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TPG reader Jason sent me a message on Facebook to ask about elite benefits:
“I recently hit Delta Platinum for the first time, and I wasn’t sure which Choice Benefit to take. Should I go for the $200 voucher or the 20,000 miles?”
Choice Benefits are a fairly unique feature of the Delta SkyMiles program. Once you qualify for Platinum or Diamond Medallion status, you can select from about a half dozen perks that you’ll receive in addition to the standard elite benefits at each level. Your options include upgrade certificates, bonus miles and more, with values ranging from $100 to potentially much higher. To maximize this benefit, it’s important to have a sense of what each option is worth.
Jason is trying to decide between 20,000 SkyMiles and a $200 Delta travel voucher: This choice boils down to how much you think the miles are worth. I value SkyMiles less than most other airline rewards, but I still expect to get better than 1 cent per mile on average. I list them at 1.2 cents apiece in my most recent monthly valuations — at that rate, I’d value 20,000 miles at $240, while the voucher is just worth its face value. Another advantage of the mileage bonus is that SkyMiles don’t expire, while the travel voucher expires in 12 months. Overall, I’d say miles are the way to go between those two options.
I think miles are also preferable to the other Platinum Choice Benefits. The Global Entry application voucher is only worth $100, and you can get a similar credit from various credit cards. The regional upgrade certificates are interesting, but you may find that you’re often upgraded as a Platinum Medallion member anyway. Gifting Silver Medallion status is a decent option if you know someone who can get good value out of those benefits (and doesn’t already have them from a co-branded Delta credit card).
The math changes a bit for Diamond Medallion members, since some of the other Choice Benefits are upgraded more than the mileage bonus. The global upgrade certificates offer great value since they give you the highest upgrade priority, or you can double the number of regional certificates you receive. The option to gift status is also improved, since you can give Gold Medallion instead of Silver Medallion. In contrast, the mileage benefit increases just 25% from 20,000 miles to 25,000, so you’re not getting much of a bonus for reaching Diamond.
While not all of the benefits are attractive, I appreciate what Delta (and Starwood) are doing by offering elective benefits. It’s good to have a say in how your loyalty is rewarded, and I’d like to see more programs offer similar benefits.
For more on Choice Benefits and Delta Medallion status in general, check out these posts:
- What is Delta Air Lines Elite Status Worth in 2016?
- Which Delta Diamond Medallion Choice Benefits Are Best?
- How to Earn Delta Medallion Elite Status Without Flying
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
|Intro APR||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Credit Rating|
|None||15.49%-19.49% Variable||$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95||2.70%||Excellent Credit|