Rookie Wednesday: What Delta AMEX card should you go for before (any) year end? (or should you wait)?

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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.

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Twitter follower Vikkie tweeted a post I put up two years ago about what Delta CO-Branded AMEX card you should be going for before the end of the year. That was a great post, but the “landscape” has changed a bit since then. What do I mean? Let’s take a look in a rookie way.

First off, AMEX as of 1MAY changed the T&C or terms and conditions to only allow one consumer Delta AMEX card EVER (well at least the new card bonus points as you can still get the cards but will not get bonus points for them). However, what has also changed is the business side of the equation, that is, AMEX now considers all 3 of the Delta CO-Branded cards as unique and separate products vs. the consumer cards that are “all the same”. Confusing? You bet it is! So on we go.

Now the first question is should you go for a card before year end. The answer is it depends very much on your needs. Do you need more Skymiles for a RTW (round the world) ticket that MUST be booked before 1JAN2015 as after that time they will NO LONGER be available from Delta. This could mean you want the Delta GOLD either personal or business AMEX card (or both) to get the bonus points ASAP to book that award. Or, say you are very close to meeting your goal of the next medallion status level and either the bonus points from the Delta Platinum AMEX or the Delta Reserve card (personal or business or both) would be enough, after spend, to get you to that level before the 31DEC2014 (word of caution – the spend must POST before 31DEC2014 to count).

What would be the reasons to WAIT to get a card until after 1JAN each year. I have a reader who I talked to a great deal at the Chicago Seminars and he will be going for Diamond Medallion status in 2015. However, he will NOT be able to make MQD spend or quick enough (with safety margin) make the spend needed to be MQD exempt. So, if you are like him, it would be wise NOT to get a card that comes with MQMs that may just disappear at year end rather than rolling over due to not meeting minimum levels. So the clear warning and reason to wait is your MQMs and MQD numbers. If you have any questions on this ask away.

So what Delta AMEX card should you pick? That depends on your needs. Let’s start with Skymiles only. The Delta GOLD AMEX card, personal and / or business Delta Gold card, gives you points with $1000 minimum spend and no first year fee. Do keep in mind if you have ever got any of the Delta AMEX new card bonus points in the past you can NOT get them again. For the business card it needs to be 365+ days since you canceled the Gold business AMEX card.

On to the next Delta AMEX card. The Delta Platinum card I have compared to Delta “lite” status due to all the perks. If you are 5000 or less MQMs short of some status, and have the needed MQD spend or are exempt from say a personal Delta AMEX card and have met that $25,000 in spend, this card could be what you need. Now you must have the $1000 in minimum spend posted before 31DEC for it to count this year. Even if the MQMs post in January, in that case, they will count on the 2014 or previous year’s totals. Also the 35,000 bonus Skymiles can help you if you need that many for some kind of award before year end.

The last Delta AMEX card of the 3. I personally, as most know, will always have a Delta Reserve card (likely keeping my business one). I have both cards now but am considering just keeping the one. The BOGOF 1st class cert does cover my $450 fee each year but I may not need two of them next year. Personal choice, but for most having at least one is worth considering as to me the perks make it worth paying so much for the card. Oh, then there is the 10,000 MQMs that come with 1st purchase. This, when you compare it to a mileage run, is the simplest and from what I have seen one of the cheapest ways to get those extra MQMs you need. Both the personal and business cards offer the same MQMs.

The most important thing about all of this is CLEARLY understanding rollover MQMs. If you do not have:

1a) MQD spend of at least $2,500 in 2014 ($3000 in 2015) or
1b) MQD exemption via $25,000 in qualified MQD spending on Delta AMEX cards
2) Have the above plus also at least 25,000 MQMs earned

Unless you have the above you will NOT rollover 1 single MQM. You must have that or they just reset to ZERO on 1JAN. If you are unclear on this please ask.

