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Why I don't plan to spend a single cent on my Delta credit card for the rest of 2021

July 28, 2021
7 min read
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The impact of the COVID-19 delta variant may be delaying travel's long-awaited recovery.

In a drastic move, Delta Air Lines announced sweeping changes yesterday, including extending elite status for another year, through Jan. 31, 2023. Coupled with previous extensions, if you earned status with the airline as far back as 2019, you'll be able to keep it for up to three full years. There's a lot more to unpack with the news, and TPG's Andrew Kunesh has an in-depth breakdown of the changes.

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But what does this announcement mean for current Delta elites who are also cobranded cardholders? Well, a lot. Here's my perspective.

If you're a Delta elite with a Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card (or their respective business cards), you may want to consider spending on another card for the rest of the year. As a Delta SkyMiles Platinum credit cardholder with Platinum Medallion status, here's why I personally don't plan to spend a cent on my Delta card for the remainder of 2021.

Related: Best Delta credit cards of 2021

My original plan to requalify for status

Prior to the announcement, my Delta Platinum Medallion status was set to expire on Jan. 31, 2022.

I was fortunate to earn this status through a targeted status match challenge in late 2020. As an American Airlines loyalist for years, I had a good experience with Delta -- and planned to requalify again.

 

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Related: 5 things I learned status matching from American to Delta during the pandemic

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Thanks to previously announced status fast track promotions -- including the ability to earn up to 75% more towards Medallion status qualification -- Delta made it easier to requalify next year. Even better, Delta also made it possible to earn toward status on award travel — a first-ever for the U.S. airline industry.

As a refresher, here's what you need to earn in order to earn (or requalify) for Platinum Medallion status:

  • 75,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) +
  • $9,000 Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) or a cobranded credit card MQD waiver

How my Delta SkyMiles Platinum card played a role

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Here's what my original game plan looked like.

Hitting 75,000 MQMs

I'd hit the necessary MQMs via a combination of butt-in-seat flying and the MQM boost feature as part of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card.

With MQM boost, I'd earn 12,500 MQMs after spending $25,000 on the card in 2021.

MQD waiver

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta)

Putting $25,000 on my Delta SkyMiles Platinum card would mean the MQD requirement would also be waived. To date, I had put about $10,000 in card spend with about $15,000 to go.

Now that status has been extended for another year, I have little incentive to reach my goal of $25,000 on my Delta SkyMiles Platinum card. While I plan to still fly Delta, I don't plan to use my SkyMiles Platinum card for the rest of 2021.

Why you may want to still use a Delta card

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Of course, there's a wrinkle in all of this, too. Delta has said that flyers who organically qualify or requalify for status in 2022 will clear for complimentary upgrades ahead of those at the same tier level whose status was automatically extended (starting Feb. 1, 2022).

In addition, Platinum and Diamond Medallion Members who earned status this year will be able to select additional Choice Benefits, which might be a nice incentive to stay true to the airline for the rest of 2021 -- and keep spending on your cobranded credit card.

For me, this isn't quite enough to stick with my Delta credit card. Instead, I can earn rewards on other cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, which earns 5x points on airfare booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year).

Or I'd rather work toward another Category 1-4 free night certificate on my World of Hyatt Credit Card (after hitting $15,000).

Related: What is Delta Air Lines elite status worth in 2021?

Bottom line

Since this announcement was made, my game plan to requalify for Delta status has completely changed. In fact, there really isn't a game plan anymore.

While this is a customer-friendly change from Delta, it's also a surprising one, since it effectively disincentivizes some of its cobranded cardholders. Therefore, I'd expect to see some further promotions later this year to get Delta cardholders -- especially current elites -- spending again.

As it stands with the automatic extension, I don't have much motivation to continue swiping my Delta SkyMiles Platinum card. But I'll likely continue flying Delta when possible, especially since MQMs earned this year will completely roll over to next year.

That'll be a great kickstart to the 2023 status year.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more