The chase for elite status is rarely worth it for the average traveler – especially as Delta makes it even more expensive to earn starting next year. But if you (or your employer, lucky you) are already spending a ton with Delta, a new perk coming to select SkyMiles American Express credit cards can give you a leg up for Delta Medallion Status next year.
Starting next year, Delta will measure only the almighty Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) for earning status – and despite lowering those requirements after an outcry, those annual spending requirements are still going way up for each and every tier of Delta status. But the airline threw travelers with a *delta skymiles platinum card* or *delta reserve card* (or either cards' business versions) a major bone: You'll get a 2,500 MQD head start toward status early next year … or several of them, if you've got several eligible Delta cards.
Fold in the added ability to earn more MQDs on your day-to-day-spending, and these credit cards will be an essential element of any loyal Delta flyers' quest for elite status in 2024 and beyond. Let's take a closer look at how this new benefit works and what it means for earning status with Delta going forward.
Read more: Which Delta Credit Card is Right for You?
Delta's 2024 Medallion Status Requirements
Before we go over the shortcuts, let's take a closer look at the goal: Delta's 2024 Medallion status requirements.
After first unveiling new Medallion elite status requirements and Sky Club access rules in September, the Atlanta-based airline had once-loyal customers in an uproar. The backlash got so bad that Delta walked back the changes (slightly) a month later, making elite status a little more attainable … but still considerably harder to earn than it is today.
Remember: If you've already earned Delta status for 2024 (or plan to by the end of the year), you're all set. But starting next year, everything changes: Annual flying requirements are gone, replaced with even higher spending thresholds.
In scrapping the flying requirement, Delta increased the spending requirements as much as 66% for low-level Silver Medallion Status and 40% to earn top-tier Diamond Medallion. Mid-level Gold and Platinum Medallion Status requires 25% more spending than the previous year.
Here's how earning status in 2024 compares to what's in place currently.
|2023 MQD Thresholds
|2024 MQD Thresholds
For example, travelers who currently have Silver Medallion status by spending $3,000 with Delta in a calendar year will have to spend $5,000 with the airline next year.
That means earning Silver Medallion status – for benefits like a free checked bag, priority boarding, and the chance at an occasional upgrade to Delta Comfort Plus seats – is now going to require a whole lot more spending … unless you've got the right Delta co-branded credit card in your wallet.
Delta's MQD Headstart Makes Earning Status Easier
As part of last month's rollback to the harshest changes, Delta gave travelers with their top SkyMiles credit cards a break.
The airline calls it MQD Headstart, and it's available for any travelers who have the mid-level Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card and top-tier Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card (or either of their small business counterparts). It's simple: Starting in February 2024, cardholders will be automatically awarded 2,500 MQDs for each Delta SkyMiles Platinum or Reserve Card they hold.
That makes the new MQD requirements far more tolerable. In some cases, it could even bring the amount you need to spend for status even lower than present day.
Just have the Delta Platinum Card? With a 2,500 MQD Headstart, you're only 2,500 MQDs away from Silver Medallion status – 500 MQDs less than the requirements in place today. But these bonus MQDs stack depending on how many eligible card you have.
Have both the personal Delta Platinum and the *Delta SkyMiles Platinum Biz*? With these head start MQDs, you've already got Silver Medallion Status … and you're halfway to Gold! Have (or willing to add) all four cards to your wallet? Not that you should, but the 10,000 MQDs you'd earn right off the bat will instantly vault you to Gold Medallion status without spending another dime beyond the (admittedly substantial) annual fees.
The clock to earn status next year restarts on Jan. 1, but Delta has confirmed these MQD Headstarts won't be issued until sometime in February 2024.
On the bright side, a Delta spokesman previously confirmed cardholders will get these boosts each and every year – it's not a one-off apology for 2024.
Upgrading (or Downgrading) a Card
Wondering how upgrading to a higher Delta card affects the pursuit of status with this new perk? Or, conversely, how downgrading a card that's eligible for it could hurt you? There's good news and bad news.
