Is Delta Medallion Status Worth it? Requirements & Benefits of Delta Status

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Is Delta Medallion Status Worth it? Earning & Using Delta Status

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Frequent flyers wear their airline status like a badge of honor, and Delta Medallion Status is no different. But what does it really mean for the everyday traveler?

Odds are: Not a whole lot. Sure, the prospect of free upgrades and other perks is tempting. But those benefits require a metric ton of flying each and every year. And with Delta (and other airlines) extending status while making it easier to earn via special promos throughout the pandemic, the lists of flyers with status are more bloated than ever – making your odds of a free upgrade to first class slim.

We’ll dive into the ins and outs of Delta’s four tiers of status, as well as what it takes to get there. But our general rule of thumb is that it’s rarely worth it for average travelers to go far out of their way to clinch status on any airline – and that includes even the most diehard Delta fans. If you can naturally get to Silver or above, great! But as the end of the year comes and temptation looms, keep in mind: Mileage runs or crazy spending strategies to get status may not be worth the trouble. 

Here's a look at what it takes to earn Delta Medallion Status, what it gets you, and whether it's worth it after all.


How to Earn Delta Medallion Status

There’s no doubt about it: Even the lowest levels of Delta status require a fair amount of travel. And after a recent increase, it's gotten even more expensive.

Average travelers are unlikely to even scratch the surface of hitting Silver Medallion status, the airline’s lowest tier. If you travel a fair amount for work – or fly international long-haul with Delta or a partner – that could do the trick.

That's because there are two critical pieces to earn Medallion status with Delta: flying and spending. You have to rack up a certain amount of miles on Delta flights (called Medallion Qualification Miles or MQMs, which are different than SkyMiles) or a sheer number of flight segments. Then, there's also a spending requirement, called Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs).

You need both. Just one or the other won't cut it.

delta medallion status requirements 

Here’s a brief rundown on what it takes to earn each of the four Medallion tiers:

  • Silver Medallion Status: 25,000 MQMs OR 30 flights (called Medallion Qualifying Segments) AND $3,000 in spending on Delta or partner flights
  • Gold Medallion Status: 50,000 MQMs OR 60 Medallion Qualifying Segments AND $8,000 in spending on Delta or partner flights
  • Platinum Medallion Status: 75,000 MQMs OR 100 Medallion Qualifying Segments AND $12,000 in spending on Delta or partner flights
  • Diamond Medallion Status: 125,000 MQMs OR 140 Medallion Qualifying Segments AND $20,000 in spending on Delta or partner flights

That is a lot of flying … and even more spending. And Delta made it even harder to earn (or requalify for) Medallion Status in 2023 by raising the spending requirements for every tier except Silver.

Once you unlock your status, you’ll have it for the rest of that year and the next year, too – status benefits actually last through Jan. 31. But when the calendar year ends, you start back at zero on your quest to earn Delta status again … kind of.

Fortunately, it's a bit easier because Delta rolls over any MQMs you've earned above your current status to give you a head start in the following year.

For example, here's a look at my current march to requalify for Delta Silver Medallion Status for 2023. Thanks to some generous rollovers, you can see I've got more than enough MQMs to hit the mark. But I'm short on MQDs: I still need to spend more than $1,200 with Delta by the end of the year.

delta medallion status tracker 

No matter how slice it, it takes a lot of flights to earn status. And not just a lot of flying, but spending a lot of money with Delta, too. 

Are you flying close to 25,000 miles or more per year with Delta? That’s more than five round-trip, cross-country flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to New York City-JFK (JFK), or two round trips on Delta’s Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Seoul-Incheon (ICN) flight. All that flying just for Silver status. Or do you take a lot of Delta flights with connections that can pad your Medallion Qualifying Segment totals? Oh, and also spend $3,000 or more with Delta in a year – not counting government taxes and fees?

