Rookie

Rookie Wednesday: Answering the question – should I go for (insert medallion level here)!

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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.

 

delta medallion silver gold platinum diamond tags delta points blog

One of the most visited rookie Wednesday posts each month is the one talking about the different medallion levels. The post is fact filled but not really a personal reflection on the different levels and what they are worth.

I often get emails from readers that say something like, “Should I go for Silver Medallion or Platinum Medallion. Or, is Diamond Medallion worth it or is it better to rollover 30 or 40,000 MQMs into next year?”

I thought I would take the chance today to put my personal thoughts in a post and cover them in a rookie way. Also, this way when readers ask me I can both point to this post and have the benefit of your comments as additional input below (thanks for commenting btw).

Last year, on this date, I had dropped all the way down to Silver Medallion from Platinum. Then, thanks to several mileage runs, a few trips not on award tickets, and a bunch of MQMs from our friends at AMEX via my business Reserve spend and, in November last year, picking up a personal AMEX Reserve card I ended the year as Platinum again and stopped short of Diamond but rolled over a ton of MQMs into this year.

Silver was a huge change from Platinum. I had booked several Skymiles trips and knew I could only change them free with a schedule change. That happens so often that it worked fine. Plus, I knew I would be back to Platinum in a few short months. I also had to really “game” my upgrades. I resigned myself to sitting most of the time in exit row seats and that is fine. Economy Comfort or EC is nice but not that much better than exit row. So, I looked for flights I had a shot at upgrades on. They were few but bumps and reissues helped. I will tell you I counted the days till Gold. If you are on the fence about Silver vs. Gold – don’t be. Gold is a totally different world. Go for Gold.

Gold was a short stop for me but upgrades, on non-transcons, went way up. The Gold medallion line seemed more helpful and the wait times were short. All the other perks of Gold made me feel almost back to Platinum. When it came to trancons I was still deep down on the upgrade list. Some redeye’s worked, but not peak times. Expect more and you will also get more as a Gold. If I had to struggle to make some level with Delta each year, this would be the mark to shoot for.

Since I don’t have to struggle, Platinum was nice to get back to. I had never been Diamond Medallion and was totally happy as a Platinum. The medallion line often ended up in Chisholm call center, that is the old Northwest one, and the reps know their stuff. My wait times on the phone went almost to zero. I started to expect upgrades and got most of them non-transcon and several transcons as well. I loved being back to the point where I could change Skymiles tickets whenever I wanted. If you fly Delta often, you need to make it Platinum. The difference over Gold is remarkable when it comes to service, upgrades and flexibility. I think most would be happy to be Platinum for life. That is until you try Diamond.

Oj – Diamond Medallion. I really did not know what I was missing. If you have never been Diamond, and don’t think you can stay Diamond, don’t come up here. Truly. I have flown a bunch this year. The service is remarkable. Bend the rules? Nah, just toss the rule book out (mostly). Upgrades, what do you mean I did not upgrade? I expect 100% and have only missed a few upgrades. For my 8 leg mileage run I am on today and tomorrow all of the upgrades cleared at 6,5,3 & 1 day window (rolling along day by day). Last run I had to work it a bit but only had 1 of 8 not in 1st class. This is on deeply discounted coach seats mind you but I do have the Delta Reserve card that helps against other Diamonds who think they don’t need the AMEX Reserve card (they are wrong)! While I no longer have Chisholm call center, the Salt Lake reps do a fine job and are mostly good. I still get a few that are – click – hang-up and call back but not a ton. Award seats are way more plentiful and reps seem very happy to go after seats that KLM or AF or Alitalia say are not there and get them for me. As I say, Diamond is very nice and I like it up here!

So there you are. If you are thinking about what to do, take my experience over the past 12 months as a guide. There will always be compelling reasons to stop short of that Diamond mark and rollover up to 49,999 MQMs that is stop just short of 125,000 and rollover as much as you can to make Platinum much simpler. But, if you don’t think you can make it with MQDs on the way for 2014, then why not think about hitting Diamond this year, enjoy it next year, before you fall back to wherever in 2015! Questions? Ask away – René

Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
RESERVE/PLATINUM/GOLD
from American Express®
Click here for more information

 

 

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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.

15 Comments

  1. By far one of the best post you have put up. I was on the edge between Gold and Platinum this year so it is now decided I will push for Platinum. It is a level I am pretty sure I can hold for years to come. Thanks for the insight!

  2. Incredibly helpful post. I just made Gold for the first time this year and am definitely enjoying the perks. I am 66% on upgrades (although most of them are not clearing until 1 day or at the gate). I have a few trips left this year and if I added in a mileage run, I probably could hit platinum but I wouldn’t be able to maintain it. So instead of struggling for platinum, I think I am going to roll over my MQMs so that I can maintain my gold status in 2015. Honestly, I’m just enjoying the 100% bonus so that I can take my Mom on a free trip. I’m a simple gal 🙂

    • @Jacey – thanks for your personal and very insightful comment. I was SO hopping to get feedback JUST like yours. – Rene

  3. Great Story. I was Platinum for the past 3 years and loved it. Travel feel off a bit and I’m Gold this year and it really isn’t all that bad. I live in ATL and just returned from mini vacay in LA and Vegas and was upgraded on ALL legs Rt. My (flight) travel has fallen even more this year (my bf & I have been doing alot of Car travel this year to nearby states)so I will be Silver next year. I’m not looking forward to that but if I can at least score an EC, exit or bulkhead seat I’m fine. Being TSA Pre-check certainly helps the whole airport travel experience also. Platinum seems so distant these days but what an incredible experience those 3 years I held it. the good ol days…

  4. Very nice post, Rene. For me it would be nice to reach Gold, but my flying pattern only allows me to maintain my Silver Medallion status.
    If rules were fix forever (which they are not, unfortunately), then I would reach Gold in like 15 years or so thanks to Rollover MQMs 😉
    I’m happy to be Silver as long as possible, but you are right, the step from Silver to Gold is huge.

