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Creative ways to avoid the MQD’s from Delta in 2014/2015 medallion year.

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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.

Earn and burn. I often get asked how many Delta Skymiles I currently have. The answer is always the same – as few as possible. This is true about all airlines and hotels. Always remember kids, they are not our points (the airlines tell us that very clearly) and on the plus side that is one of the reasons we don’t pay income tax on them. After all, how could any government possibly tax you on something you do not own and that has no value. My main problem, both with Delta and other airlines, is I earn points way faster than I can spend them. Between Lisa & I we have 1/2 million AA, 1/3 million US Air, 1/3 million BA, 1/4 million UA. I am down to about 150k Delta but have 3 – 200k (100k each) RT business class trips to Sweden booked for this year so basically I have 3/4 million Delta in my account and booked. No matter what happens to our airline or any other airline, it is dumb to collect points and not use them.

The next big question that you MUST answer: is status even worth it to you? Without getting into a deep discussion again about status vs. just booking business class, go with the premise that for the most part, if you can always fly business, status becomes much less of an issue. Also how much you fly does matter. If you fly Delta each month, status matters. If only a few times a year, why even bother with all this – it is too much cost and work. Run the numbers before you go all in.

Back to the topic of MQD’s. For a bunch of DM they are most pleased with the thinning of the ranks the new rules will cause, but for others, like me, we will have to go route two and avoid the MQD’s by AMEX spending (I guess moving to Sweden or Grand Cayman to have a non-USA address would be a bit extreme). So what are all the ways to do this.

Officially Delta says about this spend:

What Eligible Purchases count towards the MQDs waiver on the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card? Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Eligible Purchases are the total of purchases for goods and services less returns and other credits. Fees, interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, purchases of traveler’s checks, the purchase or reloading of prepaid cards and purchases of other cash equivalents will not count towards Eligible Purchases. This applies only to Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards issued in the United States.

OK. What does that mean? Delta also says that “You will be able to track and monitor your MQDs and Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Eligible Purchases on prior to January 1, 2014”. So we should be able to tinker and find out just what we can spend that will count once the real program begins on 01JAN2014.

Next, understanding the new AMEX spend rules. Here they are:

R1) Must spend $25,000 on Delta AMEX cards
R2) Personal and Business Delta AMEX count & combined spending counts
R3) You can have sub cards and that spend counts for you
R4) As with MQM’s annual fee does not count towards spend total
R5) Non USA cards don’t count
R6) Spend is calendar year so must post 01JAN-31DEC

Now how do we take advantage of this. I will break down the above point by point.

R1 – Is it possible for you to spend $25,000 on your normal spend (I strongly suggest this as “fake spend” works but often takes extra work)? Perhaps this will not be that hard for your budget. For others, you may have to look at what other spending you can move over to the DELTA AMEX cards. Also, if some of these bills have a fee to use a credit card, is it worth it to move that spend over?

R2 – If you do have a business and can get a business DELTA AMEX too, this could be a simple way to greatly reduce the amount of spend you need to get done from the household or personal DELTA AMEX you have. For me, I by all my computer parts on my business DELTA AMEX Reserve so my customers are helping me meet my spend and I thank them!

R3 – This was great news. If you can not generate extra spend on a business card (you can still get one and earn the 10,000 MQM bonus btw if you have not had it for 365+ days) then you can get sub-account cards on YOUR main account. You can thus get a card for your wife or kids or such under your card and then, since all the spending goes onto your statement, it all counts for your $25,000 spend yearly goal.

R4 – So important to remember. Just like with your MQM total spending, your annual fee never counts towards your total. This is also telling. Delta tells us that certain spending will not count towards your $25,000 total. BUT, it is AMEX that reports the numbers to Delta and it will be those numbers that count. So, if AMEX says it (what ever “it” is) is valid or invalid spend, that number is the one we need to know about! – Clear?

R5 – There is a perk of living outside the USA. If you do, MQD’s and such just don’t apply to you. Thinking about just changing your address to avoid the issue – careful – you may have to PROVE you do live outside the USA and if not could get your account closed down. Now if you really do live outside the USA, then using that address for your Skymiles will work but as said you had better be able to show this. As for cards, there are many non-USA Skymiles cards. These will NOT qualify for the $25,000 annual spend.

R6 – This seems to be such a point of confusion each year. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHEN YOUR STATEMENT CLOSES. If your AMEX statement closes on 05JAN, 10JAN, 20JAN or whatever, it is the date a charge posts that matters. So, all qualifying spend that hits from 01JAN-31DEC each year is the number that will count for the final $25,000 spend goal.

