How Delta surprised me with Million Miler status this year

May 15, 2020

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card 

Reader Questions are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

Earning million miler status with an airline takes decades of work, even for the most ardent road warriors, but the payoff can be quite nice as million milers are treated to a lifetime of elite status and sometimes additional gifts. TPG reader Robert wants to know how he earned Delta Million Miler status this year without taking a single flight …

I had 992,000 lifetime miles with Delta as of Dec. 31, 2019. Believe me, I was monitoring this status closely, and had trips scheduled in 2020 that would have gotten me to 1,000,000 miles. I have not flown since that date, for obvious reasons. Delta recently informed me that I have attained Million Miler status, and I got the red bag tags yesterday. My question is how could this have occurred without flying? Does credit card spend count toward miles for this status?

TPG READER ROBERT

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First of all, congratulations to Robert! As a Delta Million Miler he’ll enjoy Silver Medallion elite status for the rest of his life, and he’ll also be able to select a gift from one of Delta’s retail partners.

So how did Robert cross this impressive threshold without flying in 2020? Each airline uses a slightly different metric to count towards lifetime status, with different earning rates for partner flights. Delta uses perhaps the simplest approach: instead of counting butt-in-seat flight miles, Delta requires you to earn 1 million Medallion® Qualifying Miles (MQMs) to earn lifetime status. You can earn these from flying with Delta or partner airlines, or from select credit cards. In fact, TPG Editor Nick Ewen wrote an entire guide to earning enough MQMs to qualify for Delta elite status without actually flying!

Delta offers the most diverse credit card portfolio of any of the major U.S. carriers, with an entry-level, mid-tier and premium credit card, as well as business versions of each. The mid-tier Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card are both currently offer 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles as part of their welcome bonus, plus the ability to earn more through ongoing spending. You’ll earn 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 in a calendar year, and another 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000.

Meanwhile, the premium Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card are offering 10,000 MQMs as part of their respective welcome bonuses, plus the ability to earn more by spending on the card. You can earn an additional 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend in a calendar year, up to 60,000 MQMs (for $120,000 spending).

While Robert didn’t mention specifically holding a Delta credit card, this is the most likely way he would’ve earned bonus MQMs without realizing it, to put him over the threshold for Million Miler status.

Related: Credit cards that can help you earn airline elite status

Bottom line

Delta is the only airline to count towards Million Miler status based on lifetime MQMs instead of lifetime flight miles. This means that Robert was able to earn the last MQMs to bump him over the one million mark even without flying. Congrats again Robert!

Thanks for the question, Robert, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/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.

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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✓®.
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  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
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.