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Should I Use the Delta Amex to Get Silver Elite Status?

by on July 13, 2014 · 7 comments

in American Express, Chase, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Credit Cards, Delta, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Joe emailed me to ask:

“My new husband and I have both the Platinum Delta Amex and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (both in my name with him as an authorized user). We currently don’t have status with any airline, but primarily fly Delta from Kansas City, and have been working towards our $50,000 spend for Delta Silver Medallion. We’re also trying to load up on miles for a business class trip to Spain and Israel in 2015. Does it make sense to spend as much as possible on the Amex to aim for Silver Medallion, or should we just use the Sapphire? We also have a Chase Freedom in my name and a US Airways MasterCard in his name.”

The airlines are master marketers, and they have us caught on what I call the “Elite Status Hamster Wheel.” We’re caught up in a vicious circle: keep spending, keep paying, keep earning that Elite status, keep working to retain it. Elite status is  kind of like a drug; once you have a taste, you never want to be without it!

Joe and his husband have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Delta Platinum Amex card (among others). They’re working to spend $50,000 on the Delta card to get the MQM boost and Silver Elite status, but there’s an opportunity cost to that spend. You’re forgoing spend on a more lucrative card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which gives double points on anything related to travel and dining, plus a 7% Dividend on all points earned. Even at the base level you’ll earn 1.07 valuable Ultimate Reward points versus one Delta Skymile.

So many options...which ones to choose? Image courtesy of Shutterstock

So many options…which one to choose? (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

I value Ultimate Rewards points much more highly than Delta miles, as they can  be use on the 11 Chase transfer partners. With Skymiles, you’re really pegged into Delta and SkyTeam, and you may be looking at at using up to 325,000 SkyMiles to fly to Europe in Business Class if your dates aren’t flexible. So, by putting all your charges on the Delta Card, you risk not being able to redeem for the rewards you want.

My suggestion is that since you’re already getting a lot of the Silver Medallion perks from the Delta Platinum Amex card, you should evaluate your other options. Are you getting upgraded? Are you getting better customer service? Try to put a value on your silver status, and if you don’t think it’s worthwhile, you should put your spend on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card instead. You might also consider getting a few other credit cards to boost your other points balances, and hopefully soon your trip to the Mediterranean will be in reach.

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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  • Darren

    I have to agree, if you aren’t flying enough to earn silver status with Delta, then you probably aren’t flying enough to make it worthwhile to have elite status at all.

  • lookcle

    This is funny I also live in Kansas City, and I went last year to Israel and Spain. After few other trips during the year, I reached Silver status, and the only perk I noticed ( besides the ones you already got with your Delta credit card) was that I was upgraded to first class on the last leg (JFK -MCI). I have never get an upgrade anymore ever since that trip. Other perks I have enjoyed are the free Economy seat (24 hours before the flight) and skip the line to check in (in some airports). I really don’t think it is worth to make a super effort and try to spend $50,000.

  • Jason

    You do earn 1.4 miles per dollar for everyday spending on the Plat Delta Amex after the 25k bonus.

  • Mike G.

    Especially since there’s almost no shot of getting upgraded, and the credit card covers priority boarding and the free checked bag. The only real benefit is free exit row seats, which you can get most of the time by pleading with the gate agent.

  • Geoff

    Jason, we do? Is this a new benefit?

  • Jason

    No, this is just the 10k MQM bonus after spending $25k. 10k/25k = 0.4 mile/$ + 1 mile/$ base = 1.4.

  • Joe in KC

    What a small world. I think I’ll shift back to the chase and get the Ink for business.

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