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Today, I want to share a story posted in the the TPG Lounge by reader Jack, who missed out on Delta Platinum status due to a mix-up over an award redemption. Here’s what he had to say:

Some of the co-branded Delta Amex cards offer a feature called Pay with Miles, which allows you to discount the price of a Delta ticket by redeeming a mix of cash and SkyMiles. The nice part is that you still earn Medallion Qualifying Miles and regular SkyMiles for the cash portion of your fare. I was 9,500 MQMs short of Platinum status, so I decided to use Pay with Miles to reduce my out-of-pocket cost to $300 for a trip to London and Paris.

When I got home I noticed the miles from that trip weren’t credited to my account. I called Delta to sort it out, and that’s when I got hit with the bad news. Evidently I had used the Miles + Cash option, which is available to everyone and has the same redemption rate, but counts as an award ticket so you don’t earn MQMs or SkyMiles. If I had used Pay with Miles, I would have earned what I needed and been able to reach Platinum status. Instead I got nothing.

The SkyMiles rep I spoke with recommended I email customer service explaining the confusion to see if they could credit me with the miles. Instead they suggested I buy the MQMs I needed for $1,900! Let this be a warning: if you plan on booking a Delta ticket and earning elite credits while using miles, make sure you use “Pay with Miles” and not “Miles + Cash.”

Delta
Jack didn’t qualify for Platinum Medallion, but his rollover miles may help him meet the mark in 2018.

You generally won’t earn miles or elite credits on award flights, which is one factor to consider when you’re deciding whether to use points or pay cash. In 2015, however, Delta made Pay with Miles tickets eligible to earn Medallion miles and segments, as well as Medallion dollars and SkyMiles on the cash portion of the fare. You’ll only get 1 cent per mile redeeming this way, but the fact that you can still earn rewards makes Pay with Miles a decent option if you’re trying to keep cash costs down. As Jack points out, that’s not the case for Delta’s Miles + Cash awards, which are less useful anyway.

The silver lining to Jack’s story is that Delta allows you to roll MQMs over to the following year, so any extras aren’t wasted entirely. Jack qualified for Gold status, but fell 9,500 miles short of Platinum, which means he starts this year with 16,500 MQMs in the bank. If he completes the same qualifying activity in 2018 as he did in 2017, he should have no trouble reaching Platinum.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Jack for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can 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.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are 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.

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.