If your answer to all those questions was no, it's probably not worth a big effort for you. The perks require a lot of work to unlock. And until you really climb the ladder of status, those perks don't really pay off. 

delta sky club seattle
Delta's Seattle Sky Club

Luckily, there are a few ways you can fast-track your way to Delta status…

Workarounds to Earn Delta Medallion Status Even Faster

We wouldn't call it easy – and it's certainly not free. But there are a couple of strategies you can employ to earn both the MQMs and MQDs you need to achieve Delta status a bit faster.

One way involves spending on some of Delta's top co-branded American Express credit cards.

Both the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card allow you to earn bonus MQMs each year by spending (a lot) on your card. With the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card, you will earn 10,000 MQMs after you spend $25,000 on purchases within a calendar year. You can earn another 10,000 MQMs (for 20,000 MQMs total) by spending a total of $50,000 in a calendar year.

delta medallion status credit cards 

With the top-tier Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card, you earn 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) by spending $30,000 throughout the year. That’s almost enough to automatically get Delta Silver Medallion Status without taking a single flight. And you can keep earning additional MQMs for spending $60,000, $90,000 and $120,000 in a calendar year as well. For really big spenders, that means you can earn 60,000 MQMs each year without taking a single Delta flight.

From the free Blue Card to the spendy Reserve, read up on which Delta credit card is right for you!

There's also a way to earn more Medallion Qualifying Dollars through Delta's credit cards.

Put $25,000 on either your Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card in a year, and Delta will waive the MQD requirements for your status. That works for all but Delta’s highest Diamond Medallion Status, which requires an absurd $250,000 in card spend to get the waiver. 

There's one more way to accelerate your MQD earning – and it involves flying with airlines other than Delta.

Flying Delta, you earn MQDs based on how much you paid for your fare. But with Delta's partner airlines like Air France, KLM, Korean Air, Aeromexico, and countless others, it's based on the distance of your flight. 

That means you can potentially earn far more MQDs flying with these partner carriers rather than Delta itself.

Read our guide to flying Delta partner airlines to earn Medallion Status faster!


Slim Chance of Upgrades Until You Climb the Status Ladder

Of all the reasons why flyers lust after airline status, one stands above them all.

Be honest: The allure of a complimentary upgrade is why you’re chasing airline status. After all, who wouldn’t like to fly up in first class while paying for coach?

But that’s not always the reality. Until you acquire higher levels of Delta status, upgrades are a mixed bag at best. After all your work to attain Silver or Gold Status, you’re still at or near the bottom of the queue for upgrades. With so many Delta Medallions flying in 2022 after years of extensions and promos, even top-tier Platinum and Diamond flyers are missing out on free upgrades – especially in and out of big Delta hubs like Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), Detroit (DTW), and definitely Atlanta (ATL). 

And no matter what rung of status you've earned, beware that Delta complimentary upgrades will never get you into business class on a long-haul international flight. Upgrade requests are limited to domestic flights as well as some short international hops from the U.S. to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

delta first class cabin 

Read more: Why Free Upgrades on Delta are Getting Harder & Harder

Silver Medallion Status is the first rung. In our experience, any upgrades are spotty at best. First class upgrades are nonexistent on all but the least competitive, poorly timed flights. You will occasionally get bumped up to Delta Comfort Plus, but even that’s not a sure thing. And it will be a last-minute surprise: Silver Medallion upgrades don’t clear until 24 hours before departure. Basically, you should never truly count on upgrades with Delta Silver status – especially if you live in a busy Delta hub. 

Gold Medallion Status is, of course, better when it comes to upgrades – but not by much. You’ll get more upgrades to Comfort Plus than with Silver status, and they clear 72 hours in advance. But getting into First Class is still hard to come by with even Gold status, though you may get a few upgrades with off-peak flights.

Platinum Medallion Status is where the upgrade game starts to look better, but it’s still no slam dunk – especially in 2022. In our experience, you can count on getting bumped up to first class between 30% and 40% of the time. But plan your travel wisely and you can do better. You can nearly double the odds of snagging a first-class upgrade by flying Delta’s regional carriers rather than mainline routes. It also helps to avoid high-traffic days like Mondays and Fridays. Flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays will get you more upgrades. You will always be moved into Comfort Plus at the time of booking as well. 

