MQD’s Medallion Qualifying Dollars seem to be on the way!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

right side up this time! 😉

EDIT: Delta has made it official and had massive Q&A info HERE!

If you have missed it, FlyerTalk has posted what appears to be a accidental post by Delta of what is on the way for Skymiles. The good news is: it is nothing like the horrid changes to discounter or consolidator fares from September. I have not been able to have DELTA CORP confirm ANY of this but my guess is there will be news out soon. The basics from FT is:

Beginning January 1, 2014, Delta Air Lines SkyMiles members residing in the United States — excluding Guam, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands — will qualify for Medallion status based on an additional threshold: how much the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program member spends annually with Delta Air Lines, which will be measured by Medallion Qualification Dollars, or MQDs.

Members must also meet the existing Medallion Qualification Miles or Medallion Qualification Segments qualification criteria. The threshold ranges from $2,500.00 to $12,500.00 Medallion Qualification Dollars, depending on Medallion elite level — although details on the exact threshold amounts per Medallion elite level remains to be seen. Alternatively, Delta SkyMiles credit card members can be waived from the new Medallion Qualification Dollars requirement if their eligible purchases total a minimum of $25,000.00 within the calendar year.

For flights marketed by Delta Air Lines, the bonus of Medallion Qualification Miles for First and Business F and J fare classes will double from 50 percent to 100 percent. Economy M fare class will no longer earn a bonus 50 percent of Medallion Qualification Miles, which will apply to tickets purchased on or after March 1, 2013

So are these changes good or bad. Overall I would say good for “US”. Who are “US”? Delta Points readers who:

A) Earn a ton of MQM’s already on Delta AMEX cards

B) Fly mileage runs as we will still get full MQM’s for LUT class flights

C) Those willing to spend a bit more for higher class fares.

What this will do is lower many “normal” flyers from DM down to PM and PM down to GM. I think you will see a great increase in the lower ranks if this comes into affect. I constantly get gripes from DM & PM that there are too many of them. This will change that. I look forward to an official release and as soon as my CORP contact can give me information to release I will get it out.

If this is close to the final draft, Delta has been smart. They are not changing “Skymiles” for the most part, just how we elites earn our ‘wings”. Most of the public will just ho-hum about medallions and could care less. As long as Delta does not make it any hard than it already is for them to earn and burn miles they will not jump up and yell.

For me, I am happy I will be able to run $60,000 on my AMEX Reserve again this year and will from now on be looking to do just that for many years to come. What do you all think? Do you like what seems to be on the way? – Rene


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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses 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.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. As an ATL captive in the B category, I have to seriously start looking around at other carriers with that policy.

  2. Isn’t 12.5k a bit steep to be spending on pure MR territory (if you don’t have the credit card spend)?

    My spend was just under 8k last year for 225k EQM (admittedly spread across UA/AA, not DL). There’s only so much flying one can do.

    • @Chris @Mowogo – this will mean if you want status, either you must spend or spend big on a DL AMEX. It is not that hard if you can move house, gas, etc over to the AMEX card. I would say if you can run ALL your bills, and pay to fly, many can run $25k on a AMEX per year!

  3. I’m actually pleased to see this. I’ll fly about 50,000 miles this year with DL (and partners) but 25K of those miles will be on a full J fare (about $6k), so I project my total MQM’s to be about 75k this year on a roughly $8500 spend. Hopefully this gets me to PM, Although might purposely come in under 75k MQM’s so I can rollover a hefty amount in 2014.

  4. For us MSP/DTW hub captives, we almost always pay more than 10 cent/ MQM for T fares anyway. No change for me

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  6. I don’t think that it impacts me all that much. I was on the fence about renewing my status this year. I dabbled in elite status the past 3 years. I made the decision this year to be less motivated by it than I had been. I haven’t felt I received a lot of value in return, but I’m also the kind of guy who would rather stay in a hostel than a hotel. So, it fits.

    Delta was a good program for me to maintain status due to rollover MQMs and I would much rather connect from my home in Wisconsin through DTW or MSP than ORD on either UA or AA. I won’t switch allegiances to AA or UA, but rather I will no longer focus primarily on one.

    If I do end up retaining status due to just usual flying, I will re-assess my future in the program once the actual details come out.

  7. OrDefinately makes the Delta Platinum AMEX the sweet spot. For the same $25k spend, we get 10,000 MQM, waived MQD, and bonus 10k Skymiles (for a total of at least 35k), not to mention the companion fare, free bag for up to 8 in party, priority boarding, 20% off in-flight meals/movies, and lounge access for $25 for the family. Definately strengthens the card!

  8. As someone who cannot get cc’s and only doing lower value trips + 1-2 BE sale TATL flights + a few MR’s each year to maintain Plat, I guess I will be kissing DL goodbye at the end of the year. Assuming they only count base fare (no YQ), I don’t think I even spent enough last year to qualify for Gold. I was looking at adding AS MVP gold as a backup option, now may make them primary and fold in some AA. Thank goodness for status match!

  9. Two concerns.
    Thus suggests some MQM earn changes and not the burn changes. It is already very difficult to book low level Business class travel on DL for International flights. I want to see the changes on the other side of the equation as well
    The other is that M class was the sweet spot for using PM/DM choice perks upgrade certificates for international travel on DL metal (they are all but worthless on AF or other ST carriers). For B or Y you may as well buy an S fare but there was some value to International M + PC upgrade; ofter $thousands to the gulf or Asia. This further devalues this perk. Sigh

  10. Interesting, as always DL is always thinking of themselves first …. Any idea on the impact of DM/PM complementary gift status? Is there are strategy impact where my spouse and I should have separate AMEX accounts in order to maximize the MQD’s? (as others have posted, if you use AMEX significantly it is not too hard to rack up the dollars)

  11. I am confused. How does this impact me as a corp AmEx card user? I am a PM and do not receive any perks from the corp card…….

