Any advice on the best ways to accumulate points enough for 1-2 business class upgrades per year on international flights?

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Hi All,

Really love this site. Been browsing it for years, but my points accumulation strategy has been very scatter-gun and unfocussed. I’d like to change this after recently being upgraded randomly on a trip to Europe and realising how much more pleasant the experience can be for long haul international flight.

I’d like some general advice about what else I need to be doing to score 1-2 business class upgrades a year for myself and my girlfriend for international flights to Asia, Europe and the US?

I especially want to be able to fly return business from Syd to India with my girlfriend in Jan 2017, if this is achievable? Is it?

Here’s where I’m at:

  • I have a membership rewards Amex Platinum Edge card which I love, with about 50,000 points on it
  • I don’t fly for business
  • I am a member of Qantas, Krisflyer, Velocity, Miles and More. About 20,000 on Qantas. 9000 on Kris. 15000 on Velocity – these are all from flights only
  • I fly international to either USA, India, Asia or Europe twice or thrice a year. Domestic 2-3 a year too.
  • I haven’t made the best use of FF credit cards in the past. Basically I didn’t trust myself to pay off my balances so I used a low interest credit card and a debit card. However I am a lot more responsible than I used to be, so I’m going to make the transition to putting a lot of my monthly spend on Amex and Velocity cards
  • Normally I fly Qantas, Singapore Air, Malaysian Airlines, Virgin America from Australia to the US or Asia. For Europe, I generally go with the cheapest airlines and don’t fly that often – probably Lufthansa, BA, Etihad, Singapore
  • I reckon I’d like to keep Virgin as my domestic airline and Singapore for international – if the price difference is not huge.
  • I recently applied for a Virgin flyer card with a 30000 signup bonus and a $129 annual fee, which I think is a good balance for me – even though it sucks that the spend goes down after $1500. I guess that’s probably plenty, given I’ll be trying to use my Amex as much as possible

Sorry if that’s too much info! That’s all. Thanks!

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Good Response
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I think this part of your strategy will pay biggest dividends:

I haven’t made the best use of FF credit cards in the past. Basically I didn’t trust myself to pay off my balances so I used a low interest credit card and a debit card. However I am a lot more responsible than I used to be, so I’m going to make the transition to putting a lot of my monthly spend on Amex and Velocity cards

As a result you’ll have a few thousand extra points trickling in possibly each month. It all adds up quickly.
Otherwise when you do fly, try and focus your earning into one frequent flyer program as much as is possible.

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Good Response
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Regarding Qantas you can only use points to upgrade on Qantas operated flights and you can’t upgrade on cheapest economy seats.  Qantas don’t fly to India but partner from Singapore with jet Airways.

Buying a full fare economy is quite expensive and you’re not told of an upgrade until a day before. I’m guessing you’re a bronze Qantas so your chances of an upgrade are slim.

You will need 40,000 Qantas points to upgrade to business one way to Singapore.

 

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Ah, I think I also tend to book the cheaper economy fares that don’t net me as many credits.

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@Jon, thanks. I guess my 2-3 international flights were to Asia, Europe and America together. Also I’ve spread them across various airlines, thinking about cost rather than acquiring points. So the 20,000 + points for stopover is only for flights to USA/Europe? That explains why I didn’t get that many points for my last trip to Asia via Singapore.

Can I increase my status on Singapore through other means, or do I just have to fly? Most likely I won’t be flying again until Jan 2017 so it will be hard to rack up more flight credits.

@Mark thanks for the info on Qantas. Yeah, I heard Qantas was a bad deal for redemptions generally.

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I would highly recommend getting a higher status with a ff program first (e.g. velocity, krisflyer) – with a higher ff status, there is a better chance of unlocking more reserved seating for redemptions.

You mentioned doing two to three international trips to America/Europe each year – this should easily score you a gold status on any program with full economy fares (i.e. with Singapore Airlines, stopovers in Singapore is 20,000+ miles return). These come in handy when you are actually looking to get award flights or upgrade carriage class.

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