Great Brex Transfer Options for Star Alliance Redemptions
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
While most award travelers have a pretty good handle on personal and even small business credit cards, the world of corporate cards has generally been more opaque. That's exactly the problem that Brex, one of the hottest companies providing corporate charge cards, seeks to solve. Brex has been rapidly improving its platform, including launching a 'Brex Exclusive' rewards program offering up to 7x points per dollar and opening up a cardholder lounge in San Francisco. And as of July 30, 2019, Brex customers have another reason to celebrate, as the company announced a new, 100,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 on the card in the first three months on the Brex World Elite Mastercard and the addition of six airline transfer partners:
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Six partners is just the beginning of Brex's foray into the world of transferable points, but you might notice that they did a good job evenly spreading the transfer options out among the three major airline alliances: Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam. Whether you're an existing Brex customer or thinking about opening an account to meet your corporate payment needs, today we're going to take a look at the best options for redeeming your Brex points on Star Alliance carriers.
Avianca LifeMiles has risen from relative obscurity in recent years to quickly become one of the most valuable all around loyalty programs. In addition to being incredibly easy to earn — you can transfer from Amex and Capital One or frequently buy them on sale — LifeMiles has two main things going for it:
- No fuel surcharges
- Low award rates
If you want to see both of these ideas in practice, look no further than Lufthansa first class awards from the US to Europe. While these tickets can incur close to $1,000 of fuel surcharges with some Star Alliance programs, Avianca will only charge you 87,000 miles and $5.60 in taxes. This is a phenomenal deal for one of the most well-rounded first class experiences in the sky.
LifeMiles is also a great option to consider for domestic travel operated by United Airlines. LifeMiles pricing has been sporadic over the last few months — including some unannounced, short-lived sales and inexpensive United-operated awards — but either way, it appears that Avianca's award chart for domestic US flights is no longer accurate. Most flights price out between 10,000-12,500 miles each way in economy, which is not bad at all.
Award rates to Asia are incredibly reasonable as well, with one-way, business-class awards on top-rate carriers like EVA or ANA costing 75,000 miles and first-class awards costing 90,000 miles each way. Avianca is also unique in that it discounts mixed-cabin award tickets, meaning if you connect in a lower class of service (which is almost a guarantee if you're flying in first class), you won't pay the full price. If you fly ANA first class from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and connect on to Okinawa (OKA) in economy class, your total ticket will only cost 83,210 miles instead of 90,000.
Singapore's KrisFlyer program remains an attractive option for booking certain Star Alliance flights, despite kicking the year off with a devaluation to both its award chart and its Star Alliance partner chart. Singapore's premium cabins are some of the best in the world, from its unrivaled "Suites" class to a refined business class on the world's longest flight between Singapore (SIN) and Newark (EWR). Because Singapore doesn't release premium-cabin, long-haul award space to its partners, you'll need to book through KrisFlyer if you want to experience these luxury flights.
A one-way, business-class award on the world's longest flight will set you back 99,000 miles, but given how sparse award availability is, you might need to waitlist for the seat you want.
Despite the devaluations, Singapore KrisFlyer is still a great way to book an incredibly popular getaway: flights from the US to Hawaii on United. These flights cost only 35,000 miles round-trip, which is an absolute steal. And unlike other popular methods for redeeming awards to Hawaii, this deal isn't limited to travelers on the West Coast. These flights cost the same whether you're originating in San Francisco (SFO) or hopping on United's 11-hour nonstop from Newark (EWR) to Honolulu (HNL). You can even connect from your home airport to many of United's hubs, including Houston (IAH) or Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) before continuing on to your island getaway.
If you're interested in flying the new suites, you'll probably have better luck finding availability on one of the shorter routes like Singapore to Hong Kong (HKG) or Shanghai (PVG), but at 4-5 hours, these flights are barely long enough to enjoy the product. The new suites also fly on longer routes, including to Zurich (ZRH), Sydney (SYD) and London-Heathrow (LHR). One-way Suites awards between Singapore and Europe cost 125,000 miles each way, while Singapore to Sydney only costs 85,000 miles.
As a corporate card, Brex isn't likely to make its way into the wallets of most award travel enthusiasts, but the addition of six airline transfer partners sends a powerful message. More and more people are learning how to effectively earn and redeem their travel rewards, and Brex is giving the people what they want. While six partners might seem like a small list, this is a great start and offers travelers multiple options for booking award flights with each of the three major airline alliances.