Should you go for Delta Diamond Medallion status or rollover a bunch of MQMs?

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This is the time of year to look at what is next. I had a great post Monday, that I will link back to in December when folks are freaking out about being short of MQMs, that asked you to consider is now the time to do what it takes for some extra MQMs.

But then there is the question of is some or another status worth it? I am going to cover them over the next few weeks, that is:

Once I post about each one the above links will become active so if one of them is not “clickable” you will just have to wait a little longer 😉

I think the best way to cover today’s topic is with a question from blog reader Bob (no, not “that” Bob, another Bob)! Bob asks me:

“René can you consider an article on whether or not to go for Diamond? I have 124K and think I might just want to rollover. Other than the choice benefits upgrade certs, what else is of value?” – Bob

Bob makes a great point and really pushes it almost to the max. I will make a list, maybe not all inclusive, but extensive of why it would be worth it for perks. Then, later on, we will consider the reason NOT to push it up to Diamond.

  • Diamond Medallion Choice Benefit
  • MANY more upgrades
  • Better Delta service
  • Sky Club individual membership

The above are very broad listings and I could have made this list really, long but I think these really encompass so many of the perks. Clearly, as Bob touches on, the Choice Benefits for making it to Diamond are HUGE. To be able to upgrade to a DeltaONE seat on a LONG international flight from a cheap coach ticket is amazing. Then you even get a second choice like gifting Gold Medallion status to someone you like / love is another HUGE perk (sure not as great as it was but still nothing to sneeze at).

If you want a bunch more upgrades you need to be Diamond. Sure, it is still hard at HUGE Delta hubs but if you work it you can be very successful. I have only missed 2 upgrades on some 70 segments this year and they were on award tickets. Bottom line is you will be up front a bunch more if you are Diamond.

When it comes to service it is good to be Diamond. You get better treatment. If you don’t, you can play the “Diamond card” if you will and I have never had a rep not agree to somewhat do what I have asked. From better hotels when you bump to favors outside the “rules” to fees waived, again it is good to be Diamond.

Lastly we have free Sky Club individual membership. Honestly this is not worth it alone. After all, with either the Delta AMEX Reserve card or even the non-Delta AMEX Platinum card you, for yourself, get entrance the day you fly Delta. The only real extra perk of membership is entrance to the club when you are NOT flying Delta and want to get into the Sky Club. But it is a perk no matter what.

Now let’s look at the reasons NOT to go for Diamond and to stop at Platinum Medallion for the year.

  • Rolling over a bunch of MQMs
  • Your next year’s flying patterns
  • The “sweet spot” of Platinum
  • SkyMiles perks and spending

Again, a short-ish list but covers so many little bits. Let’s start with the goal of all elites that huge bucket of MQMs. As long as you have at least earned Silver Medallion status, that is, 25k MQMs and 3k MQD spend or MQD exempt status via AMEX 25k spend, you are rolling over some number of MQMs. If you are Platinum Medallion (our assumption for this post btw) then you are talking about rolling over every MQM above 75k. So, theoretically anyway, you could rollover 49,999 MQMs into the next year. More realistically many will roll 20-40k. But the point is that you have a massive jump on re-qualifying for Delta elite status the next year. And that ties in to the following point.

Your flying patterns for 2016. Let’s say you ARE going to fly a bunch in 2016. Then you will want the perks of Diamond status. But if you are staying even compared to 2015, or even flying less than this year, then you may want to hold short at Platinum. Or, if it looks like 2017 will be a bigger flying year for you then again pushing for Platinum, or even Diamond, for that year could be better for you and having a big start with rollover MQMs could help you with that future goal.

Then we have the last one that is the Platinum Medallion “sweet spot” if you will. I was Platinum for a great many years. It truly is a great place to be with Delta. They do love you (just not as much as they love Diamonds). They give you “most” of the perks of Diamonds and truly appreciate your business. Your upgrades as Platinum tend to be good (not as good as they once were I agree but still). You can also work many of the same elite perks that Diamonds get as again Delta does like you very much at the Platinum level. Then there is Skyteam that also really appreciates Platinums as “elite plus” members. In a very strange way they like Platinums MORE that Diamonds as Skyteam does not have a 4th status like Delta and they are sometimes confused that Diamonds ARE in fact higher than Platinums. Anyway, it is good to be Platinum with Skyteam.

Lastly we have SkyMiles. All I really need to say is UNLIMITED re-deposits up to 72 hours before flight. If you have a bunch of trips planned or points to burn in 2016 you need to be at least Platinum to take full advantage of this perk.

So there you are. Once again not a complete and exhaustive list but enough for you to take the time to consider your own needs, wants, points spending and travel patterns. With this in mind it really should not be “that” hard of a choice to decide to stay at Platinum or push to Diamond. – Rene

PS – If you are willing to commit to a few EliteMileageRun a year it really is not that hard to make Diamond each and every year – Just Sayin’ 😉

 

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24 comments

  1. If my flight plans do not change until the end of the year I will stop at 110k MQMs. Even if I had more flights I would plan to keep my Platinum status and not go for Diamond. Here are my reasons: I live in a Delta hub and in not very busy routes I get upgraded anyway being Platinum. In very busy routes I see many Diamonds seating in the back. Thus, not sure it would increase my chances to be upgraded if I were a Diamond. I don’t see the value of international upgrades in my case. All my business international travel is in paid business class. The only time I fly international with my family of 4 we fly Premium Economy which is free for Platinum. By getting 4 international upgrades it would mean I can probably fly my entire family one way in business class which is not a huge deal in my opinion. If we got 8 upgrades like AA that would be different. I get access to Delta lounges with my Amex Platinum. Thus, I prefer to start next year with a bunch of rollover miles and easily qualify for Platinum again.