  12. Riot Nrrrd™ Reply

    Sorry DP, but I totally disagree with this.

    I just got to Gold for this year on 12/30. Nearly all of those were BIS miles. None of it was business travel, either.

    But I did not spend $5000 in 2012 on DL flights. I took advantage of their 4th of July sale (LAX-LHR $1,776 Business Class) to get a heap of those 50,000+ miles.

    I don’t want to be beholden to one single airline for my AmEx card. So I have a ‘regular’ non-DL AmEx.

    I finally reach Gold after giving DL more business than ever before, and my reward for it is to be probably shut out from reaching it ever again? Thanks a whole lot, Delta.

  13. This pretty well settles it. My wife and I were talking about moving to a different primary carrier since our base is Phoenix. We both do 150-225K/year.
    Now that it’s almost impossible for weekly travelers to get medallion status, especially if they don’t have “the” correct credit card, why give DL any business at all?

    All this does is make DL that much less an attractive option. Who in their marketing department thinks this is a good idea? They are already the high-price carrier on almost every route they cover. This move just serves to alienate those people who provide the bulk of their business.

    Go figure.

  14. Rene,

    Can you use any Delta Amex to work on your $25k spend? I used to have the gold card but when it came time for the annual fee I voluntarily downgraded to the no fee card that only earns .05 miles per dollar.

  15. So right now you get status anytime during the year you meet a medallion threshold. How will that work with the MQD’s? Will you have to have spent 25K the previous year. Or will the spend during the current year count? As an example, my husband didn’t qualify last year for medallion status, but will be very close to 75K by March 1 when his platinum status expires. How would the spend figure in to that scenario?

  16. I am a free lance worker. I rely on the client to pay my air fare. I beg, cajole and do whatever it takes to fly Delta. In this way, I throw money Delta’s way but not on my card.
    Hello US Air. I need to start over.
    BTW…I am a Million Miler

  17. My main concern is the devaluation of the skyteam partnership. I prefer to fly internationally on delta’s partners, and have been able to bank my MQMs with delta. Now in order to qualify for medallion status with MQDs, delta is forcing me to use delta metal on international routes, otherwise I don’t earn MQDs for the ticket. The FAQs do say that MQDs can be earned on delta codeshare flights, but many international partner flights are not available as delta codeshares.

    These changes will probably make me jump ship, not so much from delta, but from skyteam to oneworld or star, now that I can’t bank status with a U.S. skyteam partner.

  18. I relied heavily on pricey M class tix w/ the class bonus for my status. I went out of my way and even spent more w/ DL to maintain status. Now it won’t make sense for me to do so.

  19. From a business POV this change makes sense as it reinforces the Delta/Amex partnership and partially solves the logjam of too many members in the silver medallion group accessing too few seats.
    Most of the time, as a silver medallion member I can’t get the promised upgrades because those seats are taken by those with higher status. It makes me wonder what the point is. This change may clear out those who get an Amex card just to take advantage of the medallion program with no intent to fly the required segments or spend the $ on the Amex card.

  20. Phew! Just read the FAQ at Not as bad as it could have been. I got 65k MQM this year flying mostly BIS. I don’t plan much BIS flying in 2013-14 but I do plan $35k or more spend on my Amex every yr so I should be good.

    This would impact my wife who flies much less. Her status is usually through churns and some low level seats. Will be tough to get her any status next yr. Might have to get creative with cc spend to reach the $25k each…

  21. I’m still confusing about the ways to earn MQDs. If I book my ticket on expedia or thru an agent, will that count towards MQDs?

    • @Ryan – maybe. You must be careful as it could end up as a consolidator fare and you get nothing or much less. To be safe book oat!

  22. David scheer Reply

    Very anti family change. My wife and I are Platinum and have AMEX.We have both also been diamond. Our young son does not have AMEX. Our goal this year was to also make him platinum. Generally I feel the added requirement is a slap in the face for loyal customers. We are so loyal we never even heard of Neil’s “status match”. That could change. I especially do not like the claim that sky partner dollars do not count. Often our partner conecting flights are half our travel cost yet gain few MQMs. United will be watched. If they do not change their program we will be forced to change.

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  24. I have been PM for 6 years in a row. Under these new regulations, I would not have made it this year. I fly all domestic always with Delta, and use the AMEX card. However, I work for a nonprofit and try to watch every dollar spent. I have been very loyal to Delta and have wanted to stay with them but now I can’t. I have already talked to United and they will bring me in at the same level in January of next year. My home spend and hotels is on my Citi Hilton card.

  25. At first, the changes seem reasonable. People on the web have been saying that this is designed to stamp out two classes of people:
    1) those who Q on membership reward transfers
    2) those who rollover huge miles from one big year (e.g., fly 73000 miles, get gold and silver for the next year with one additional flight)

    But it affects a third class: those who take a few big long international flights. The key there is that the fare is a small portion of the flight. On an $800 trip to London, for instance, maybe $200-300 is the fare. That one is pretty extreme (Heathrow is to blame I am sure), as my $1500 flight to China had a fare of about $1000. What’s awesome is that most of this is the “carrier-imposed international surcharge.” That accounts for $400 of that $1500 China ticket.

    Still, once you realize that you’re losing 30-50% of your spending on international flights, the MQDs become a big issue. Domestic fliers won’t be affected as much, as taxes and fees are only about 10% of the total price…for now!

    But Delta can reduce their fare to give you less miles and still charge you the same amount by making up a bunch of stupid fees. And when it comes to LUT tickets, you can bet they’ll do that. In short, it allows them to implement an entirely arbitrary and revenue based MQM system but not look like it.

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