Platinum status also gives you the option to choose some sure-fire upgrades. You can pick between five of Delta’s “Choice Benefits” once you attain Platinum status, and one option is four regional upgrade certificates. Better yet, you can confirm these upgrades at the time you book. 

Diamond Medallion Status gets you at the top of the pecking order for securing free upgrades. And like Platinum status, those upgrades will begin clearing as far as five days in advance.

But you can get even more upgrades locked down. Diamond Medallion members can choose four Choice Benefits, including the most expansive set of upgrade certificates. If you only fly within the U.S., opt for the eight regional upgrades. International flyers might like the ability to guarantee an upgrade with four global upgrades – though these have taken a hit, as you can only upgrade by one cabin at a time which would often put you in Delta Premium Select after booking an economy seat. Or split the difference and opt for a mix of two global upgrades and four regional certificates.

It’s worth noting that all status-holders, from Silver to Diamond, can also bring a companion with them in a successful upgrade. You can get upgraded on an award ticket after using your SkyMiles to book. Just be warned that Delta basic economy fares are ineligible for upgrades.

While your level of Delta status is the biggest factor in scoring an upgrade, there's more behind your odds. So be sure to read up on how Delta determines the upgrade order.

Read our guide on how to boost your chances of scoring an upgrade with Delta!


Platinum and Diamond Perks Stack Up

Given their priority in the upgrade list, Delta Platinum and Diamond Medallion members might have it good – or at least better. But some other benefits at these tiers make it clear that this is where holding this status really starts to pay off.

For many years, one of our favorite perks of Platinum and Diamond status is that Delta’s $150 fee to change or cancel award tickets is waived. But these days, even flyers without a lick of status can get that benefit.

As airlines dropped change fees over the last few years, Delta also stopped charging this award ticket redeposit fee, period. So long as you don't book a basic economy award, that means you can change your SkyMiles award or cancel it and get your miles straight back to your account.

Given that change, it might be time for Delta to sweeten the deal for Platinum and Diamond members. Still, these top Medallion flyers get a few things that those with Gold and Silver Status don't.

One of the best perks is that Diamond and Platinum flyers almost always get immediately upgraded to Delta Comfort Plus when booking a main cabin economy ticket. Considering Delta frequently charges an additional $60 (or much more) for a Comfort Plus for domestic flights, that's a worthwhile perk.

delta planes 

But much of the value of the top tiers of Delta status comes down to Choice Benefits.

Platinum members have a choice to make between the four regional upgrade certificates, a $200 Delta travel voucher, 20,000 bonus SkyMiles, or gifting Silver status to a companion.

Diamond members have a smorgasbord of options and can pick four benefits. That includes upgrade certificates, a few options for annual lounge memberships to unlock Delta Sky Club access, gifting Gold status to a companion, 25,000 SkyMiles, or the same $200 gift card.

Diamond Medallion members also get a free membership for CLEAR, one of the best ways to save time at the airport. Ever seen a Porsche on the tarmac outside your Delta plane? That was likely waiting to whisk away a Diamond or Delta 360 member – the airline's exclusive, invite-only tier – in danger of missing his/her connecting flight.

Check out our rankings of the best Delta Choice Benefits!


Smaller Benefits Can Add Up, Too

Most of the value from status with Delta comes from upgrades and other big-time benefits. But a handful of other perks are worth pointing out.

Getting free priority seating when booking is a small but unsung upside of Delta status available even to Silver Medallion members. It allows you to pick an exit row or bulkhead seat with additional legroom for free on domestic trips. This might just be my single favorite perk of Delta Silver Medallion Status. 

Similarly, you can snag a Comfort Plus seat for free on longer international flights – even as a Silver Medallion. Just beware that this benefit for a few extra inches of legroom doesn’t kick in for Silver status holders until 24 hours before departure – and 72 hours before departure if you’re Gold Medallion.

