My Year End Elite Status Sprint Begins

by on September 8, 2011 · 65 comments

in Elite Status, Points Guy Pointers

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As of today I have roughly 75,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles on Delta and I’m hell-bent on requalifying for Diamond (125,000 miles). What this means is that I will have to rack up at least 50,000 elite miles by now and December 31, 2011.

To do this by flying, it means I’d have to do 2.5 New York – Los Angeles trips every month from September to December. Possible, but not likely.

Instead, I’m going to take one big premium trip to Europe in November and then try to fill the rest in with a mix of domestic runs and potentially credit card spend if necessary.

I’m spending Thanksgiving on the west coast this year, which works out well for my mileage run, because most major airlines are running highly discounted business class fares around Thanksgiving (as I wrote about here):
For $2,224 I’m flying all business class: Los Angeles to Paris on Air France, then Paris to Madrid (spend a night and visit my best friend), then continue on from Madrid to Amsterdam and to Rome on KLM, spend three nights (I’ve never actually been to Rome) and then Rome to JFK on Alitalia.

All in, I’ll get 18,480 Medallion Qualifying Miles plus 33,880 Skymiles (12,320 base miles plus 50% class of service bonus of 6,160) plus 15,400 miles for my 125% Diamond bonus.

But that’s not all! American Express Travel is currently offering 2 points per every dollar spent (update: this is actually a 1 extra point per dollar bonus- they factor in the 1 point for regular purchases on most cards)  for flights booked through them so I’ll get $2,284 x 2= 2,284 American Express Membership Rewards Points plus I put this on my Premier Rewards Gold card, which gives 3 points for every dollar spent on airfare, so that’s an additional 6,672 American Express Membership Rewards points.

All in, for $2,228 I’m getting 37% of the elite miles I need to hit Diamond and 8.956 Amex and 33,880 Delta miles. I value Amex points conservatively at 2 cents a piece and Delta at 1.5 cents, so I’m looking at $179 in Amex point value plus $508 in Delta miles. Plus there’s the value of moving towards Diamond status, which will get me a ton of extra perks. Overall, I think this splurge was well worth it. Oh yea, and I also get to fly to Europe in comfort and visit one of my favorite cities (Madrid) and eat some some amazing food in Rome. I think this was a win-win all around, even though I will still have to do a bunch of other flying to seal my Diamond status for 2012.

Have you created a plan yet to solidify your 2012 elite status?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Anonymous

    I am in the almost exact same position. I am sitting at 78,000 and have been on the fence about trying for Diamond again this year. I decided I will try for it – if I can’t get enough good fares, at least I will have a healthy rollover plus bonus RDMs because of taking advantage of my extra 25% as a Diamond. Right now, I am looking at flying from ROC-MSY-(various airports)-ANC and back in two days for 12K around $600 or doing that through LAX. That way, I only need 4 trips of 2 days. Or, I may do a HKG run (can get it down to $.048). I will be following your other plans to see any ideas I may pick up!

  • Joseph

    TPG when you deduct the $732.00 (value) you earn through points and miles you have a great business class European trip for $1500.00

  • jax

    * FYI I’m pretty sure the Amex double points is only for flights you book online at … As always nice work! :)

  • Jenny

    When you use the American Express Travel website you will only receive double points in total, not double points + triple points. When you use your American Express Gold Premier Benefits card, you get the following points with airfare: 3rd party vendors (such as Expedia, Hotwire, Orbitz, etc.) will earn you 1 MR point per 1$; American Express Travel website will earn you 2 MR points per $1; Booking directly with the airline (AA, Delta, United, JetBlue, etc.) will earn you 3 MR points per $1. So essentially to maximize your earnings with the American Express Gold Premier Card, it is best to book directly with the airline or else you will be losing points. If you do not have the Premier card then it is best to book with the American Express Travel website as in that instance you will earn 2 MR points/$1 instead of the typical 1 MR point/$1.

    Might want to update the post as it is misleading.

  • Anonymous

    I’m the opposite, I hit the mile runs early so I can bask in the sun later in the year. I’m taking the family to Paris for Turkey week with some racked up miles. 4 diamonds and 2 gold this year. p.s. I love Rome.

