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Last-minute Delta elite status tip: Upgrade existing flights to earn more MQDs

Nov. 16, 2022
3 min read
Retrofitted Delta Boeing 767-300 Delta One seats
Last-minute Delta elite status tip: Upgrade existing flights to earn more MQDs
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Delta elite members, your elite year ends Dec. 31.

This means there's little time left to plan a last-minute Medallion Qualification Dollar run to keep or upgrade your elite status. But even that might not be possible depending on how packed your schedule is between the holidays, existing travel and other commitments. Given how expensive holiday travel is this year, it could be hard to find a mileage run that fits your budget.

Luckily, there's another option if you have upcoming travel already booked: paid upgrades.

Years ago, Delta implemented “upfares.” At its most basic, these are post-purchase upgrades to a higher class of service. So if you’ve already booked an economy seat to fly home for the holidays — or if your company has booked you in the main cabin for a year-end business trip — you may be able to pay to move into a higher cabin, like Comfort+ or first class.

Related: The ultimate guide to getting upgraded on Delta

Oftentimes, the airline offers this at check-in or when you view your upcoming flight in the airline's mobile app or online. You may see it when you check in, load your itinerary or try to select a seat in a different cabin from the seat map.

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DARREN MURPH/THE POINTS GUY

The money you spend on these upgrades counts as MQDs just like a flight would. For example, I'm flying round-trip from New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO) next month to visit a friend. I'm booked in economy, but I can pay to upgrade my ticket to first class. An upgrade on my return ticket costs $74.18 or 6,900 SkyMiles. In turn, I'd earn 74 MQDs from the cash upgrade or 69 MQDs for the mileage upgrade.

Additionally, you'll earn a 50% Medallion qualifying mile (MQM) bonus when you upgrade to first class.

Related: Last-minute strategies for earning Delta Medallion elite status

DELTA.COM

This may not work for those looking to cover massive MQD gaps, but it may be the push you need to hit that next tier. Saving yourself the hassle of booking and taking a flight to a random destination while also making existing flights more luxurious is a win-win. This is especially true if paying up to do so secures a higher tier of airline status for 2023.

Additional reporting by Darren Murph.

Featured image by ZACH GRIFF/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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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023