So there you are. Rookies please do the math. Please look at what the date is and if you have time to get the points you need, either type, before year end if you need them or wait till 1JAN each year before you go for new Delta AMEX cards to begin the next year’s totals! – René
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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.
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13 comments

  1. I am looking at ending the year with about 114,000 MQMs. My wife will end up with about 36,000 MQMs. We are expecting to get a second and final 15k MQM bonus from my wife’s Reserve card based on hitting the $60k spending threshold sometime in mid-December. Originally I was going to let my wife keep the 15k MQMs to make gold, but then I thought it might be better to gift them to me for Diamond and give her gold as one of the choice benefits instead. Are there any downsides in doing this? The only thing I can think of is her losing the rollover MQMs.

  2. AMEX is deadly serious about not awarding the signup bonus to former cardholders. It doesn’t matter if it was long ago and you received far less points than the current over. They won’t budge and claim it is part of new credit card law which, strangely enough, isn’t the case at all in these situations with CHASE or CITI.

  3. Rene, slightly off topic but I want to double-confirm that MQM bonuses earned from a Reserve card can be rolled over. Right now I am at 47,036 MQM’s including with 30,000 Reserve MQMs for the year and don’t have any further travel on DL planned in 2014. However, I have around 20K MQM’s in planned travel in April 2015 (on a good KL/AF business fare). I just want to make absolutely certain I am doing the correct strategy in holding off on making Gold this year so that I can have 22K+ rollover MQM’s + 20K MQM’s from AF/KL + sporadic travel + 30K Reserve MQM’s and cruise into Platinum in 2015. But if any of that is in jeopardy I would want to do a mileage run in ’14 while I can to make Gold now!

  4. @Nick – all MQMs rolloever if levels and spend are met. That said, if you earn 2014 you can not wait to redeem 2015 and have them count in 2015 as they would apply in 2014 then roll. Clear?

  5. @Rene, yes I believe so. I earned in 2014 and redeemed in 2014 (last bonus hit today) and am at 47,000+. If you were in my shoes would you do a mileage run in ’14 and make Gold, or would you roll over in hopes of making an easy Platinum in ’15? Thanks for your advice!

  6. @Nick – please know I HATE these questions because they are SO SO SO unique to each reader. It really is up to you. If you can with rolloever make PM quickly then YES do that as you can even now book awards, make PM, and THEN change them FREE! That is a HUGE perk of PM. PM is worlds better than GM but GM is WORLDS better than FO when it comes to bonus points and “Delta Love”. Does this help or hurt YOUR choice?

  7. I am doing some research for my husband and I am still a bit confused. He is currently @11k MQMs away from DM. Our schedule is very limited for him to do a mile run. He has the Delta Platinum AMEX card and he just renewed it. Can he apply for the Delta AMEX Reserve card and still get the bonus 10k MQMs? Do you know if he cancels the Delta Platinum AMEX will he get any type of refund as he was just billed a few weeks ago? Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

  8. @Carol – if you are talking personal cards he is stuck as all 3 cards are viewed as the same card. Now if he has either personal or business Delta Platinum he CAN go for Business AMEX Reserve card and get the bonus points but he will have to wait 91+ days to apply for 2nd biz card if Plat was a biz one too. If personal, just get biz now is fine.

  9. @Rene – yes, it is a personal card as we don’t own a business. I guess we will have to figure out how we can squeeze in a weekend run. I really appreciate all of your wealth of information you shared on this website. I just discovered it this weekend.

  10. Nick – just my two cents. I was in the same boat as you are now two years ago. I waited, and am very glad I did. I was bummed to not be Gold for my first couple flights of the year, but by rolling over 23,000 MGMs (before MQDs were around), I made two regional trips and was silver. Two trips to Asian and then I was Gold by February. Two more and Platinum by April Just fell short of Diamond, and even though I know it is a totally different world there, I am glad that was the case, as my travel died down, and I rolled over ~40,000 MGMs into 2014, setting me up to make Gold again easily. (Gold is my goal for international lounge access on family vacations, Platinum is nice for better UGs, though). Now, I have more than 75000 MGMs, but MGDs are kept below $7500, so I should be setting myself up for an easy Gold again next year.

    Hope this helps.

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