Travel Related

Rookie Wednesday: Delta Medallion year: When does it end & earning Medallion status.

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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.

current medallion qualifications levels - will they change for 2017 - we will soon know

Last week I had an extensive series on “Should you go for Diamond / Platinum / Gold or Silver Medallion status“. It seems to have been very well received from comments in the posts as well as reader comments at the recent Chicago Seminars this past weekend. But so many are confused by earning status and the Medallion years.

Notice what reader Robert recently asked me in the “Ask René” tab on the blog:

“Rene, I thought Medallion year ends 12/31/2015 but this year it ends 1/30/2016? So we can earn 2015 MQM’s in January for 2016? And new status will not take effect until 02/01/2016? Can you clarify thank you so much” – Robert

Robert, that is a great question and I can truly understand your confusion. If you notice the screen shot from Delta at the top of the page we see what is needed for status. I put up THIS post to make it even simpler to understand, but do take note the MQD numbers in that post are out of date as they have gone up since then and may go up again next year (we will find out soon I think).

reminder of change to medallion years starting in 2016 large

So first on to Robert’s questions. As you can see from the screen shot from Delta “News and Updates” page we learned a while back that traditionally the Medallion year that ended on the last day of February each year has now been permanently moved to the last day of January each year. So, starting THIS YEAR and for the foreseeable future, the medallion year runs from 1FEB to 31JAN each year (yeah, they sorta shorted us one month this year but such is life). But that is when the medallion year is in effect. What about earning points as Robert asks about?

You EARN your status via calendar year. That is, you start earning on all flights at take off (scheduled) 1JAN of any year that is 00.01 on a 24 hour clock and end at 23:59 on 31DEC. That is, to be clear, if your flight is scheduled to take off between those times you get MQM/MQS/MQD credit during that year. It does not matter when you pay for the ticket it is the time of flight with your BIS that is your “butt in seat” of the jet.

The same thing goes for Delta AMEX Platinum and Reserve card <–LINK spend (as well as the business Delta AMEX Platinum and Reserve cards). In this case the purchase must POST to your account between 1JAN and 31DEC for that spend to count toward your MQD exempt spend totals for the year as well as the totals to earn bonus MQMs for the 25,000/30,000 and the 50,000/60,000 for the two cards each year. It does not matter AT ALL when your credit card statement closes or when you end up, in the case of the Reserve card, choosing to redeem your points – they count in the year you earned them NOT the time of redemption. Thus, you could not say wait till January and select them thinking they will count in the next year. No, as stated, they count in the year you EARNED them (tip: Have taxes to pay? Take a look at THIS post to help you earn MQMs)

While we are on the topic let’s hammer out one more thing so many get wrong. The current rule is that we are earning our status for the NEXT Medallion year. For example, consider this:

  • You start the year at NO status and ZERO MQMs.
  • You, by 1APRIL, earn Diamond Status
  • You get “free” Diamond Status this year
  • You earned NEXT year’s Diamond status
  • You get NEXT year’s Choice Benefits (nothing for this year)
  • You can claim and spend next year’s Choice Benefit immediately

You can fill in the blanks for anything else, but the basic principles above hold for each Medallion level other than no Choice Benefits for Silver and Gold medallion levels.

Another good question is when your status becomes active. That is, say you are in the air and cross the next level whatever that is. Is your status instantly active? No. It takes 1-3 days normally for your status to update in the Delta system. Once it does, then you are officially whatever level that is. The only workaround would be for say picking seats you normally would not get free can be done with help from the Medallion line as they can see you have earned the status but it has yet to update in the system. As for upgrades etc., yeah, you will have to wait until the status officially updates.

Have any more questions about the Medallion year and Delta status? Fire away – René

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’ll be a Gold Medallion in a few weeks for the first time ever (been Silver for a while). I live in Rome at the moment, and thus fly Alitalia and other SkyTeam partners a lot. I’m looking forward to the SkyTeam Elite Plus benefits! My question: is there some kind of computer system interconnectivity whereby the SkyTeam airlines will automatically know I’m an Elite Plus through Delta and give me SkyPriority, Lounge Access, etc., or will I need to show them my credentials each time? Thanks! Love your blog!

    • @John – Yep as long as Skymiles number is in you should be fine but conf. At check’in

  2. Great information, Rene. Thanks. A question about Choice Benefits. Do you have to select and use them in the year you receive them? I’m Diamond through 1/2016 but will only be Platinum after that. I haven’t selected or used my Choice Benefits for this year yet. I presume I have to make my selection while I’m till Diamond, but do I need to use them or at least make reservations while I’m a Diamond? I’d prefer to have the next year to make reservations and use them. Thanks again.