  5. MaineBigDaddy Reply

    I hit Gold this year thanks to Delta Amex Business Plat card bonus, although it looks like I probably would have hit it without as my travel increased mid year. It is much much better than Silver. I do have a beef with Delta regarding FO status. They should at least give Silver Sky Priority Boarding since now anyone with a Delta Amex gets Zone 1. It really makes the Silvers, who fly much more than many with the card, feel left out. I am sure Delta makes plenty on the travel I did as and FO. For me Platinum is actually not something that I want to hit unless I can do it with international mileage. What Platinum would mean to me is way too much time away from family. So for now I am happy with Gold, in a small market looking forward to Delta dumping the RJ200’s which I can’t get upgraded on anyway.

  6. Dot cahill Reply

    I get the alerts for mileage runs but cannot seem to really book them? Is there a trick to it? I’m falling off AI ER ( which is a joke compared to years ago) n most of my bookings are X class what is the reason for X even when I pay $$$$ for flights to Calif??? Help

  7. I’m currently Silver now, with some upgrades on flights. I’m going for Gold next. I can’t wait to see the difference. Then I’m going to Platinum. I’m doing several mileage runs in the next two months to reach Platinum. I’ll get my 15,000 MQM from my AMEX RESERVE card in Oct, which will help me get to the Platinum.
    I don’t think I’ll make Diamond by the end of the year, but I’ll try.
    Everyone keep on flying. See you in the air.

  8. @René:
    I’m a bit of an oddball I’m afraid. My longhaul International travel is exclusively on Skyteam and it provides me with Platinum Status. I’m fine with that since it has the most rewarding perks that apply to me: Choice Benefit of $200 DL voucher and free Skymiles tix changes.
    I will reach the Diamond level easily this year, but will stop a few miles from the roll-over tier, because I really don’t care for transcon upgrades and for my International flights upgrades are non-existent, tho EC is nice on 12+ hr flights (especially after all the effort one has to put in to keep the seats from disappearing on KL and AF flights ;))
    I’m foreign based, so no Amex DL CC for me, but also no MQD required next year.
    We’ll see how it goes next year and otherwise will switch to accruing on AS.

  9. Rene, I have been following your blog since I made FO last year. And this year from work I am now PM and most likely will make DM in Nov or Dec.

    If work stays the same I will log 130K BiS miles in 2014 and via the AMEX spend will get the MQD waiver so maintaining is easy for now.

    For all who go thru FO to GM to PM and are regular flyers the difference is amazing I was 25% on upgrades as FO and 100% on GM and so far 100% as PM and all on trips SAN to BOS via SLC or ATL.

    Keep on Flying and hope I meet up on the travels one day.

    Edward

  10. As a GM, I do appreciate SkyPriority. Upgrades however really seem like a red herring to me. I’m at about 20% personally. With GM, I nearly always end up exactly middle on an UG list. This also nearly always translates to no upgrade. On a recent Wednesday flight I was #26 of 47! Wednesday! I will likely be within 2k miles of Platinum at year end and will need to decide if I want to pay to make the mark. I’m really anti MR unless there’s a destination involved. It may be a pay for MQM (if available) or bust. I’m not eligible for new Amex signup bonuses until next year.
    I wanted to temper folks’ expectations at different medallion levels. Some have great routes that allow them high upgrade %, but then there are folks like me who rarely get a single one.

    • @Slee – yes for ATL routes say ATL-LAX or ATL-SFO you had better be DM. I can tell you for many other routes, and from may readers, you can get 75% as GM if you are careful times, fares etc as I have blogged about before in upgrade strategies

  11. I really enjoy your blog, and with your help have been able to go from Gold to Platinum, and should be able to stay there. I get upgrades quite often, but lately they have been at the gate. One ugly day a couple weeks ago had me going from ATL to PIT. First class was full and I was still 26 out of 43 on the upgrade list. What the hey, was there a Diamond convention in ATL the day before? Short flight, so no big deal, at least I printed off the free snack box coupon on my boarding pass.

  12. Dear Rene;

    Since getting Silver this year via a trip to Australia (plus a couple in country Virgin Australia flights which I had to fight to get the miles – but no MQM) I made Silver, then got a wild hare up my ass to go for Gold. Made it last week from Silver to Gold with about $1000 worth of cheap flights (may have even flown next to you from SBN to DTW mid Sept – sorry I didn’t say hello or ask if it was you; I was nervous!).

    I so appreciate the information you (and contributors) share with the rest of us novices!

    Thank you for all you do to get the rest of us some upgrades: Much Appreciated!

    -B

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