Delta now makes it even easier to earn elite status without flying — but is it worth it?

Aug 19, 2020

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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 coronavirus pandemic keeping many travelers grounded, that becomes even more important for elite status seekers.

And now, there’s further good news on that front. Many Delta SkyMiles-branded credit cardholders can now earn even more miles — both redeemable as well as elite — for their purchases. This becomes even more intriguing when coupled with the ability to rollover elite-qualifying miles to 2021.

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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

While the announcement included several offers for earning more redeemable miles on restaurant and Delta purchases, the most interesting component was the chance to acquire additional Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs).

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

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

Let’s get the less-exciting perks out of the way first. From now through Dec. 31, 2020, you’ll get 5x miles on eligible Delta purchases and 500 bonus miles with every $1,000 in purchases (up to 25,000 bonus miles) on your enrolled card.

But for those seeking Delta status, you can also get 500 MQMs for every $1,000 spent — also up to 25,000 MQMs over the course of the promotional period.

The MQM bonus offer is for any purchase made on the card. And the bonus is in addition to the usual status boosts you receive on the Platinum and Reserve cards.

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


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

Why this offer may be appealing

If you’re striving for Delta elite status, it just got significantly easier. And it’s not just for the 2021 status year. 

This past spring, Delta became the first airline to extend elite status due to the coronavirus outbreak. That news also included the ability to rollover MQMs from 2020 into 2021 to qualify for 2022 Medallion Status. That means all MQMs earned this year — either through flying or through cobranded credit cards — will count toward 2022 elite status.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

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)

This is 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.

If you have a Delta Platinum card…

With regular card spending, the Delta Platinum Amex awards cardholders with 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 on the card in a calendar year, plus an additional 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 on the card in a calendar year.

Now with the promotion, if you start today and max out the $50,000 spending on this card through Dec. 31, you’ll earn a total of 45,000 MQMs. (The math: 25,000 MQMs from the limited-time promotion + 10,000 MQMs at $25,000 + 10,000 MQMs at $50,000).

In this hypothetical example, you’re now only 5,000 MQMs from hitting Gold Medallion status in 2020. In addition, all 45,000 of those MQMs will rollover to next year — putting you well on your way to a higher tier of status when travel (hopefully) begins to rebound.

Photo courtesy of Delta
Photo courtesy of Delta

If you have a Delta Reserve card…

For Delta Reserve cardmembers, you’ll get 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend in a calendar year, up to four times (so a total of 60,000 MQMs for spending $120,000).

Now with the promotion, if you start today and spend $60,000 on this card by Dec. 31, 2020, you’ll earn a total of 55,000 MQMs. (The math: 25,000 MQMs from the limited-time promotion (the maximum) + 15,000 MQMs at $30,000 + 15,000 MQMs at $60,000).

In this hypothetical example, you’ll have hit Gold Medallion status (with 5,000 MQM extra to help you get to Platinum) simply by spending $60,000 on the card from now through the end of the year. And like the Platinum example above, all of these MQMs will roll over into 2021.

Obviously, that’s a lot to spend, but it shows how much this promotion can accelerate the ability to earn status — right from the comfort of your of home.

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 this fall, these new offers could be a nice way to snag Medallion status without flying. They’ll also set you up nicely in 2021 — since these bonus MQMs will rollover into next year.

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. After all, your status has already been extended, and you’re still getting new Choice Benefits in January 2021. Unless you envision a struggle to reach MQM thresholds next year, you may want to hold off.

In addition, since you still need to hit required spending thresholds in 2021 (as of now, at least), the rollover MQMs may do you no good — unless you plan to spend enough with Delta or on your Amex next year to earn a waiver.

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

Terms and conditions to know

This additional redeemable and elite Delta miles promotion is not available to you if you opened either the personal or business version of the Delta Platinum Amex or Delta Reserve Amex on or after July 1, 2020.

Delta SkyMiles cardmembers will receive an email with instructions that explain the offer, its terms and conditions and a link to enroll in the new bonuses through Amex Offers (you can also log in to your Amex account to find them). While enrollment can be completed any time between now and Dec. 31, 2020, you’ll only earn bonuses for purchases made after enrolling.

Also, note that purchases on additional cards don’t qualify for this offer.

Finally, bear in mind that only MQMs earned in 2020 will roll over to next year; 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.

Related: Delta rolls out extended Medallion status well ahead of schedule

Bottom line

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

If Delta is your airline — and status is something you’re still seeking out for either this year or even next year — it can 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, both in 2020 and 2021.

Featured photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

NEW! 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
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • 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.
  • With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 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. MQMs are used to determine Medallion Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • 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.

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