  3. Renee: Just an advisory and heads up to readers to be super careful with end of year spending to earn status. AmEx can often play mean. There is a potential ambiguity in your formulation about earning Medallion status. You write correctly at the beginning of the paragraph:
    Correct is:” In this case the purchase must POST to your account between 1JAN and 31DEC for that spend to count toward your MQD exempt spend totals for the year as well as the totals to earn bonus MQMs for the 25,000/30,000 and the 50,000/60,000 for the two cards each year.”

    Potentially ambiguous however is the continuation: … “they count in the year you earned them”.

    Here just to say: you can’t SPEND X amount on say Dec 30 or Dec 31 in the hopes of meeting a particular spend threshold (whether the $30k or the $60k) because almost certainly they would not POST to the new calendar year (Jan 1, 2, or 3)–and then AmEx will be tightfisted and say that last minute spend does not contribute to meeting the end of year spend threshold.

    Hope that this helps folks plan ahead and avoid any last minute hassles.

    • @Bernard – Yep, that is why I stressed POST date of a charge not the date of the charge. Most charges after the 30DEC tend to POST into JAN but YMMV. Txs!

  4. I will be about 10k miles short of Gold at the end of the year. Can I upgrade from my Platinum Amex to the Reserve card and get the bonus MQM’s or do I need to apply for a brand new card? Thanks for being so helpful!

  5. Hello Rene, I have reached 60k spending for my delta Reserve. I hope to get this perk again next year before April (annual fee due). Can I start spending on Jan 1 for this year’s boost? Or should I wait until the next billing cycle?
    thanks for this post again. It solves a lot of myth for me.

    • @Danny – As mentioned in post, all spend that POSTS after 1JAN each your counts on that year. I have in the past even spend on 31DEC and had it count into JAN when it posted but to be sure hold off on charges until 1JAN then get to work!

  6. Rene lets say I stay silver this year and I get 50k mqm by March next year would I be gold next year + the followint year or still silver? Thanks

  7. Also regarding the card upgrade American express told me to just wait nuntil next year maybe they are finally training employees so you can’t upgrade and double dip the same year.

    • @Zach – You could, with just Silver MQD spend, keep rolling over (if Delta keeps doing rollover that is). As to AMEX, I would NEVER EVER trust anything a AMEX reps says even on a recorded line. If you have a page, post and link (and screen shots) they MUST honor. Your choice but I stand by that advice 100%!

  8. Let me do a little more info.. I think I can end the year with 30k MQM so if I get this I will have 5 carry over I have a bunch of trips coming up by march that will probably earn me 40+ mqm will I have gold status for he following year (2016+2017)? or will my silver carry over until the following year… Say I earned 95k that year would I be plat for the remained of 2016+2017? havent been this low in a while so I wasnt sure how that worked.

    • @Zach – Click the linked post on MQMs in the post. All will be clear. Just update the MQD to 2015 prices.

  9. Hi there,

    Just came across your blog– really awesome stuff here.

    I’m going to be ~4400 MQMs short of Silver for next year, but hit my MQD requirement. Is it too late to apply for the Delta Platinum Amex and get the 5000 bonus MQMs that would put me over the threshold by Dec. 31?

    Thank you!!

  10. @rene – Please forgive me with this question. I signed up for the Delta Reserve card for the 10k signup early last week and placed a charge on it that posted to the AMEX acct on Friday 11DEC. When you talk about the posted purchase fin the Amex acct for bonus MQM, does the sign up MQMs play by the same rules as bonus MQM?

    I’m going to be 1500 short of PM this year and wanted to make up the difference quickly before the close of the year.

    Talking with Amex and SM people tonight said that when the MQM posts, it will count towards whatever year that the points finally show up in my SM acct, but they didn’t sound very certain.

    • @Jeff – They will count on this year 2015 even if your statement closes in 2016. Well done. Txs for using my links! Rene

  11. Rene……I saw that the 15K MQM bonus (Delta Reserve AmEx) for the first 6 months of 2015 hit my account on July 8. Any idea when the 2nd 15K will show up? Anxiously awaiting my Platinum status for the first time. I hit the 60K spending requirement around 12/15/15.

  12. ANDREW CLARK Reply

    I’m still a bit confused – I achieved Silver Medallion status in October of last year. That is when my status changed and I started enjoying the perks. Then, after January of this year, I lost it. So I only enjoyed it for four months. If I achieved the qualification in 2015, shouldn’t I be Silver Medallion status for all of 2016?

