I was $1 short of Diamond status — reader mistake story

Sep 30, 2019

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Kameron, who miscalculated his Delta Medallion elite credits:

I fly frequently for work, so I started reading extensively about Delta Medallion qualification and realized that Diamond Medallion status was within my reach for the first time ever. As I got closer and closer to earning it, I began calculating which trip was going to put me over the threshold, and believed I would meet my requirement for Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) on a cross-country trip from Seattle (SEA) to Washington, D.C. (IAD).

By my calculations, that flight would put me at exactly $15,000 MQDs, so I was looking forward to enjoying my Diamond benefits on the return trip. Much to my surprise, however, I came up just $1 MQD short. I wondered if Delta would make an exception and offer me Diamond status in advance of the return trip, since I was literally short by $1. A short phone call to the Platinum line revealed that no, they would not make an exception.

So with the end of year coming up quick, I wanted to remind everyone that if Delta status is important to you, don’t miscalculate even by $1!

Kameron’s mistake wasn’t costly — he only ended up missing Diamond benefits on a single flight — but it could have been much worse if he were trying to qualify at the last minute and that $1 miscalculation cost him his shot. In that case, he may have had to upgrade to a more expensive fare, take a mileage run or buy the remaining elite credits outright. To avoid putting yourself in a similar situation, make sure you understand the elite qualification requirements and formulate a viable strategy to meet them.

On flights marketed by Delta, Medallion Qualification Dollars are earned according to the dollar amount of your base fare (not including taxes and fees) rounded to the nearest whole number. For example, a base fare of $199.49 will earn $199 MQDs, while a base fare of $199.50 will earn $200 MQDs — as Kameron’s story shows, that one extra MQD can make a huge difference. On eligible flights marketed by Delta partners, you’ll still earn MQDs based on the distance flown, which may work out in your favor depending on how far you fly.

Once you have an elite qualification strategy in place, you should revisit it periodically to check on your progress. You may find that a flight wasn’t credited properly, or that your earnings didn’t match your expectations for some other reason; recognizing that discrepancy early on will leave you time to correct course.

Related: 18 credit cards that can help you earn airline status

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Kameron a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photos by Douglas Sacha and Jennifer May/Getty Images. Edit by The Points Guy.

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