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Sunday Reader Email Question: Should I Rollover or Go For Higher Status on Delta?

by on September 4, 2011 · 26 comments

in Delta, Sunday Reader Questions

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TPG reader Jay asks:

“I currently have 70,000 MQMs on Delta for the year, and with three known upcoming flights, I will cross over the 75,000 MQM mark reaching Platinum status for the first time ever.  Beyond the three upcoming flights, I am not yet sure if I will have any additional ones before December 31.  Is it more advantageous to cross over the 75,000 MQMs, reaching Platinum Medallion Status, or is it better to stay under the 75,000 mark, which would then result in 24,000+ MQMs rolling over in my account on January 1, 2012?  Because, by going with the rollover approach, I will hit Gold status much quicker in 2012.  What do you think?

As a Diamond Medallion, trust me – I know your struggle with the “to rollover  or not to rollover” question. For anyone who doesn’t know, Delta has rollover elite miles – anything past your elite level (and before the next level) will be rolled over to the next elite year. Their elite levels are at 25,000/50,000/75,000/125,000 so for example, if you have 35,000 elite miles in a year – you’ll start the next with 10,000. This is a great program in my opinion and it allows me to keep flying Delta after I reach an elite level for the year, because I know those miles will go towards the next year’s qualification. In most programs, your elite miles reset to 0 on January 1 of every year, so its nice to start your year with rollover padding.

However, the question becomes – do I sprint and try to hit the next elite level before year’s end, or do I stop and rollover a ton of miles for the next year? – as TPG reader Jay is currently struggling with.

The first thing I’d say is: assess the following year’s flying. Unfortunately, most people can’t predict exactly how many miles they will fly the next year. Projects change, jobs change, major life occurrences happen – all of which can either greatly increase or decrease your flying for the year.

For me personally, achieving the next level of status is worth it. One of my favorite life mottos is “go big or go home” and I guess you could call me a risk taker (I quit my comfy Wall Street job to become a full-time points blogger after all!). From my perspective, I’d rather get top status and then status match/challenge the next year if necessary in order to maintain status for the next year and a half.  I also know that I love airline elite status and that I always make it happen, so I always leave the worrying about requalification to the next year. That’s part of the fun for me solving the puzzle and making it all work.

However, I know that many people aren’t as bullish about their travel and would rather take the conservative route and rollover a bundle of miles and have several years of mid-status than potentially one with top tier and one with bottom tier. I’d personally take a look at the major benefits of getting that next elite level and see whether it’s worth it. Personally, I think Gold to Platinum is one of the biggest jumps, so I’d personally go for Platinum if I were you. The stakes aren’t as high from Platinum to Diamond and the threshold is further, so I can see why that is a bigger question mark for those considering Diamond.

Major differences in elite status:
Silver (25,000 miles or 30 segments) – Bottom of the upgrade list but still can snag a few here and there with the right flight planning, companion upgrades, 25% bonus miles, free exit row/premium seating on domestic, discount for International Economy Comfort, free bags, enhanced customer service (especially with flight cancellations).
Gold (50,000 miles or 60 segments) – Same as silver, but you get 100% mileage bonus on flights, free Same Day Confirmed (which I use religiously) and Standby, enhanced upgrade priority, waived phone booking fee, SkyPriority, priority security, award ticket upgrade capability, Skyteam Elite Plus which gets you access to lounges when flying Skyteam internationally in coach.
Platinum (75,000 miles or 100 segments) – Same as gold, but you get the ability to make free unlimited free changes to award tickets which is a major benefit. For example, you can book a mid tier award and then change it to low at any point before the flight (up until 72 hours of departure). You also get a Choice Benefit, like gifting silver status to a friend or getting a $200 Delta voucher. Free international Economy Comfort for you and up to 7 companions.
Diamond (125,000 miles or 140 segments) – Same as Platinum, but you get two enhanced Choice benefits, free Skyclub membership, 125% mileage bonus

So it all depends on your situation, but if it was up to me, I’d say go for the next level and worry about next year when the time comes!

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  • Dan

    Slightly off-topic, I enjoyed my one lone year as a United 1K, after 10 years of PremEx.
    You have a tough call to make, but I’d say go for the 75k mark to reach the highest level of status.

  • Nkatt

    I guess I’m a real novice at this since I don’t even know what ‘elite’ status is. I have 160,000 miles on Delta, but most of it’s from shopping. Do I qualify for any eliteness or do you have to get them by flying?

  • Sara

    Elite Status is acquired by MQM’s or miles flown and gives you different perks depending on the level you have reached.

  • Norris Krueger

    Of course, last December I was a few thousand short of Gold & inn discussing with Brian (our fearless leader) it made more sense for me to rollover. A couple of months of Silver will translate this year into at least Platinum (which will mean 16 months of Platinum and maybe more). So how much you are traveling NEXT year is indeed important.

    Also, it would not have been cheap for me to grab those last miles.

  • Asdfasdf

    There is a 3rd way to get Elite Status and it has nothing to do with MQM’s, miles flown or your horoscope sign.

  • Asdfasdf

    125k for diamond, not 75k

  • Anonymous

    I’m in the same predicament. I currently have 47K MQM’s. I’m earning about 4800 MQM’s on a flight in a couple weeks, and I can transfer 100K MR points to DL and receive 25K MQM’s. That would put me at around 77K MQM’s for the year. I just can’t decide whether to do the DL transfer before 9/30 or not. It would be a stretch, but I could get another 10K or so MQM’s by the end of the year, leaving me with a roll over of 12K. Not sure what to do yet though.