    • @Andrew – If you flew 25k and spend 3k MQD (or were AMEX exempt) in 2015 you earned 2016 status and should have it this year. If it was some kind of match or gift or such (or challenge) the terms may be different.

  13. Thank you for the postings, I will say, I have a headache how complicated the point system can be.

    I have reached silver status with Delta during the 2016 year thus far, I have been utilizing Delta/Amex Platium card and frequent air trips. I am very close to earn additional 10,000 MQMs miles and possibly obtain Gold before 12/31/2016 if I am able to meet enough MQM miles before the end of 2016

    What I am trying to understand is, do I lose my medallion status [silver, gold, Platium] on every calendar year [December 31] or [January 31] or do I keep my status regardless of my medallion archivement.

    I have been reading so many posts and websites and so far, have not been able to find the answer to my question, unless is so deep in the writing and my brain cannot comprehend anymore.

    Thank you in advance,

    • @Vladimir – You have it for ONE FULL YEAR when you earn it but you also can have a few bonus months in the current year. As you say you are now Silver. You may soon be Gold. You will enjoy that this year 2016. You will fly the elite year next year that is 2017. It will end, unless you RE-QUALIFY during 2017, on 1FEB2018. Yes, every year you must do it all over again. Congrats on soon earning Gold!

  14. If I buy a RT ticket that departs 12/20/16 and returns on 1/02/17, will all the MQM’s for the RT go to my earnings for 2016? Or will they split the MQM’s between years?

  15. Dang, I realized I screwed up. I just finished credit card spend to reach 25k+ MQM’s for my husband and I to get silver. First, I should have had one of us get Gold and the other nothing, since we usually fly together, and companions upgrade too now.

    Second, am I right in understand I should have held off meeting the 25,000 threshold until January instead of December, because then it would have been effective for all of 2017 AND 2018?

    Too late for that, but want to at least understand.

    As is, I have 41215 MQM and he has 33181 MQM. I was going to do $25k more spend to get 10,000 more bonus MQM. Could put it on mine and get Gold, but then not many will roll over and I might not get it the following year. I could put it on his and we’ll both have a nice rollover to ensure status the next year. But first, am I missing something in terms of this “bonus year” in the year you earn? What does it mean that the medallion year ends in January not December?

    • @Cindi – Yes one of you Gold would have been good. You must finish spend by 31DEC (ie posted spend to AMEX). 1JAN each year we reset to ZERO! The Medallion year runs from 1FEB-31JAN each year but you EARN points etc 1JAN-31DEC each year.

  16. If I am ~1,000 MQM short and ~$50 short of my next medallion level for 2017 status will I still earn MQM and MQD on a flight the last week of January 2017 for 2017 status?

    Thanks in advance!

    • @jj h – nope. ended 31dec unless you buy mqms (& mdq) from Delta at bat crazy prices now

  17. Hi this may be a silly question, but I keep trying to find where it is written in legalize to be sure, but once you achieve a medallion status, can you loose it? For example, I reach Silver, but then don’t travel the whole next year. Would I be dropped out of the program?

    • @Hunter5 – In your example you would drop to just SkyMiles member on 1FEB2019 if you did not again qualify in 2018 for Silver.

  18. Say I book a round trip flight that departs in this current year and returns a couple days into January of 2018. How would that work as far as medallion earnings go? That flight could put me into status if they count it all in 2017, but wouldnt if it all went into 2018 or split it up in half for instance. Thanks.

  19. My Summary reads:
    Current Status: JUL 16 2017 — JAN 31 2018: SILVER MEDALLION
    2018 Status: FEB 01 2018 — JAN 31 2019: SILVER MEDALLION

    I’m 24k away from Gold and have flights booked that will get me to 21k. Is this the right moment to make those 3k before the end of the year to get Gold or wait until next year to extend the Gold Status? Thanks in advance for your replies!

  20. Hi Rene,

    I have Silver Medallion right now (Dec 29, 2019) and have already qualified for Silver for 2020. I am 9,000 MQMs and $40 in MQDs away from Gold. I have a flight on Jan 1, 2020 that would earn more than 9,000 MQMs and $40 in MQDs. What does this mean with regard to my status?

    Do I gain Gold status for 2020?


    Do I have Silver status for 2020, with my rollover MQDs + the Jan 1 flight giving me Silver for 2021?


    • @Mike – Any flights that take off one or after 1JAN count for earning on the following year. You will be silver unless you book a quick flight that takes off before the 1st.

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