  • Anonymous

    I’m shooting for Delta Gold. Was hesitant to go for it, cause I’m not at all a business flyer and have only had silver for a year. But, with last year’s rollover miles plus a few Europe trips this year I am in the ballpark of gold. I will fly Alitalia from Istanbul to Paris via Rome in October (and a return trip), plus a flight from the midwest to San Diego and another one from the midwest to Las Vegas. That will give me gold, plus allow me to rollover 5,000 or 6,000 miles for next year. We’ll see if anything else comes up.

  • Gpapadop

    I think you should talk to Tommy, Randy and other higher powers to look into a SkyTeam MegaDO so you don’t have to shell out over $2 grand again to make Diamond:-) I wonder if Delta will sponsor it though…maybe they will charge us a fee for participating and the motherofallfees if we back out within 72 hours;-)

  • Jeremy

    Thanks for this, Jenny. I was about to post a question asking Brian if he was sure the double points would stack with the 3X points so I am grateful for this info. About to pull the trigger on a rather large purchase, so glad I checked!

  • Anonymous

    I just asked Amex for clarification. It doesn’t make sense that you’d be penalized for using premier rewards at Amex travel. Will post update soon

  • Heather ✈

    You’ll like Rome… especially at night when it’s all lit up!

  • Guest

    I’m curious why you value Amex points at 2cents per, and why you think that’s conservative. Seems a little rich to me. Could you elaborate?

  • Guest

    I’m curious why you value Amex points at 2cents per, and why you think that’s conservative. Seems a little rich to me. Could you elaborate?

  • Guest

    I’m curious why you value Amex points at 2cents per, and why you think that’s conservative. Seems a little rich to me. Could you elaborate?

  • Guest

    I’m curious why you value Amex points at 2cents per, and why you think that’s conservative. Seems a little rich to me. Could you elaborate?

  • Jenny

    TPG – I agree. Looking forward to see what Amex told you if it in synch with my understanding as well. I will be including a post on this on my dealswelike site as well, as I agree it is extremely misleading.

  • Anonymous

    So fwiw, an agent at MR told me that I had to book directly with the airline — and explicitly not with Amex Travel — (and the charge _had_ to be coded as Airfare in their system) to be eligible for 3X points, otherwise there was nothing they could do. I was hoping to score 3X points on the Gilt City Virgin promo too ;) No dice.

    It’s worth noting that at most you would get 4X if you stacked, not 5X. When they say 2X MR it’s 1 point per base dollar spent (given to you by your standard MR plan) plus 1 bonus point per dollar spent via Amex Travel. Since the PRG gives you 3 points per base dollar spent on airfare and Amex Travel _might_ provide an additional 1, that totals 4.

    I was about to call for additional clarification today…

  • Fishingace

    this is neither here nor there, but it seems like the airline industry could make a killing by selling elite status. there are a bunch of folks who end up wasting time doing mileage runs and the industry could save them time and make more money (and sell said seats to an addtl flyer) by doing this.

  • Anonymous

    Amex has confirmed you will get 4x for booking a flight through Amex travel w prg card. I’ll update the post

  • Michelle Marshall

    I am trying to requalify for AA Exec Plat and am about 7k miles short. I need a couple of runs but am very short on vacation time so it could get interesting. I am very tempted by some super low fares to Costa Rica but I just can’t get good MR routing to make it worthwhile so that might have to go towards 2012 travel. There is still plenty of time, and fall fares are just really coming out, so there’s still hope.

  • Latimer

    When I called for confirmation on this last month, I was told I would only be getting the normal PRG 3x bonus and nothing else. My MR points haven’t posted yet, and they probably won’t post until November. I’m curious to know what they tell you.

  • Latimer

    Actually, my statement just closed and I see 4,884 points pending.

    I booked both my flight and hotel using my PRG card and didn’t get the extra bonus points, but I was NOT penalized for using the travel portal. I’ll secure message them and follow-up.

  • Neil

    I’m at just over 56K with DL. Did 2 MR’s earlier in the year: 1 to TPE with the insane special from RDU (returned via NRT during the earthquake) and LHR in June with the awesome Biz promo from earlier this year. I was going to go for Plat this year but decided to stay at Gold and rollover the extra. This is just fun for me (personal travel) so not looking to go too crazy. I’ll probably do at least 1 more MR this year, although I haven’t decided when/where yet.

