Rookie Wednesday: All the ways to earn MQMs Delta Medallion Qualifying points

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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.

RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.


One of DeltaPoints most viewed posts month after month is the Rookie post about just what Delta Medallion levels are. Just what are all the ways you can EARN these points and just what are they? Let’s break it down rookie style.

MQM stands for Medallion Qualifying Miles. Other airlines call them EQM or Elite Qualifying miles but like all things Delta ‘we’ like to be different. The last word is what creates the most problems. Most “normal” people think of mile or point as something you spend and or use. This is NOT, again NOT the case with MQMs. An MQM only counts toward your elite status with Delta airlines.

OK what are Delta’s the elite levels? First read that popular post about the levels. If you are back we can keep going now.

So since you cannot spend these miles or points, how do you earn them? First flying. If flying Delta, and purchased the ticket at, each and every awarded mile, no matter what the fare class (i.e. paid not a free ticket), will always earn at least 1 MQM.

The BIG exception is what are called consolidator or discount fares. These type of discount fares are not bookable on for you and me. How could you end up with one of these low MQM yield fares? It can happen if you book via a travel agent or if your company books bulk tickets or negotiated fares with Delta or some travel sites as well as package deals that are say a cruise and air together. This is murky water so be careful. This does not automatically mean all tickets booked through portals will not earn FULL CREDIT, but things can change so be careful.

Next earning more for a ticket. Delta does award more if you are paying more and flying what is called “full coach” or Y class or higher earn 50% more (note B class also earns more). Once you get into F or J class you can get 100% bonus or 200% of the miles flown. Thus a 1000 mile trip in F class would earn you 2000 MQMs.

skyteam members

The tricky part comes in when it comes to Skyteam partners. In the past, as long as it was Skyteam, you could trust you would get at least full credit. Now, you have to be very careful as the rules do change often. For now, the only way to be completely sure is to be on what is called a code share flight, that is one that has a Delta number or DL attached to the flight. This does not mean others will not earn you full credit and even bonus credit, but you have to check what the current rules are at Delta and when you booked the ticket as well.

For me, in addition to flying for business or personal trips, each year I fly some (ok a bunch) of what are called mileage runs. Delta Points blog even maintains a page only for mileage run deals just for the purpose of building your MQM totals for this year or with rollover for next as well. For some of your time and reasonable prices you can rack up 5,000 or 10,000+ MQMs in a few days of flying!

butt in seat miles delta points blog

So this is all about flying. Most understand you can earn qualifying miles with BIS or ‘your’ butt in seat that is flying in an aircraft. What are the other ways to earn these miles?

One of the simplest ways is via AMEX credit cards, both personal and business. The biggest of these is the Delta AMEX Reserve card. It has many perks, but we are focusing only on MQMs today. With this card, you get 10,000 MQMs with your first purchase. Once you spend $30,000 each year by 31DEC you receive 15,000 more bonus MQMs. Spend $60, 000 by 31DEC and you pick up 15,000 more. You can do this with both a personal and business each year. The date you get the card does not matter, it is 31DEC spend and post date on your statement that matters. There is one more perk with this card, you can pick who will get these MQMs – you or anyone you want. You can maybe see the perk here. Your wife could also get one or both of these cards and with spend send you these bonus MQMs (but NOT the initial 10,000 bonus MQMs)!

Are there others ways? Yes. For the past few years Delta sold MQMs for a rather hefty price. Two years ago you had until 31DEC to buy them. This last year you had until 31JAN to get this done. Just know this is a very expensive way of getting the qualifying points.

What else? For many years purchasing a Skyclub membership at year end has awarded you some MQMs and I would bet this trend will continue for a while to come.

send amex membership rewards to delta

Another lucrative way came for several years by transferring American Express Membership Rewards points earned from any Membership Rewards credit cards, when sent over in a large block of 100,000 points at a time, gave you 50,000 or 25,000 MQMs as a bonus of the transfer from AMEX to Delta. There was no such bonus this year, but many hope they will return soon.

Is that it? No but these others are hit and miss. There have been charity donations that have awarded MQMs. Also some targeted offers but these are rare so don’t bank on them but do take advantage of them if the deal is right for you.

These are all the ways I know of that you can earn MQMs. Please also be aware, no matter how you earn your MQMs, all of them will count toward your grand total of lifetime MQMs toward million miler status even those you buy year end!

There are other questions that will come up from this in regards to today’s post about gifting status or other ways to get status but that is not what this is about. This is about all the ways for you to boost your MQM balance any year with Delta. – René

Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
from American Express®
Click here for more information



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. I’m pretty sure there was a Hertz Rent-A-Car deal that worked last year as well. In Novemberish if memory serves.

    • @jkealing – yes that and the hilton one but they were both only like 250-500 if memory servers me right. Nice, but really so small that only good for a push over top and some readers did have issues getting all the points. Still nice so thanks for the reminder very much! Hope they come back or even better one with SPG CrossoverRewards for MQMs! – Rene

  2. Pingback: Delta (at last) updates Status Match / Challenge page and rules for 2013. - Delta Points

  3. Dot cahill Reply

    Why do I keep getting Xclass even when I have spent $800 or more.???
    Also have had many delta mechanical delayed the past 2 weeks atl to SFO n atl to anywhere what is up?

