Delta makes it easier to earn elite status without flying in 2021 — but is it worth it?

Dec 10, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. 

Among the U.S. airlines, Delta has made it easiest to earn airline status while on the ground. That is courtesy of having — and spending — on certain Delta American Express credit cards.

With the ongoing pandemic keeping many travelers grounded, that becomes even more important for elite status seekers. Early this year, Delta announced a slew of updates including elite status extensions and Medallion® Qualifying Miles (MQMs) rolling over to 2021.

And now, there’s further good news on that front. Select Delta SkyMiles-branded credit cardholders can now earn even more MQMs with the “Status Boost” benefit in 2021: a full 25% increase in MQM earn at existing Status Boost milestones. Offer ends 12/31/21.

For more TPG news and travel tips delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our free daily newsletter.

Let’s take a closer look at this latest offer and if it’s worth spending more on your Delta Amex credit card.

In This Post

The new Delta Amex promotion

The Delta cards that are included as part of the elevated MQM offer are:

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Delta SkyMiles Platinum

In 2021, you can earn 25% more Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with an elevated Status Boost perk. Earn 12,500 MQMs for every $25,000 you spend on purchases on the Delta Platinum Card in the calendar year, up to two times. That’s an additional 2,500 MQMs on top of the 10,000 MQMs you already earn with Status Boost in the calendar year.

That means you can earn a total of 25,000 MQMs after spending $50,000.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve

In 2021, you can earn 25% more Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) with an elevated Status Boost perk. Earn 18,750 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend in purchases on the Delta Reserve card in the calendar year, up to four times. That’s an additional 3,750 MQMs on top of the 15,000 MQMs you already earn with Status Boost.

So you can earn a total of 75,000 MQMs after spending $120,000.

This promotion activates right after a previous offer is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020. Through the end of the year, you’ll earn 500 MQMs for every $1,000 spent — up to 25,000 MQMs over the course of the promotional period. And remember, MQMs earned this year will roll over into 2021.


(Screen cap courtesy of Amex)
(Screenshot courtesy of Amex)


Related: Why this TPG staffer is chasing Delta elite status during the pandemic

Why this new offer may be appealing

If you’re striving for Delta elite status, it just got slightly easier hit without having to even step foot on a plane next year. 

Earning Delta Medallion status

  • Silver Medallion: 25,000 MQMs plus 3,000 Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs)
  • Gold Medallion: 50,000 MQMs plus 6,000 Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs)
  • Platinum Medallion: 75,000 MQMs plus 9,000 Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs)
  • Diamond Medallion: 125,000 MQMs plus 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs)

These thresholds are what you need to earn in order to hit each level of Delta status. With the cards mentioned above, MQD requirements for Silver, Gold, and Platinum are waived when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year. However, you must spend a whopping $250,000 on the card to enjoy the MQD waiver for Diamond Medallion.

Related: TPG’s inside look at how Delta is cleaning planes

Who should (and shouldn’t) utilize this offer?

If you don’t currently hold Delta elite status but have some significant spending coming up in 2021, these new offers could be a nice way to help snag Medallion status without flying.

Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy

This could also be a good way for low- or mid-tier elite travelers to unlock added perks, again without setting foot on a plane. Many Delta loyalists don’t fly enough to reach Platinum Medallion status, but this new offer could provide that necessary boost. Jumping from Silver or Gold Medallion to Platinum includes a number of enhanced benefits — most importantly, Choice Benefits.

That said, if you’re already sitting at the Platinum or Diamond tiers with Delta, these new offers may not entice you to spend more on your cards. Unless you envision a struggle to reach MQM thresholds in 2021, you may want to hold off.

Be sure to evaluate your own situation to know whether these bonus MQMs are worth pursuing.

Related: Delta further extends SkyMiles benefits, permanently removes award travel fees and more

Previously announced Delta card benefit updates

Bottom line

This latest promotion from Delta and Amex makes it easier to hit MQM thresholds for elite status. It may be a compelling reason for cardholders to put spending back on a travel card, even when travel has been drastically reduced for the time being.

However, bear in mind that Delta hasn’t announced changes to spending requirements. Once Jan. 1, 2021, arrives, you’ll still need to earn the required Medallion Qualification Dollars next year, or spend enough on your cobranded card to enjoy a waiver of the applicable MQD requirement.

If Delta is your airline — and status is something you’re still seeking out for next year — it could be worth diverting your spending from other credit cards. Just be sure to carefully consider just how much these MQMs will help your pursuit of Medallion status in 2021.

Featured photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.

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.