  • Pho Real

    What about subscribing to Delta Reserve card (get 10K MQMs for first spending). And potentially if you can spend $30k from now until the end of the year, you will get additional up to 30K MQMs. Cancel your Amex Platinum since with Delta Diamond you have Delta Lounge access anyway. You can always going back to Amex Platinum. Thoughts?

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never had a delta branded card so will probably end up going that route if I need a boost. I’m going to do a post on all the mqm from card options

  • Ken in CLT

    Lufthansa has done just that for many years. I’ve been offered Senator status at >$3000 several times.

  • Anonymous

    I transfer at huge transfer bonuses and use the miles for premium international redemptions

    100k I’m Amex = at least 2,000 in value to me

  • Anonymous

    I’m hungry just thinking about it!

  • Anonymous

    Agree! Let’s do an around the world- Atlanta-Paris-Seoul-ny!

  • Pho Real

    That will be excellent. I have been waiting for the right time to subscribe to Delta Reserve and cut my Amex Plat. Another thing I am leaning toward the Delta Reserve is the priority given when we are competing for upgrade. At least that’s what it advertises:

    I grown to like the LAX – JFK run a lot; the only issue is the nerve wrecking waiting for last minute upgrade (even for Diamond). As Platinum, percentage is about 50%. Diamond so far, I am hitting over 80% (of course depends on departure time/day).

  • Chananya

    I can speak from Experience, I have booked a lot of travel on PRG card thru Amex travel site, the total is 4X, where 3X usually comes in automatically at the end of the month, and 1 additional could take a bit longer.
    Before doing my first purchase on their site I’ve called in to MR numerous to ask if this would double dip, and I got every time a different answer, as follows:
    1. you’ll get 3 = PRG, nothing for amex travel site, because of double dipping.
    2. you’ll get 4 in total. 3= PRG, and 1 additional = Amex travel site.
    3. you’ll get 5 in total. 3 = PRG, 2 = Amex travel site. (like TPG posted).
    4. you’ll get 6 in total. 3 = PRG, and another 3 for using Amex travel site, because it’s always “double” points.

    In fact, number 2 was the accurate one, although I was able to match up to 6 quite a few times thru SM.

  • toomanybooks

    At the Chicago MegaDO reception last night there was a rumor that a DL MegaDO is in the works.

  • Ricardo Tayzini

    it will cost too much money for such a plan.i don’t travel much ,so i don’t care about my gold medallion Status.don’t get me wrong i’d love to keep it and get to the Diamond status, but if i can’t i can’t.

  • Anonymous

    I am doing a 6 segment Milage run to ensure I get to 1k this year in UA

    6300 eqms
    12600 miles
    6 segments
    24 hours

  • Alex

    I’d never cancel the Amex plat bc it pays for Global Entry and gives u access to more lounges worldwide via Priority Pass. Some lounges you do not have to fly their airlines to use and a bunch of other nice things.

  • Alex

    I’m just going to re obtain my DL Silver status after this trip to ATH next week. Will put me over 25k so I’ll have about 5-6k mqm rollover for next year. At least it gives me a head start :)

  • Anonymous

    Very helpful to know that American Express Travel offers 2X Membership Rewards points on flights booked through their site.

    I just booked a Delta ticket this morning through with my Amex Platinum card and am thinking of using their ‘get a full refund within 24 hours of booking’ policy. Then I can rebook through American Express Travel and get 2X Membership Rewards points. Can you confirm that’s a good strategy? Just want to make sure I’m not missing anything.

  • Anonymous

    correction, if you spend $30K you get 15K MQM, spend an additional $30K for an additional 15K MQM

  • Anonymous

    They’ve downgraded the priority pass, many lounges are no longer accessible. Just got the new PP card and booklet with a list of participating lounges.

  • Steve

    My next flight SFO > ATL > STL takes me to Plat and I’ve thought about Diamond, but that is a biggie.
    So I feel ya. I’ve had a 15,000 AMEX offer in my back pocket and might need to pull that out, but don’t want to do so unless I’m actually gonna make it. 35K the hard way (domestic) is a tall order to fill.

  • Dewhit6959

    It’s only 15k MQM for 30k spend on Reserve

  • Dewhit6959

    Some of you may want to check your promotions on your Skymile account. I signed up this past March as a Gold medallion for a promotion that was structured for a 75% bonus miles on all flights from August until end of year. The requirements were six flight segments for April-May. Now I am getting 175% bonus as Platinum with that promotion kicking in.

