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If you’re a frequent flyer with Delta eyeing top-tier Diamond Medallion status, you’re going to face a much, much tougher hurdle to hit that status after this year ends. The airline just increased the Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD) waiver spending requirement to an absolutely mind-boggling $250,000.

As it stands now, you’re able to earn the MQD waiver for Diamond status after spending $25,000 on an eligible Delta co-branded Amex card like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. The change is noted on Delta’s website and goes into effect as of January 1, 2018. The airline is keeping the Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) requirement the same at 125,000 miles.

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While this astronomical figure is certainly shocking, Delta remains the only legacy carrier to offer a waiver to earn top-tier status. American offers a way to earn Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) through its co-branded cards. If you spend $50,000 in a calendar year, you’ll earn 6,000 EQDs, half of what’s needed for Executive Platinum status. United doesn’t offer a way to earn a waiver through credit card spend for its top-tier Premier 1K status,which beat Delta Diamond in The Points Guy‘s comprehensive rankings of elite status programs. If you’re dedicated to earning Diamond status but don’t want to (or won’t) meet the new $250k MQD requirement, you can still reach the level if you fly the 125,000 miles required and spend a minimum of $15,000 on Delta flights.

Delta’s clearly trying to solidify its Diamond Medallion status as a super-exclusive level reserved for its highest-spending flyers. While in a way it’s still better than American or United,  $250,000 is a lot to spend on the airline’s co-branded cards, and will likely outrage many of Delta’s most loyal flyers and push some to competing airlines. Since the spend requirement for the Diamond status waiver is so astronomical, you’re better off using The Platinum Card® from American Express, since it gives you 5 points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly through the airline or through Amex Travel as well as access to Delta SkyClubs when flying with the airline as well as the network of fantastic Centurion lounges. The card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Reaction from TPG readers has been swift and overwhelmingly negative. Readers have been emailing asking, for example, if “Amex and Delta have lost their minds.” Other readers have signaled that this will be the end of their relationship with Delta: “Unbelievable. Loyalty?  Time for [a] status match” with another airline, a reader emailed. If you are angered or insulted by this change, be sure to tag the airline in any social media posts on Twitter or Facebook to let it know that you think the change is outrageous and that it should be reversed.

Do you think Delta and Amex have lost their minds with this change?

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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