  2. I think the #1 Question and Answer to this question is – “Am I going to fly Delta a lot next year?” If the answer is yes and it means a lot to get upgraded, then I would go for it and I would own an AMEX Delta Reserve card too.

    Source: Me. I didn’t go for it one year and spent the next year grumbling constantly.

  3. I start asking myself that every year about this time. So far I’ve always held back, stayed Platinum, and rolled over my extra miles. It would be easy enough to do a couple mileage runs and make it to Diamond, but I’m never sure what next year’s travel will look like. I’d much rather be Platinum 2 years in a row than Diamond one year and Gold the next. I think once I made Diamond it would be hard to give it up, so it’s better not knowing what I’m missing!

  4. Santastico, I think you are right on target.

    I also want to add that with Delta’s FCM strategy, I have found myself leveraging it to guarantee FC seats on busy routes from my hub-home (DTW). When the added cost delivers a value that outweighs any worry I may have over not getting an upgrade, it’s an option I don’t hesitate to take advantage of.

  5. Thanks for the write-up! Forgot to mention Diamond’s unwritten exception of free co-terminal changes. I think the dealbreaker for me was that Diamonds don’t get the transcon upgrades anymore.

  6. @Bob – Yeah that one is so YMMV now a days (co-terminal). It works great for all for schedule changes. Agree the transcon dump was a HUGE blow and still stings.

  7. Rene, you need to update your twitter button on these blogs. Right now they are still referencing @deltapoints which twitter says is a dead account.

  8. @Scott – Yep, BoardingArea folks are working on it. One of the few little bugs to squish out this week. Thanks for the heads up and let me know if you see anything else that is missed. 🙂

  9. Rene, I have one other thought to throw into the mix while making this diamond vs, platinum decision. My husband is going to retire in 2017, thus we may finally (!) get to travel together someplace really great. Our thinking is that we should rollover as many moms as possible and thus he would probably be a diamond for the one and only time he’s ever made it that high. In addition, he will probably hit the 2 million mile mark in 2016. The question becomes, since I will be flying with no status and using his miles for a free ticket, is that a good plan or would it be better to go ahead and be diamond in 2016?

  10. @Christine – Again personal choice. Once he hits 2MM he is annual GOLD so good there. Having GU certs for that retirement year sounds great btw.

  11. I love PMs! I’m SO glad some of you decide to stay there.

    This year I’ll roll over 25-30k MQMs and even booked a Christmas trip to Italy in Business to top them off. Flying at the end of the year after reaching 125k is the same as a “buy one – get one” deal for next year. The best part is this will guarantee PM status and a good amount of roll over miles for my wife.

  12. I do not have any of the Delta credit cards so would you think making that push for Diamond is much more valuable for me? I feel like the Sky Club would be what pushes the decision over the top.

  13. @Mike – The individual Sky Club membership does have real value yes in addition to all the other great perks like Choice Benefits. Again, it depends on what your next years flying pattern will be.

  14. Ive given a lot of thought about going to diamond again, having had it a few years ago? The main reason is as follows.(to stay at Platinum, I’m my opinion)2016 you are diamond, with no points in the bag,so to say, you fly 50,000 ,60,000 miles, you next year are gold? You can in 2016, at the end of the year book travel for say 6/9 months, and you will be upgraded at time of ticket to Economy comfort,, next year, as gold after the 6/9 months, you have to wait,to see any seats, you can’t pre forward diamond benefits,Now if you stay Platinum , and roll forward, 48/49K you them re qualify platinum, so Economy comfort for the year 2017, with out having to pre guess, flights for 6/9 months, In a nut shell you have to see what is best, if you can qualify for diamond, and the year after,you are going to do loads of flights, go for it,everyone has different flights etc,

  15. Is it better for a married couple that generally travels together to be Platinum/Platinum or Diamond/Gold?

  16. @Bob – Personal choice. If you travel on your own (each) then maybe PM & PM if as couple then maybe DM & GM

  17. @Rene. I’m going to make Diamond this year, from a current status of Platinum. I remember reading that we are really qualifying for the next year, even though we make enjoy some of the perks in the current year. I also remember reading on the blog that for newly qualifying Diamonds, you are able to draw against the choice benefits for the current year without penalty of losing next years. Is this correct, or did I misinterpret it?

    I gotta say that I have learned a lot from your blog and it has been great in learning the ins and outs of frequent travel from this blog.

  18. @Jeff – Almost. You ONLY earn next years Choice Benefits selection ONCE but you can draw it NOW if you want to. You basically get free-ish DM status this year. Clear?

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