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.
Do you know what has changed since last year’s January 1st post or the year before that? Nothing really other than we have more to worry about for the next 364 days. We can still get either one or two Delta AMEX Reserve cards today (that is a personal and business card) and earn 10,000 MQMs from each and get a huge 20,000 MQM start towards whatever status you want.
Yes, to be clear, you can hold two Delta AMEX cards at once (ie one personal and one business) and earn the new card bonus for each if you have not had a Delta branded Gold or Platinum or Reserve card for 365+ days. Also, as you can see from my two cards, both earn you points.
But what has changed as of today and this year 2014? Well, we now must earn not just MQMs but also either 1) Spend $2500-$12,500 on MQDs or net money to Delta on tickets (taxes and fees don’t count) or 2) Spend $25,000 across our Delta AMEX cards personal and business to be exempt from MQDs (we still must earn the MQMs no matter what to be elite). So it is time for an update to last year’s rookie post on qualifying spend and have a go-to page I can update if things change or new ways pop up. This will be that page.
If you have company spend, MQDs should not be a real hardship. For the rest of us, me included who spent just $5000 last year in MQDs and will spend even less this year, we need exemption via spend. Plus, with $60k spend on an AMEX Reserve we are earning 30,000 more MQMs (15,000 x 2).
So what really counts towards MQMs, MQDs and exempt spending? We all know what the T&C say and I don’t need to cut-n-paste them here and readers don’t need to leave them in the comments. What counts is per AMEX so if AMEX says it counts – it counts. If not – it does not! It is just that simple. I am going to, over the next few days, buy a bunch of stuff and then update this post with results as soon as I can. I will be buying on my Reserve cards:
- AMEX GCs (starting via TCB) = [Results – Confirmed]
- Walmart gift card (for use at Sam’s club) = [Results – Confirmed]
- Visa Debit GCs at grocery store & send to BB = [Results – Confirmed]
- VR cards at local pharmacy = [Results – Confirmed]
- No fee Kiva loans via Paypal = [Results – Confirmed]
- Buying Delta e-Gifts = [Results – Confirmed]
- Using Amazon Payments = [Results – Confirmed]
- Paying Federal taxes = [Results – Confirmed]
These are the ones I want to know about and I think most readers want to know about as well (any I have missed I should try?). I should have results by mid/late February and change pending to Confirmed or NO. I expect them all to work just fine as they have in the past, but we shall see and have verified results.
Now I am focused on exempt spending not MQDs. Hopefully Delta.com will correctly display the ticket price that does count for you as well as Economy Comfort upgrades and when you use “Pay with Miles” to book 1st class (don’t be shocked if numbers are wrong or missing). Also know that Delta e-Gift cards don’t count toward MQD spend, but do count when they are redeemed for the person flying, not the person who purchased them. They should count no problem toward the $25k exempt spend threshold level at the time of purchase and earn me 2x points.
Another idea is buying a bunch of forever stamps at the current $.46 prices before they go up 6.5% to $.49 on 26JAN. I may have to hold them for a bit but I think I could resell them for near break even in a few months. I will save this one as a filler idea. Maybe I will just buy some for personal use for 2014.
I will have a tax bill coming up by April 15th, being self employed, and may just live with the 1.89% AMEX fee via PayUSAtax to get some spend done this way. I hate paying any fees but I value my Skymiles at 1-2 cents each so I am, at worst, losing .89% and at best break even with this one. I have no doubt this will count as it counted last year in earning MQM spend so should be fine this year for MQD spend exemption, but I will report if something goes wonkie here. Normally I pay my quarterly taxes from Bluebird funded with VRs. Simple and I use Bluebird to pay for things like this, as well as my mortgage, that I cannot use a credit card for or costs me too much to accomplish.
I also plan to do some other spending and prepay some things like my car insurance for 6 months, my home insurance for a year and see what else I can dump some spend on (I am also still thinking of buying a car on my card as mine is a 2000). I really try not to spend on items I can get 5x points from different Ultimate Reward cards but should still end up with a good jump start on my spend as my goal is to run off $30k in spend by March 1st (if it takes a little longer that really is fine) so I will have, with my rollover MQMs and flying in January and February plus the 15,000 MQMs for Reserve card spending to have re-qualified for Diamond Medallion until 01FEB2016 and have access to the new Global upgrade certs as one of my Choice Benefits for 2015. – René