Let's say you're one of millions of travelers with the *delta skymiles gold card* but decide to upgrade to the Platinum or Reserve Card next year. Good news: A Delta spokesman recently confirmed that you'd get your MQD Headstart deposited into your account within eight weeks of upgrading – or even sooner if you bump up to an eligible Delta SkyMiles card in January 2024.
This could be a nice option if you get close to the end of the year and need a little help re-qualifying for (or climbing your way to the next tier of) Delta status. Just remember: It won't help you if you're short of Delta status this year as 2023 draws to a close.
But there's no way to double-dip on MQD Headstarts by upgrading. For example, you wouldn't get a total of 5,000 bonus MQDs by upgrading from a Platinum to Delta Reserve card midway through the year. You'll need to open the Delta Reserve Card outright and keep your existing Platinum Card open.
And if you were to downgrade – or close – one of these cards mid-year, you could wind up losing your MQD Headstart. A Delta spokesman said they'll review those situations on a case-by-case basis but stressed that the airline could revoke an MQD Headstart bonus.
Earn More MQDs on Everyday Spending
The new MQD Headstart isn't the only change coming to Delta Platinum and Reserve Cards next year.
Starting Jan. 1, 2024, both cards will start earning MQDs for every dollar spent. Just how many MQDs you earn will depend on which version of the card you hold:
- *delta reserve card* earn 1 MQD for every $10 spent ($10,000 in spending = 1,000 MQDs)
- *delta skymiles platinum card* earn 1 MQD for every $20 spent ($10,000 in spending = 500 MQDs)
- *delta reserve business* earn 1 MQD for every $10 spent ($10,000 in spending = 1,000 MQDs)
- *Delta SkyMiles Platinum Biz* earn 1 MQD for every $20 spent ($10,000 in spending = 500 MQDs)
While it's sure better than nothing, this new avenue for earning MQDs is major blow to travelers who previously relied upon Delta's longstanding MQD waiver through annual card spending. This popular feature allowed cardholders to bypass the old MQD requirements with Delta to earn Silver, Gold, or Platinum status after spending $25,000 on select Delta co-branded credit cards instead.
Beginning next year, that will no longer be an option.
Instead, the airline is trying to incentivize cardholders to make their Delta co-branded card the first one they reach for, well beyond the first $25,000 they spend each year.
Which Card Should You Choose?
If elite status is your goal, one of these cards makes far more sense than the other.
Sure, the Delta Platinum and Reserve Cards both offer the same 2,500 MQD Headstart. But unless you've got multiple cards or spend a ton on Delta flights each year, that alone isn't enough to earn you elite status.
You'll likely need to rely on spending more on your card if you want to climb the rungs of Medallion status. If that sounds like you, the card you're going to want is the *delta reserve card*.
With the Reserve, you'll be earning 1 MQD for every $10 spent – earning twice as fast as one of the Delta Platinum Cards. Factor in the card's 2,500 MQD Headstart, and you could spend your way to Silver Medallion Status by simply spending another $25,000 on the Reserve Card throughout the year – the exact same amount previously required for the old MQD waiver.
With the Platinum Card instead, you'd need to spend $50,000 to reach the same Delta status.
Learn more about the *delta reserve card*.
Related reading: Do You Really Need the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card?
As the spending requirements to earn Delta Status climb higher next year, having one (or several) Delta or Platinum SkyMiles credit cards could become practically essential.
With either card, you'll get a 2,500 MQD Headstart toward Medallion Status next year starting in February 2024. Plus, you can keep earning MQDs on your everyday spending – though the Delta Reserve is far more rewarding in that regard.
Chasing elite status isn't for everyone – and it shouldn't be. But if you've done the math and can safely say Medallion Status is worth the time and money, a top-end Delta Credit Card will make that chase much easier in the New Year and beyond.