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Over the course of this week, I’ll be going through ideas on how you can score some last-minute elite-qualifying miles on the US legacy carriers to put you over the edge for elite status qualification before the end of the year. Posts so far include Last-Minute Elite Status Qualification Ideas for American Flyers, Last-Minute United Premier Status Qualification Ideas, Last-Minute US Airways Preferred Status Qualification Ideas, Last-Minute Virgin America Elevate Elite Status Qualification Ideas.
There are three weeks left in 2012, which means many people are making that last mad, desperate dash for elite status requalification. I won’t get into the decision-making process of which tier you should go for, or whether it’s worth a mileage run at this point since I’ve addressed those in previous posts – as well as the Top 10 Tips on Securing 2013 Airline Elite Status.
However, I’m still getting tons of emails and Tweets asking for help trying to hit the next level- or simply maintain what has already been earned. Some calls for help are reasonable, but I’ve gotten a couple crazy ones like “I haven’t flown yet this year, but need 100,000 Elite Miles on United, without flying or spending money to help me keep 1k!” Good luck with that, unless you know someone who can gift you the status from United corporate! This week I’ll be writing about different last minute ways that can help you secure status, starting with Delta.
Now, there are a lot of things you have to consider with Delta requalification, including potentially negative changes to the SkyMiles program coming next year, and the fact that you can rollover any MQM’s above and beyond elite tier-qualifying mileage thresholds you may have already hit this year. While Delta does allow rollover, which is a great benefit in my opinion, they are not as generous with giving people status if they are close- even if you are 1 MQM away from the next status level, you should expect Delta to rollover your excess miles and keep you at the exact status that you earned.
But if you are going for that next tier threshold, here are a few ways to get some extra Medallion Qualifying Miles before the end of the year.
1) Buy MQM’s: Just like last year, now through December 31, 2012, Delta is selling Medallion Qualifying Miles. You may buy up to 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) that will post to your 2012 MQM balance and apply toward 2013 Medallion status (2012 qualification). They should post to your SkyMiles account within 24 hours.
The prices for the MQM’s are:
2,500 MQMs for $395
5,000 MQMs for $595
7,500 MQMs for $795
10,000 MQMs for $995
It looks like Delta raised each of the rates by $100 compared to last year’s prices. Personally, I won’t be buying any MQMs as there are cheaper ways to get them than buying them outright since the lowest rate with this sale is 9.95 cents per MQM – not a great value at all – but if you’re close to one of the higher status levels and just need a little extra bump and plan to fly Delta a lot next year to make up for the up-front expense of purchasing MQM’s, this could be worth it to you.
2) Get a SkyClub Membership: Now through December 31, 2012, Delta is offering 1,500 MQM’s to Medallion members who purchase or renew a one- or three-year club membership through the Delta Sky Club holiday promotion. To get the 1,500 MQM’s toward elite status, include the promo code SCMQM when making your purchase. You might also have to refer the Delta customer service representative to promo reference code 97060724. I personally get access to the Delta Sky Club with my Amex Platinum card, but for those of you who fly Delta a lot and don’t have the card or a membership, the extra perk of either 2 additional free months or 1,500 MQM’s might be worth it – especially those who just need that little extra to put them over the threshold for the next level of Medallion membership. Just as a reminder, fees range between $300-450 for annual membership.
3) Credit Cards: If you’re several thousand miles short of requalification, you might have time to get the Delta Reserve card, which awards cardholders with 10,000 Medallion qualifying miles with the first purchase, and 15,000 more MQM’s if a member hits $30,000 in spend within the calendar year (though obviously it’s a bit late in the year for that amount of spending for a lot of people). The T&C state “Please allow 2–4 weeks after your first purchase for the bonus miles to appear in your Delta SkyMiles account.” It could come down to the wire, but if you get the card expeditd and use it right away, it could savey you from having to buy those 10,000 MQMs, which cost $995 through the Buy MQMs promotion. Maximizing the MQM potential on this card is more than enough for Silver Medallion status on Delta – and you get an additional 15,000 MQM’s if they hit $60,000 in spend during the same calendar year. If you were to spend all that, all you’d need to get to Delta Gold, would be to fly 10,000 more miles – about two roundtrip transcontinental flights. There is also a Business Reserve card as well that has the same earning structure: 10,000 MQMs on first purchase and then up to 30,000 more with spend. One other thing to consider is the card’s hefty $450 annual fee.
One more thing to note about the Delta Reserve card: It actually allows you to gift the 15,000 MQM’s you earn after $30,000 in annual spend and the other 15,000 MQM’s after $60,000 in spend. So if you have the card and have hit that threshold (or are about to), you can give those miles to someone else who needs them – or vice versa, if you know someone who has them to give…you can beg!
The Delta Platinum Amex offers 10,000 MQM’s for $25,000 in annual spend, and another 10,000 MQM’s for $50,000 in annual spending, for a total potential of 20,000 MQM’s. The annual fee is $150, but the card also entitles you to Zone 2 priority boarding, an annual companion ticket and 20% in-flight savings on foo and entertainment on every Delta flight. There is also a Business Platinum card product that offers the same amount of MQMs. Note: Delta does send targeted offers that are more lucrative than the public ones, so search your inbox for any recent American Express or Delta emailed offers.
So apart from actually getting either as a new card, if you already have one or the other, check your spending for the year so far and see if you can funnel enough of your expenses to hit one of those spend threshold bonuses.
- 4) Stay at Hilton (ASAP!): Hilton is still running a promotion that offers 250 Delta Medallion Qualifying Miles for each two-night stay that starts from now through December 11, 2012 (stay must be completed by December 15, 2012). You earn the 250 MQMs (elite qualifying miles) per stay of two nights or more when you select Delta as your double dip partner. These MQMs are in addition to the 10 Hilton points per dollar spent plus the variable regular Delta miles that you earn as a double dip partner, which varies based on the type of Hilton property. It’s true, you’ve got to start your stay by tomorrow, but hey, if you have some last-minute plans for this week, might as well score some bonus MQM’s since these bonuses are pretty rare.
5) Gifted Status: Delta offers Choice Benefits to Platinum and Diamond Medallions, which include the option of gifting elite status. Platinum Medallions may gift Silver status and Diamond Medallions can gift Gold to anyone they want.
6) Status Through SkyBonus: SkyBonus is Delta’s business frequent flyer program. If you’re not a member yet, go ahead and join and use promo code SB2012NEW for 25,000 sign-up bonus miles. If you are already a member and have been flying and using your SkyBonus number, go ahead and check your balance because you can redeem your points for Silver Medallion status starting at 100,000 SkyBonus points. If you’re part of a larger corporation with a SkyBonus account, ask your friends in the travel department if they have extra points floating around since they might be willing to redeem them to give you status. Some corporate departments also do enough business with airlines that they are given a certain amount of elite statuses to distribute, and since it’s the end of the year, they probably have a few extra to get rid of. It never hurts to ask!