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Is CSP/CSR or Amex Platinum better for getting upgrades on flights?

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Contributor

Is CSP/CSR or Amex Platinum better for getting upgrades on flights?

In my work, I travel a ton but most of my flights are purchased for me or I get reimbursed. I'd say 50% of the time I get to fly business on international but would like to push that up to 100% with the use of the CSP/CSR or Platinum. Anybody have experience on which would be better for that?

I'm leaning Platinum because of all the status/lounge access but maybe the CSP/CSR is better fit since they're Visa products that are more easily used internationally?

4/2019:
12/2018:
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Valued Contributor

Re: Is CSP/CSR or Amex Platinum better for getting upgrades on flights?

cards don't get upgrades, carriers can but cards = points and points are how it done.  unless I am missing something.

Message 2 of 5
Super Contributor

Re: Is CSP/CSR or Amex Platinum better for getting upgrades on flights?

OP, your post is referencing three different topics:

Flight upgrades come from status on the airline. If you are regularly sent on business trips, figure out which airline your employer prefers, and try to book every trip through that airline. Join the rewards program of all the airlines to ensure you get butt-in-the-seat miles. If you fly enough in a year, you start to move up the upgrade award chart. Which airline do you fly most?

Second is lounge access. Both Platinum and CSR have versions of lounge availability. It depends. CSP offers no lounge access.

Third is international acceptance of the card. VISA is indeed more widely accepted, but larger hotels an business-focused merchants often also take AMEX.
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Message 3 of 5
Valued Contributor

Re: Is CSP/CSR or Amex Platinum better for getting upgrades on flights?

The only credit card that will get your airline status is the Centurion card from Amex.

Otherwise to get “free” upgrades on international flights you will need top tier airline status. This will only be possible if you have a flexible travel policy when it comes to airline choice.

International long haul upgrades are done by way of global certificates. Each airline has its own name for them. It’s much different then domestic upgrades where you get Complementary upgrades at lower status levels.

Read up about airline alliances and use them to your advantage to obtain higher status




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Message 4 of 5
Valued Contributor

Re: Is CSP/CSR or Amex Platinum better for getting upgrades on flights?

I used to do a lot of international business travel.  I live in a United hub city, so I focused my energies on United.  Both my business and personal travel contributed toward my earning status with United, and they also both accumulated flight miles.  I didn't even bother to get a United credit card because the additional miles earned by the card would have been a drop in the bucket compared to the miles I earned by the frequent flights.  Even the benefits of the credit card would have been redundant because my United status got me all those same benefits.  The benefits I cared most about were the seat upgrades, early boarding, and the lounge admissions.  I got all three from my United status plus my miles.

 

When I retired, I got the United Club card to keep my large miles balance from expiring and to get access to the Star Alliance lounges on both sides of the Atlantic.  At the time the Club card was a better fit for me than the CSP would have been.  All that changed when Chase introduced the CSR in 2016.  I downgraded the Club card to the Explorer (for the benefits) and applied for the CSR on Day 1 of its existence.  Since then, the combination of Explorer+CSR has worked well for my international travel.  I only make two international trips a year, so I lost my United status, so no more upgrades.  I get two United lounge admissions per year from the Explorer, and I use them before my outbound flights.  The CSR provides unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges, and I can usually find one at European airports before my return flights.  The Explorer provides early boarding.

 

To make a long story short, you need to study your own travel patterns and figure out if a credit card can help you.  My experience has been that the more a person travels, the less important the credit cards become.

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