Delta Status
Photo courtesy of Delta

From Silver to Diamond, every Medallion status member gets a designated check-in line at the airport. Gold Medallion and up also get access to a priority security line at some airports and expedited baggage handling after landing. And everyone gets priority boarding, no questions asked. 

Flying abroad with a Delta SkyTeam partner airline? While carrying one of the Delta co-branded credit cards from American Express only gets you a free checked bag on Delta-operated flights, you can get free baggage on Delta partner airlines like Air France, KLM, and others with your Delta status.

You’ll also get access to their lounges if you have Gold Medallion status or greater.


Is It Worth It?

It's the million-mile question.

Airline status is meant for the truly frequent travelers, who are flying several times a month or more – often for business. For these travelers, it's much easier to organically hit the requirements for status with Delta without putting in extra work or a last-minute flight to hit the MQMs or MQDs necessary. And when your employer is footing that bill, it makes more sense.

But if you ask us, earning Delta status isn't worth the extra work, spending, or time for the vast majority of travelers – especially Delta Silver or Gold Medallion status. Airline status tricks too many flyers into spending more money in the chase for a title without truly rewarding them.

The end-of-year buy-up offers from Delta to secure status are exhibit A in the museum of poor choices made in the name of status.

delta medallion status upgrade 

Sure, there are some exceptions. Perhaps you're just a short flight away from qualifying for a year's worth of Silver, Gold, or Platinum status. That could easily be worth it, especially if it pushes you into one of the higher rungs of Delta status.

But for most of us, qualifying for Delta status would require a big effort (and expense). In those cases, you're probably better off forgetting about status altogether.


Bottom Line

Delta status can be lucrative, but it isn’t for everyone. Even if you prefer flying Delta, the average traveler is almost always better off as a free agent – following cheap fares rather than airline loyalty.

The perks for lower levels (Silver and Gold) generally aren’t worth the additional costs you’ll pay to get there. It’s better suited for employees whose businesses foot the bill for their frequent travel.

If you can’t naturally build status, you’re probably better off seeking the best deal rather than focusing on Delta or employing wild-haired strategies to secure status.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

18 Responses

  • You’re constant endorsement of Delta is tiring. I’ve been A-list with Southwest this past year and have loved it. And there is never a fee period for any kind of change. I can cancel a revenue or award ticket 10 mins before departure without penalty or change fee. Points redeposited right there real time. I’ve been flying Middle East and Asia airlines from Chicago, LAX, and NYC for my international travel and been very pleased . Well worth the connection for the far superior experience and product.

  • I just switched from Southwest to Delta and even racking up 70K miles in the last 4 months, all I have is GOLD which gets you NOTHING on Delta. Their 4 Medallion levels mean that there are 100 plus with Medallion status on each flight-what a scam!! No fee waivers, no points refunded! Going Back to Southwest Jan 1 2020 where A-preferred means something including free companion travel.

  • I for one appreciate that you do talk about Delta a lot ( whether a criticism or endorsement) because I live in a Delta hub and need all the pointers and info I can get on making the most of my Skymikes and low tier elite status.

    • Switch to Southwest
      Their program, service and upgrades are real and include
      Companion annual pass
      Free drinks coupons
      No cancellation fees and up-charges. You can cancel and reuse ticket at later date
      Very consistent friendly and upbeat staff
      Concierge line
      Easy to use website, mobile app

  • I have been loyal to Delta for many years and have not had any perks except no baggage fee (although I very rarely check a bag) and Main One early boarding. Thank you for clarifying the “chase” for Silver Medallion status and the lack of benefits. JetBlue credit card is looking like my next move (no more Delta Platinum Amex) mostly due to the Change Fee Waiver that comes with Mosaic. Delta needs to up their incentives to retain people like me.

  • I Always preferred Delta Airlines, and only began using my Delta card this year (typically used classic AMEX with no brand loyalty). In the four months since I’ve gotten my card, I am silver, Next month I will hit gold, and then Platinum by September, all without spending exorbitantly or going out of my way to hit status

    By having a Delta reserve, I have been upgraded to either first class or comfort plus on 100% of the Domestic flights I’ve taken this year, even before hitting silver medallion.

