Should I Aim for Delta Diamond Status Instead of Platinum?

by on July 6, 2014 · 8 comments

in American Express, Delta, Elite Status, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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This week TPG reader Lev tweeted:

@thepointsguy I’m at 80K Delta MQMs so far this year. Is reaching for Delta Diamond Elite Status vs. aiming for Delta Platinum Elite Status more worthwhile than before, given the planned 2015 changes? (I live by JFK airport.)”

The general trend that I’ve seen with airline elite status is that it’s getting watered down at the lower and mid-tier levels, but beefed up at the top levels. So now more than ever there’s a greater divide between top tier status and low tier status. You can get low-tier benefits like free checked bags and priority boarding through most airline co-branded credit cards. However, at the top tier you’ll find some major perks like upgrade certificates and lounge access.

Lev wants to know if it’s better to aim for the higher status. I would say in this case, yes. Back in the day, you might get a couple extra choice benefits for reaching Diamond, like lounge access, and the ability to gift Gold status instead of Silver. That being said, for those of us who already got lounge access through the American Express Platinum or the Delta Reserve credit cards, there wasn’t a huge jump between Diamond and Platinum.

Having Delta Diamond Elite Status could potentially make your airport and flying experience much better. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Having Delta Diamond Elite Status could potentially make your airport and flying experience much better. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)

However, times have changed. Diamond members currently get global upgrades that are eligible on more fare classes. Lev lives near JFK, and there are rumors Delta is easing their transcontinental upgrade policy; if there are seats available, Diamond members will be first to get the complimentary upgrades.

I think Diamond status is valuable now more than ever , but it has to make sense for you. As you know, Delta now has rollover MQMs. If, for example, you’re at 120,000 MQMs for the year, you’ll rollover 45,000 MQMs to the next year, because Platinum is reached at 75,000 MQMs and you roll over any amount above the tier you’ve achieved.

It’s also important to take into account how many miles you plan on traveling next year and how many MQMs you’re getting through credit cards. This should help you decide whether to go big and get Diamond status, or play it conservative and get Platinum year after year. I personally think if you can get Diamond, you might as well; just make sure you’re also hitting the spend threshold, which at Diamond is $12,500 on Delta operated or ticketed flights. Now of course, if you have a Delta American Express credit card and you spend $25,000 or live outside of the US, you are exempt from the spend threshold.

In conclusion, I would say Diamond is now more valuable than before, so if you can obtain it, go for it.

For more information on Delta’s Elite Status Tiers, visit this post.

If you have additional questions, please message me on Facebook, tweet me @ThePointsGuy, or send me an email at [email protected]

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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  • Levik

    Thanks for the great answer. I hit the $25k Amex spend last week, so the MQD is not a concern this year (hope Delta doesn’t go the way of United on this). This also brings me 10k MQM closer to my goal. My main concern was the opportunity cost of losing out on all those rollover MQMs, and also earning some miles on AA/United. Unfortunately, flying out of JFK to the places I go, Delta is almost always a better choice.

    But you have convinced me that Diamond is worth it to take this chance and give it a go :)

    Now I need to find 35k MQM’s worth of places to fly.

  • Catherine Curtis

    I just hit Diamond status for next year.. the hard way.. :) (no CC for me). flown 175k miles to reach the 12.5k spend threshold. I am not fully convinced about the value as yet.. but will be using my upgrade certs this year.. then I will let you know ;)

  • paulwesterdawg

    I definitely echo the 2 year strategy issue. I made Diamond for the first time last year and due to a new flight pattern at work I will barely make gold this year. I would’ve been better off holding at plat and rolling 45k.

  • Mike G.

    You could also tough it out for another few months and roll over just shy of 50k. That’s what I did, and I hit Diamond in June of this year with the help of the 10k MQMs from the Platinum Skymiles CC. Now I’m Diamond and will be rolling over at least 30k miles for next year’s requalification. The question is can you wait for the Diamond benefits for an extra 6-8 months to make it more likely you qualify again for the following year.

  • Allan Klein

    I say you should stay PM so I’m higher on the UG list than you :D

    I rolled over 35k MQM from last year and am shy of PM for 2015 right now only because I’m not at $7500 spend this year. Consider that your spend (MQD) resets even if you rollover MQM so this obviously depending on the cost associated with the fares you fly. You might wind up in a situation with $5k spend at 75K MQM if you don’t have the CC spend waiver.

  • Levik

    But did you enjoy the Diamond perks? Did you use the upgrades?

  • paulwesterdawg

    I’ve been on a plane 6 times this year. So it’s been brutally downshifted. I did use the upgrade cert to get my wife and infant in arms into first on a trip to the Caribbean. So that was nice.

  • Ian Chin

    At DM level I’ve never missed a domestic upgrade, however this year I fell about 20,000 miles short and at PM I’n finding UG’s are not always a slam dunk proposition (particularly in and out of my home airport – SNA).

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