In contrast, Oneworld flies to 160 countries.

    Some of the member airlines on Oneworld include Air Berlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Qantas Airways.

    Compare airline credit cards

    If your favorite airline is not a Star Alliance member, feel free to compare other airline cards until you find the one with most value for your wallet.

    Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
    United℠ Explorer Card
    60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
    2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1x miles on all other purchases
    $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
    60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
    50,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
    2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases
    $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
    Earn 50,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
    United Club℠ Infinite Card
    100,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
    4x miles on United purchases, 2x miles on travel and dining and 1x miles on all other purchases
    $525
    Get United Club membership with access for you and two guests at any United Club or Star Alliance lounge -- a value of up to $650 annually.
    Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
    80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $1,000 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
    $95
    This popular travel card's signup bonus is worth up to $1,000. Get even more value out of your travel, dining, and Lyft rewards by transferring them to miles.
    Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
    N/A
    4% at gas stations on up to $7,000 annually (then 1%), 3% at restaurants and on travel, 2% at Costco and 1% on all other purchases
    $0
    Earn valuable cash back on everyday purchases at gas stations, restaurants and Costco as well as eligible travel with no foreign fees.
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    Compare up to 4 providers

    Bottom line

    Frequent international travelers can benefit from being part of an airline within Star Alliance’s rewards program. Additional travel benefits and the ability to redeem with a number of partner airlines makes it a hub of potential savings for serious globetrotters.

    But if you’re not sure whether a Star Alliance member airline could offer you the best card for your needs, compare other airline credit cards.

    Frequently asked questions

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