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Why Delta status challenges may have gotten a whole lot easier

April 01, 2022
3 min read
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Delta Air Lines has long offered a publicly-available status challenge. To enroll, all you have to do is upload proof of status with a qualifying airline and enjoy a three-month trial of Medallion elite status. You then must complete a set amount of flying and spending during that three-month period to extend the status.

Historically, only paid flights counted toward the challenge requirements. However, now that Delta is permanently awarding Medallion credit on award tickets, that may no longer be the case.

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Delta has updated the terms and conditions of its Medallion Status Match Challenge, removing one major restriction: "Travel on award tickets does not qualify for this offer." This should mean that flights booked with miles will help you meet the challenge requirements. TPG has reached out to Delta for comment.

Like revenue tickets, you earn Medallion Qualification Segments on award tickets based on segments flown and Medallion Qualification Miles based on the distance of your flight. The main difference is how you earn Medallion Qualification Dollars. MQDs are earned at $1 per 100 SkyMiles redeemed on award tickets. This means a ticket that costs 10,000 SkyMiles earns $100 MQDs.

Related: Current airline elite status match and challenge options you should know about

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

It's important to note that only Delta-issued and -operated award tickets are eligible to earn elite-qualifying credit. You won't earn credit on awards booked through or flown by partner airlines like Virgin Atlantic or Air France.

As a refresher, here are the current requirements for Delta's publicly-available status challenge:

  • Silver Medallion: 6,250 MQMs or 8 MQSs AND $750 MQDs or MQD Waiver.
  • Gold Medallion: 12,500 MQMs or 15 MQSs AND $1,500 MQDs or MQD Waiver.
  • Platinum Medallion: 18,750 MQMs or 25 MQSs AND $2,250 MQDs or MQD Waiver.

Delta is offering an exclusive, limited-time Medallion status upgrade opportunity for targeted American Express cardholders. The offer lets you match your existing airline status with another airline to one tier higher on Delta and earn a set number of MQS or MQM to keep your status through the end of the year. There is no MQD requirement for this match. However, we're not yet sure if award tickets count toward this elite status challenge.

Bottom line

Although this change might seem insignificant, it would be very welcome. If award tickets are eligible for extending status challenges, it will be easier and potentially less costly to extend your elite status. We will update this post when we hear back from Delta.

Remember that in order to attempt a Delta status match challenge, you need to have an equivalent elite status at a qualifying, competing airline. You also cannot have received a status challenge or complimentary Medallion elite status in the past three years to be eligible.

As of now, no other U.S. airlines award elite-qualifying credit on award travel.

Featured image by (Photo by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy)
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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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases