New negative changes to Delta / AMEX elite MQM card bonus earnings & the workarounds!

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UPDATE – New info from AMEX can be found here: FALSE ALARM (mostly) REG: Delta AMEX card MQM bonus boost earnings (per card)!

changes to earn MQMs from Delta AMEX Platinum and Reserve cards max 2 per SkyMiles account

Well this is bad news (with a HT to @RenesPoints twitter follower @MarkSoFla). For the longest time you could, officially, hold 1x each of the Delta AMEX Platinum personal cards as well as the “OPEN” or business cards. Additionally, keeping under the 4/5 credit card maximum limit (excluding charge cards), 1x each of the Delta AMEX Reserve personal cards as well as the “OPEN” or business cards and earn the MQM boost for spending on each of these.

That has now changed!

The new rule, while not clearly stated (IMO), is telling us that the MQM boost per calendar year is now tied to the SkyMiles number and you can ONLY earn 2 max per year as an AMEX card holder.

What this means is, to put it clearly, no matter what the mix of cards you have that earn MQM boost, you only get 2 (i.e. 2 each for each of your 2 cards you hold personal or business).

Why this change? There have been a number of people who are harvesting HUGE sums of MQMs from cards. For example, while not officially “blessed”, some have a business Reserve card they got using their SSN and another business card using an EIN and maybe even a 3rd one using yet another EIN. That is now getting shut down.

The sad part is how far reaching this is going. I could see limiting it to 1 bonus per card i.e. that you could only hold and earn on 4 cards (since each card is a unique product) but that is no longer the case and is effective immediately.

Another question is – is this legal i.e. to put this into effect immediately if you say just got the card less than a year ago? I have requested clarification on this and my guess (but only a guess) is you will have one full year under the old rules if you applied less than 12 months ago. We shall see. I have reached to the AMEX team for more info on all of these changes.

Clearly this will not impact everyone. The majority of Delta flyers have either 1 or 2 Delta AMEX cards. Heck I get e-mails every day with folks questioning the value of even holding 1 card let alone 4 or more. However, there are some who are really working the cards for a ton of MQMs. These will be impacted.

So what are the strategies going forward for those who want MAX bonus MQMs? Clearly now the best choice is holding 1x Personal Delta AMEX Reserve card and 1x Business Delta AMEX Reserve card. Thus, with 120k spend (60k each card), you can net earn 60,000 bonus MQMs. What if you want more than that?

Keep in mind the Reserve card still allows you to gift MQMs to anyone you want and this latest change does NOT impact this ability. Thus, if you are married or have a +1, they also can hold 1x Personal Delta AMEX Reserve card and 1x Business Delta AMEX Reserve card and send over to you another 60,000 bonus MQMs per year. The math is simple and shows you would only have to then fly 5,000 miles to be Diamond under this equation but we are talking $1,800 in annual card fees to do this. Maybe worth it for all the Choice Benefits including the RU & GU certs for some.

For me personally this is not a massive impact. I right now hold 1x Business Delta AMEX Platinum card and 1x Business Delta AMEX Reserve card. With the change to allow coach BOGO certs to upgrade to 1st class and the +1 upgrade change I plan to pay the fee and keep both. With spend I can net out 50,000 MQMs per year on these two cards. I easily fly over 75,000 miles per year with Delta so my Diamond status is safe as long as I want it. To me ~$650 in annual fee is worth it for all the perks these two cards give me.

So bottom line this is sad news and will impact only a small percentage of readers. What do you think about this latest change to MQM boost earnings? Will it impact you? – René

 

 

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55 comments

  1. Is this effective immediately? I already spent 110k on both my personal reserve and platinum. On my way to get my second reserve boost (biz)…

  2. Holding one Bus Plat and one Bus Res, with the new cap of 2 total boosts, how are you saying you’ll get the 50k MQMs? That would mean a total of 4 boosts, right?

  3. Thanks. I already received my boost on reserve and platinum already this year. I guess I could not get my third one… Is this correct? This is a bad day for me…

  4. Rene, have you got clarity from Amex that an individual can still get 2 boosts from a Reserve card and 2 boosts from a Platinum card, all tied to the same skymiles #? If so, that would be 50k MQMs, as you said.

    However, if the limit is 2 miles boosts per skymiles account period, regardless of which cards they come from, then the max boost would be 30k MQM’s from a Reserve card.

    Also, I know the gifting is intact, but have you been able to confirm that you’ll be able to gift MQM’s to a skymiles # that has already received 2 miles boosts of its own? What if the gifted miles register in Delta’s system as a “miles boost,” and won’t be applied because the recipient has already received two “miles boosts”?

  5. Rene, I’m confused about how you reckon one can hold 1x Biz Reserve and 1x Personal Reserve — wouldn’t you be capped at 30k total Reserve MQMs? Seems like you’d want 1x Biz Plat/Personal Plat and 1x Biz Reserve/Personal Reserve to optimize.

  6. Confusing! So, if I have a Reserve and a Platinum, I can only get 2 boosts, not 2 each? In that case, why pay for the Platinum card? Of course, the Companion ticket is worth the annual fee anyway.

  7. So to confirm holding one Amex Platinum Biz gets you 20k MQM, and holding one Reserve personal gets you 30K MQM is still allowed?

  8. You state 4 miles boosts max (pers+bus) but the new verbiage seems to say only 2 per SM account. Are you saying they are treating the two reserve cards separate for purposes of miles boost/same SM number?

    “You can only get two Miles Boost awards for each Card account. In addition, if you have more than one
    Reserve Card Account linked to the same SkyMiles account, you are eligible for only two Miles Boost
    awards each year.”

  9. I am still confused. What is the actual change going into effect if I still can earn 2 x boost with both the Personal and Business Reserve cards? You stated only 2x boost, in total, yet you are also saying you can have 4 x boost with both cards in total. So what exactly is the change for me?

  10. @All – I have confirmed 2x cards max bonus. Sounds like 4x but is 2x ie bonus per card. Unless i get any new update from AMEX

  11. GOSH DARN IT!

    I hit my 2 Reserve personal MQM bumps last month.

    Started working on 3rd MQM bump from a Biz Plat.

    Now it appears that will never happen, and I wasted a lot of spending bandwidth on the Biz I could have put on a more useful card.

    If only they had given some advance notice….

  12. @Vicente – As mentioned in post, I think you will have 1 year to finish under rules you signed up for the card. These rules should, again should, only apply to new cards.

  13. Just to confirm. We are talking about DL AMEX plat and reserve cards and not the generic AMEX plat biz and personal right?

  14. @Rene,

    1. Your image link at top of article doesn’t work

    2. Reread carefully, it seems that 1 Reserve person is fine. And I have a Biz Plat tied to my SSN, that is also OK? Before I put more spend on the Biz Plat. want to be sure……

  15. I saw this when my statement closed earlier this week, and it simply seems to be a clarification of existing policy. This refers to having two of the exact same card type (i.e. two Reserve or two Platinum cards, not one Reserve and one Reserve for Business).

  16. Sorry to add to the confusion, but I am still not getting this. You mentioned some people hold multiple of the same exact card, Business Reserve, tied to the same SM #. Is this not who they are targeting with this change? If I hold a personal platinum and business platinum can I not earn 4 total bonuses? Two on each card? I thought AMEX viewed the business and personal versions of the platinum card as separate products…

  17. So if I have a Biz Reserve and a Personal Reserve, can I get the bonus of 60k MQM? Or is it you can only have some combo of 2 of the following (i) a Delta Reserve branded card, and (ii) a Delta Platinum card.

    This is an important distinction, as I need to decide whether to cancel one of my 2 Reserves and have my wife open one.

  18. Rene!

    The application terms and conditions has this language:

    “Card Members may be permitted to have more than one Options, classic, Gold, or Platinum or Delta Reserve SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express account; however, Card Members are only eligible to receive one annual bonus for each type (i.e., Options, classic, Gold, Platinum or Reserve) of Delta SkyMiles Credit Card account from American Express.

    This feels closer to the original setup and not a restriction. What do you think?

  19. I have 1 personal Reserve, 2 business Reserves each with a different business, and 1 personal Delta Platinum. Because the two business Reserves are tied to the same Skymiles account (as they all are), I did not receive the bonus for 1 because I already received 2 bonuses for the other card after spending $60K. So I closed one of the cards. I reapplied and reopened a new Business Reserve card and have it tied to a completely separate Skymiles account and plan to gift myself the MQM’s to my main Skymiles account. What do you guys think? Thanks and I appreciate the site!

  20. I’m curious how this affects couples. I have a Personal Platinum and Personal Reserve. If my fiancee gets a Personal Reserve and gifts me her MQMs can I still accept them?

