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