    I don’t understand the Delta hate in this thread. Even as I had a flight from LaGuardia to Detroit canceled on me last week, I got tens of thousands of miles, a couple hundred dollar vouchers, a night in a really nice hotel, Free meals and replacement luggage, and then just bought a direct flight to Mexico round-trip for 23,000 miles, & I have a strong feeling they will upgrade me and my husband to first class.

    Southwest and JetBlue are cool for certain flights, but as an incredibly avid traveler, no domestic airline comes close to Delta

  • Definitely recommend getting the Delta AMEX Reserve to give the extra bump in priority for First Class upgrades. I flew consistently throughout COVID and with the year-end rollovers in 2020 and 2022 I now have ~400,000 MQMs. With these MQMs and the Delta Reserve, I am currently at a streak of 21 flights in a row where I was upgraded to first class, without ever using a single regional upgrade certificate.

  • Using the Global Upgrade Certs is quite a hassle and with new rules significantly increased how much you have to spend to use them. But if you search Premium Select R/T and use miles can be very good use. Then hope agent tickets it correctly so you don’t have to sit on hold the day of departure while they fix it.

  • Good article and I agree that the perks are not there to go the extra mile for reaching a status with Delta.

    My Diamond status ends 01/31/2023 and I have been a Diamond since the start of that level in 2010 (or 2011). The reason I decided to not bother reaching the status anymore is the additional requirement on the use of GUCs and not being able to upgrade on some of the partner flights. I am using the last 4 GUCs for traveling to Bangkok in November. To use the GUC, my wife and I had to buy premium economy. Upgrade to Delta One from MSP to Seoul and return cleared at the time of booking but for Seoul to Bangkok and return we are on economy on Korean Air. I wish the agent was upfront about the flights operated by Korean Air.

  • I got some decent upgrades with Gold but Platinum DL Medallion has been incredible. Constant upgrades and issues resolved. I only got to silver last year and racked it up to platinum during summer 2022. I will do everything I can to keep the status. I’ve already received $1000s in seat upgrades, drinks, perks. I pay for all my travel so this is a whopper bonus.

  • I flew from SAN to SEA and back to get gold medallion in Dec 2021. That $400 flight has paid itself off in $1000s of upgrades. My hike airport only has Delta and United. With the Delta lounge in SLC, flying is way better.

  • I have had companion pass on south west and still have over 150,000 miles unused because southwest is too hard to get reasonable flight and connections times. I am diamond delta and just flew in delta one to Australia for 80,000 miles round trip and an upgrade certificate.
    That was a $10,000 upgrade and usually upgraded on domestic and Mexico and carribean flights. Also clear and lounge membership with a guest.
    I am platinum pro on American and other than selecting my seat not seen any benefits yet.
    Silver United and basically earlier boarding is only perk.
    I agree only top tier worth chasing but if flying anyway worth playing the game to get the perks.

  • I live in Atlanta and have silver status and have gotten an upgrade at least 1/3 of the time the past 3 years. I do try to fly out on not so busy days but they are high traffic routes like ATL to FLL usually. I even got an upgrade to a lay flat first class seat on a 767 before.

  • I’m Platinum medallion/Delta Reserve, DTW is my home airport. I’ve been hitting pretty much 100% upgrades since I was gold/reserve (ONLY exception was two of the six flights I took last week during a mileage run, which was to be expected).

    Even as a silver medallion/reserve, I was upgraded on every flight (mainly first class, a couple comfort plus). I never flew coach as a silver medallion.

    Perhaps it’s my reserve card or that I try to travel during slower days, but my odds have been are better than this article would have me expect.

    I flew 10,217 MQM last week to keep my platinum status for next year, & that’s not something I woulda done for upgrades 30 to 40% of the time😅😅😅😅

    Good luck y’all, if you are on the cusp of medallion status, do your best to lock it in by 31 December because next year, it’s gonna be way more difficult to get!

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