  21. Rene,
    Wondering why my comment from yesterday was not posted? I realize this is your business and I avoid posting anything that undermines that so just wondering for future reference what was bad/wrong with my input on this topic so can avoid repeat in the future?
    Regards,
    DDiamond

  22. @DDiamond – Post again. Maybe in spam. Get hundreds per day. Can’t check them all. If you included a link then often goes to spam.

  23. Rene,
    No problem I have an update since anyway. I just spent 1.5 hours on phone – being transferred back and forth twice – with AMEX and Delta reps. The last “Delta” rep I spoke to confirmed that, effective immediately only two MQM boost annually per skymile account regardless of how many “boostable” Delta branded AMEX cards associated with same account. I hope this is wrong. If correct, however, AMEX needs to immediately pull/clarify their “promo” on home page. Any additional info to the contrary would be welcome of course.

  24. Hope you keep on top of this. I really want to hit PM next year, and will pick up additional cards to do it if needed. The problem is, I don’t want to encumber my spouse with spend activity. So at most we might get a card in their name but I’d be an AU on it. But NOT a Biz card because I don’t want to mess with here business reputation, accounting etc. Ugh this is getting more complicated than it may be worth…..

  25. @Ryan,

    I disagree. Quite fundamentally.

    If I do an Elite Mileage Run, I’m “taking up a seat” that there is a REMOTE chance you might have upgraded into.

    Also, if I fly a lot less than you do, the odds of me being “in your way” are incredibly remote.

    I have Hilton Diamond status due to the matching thing last year. I’ve done exactly ONE Hilton stay, so how many “real elites” has that pushed aside? It’s insignificant.

    Hope that helps ‘splain it.

  26. It’s interesting because recently there was an article about how airlines make most of their revenue by selling airline miles to banks like Amex and Chase. It sounds like many people spend lots of money on their Delta amex cards to hit status. Amex doesn’t want that spend? Delta doesn’t want to sell those miles and make a ton of revenue? If anything if you spend 120K you might not be getting enough value from Amex and Delta with Diamond benefits and at least 120K skymiles.

  27. @Stephen – Agree! This seems to be a dumb way for AMEX (and Delta) to make less not more money. I can get 1x limit per card to hold (and 2x bonus per year per card) as a default but not limit to 2 cards (2x bonus each).

    Again to ALL – I, and everyone else, is still waiting for 100% clarification on just what the new rules are. When I get them, I will be sure to post. Honestly I do not think AMEX know what the new rules really are either?!? 🙁

  28. I just chatted and talked with AMEX reps and they both claim that one can have 2 boosts on the consumer reserve card and 2 boosts on the business reserve card. I talked twice with Delta reps and neither representative had a clue. I have charged just enough for my third boost yesterday. I will see whether I get the MQMs or not.

  29. Finally delta is plugging the hole. I have complained about this extensively.
    Good to see this be fixed.
    If you want to be diamond then fly the miles like I do.
    I have 545,000 MQM and fly every mile.
    This will help fix the upgrade issues for the people who are flying 5he miles and deserve the upgrades.

  30. @Hueylouy – Always shocked over those who feel flying folks are “more” deserving than others (card holders) who bring HUGE profits to $DAL but you are clearly welcome to your opinion.

  31. @rene- Ever heard about walking in someone else’s shoes….this is it for you…. when you actually fly 240,000 miles in a year (or multiple years ) you’ll start feeling very different about who deserves what. This is a loyalty program for flying actual miles.

  32. @Hueylouy – I fly 75-150k per year fyi. Btw do you consider the bonus mqms for fare class cheating or is THAT AOK? 😉

  33. @rene- bonus MQM for fare class are only available if you are in a seat on a flight. Remember this is a loyalty program for flying actual miles on airplanes. I don’t see a problem with it if you are in a seat. You think it is something different.

    There is also a huge difference between 150k miles per year vs. 250k miles flown a year especially when you aren’t paying the dollar for every flight which I do.

  34. @Hueylouy – Agree huge difference between 150k and 250k. Not sure why you think SkyMiles / Medallion program is a “flying” loyalty only program. It is a spending / profit program in all it’s facets.

  35. This is still unclear to me. How many delta reserve business cards is one allowed to get the bonus each time $60k is spent? The same question for personal reserve cards.
    Can I have 2 Business reserve and 1 business platinum and get all the bonus’?

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