With just two months left in 2023, time is running out to qualify (or requalify) for Delta elite status.
If you haven’t done so already, check your elite qualification metrics, tally up your travel for the rest of the year and see where that puts you in terms of elite status for next year. If you’re short of your goal, you still have time to close the gap.
And while this post will focus on qualifying for Delta Medallion status this year, be aware major changes for Delta elite status go into effect next year.
Here are some ideas for earning what you need before the end of the year.
Last-minute earning strategies
Time is short, but if you think you’re not quite going to make the earning threshold of your elite status tier, there are still some good options to put you over the top.
Remember that as of Jan. 1, 2024, Delta will consolidate all Medallion status earning activities into Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs), axing Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) — though it did pull back on some of those changes after widespread customer outrage.
Next year, MQDs will track not just your eligible travel spend on Delta and its partners but also other methods like your spending on Delta-issued credit cards and car rentals, hotel stays and Delta vacations.
However, it’s business as usual through Dec. 31 — giving you just a couple of months to hit your desired tiers under the old criteria.
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Spend on a Delta cobranded credit card
Some Delta cobranded credit cards allow cardholders to earn MQMs or unlock MQD waivers, both of which can level you up to a higher Medallion tier.
For starters, through Dec. 31, 2023, you can earn bonus MQMs via calendar-year spending on four of Delta’s cobranded credit cards:
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Earn 10,000 MQMs after you spend $25,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year, plus another 10,000 MQMs after you spend $50,000 in a calendar year.
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card: Earn 10,000 MQMs after you spend $25,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year, plus another 10,000 MQMs after you spend $50,000 in a calendar year.
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve® American Express Card: Earn 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 in eligible purchases you make on the card in a calendar year, up to $120,000 in total spending (60,000 MQMs in all).
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve® Business American Express Card: Earn 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 in eligible purchases you make on the card in a calendar year, up to $120,000 in total spending (60,000 MQMs in all).
In addition, you can spend $25,000 on these cards to earn an MQD waiver for Silver, Gold and Platinum status. Or, you can spend $250,000 for a Diamond MQD waiver. This completely waives the MQD requirement, meaning you only need to meet the MQS or MQM requirement to earn status in 2023.
However, as of Jan. 1, 2024, all of these benefits will no longer be available.
These are high spending thresholds, but you might also spend more on your cobranded credit card than you realize. Check your overall spending levels from the year so far and see if you’re within striking distance of one of those thresholds. You might consider temporarily paying bills and other expenses with your cobranded card if you’re close to one of these thresholds.
Just beware that the spending and bonus MQMs must be posted to your account this year to count for elite status qualification for the 2024 status year, so know your statement closing dates and be sure your spending is on a statement that will be issued before the end of the year.
Historically, Delta SkyMiles has been one of the most generous programs regarding status challenges.
Unfortunately, the SkyMiles Medallion Status Match Challenge is “temporarily unavailable,” per the Delta website — likely due to all the changes going on to the program. Keep this option in mind for next year and beyond if you’re still looking to boost your Delta status.
Choice Benefits status
As mentioned above, Delta’s Choice Benefits for Platinum and Diamond members include the opportunity to confer Medallion status on other members. Platinum Medallions can choose to gift Silver Medallion status, and Diamonds can gift Gold status to other flyers. So be nice to friends or family who might be able to give you a hand up into the club.
Fly private, earn Diamond Medallion status
Delta has a partnership with Wheels Up, a private jet subscription service. Historically, if you fund a WheelsUp account with $50,000 or more, you’ll receive automatic Delta elite status.
Of course, this is not the cheapest option for earning Delta elite status. However, if you or your business use the service anyway, it might be a good option to bypass all the other requirements and go straight to the top.
Book an award ticket
One of the best changes to the Delta SkyMiles program in recent years is that award tickets booked in Main Cabin or higher now earn MQDs and MQMs. This was originally introduced as a temporary benefit in 2021 but later became a permanent benefit of the program. This can make earning status much cheaper.
If you have a stash of SkyMiles sitting in your account, consider redeeming them to close the gap to your desired elite status tier. This could save you money and make elite status as simple as booking a single award flight to your destination of choice.
And remember that holders of select Delta American Express cards automatically receive 15% off Delta-operated award tickets.
However, there is one major exception to keep in mind: Only Delta-ticketed and operated award tickets earn elite status metrics. Using Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles to book an award ticket, for example, won’t earn elite status, even if you add your SkyMiles number to the itinerary. Likewise, booking a Virgin Atlantic ticket with SkyMiles won’t earn elite status.
Partner MQM and MQD earning
Since achieving elite status this year requires earning both elite-qualifying miles or segments and hitting spending thresholds, mileage runs are not necessarily the useful tool toward qualifying they once were if you’re flying on Delta metal.
But on the bright side, you can still leverage partner fares to earn MQDs quickly. This is because these flights earn MQDs based on a percentage of the distance of the flight, not how much you spend.
If you go that route, know the earning rates for the specific carrier and fare class you purchase, and note that many are being devalued next year. As a result, you’ll want to complete these flights by Dec. 31, 2023 — and then keep your boarding passes and flight confirmations to ensure they’re credited properly.
Even though the year is coming to a close, there’s still time to level up to the next tier of Delta Medallion elite status.
The most important thing is to know where you stand now and how short you’ll be after accounting for the rest of your planned travel for this year. Once you figure out how many extra MQMs or MQDs you need, you can use these strategies to ensure you earn your desired elite tier for next year — especially since 2023 is the final year of qualifying with MQMs and MQSs.