For now, according to what Delta has told us, these are the rules. Will any of this change, including what spend counts towards MQD spend totals of $2500, $5000, $7500 & $12,500? I think we will see some adjustments. I expect other Delta purchases like EC upgrades to count. We will see. For the rest of us who will work to qualify via the $25,000 AMEX spending, we should have a clear map of how to achieve this each year by 01JAN2014. For me, this, and a few mileage runs, will be what keeps me a Platinum Medallion Delta flyer – René

Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
from American Express®
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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. Renee – thanks as always for your great blog. I’ve been putting many of my Vanilla reloads on my DL AMEX in anticipation of meeting the 25k spend. Any insight as to how DL/AMEX will know and thus disqualify that spend? Risky to do so? Appreciate your thoughts on this.

  2. My biggest takeaway “the purchase or reloading of prepaid cards and purchases of other cash equivalents will not count towards Eligible Purchases”

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Have no problem spending 25000 in a year, closer to 90000 with my business, now have to decide what to do with all our miles we have….

  4. @Gary – if you do not really move, Delta could close down your account, take all your points and tickets. So, for most, I think just spending $25k on a DL AMEX would be simpler than moving. 🙂

  5. THEsocalledfan Reply

    I have to admit I think it is quite likely some of our more fun ways of doing the spend will work. I am saying this because they are currently counting toward my MQM qualifications, so have trouble believing it won’t be the same with MQD, but we have to wait and see.

  6. An alternative for west coast Gold/Silvers would be to status match your current Delta Medallion status to Alaska. Then fly any combo of DL, AA or AS.

    • @DBest – but then you miss out on SPG points. I would rather be a DELTA medallion but for some your suggestion will work fine. Txs – Rene

  7. Since delta will combine the spends from all Amex cards, can you convince them/it to count the spends together for the bonus miles? I now finally have two delta Amex cards and I really don’t want to have to keep track of what I spend on each card so that I maximize the bonus miles – $25000 on the platinum card and $30000 on reserve. I know it’s not that hard but maybe I don’t want to be reminded of how much I’m spending either!

    • @Christine – it is all Delta AMEX in your name or your main account. So, personal and biz work or any sub account in your name. – Rene

  8. How do you have single trips that are 100K miles? I am Silver w/Delta, but it seems I’m earning miles a thousand at a time. Am I missing something?

  9. dot cahill Reply

    i have nit been on for a few weeks and tried to look at booking a trip the other day after accessing i got a screen of line items written out and clicked on book a trip and zip cme up had to try 3 times then ledt and re-did again was there a website problem this week???

  10. Here’s a random question: How do MQDs square with rollover MQMs? The benefit of being on the cusp of the next medallion level with rollovers seems to be negated if you also have to meet the dollar quota that would ostensibly put you in a higher tier once reached.

    • @Sean O – This is one we all musts look at. You are right that say earn 50k MQM but only spend $2500 with Delta you will NOT be GOLD but drop to Silver. That is why I think so many of us are looking to do the $25,000 AMEX spend to avoid these issues!

  11. Wow! All you people going for the $25,000 AMX to negate MQD’s. Some of us, especially those in volunteer work at a stipend, don’t MAKE $25,000 over the span of two years. This new MQD thing is meant to weed us out of the clubs and choice seats on flights. I have been platinum and gold and silver, but ALWAYS go for the cheapest flights. Medical missionaries aren’t mercenaries. I am disappointed with Delta.

  12. James Andrews Reply

    I am at a lose to understand Delta’s new MQM rules. It seems that I have no chance of getting past Silver–maybe not even there! I’ve been at Platinum for the last several years, except 2013. Then I got caught in Argentina, playing “ride the plane” between Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile last November because of a problem in Buenos Aires where I trying to land. So I got upgraded from God to Platinum then. I do not understand if my spending on AmEx ($450 a year fee) will help me get qualification miles. AmEx says it will, but Delta seems to be saying, “You have to fly the miles.” I don’t fly the miles, but I sure save you on liquor in 1st class and the Sky Room, because I drink only coffee and water. Please help me to understand your new rules.

    • @James – Very simple. Either spend $25,000 on your Delta AMEX or spend $2500 with Delta to have part 1 done to be Silver. Then also fly 25,000 MQMs or get them via credit card bonus and you are then silver and so on up the ladder.

  13. I’m an American doing mission work in South Africa, and I have the miles for Silver Medallion, but not the MQD’s. For the past 10 years I’ve used my home address for my Delta sky mile account, if I change it now, would it help me achieve Silver status by 2015? Any downsides?

    Also, are there any other new ways to get MQD’s other than the Amex card, which I have…but 25,000 is way out of budget for me.


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