  • Fishingace

    please explain

  • Fungarkansas

    I’m in the same situation, but I am choosing to rollover. Platinum benefits are not very different from Gold for me. On LGA-ATL flights, usually only Diamonds get upgrades. For other ATL-connection flights that I regularly take, I got upgrades even as a Silver.

  • Dorsalis10

    Sorry, I need to be the ignorant one here. I thought stepping from one level to the next happens automatically with the accumulation of the required miles. How would I prevent that graduation, if I wanted to?

  • Ian

    Dorsalis10: You can’t. What is being discussed is whether to cut one’s travels on DL in order to prevent hitting the automatic threshold. For instance, I’m currently Plat and have been for a few years, and it’s been great. But, with just regular scheduled travel for the remainder of the year, I will get to 124K MQM. However, there’s at least one more trip appearing on the horizon. If I take it with DL, I will hit Diamond. If I don’t, I roll over 49K MQM, which puts me on easy street for getting back to Plat next year. I still haven’t decided what to do.

  • Anonymous

    You could put in an Air France frequent flyer number (or simply take your Delta number off) on your reservation so you don’t accrue the elite miles to Delta and thus you stay at the same amount and don’t cross the threshold

  • David

    Could someone explain a possible “third way to get Elite ..” Delta status. Is it taking a new credit card? I believe the DL Platinum CC with 20K MQM miles expired–would be nice if they had a new similar promo.

  • Salamacuse

    I totally disagree points guy, though you still rock. There is a better option. But it only works If you do not have the delta reserve card. If you don’t have it, then (in this case) DON’T get platinum. Stay as close as you can to platinum but keep it at gold. After January 1st, get the reserve card (a $450 fee) and that will automatically bring you to platinum for the next two years! $500 for platinum medallion for two years… a good deal to me. In addition, with the welcome boost, you will start the year with almost 80,000 mqm miles so even if you fly some 30k miles throughout the year, you will start the year after that as gold.

  • Anonymous

    I am shy 33 miles from 74937 miles. My flights next year will be very low. This year was BIG. I live in Seattle and get upgraded even when I was Silver. The way I understand it if I do not fly again on Delta they will roll over I can keep Sivler Status till 2014? Right now I am Gold till Feb 2013. I am very new to this so sorry if I sound like a rookie…I am :)

  • Jared

    Elvisfan1, yup! All you’d have to do is get at least 63 MQMs in 2012, and then you’d be Silver until Feb 2014!

  • David

    I think in previous years, if you failed to requalify for at least the same Medallion level Delta would only bump you down one level, (so, if you were Platinum in 2011 and then only earned enough MQM to qualify as Silver in 2012, you would actually still receive Gold status in 2012 because it’s one level below Platinum). Don’t know if they are still doing this or not, though (or if it would even be a formal policy).

  • Anonymous

    With the launch of Rollover MQMs I believe they stopped doing “soft landings”

  • DLunfortunate

    Sorry Points Guy, I think you’re wrong on this one.

    I was 1000 miles short of Diamond last year and I held back and rolled over. I had 49,000 miles roll over and was at Platinum until Feb ’11. This meant that I only had to fly 76,000 miles to get to Diamond which I did by May. So, I stuck it out as a Platinum for 5 months, no big deal, got an automatic upgrade to Diamond in May and that gives me Diamond status with immediate effect plus next year thru Feb 2013. Because of the rollover miles, As soon as I hit the 125,000 miles in May, every mile after that now starts to add to the rollover for next year. So, I am at 155,000 for the year so far and everything above 125,000 rolls over which means 2012 is going to be easy again and that extends Diamond all the way to Feb 2014.

  • Dazed and Confused

    Sorry, but I am Dazed and confused,
    As a new player in the Delta Skymiles game, I am trying to understand why I would want to try to reach Platinum status in, say, November… only to have a few thousand miles above that (or only to enjoy the status for a few days) by the end of the year. Platinum for only a few days seems like a waste. Why would I not want to stop at 74,999 miles so that I would hit Silver immediately in 2012 and then keep going from there. I don’t also understand what people are talking about when they talk about extending their status thru to, say February of 2014. I thought all accounts get re-set on January 1 and only the eligible roll over miles are “in the bank” for the next year’s mediallion status.

  • Anonymous

    Status earned in 2011 will be good until February 2013. So if you stop at 74,999 you’ll only be Gold until Feb 2013 (albeit rolling over 24,999 miles) whereas hitting 75,000 will make you Platinum until Feb 2013 and rolling over no miles. Personally, I prefer having the highest status possible because domestic upgrades are extremely important to me.

  • Anonymous

    I fly JFK-LAX so being only Platinum won’t work- if even for only 5 month. Diamond is the dealmaker on that route

  • Anonymous

    For me its all about being Diamond. Platinum wont get me upgraded on JFK LAX

  • Kevinjseeley

    I’m thinking the same thing here out of MSP. I’m at 120 segments and have the chance to take layovers( which I have never done ) to hit diamond. But I’ve been so good with platinum and that I’m hesitant. I’m on the edge! Why not just get platinum then maybe diamond next year?

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  • paul

    i really like that scheme

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