  • Panzeratl

    One other thing to keep in mind is the last couple of years Delta has offered MQMs for donations to select Charities. Last year there were three charities and you were able to receive a maximum of 5K miles from each with a $500 donation. Plus you are able to write off the donation b/c you are receiving MQMs and not miles which have a market value since they can be purchased.

  • jdub

    Related question for you, TPG.

    I did the Amex Platinum promo and Delta transfer deal to earn 25k MQMs and silver status. Then, I got in on the Delta promo that got me Gold status by flying a couple segments. So, I have a question on rollover miles for next year since I didn’t directly earn Gold.

    I currently have 35k MQMs for the year and expect to earn another 6k or so with planned work travel in the next few weeks. So, if I do no other travel I will have 41k MQMs for the year. Will 16k (41-25) MQMs rollover to next year, or will none roll over since I’m Gold?

  • InStock

    Could not agree more with a SkyTeam Mega DO

  • Mh3264

    US Airways sells elite status and upgrades.

  • Evan

    You’ve NEVER been to ROME??? That is a tragedy for someone who travels a lot! Went there on my honeymoon. You need about 3 days. If I can find my notes, I’ll post two or three MUST do’s and eat’s!

  • Becketbec

    how are the amex points being turned into MQMs as normally they count just as regular miles ?

  • Andrew Fielding

    The DO seems like such a fun thing…would love to go on a ST Mega DO…i’m in for business class wherever it is to or from as long as there is significant advanced notice or it is in the summer.

  • Michael

    I really want to visit Rome. I’m 8500 miles away from Explat on AA and am hoping they have some type of promotion I can take advantage of, probably beginning of December when fares are historically low. Would love to visit Dublin and Berlin too and I don’t mind the cold.

  • No

    What is SkyTeam MegaDO?

  • LAXDiamond

    It seems like Delta had many more promotions to get MQM boosts last year. I remember one that was related to getting MQM’s if you donated to a charity. In addition, I seem to recall MQM boost specials between select cities. I really have not seen anything this year….is this your take as well?

  • Himmst

    I had a similar question and my understanding has always been that in your case, none will roll over until you get to 50k. Someone please correct me if they’ve heard otherwise.

  • Josh Martin

    I look forward to this post…you’ve hinted at it before–quit teasing us!! Love the blog, keep up the good work.

  • Trent Swanson

    Any update from AMEX on the stacking rules for using PRG to book travel on AMEX travel portal?

  • Trent Swanson

    Be careful when weighing 4X amex portal vs 3X any other purchase method. AMEX portal charges $7.50 ticketing fee. In my case, purchasing 4 tix @$375 a piece, the additional $30 in ticketing fees only yielded an extra 1616 AMEX points (via 4X portal). So, at 2 cents per AMEX point, I opted to purchase away from AMEX Portal

  • Prrnce

    I qualified for EXEC Plat with AA by taking advantage of double qualifying mines between lax/dfw. Qualified in July and it doesn’t expire till 02/13.

    Plan ahead a take advantage of the low hanging fruit. Its easier and cheaper.

  • Garrett

    Can’t you just do buy AA Miles for the 7K that you need?

  • Garrett

    About 47K to go for Lifetime AAdvantage Platinum…obviously, I am trying to do it before 30 November.
    Most likely, I will do buy AA Miles for 40K…and MR the remaining 7K…

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  • LonePalmBJ

    I’m doing something completely oppositte this year: I’m being careful and using reward flights so as to NOT hit the next elite level. Allow me to explain:

    I’m currently Platinum on Delta. I live in Atlanta, and for whatever reason much of my business travel this year was short hops or even driveable. Since we are spoiled and fly direct from here almost anywhere, I had no chance of making Plat again by miles or segments and was going to be happy to barely make Gold.

    My wife also travels, and she’s hitting Diamond this year, so my plan is this: Intentionally fall just short of Gold, (like 49K MQMs say), roll over 24K to next year and let the darling wife just gift me Gold as a Diamond reward. I end up with the same status I would have received AND I get to roll over nearly 25K to start the year. I just need to be careful that weather doesn’t cause crazy alternate routings that gets me extra miles!

    The things we do for status.


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