  4. Diane Gibson-Patterson Reply

    Since I cannot seem to get the Delta website to function properly, I am contacting you.

    It just recently came to my attention that my accumulated Skymiles will NOT transfer to my estate upon my death. This is not acceptable. Can you advise who I can contact at Delta regarding this issue. I am plannng to close my American Express account due to this issue and go with another sky miles company if Delta cannot offer what other companies do for
    Their customers.
    Can you please advise

    Thank you,

    Diane Gibson-Patterson

    • Hello Diane,

      Thanks for reaching out but Delta does not care. They are firmly entrenched on this one and that is why we now call the Delta DIE-Miles. You can, under my LINKS tab, get the email for the president of Delta if you want to write to him but I can promise you they do not care. Sorry – Rene

  5. I need about 3000 point for gold. If I sign up for a card on Decmber 12th how long will it take to credit for the mqm assuming I spend $1000 ASAP?

    • @Greg – days to a week or so. To be safe I would go for Reserve card but Platinum should still work if you ask for rush card after approved. And then spend quick yes.

  6. Hi Rene. Thank you for this blog most helpful. I am thanks to you on the very verge of diamond two flights 8 segments. I fly segments. My bosses daughter and colleague who flys with me is barely silver. We have usbank reward card as our business card we will be changing to amex reserve for business first of the year. Can usbank rewards be converted to mqm She is 24000 from gold. We are trying to boost her quickly Thanks Lynn

    • @Lynn – no the only way to use US Bank FlexPerks points is to buy tickets and fly and then earn MQMs. Sorry! – Rene

  7. Hi Rene! I love the blog! I flew on Delta to Paris for Thanksgiving this year. My return flight was on Air France. How long does it take for the MQMs from my Air France leg to post to my account? I need those miles to qualify for Platinum Medallion status for next year and I’m starting to get really, really tense!

  8. I only need 42 miles to make gold medallion. I am currently loving in Amsterdam so it a little harder to find a quick cheap flight. Ideas on how to get over the top? I also just got a new Amex platinum business card, but it’s not a delta specific one.

    • @Sara – ouch 42 miles. Either rollover a bunch and get a good start on 2014 or take a short flight. Or, get a Reserve card QUICK!

  9. Im 250 MQM’s short of gold status. What do I do???? Its killing me. And I have 1 week left of the year. I flew in the last 3 months of 2012, but those MQM’s dont count. Am i completely [edit] (pardon the language).

    • @stephanie – at this point, 1) fly, 2) over pay and buy MQMs from Delta. That is it this late in the game or you rollover almost 25k and then rock it out fast in 2014 via fly and AMEX Reserve cards personal and biz and earn Gold for all of 2014 & 2015! 😉

  10. I am short of 9,500 miles to become Gold level. Will requesting a relative to transfer/donate the missing miles to my account before 31DEC help me reach Gold level? USS

  11. I was going to fly, but flying anywhere over this past weekend and through Tuesday, is more expensive than buying the miles. Im in NYC, so i figured i quick flight to Boston would solve the problem. Except out of LGA he tickets were upwards of $600 – $900.


    So, if i break down and purchase, i can keep all the medallion miles – roll them into 2014, become silver, and continue to move towards gold? Otherwise, the 24,750 i have goes down the drain 1 minute past midnight December 31st?

  12. I think i will end up purchasing the miles (though it hurts). Then as i travel in 2014, i will continue to add MQM’s to move towards gold. If i purchase the 2500 miles, 250 makes me silver and the other 2250 will rollover to 2014, towards gold status. Am i right?

    What credit card do you suggest to help me get to Gold faster. (i wont start my trips for 2014 until February).

    Thanks for all your help, happy new year.

  13. thanks again for all your help – i will look for your post on January 1st.

  14. Hi – I’m feeling a bit boxed in. I’m currently at 24,680 MQMs as I write this message around 10.30 PM CST on December 30th. I spoke to Delta today and they basically told me the only way I keep my measly Silver medallion status is to take a flight or purchase the minimum 2,500 MQMs for something like $485. Not really an option to take a flight as it absolutely doesn’t work in my schedule nor are there any flights on the cheap from MSP this week. What to do? Can I roll over what I have for next year? Can I book a hotel room or perhaps rent a car to pick up the extra 400 miles? I know Silver isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing. Worst thing is that I’m going on a 9,000 mile flight one week from now for work! Too little to late as it seems. Any advice on how I get over the 25k would be appreciated … and/or some insight on whether it’s worth $ for these suckers. Thanks in advance!

  15. I just re-read this post and don’t know if you’ll get my question, but I’m going to try anyway. My Amex points automatically transfer each and every time they are earned. Is this post saying that I should stop that and collect them and then send them over if and when there is an MQM bonus offer? I’ve been doing it that way for so long I’m assuming that I set my account up that way and need to uncheck that option if you say that is what I should do.

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