Travel Related

Rookie Wednesday: PLEASE don’t do these Delta things before 31DEC (or forget to do).

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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 frequent flyer rules are a puzzle, wrapped inside a maze, inside an enigma. Please understand most Delta elite and frequent flyer phone reps you talk to have no idea of the rules of the program and will tell you just about anything and many times that information is wrong. Heck, many of my Delta contacts who work with the program get info wrong. That is how hard the program is to understand clearly.

But that should tell you one simple thing: The normal every day Delta flyer is going to make some really bad choices and it is not always their fault. Even seasoned elites so many times have no clue or have almost been misled by the insane rules that confuse just about all of us. Like what? Let’s dive right in with one I was confused about featured in the photo above.

1) When or if you should upgrade your Sky Club membership. You don’t want to do that NOW. Why? Sky Club membership works on the Medallion year clock not on the calendar year clock. The old Medallion year ended on the last day of February each year but now it is the last day of January each year. If you upgrade (pay, points or Choice Benefit) your membership from individual to full right now you will only get one month of that perk!

2) NOT finishing your AMEX spending by year end (31DEC each year). OK some of these are sorta things you should do but so many get them wrong that I need to bring them up. Many are under the assumption that you have until the next Medallion year starts to finish your AMEX spending on your Delta Platinum or Reserve card to get bonus MQMs. You ONLY have until 31DEC each year for a charge to POST to your account to reach the spend thresholds of each card.

3) NOT reaching spend to be MQD exempt. Same as above point two in a way. Again, you are living on a calendar clock for the $25,000 you need each year to be MQD exempt unlike the medallion year that is 1FEB-31JAN each year. Understand the difference.

4) Choosing your medallion Choice Benefit too soon. This is another one some think must be done before year end. This IS based on the Medallion year. So, unless you need something now, you have until 31JAN each year to select the current year Choice Benefit. Now if we are talking the next year’s choice benefit you may have earned this year, you have until NEXT year’s 31JAN date to redeem that before it goes away. There is what to choose but that you can look at in this post.

ebay user trustbuysolutions1 selling delta medallion choice benefit in violation of terms of program

5) Sell your Medallion Choice Benefits on eBay (or otherwise). OK so this one is not limited to just before the end of 2015 but had to mention it. This is just about the dumbest thing an elite can do. You are risking your elite status with Delta, all your points even all your award trips you have booked. Oh, and Delta can also kick you out of SkyMiles for life. Lastly, who would ever pay 3k for GM status anyway?

6) Getting your SkyBonus points spent (if you are getting kicked out). We all should be painfully aware Delta is anti-small business owners and is kicking us out of the business award program. I have been patiently waiting to burn all my points until next week when I will unload what I have for a bunch of drink coupons that should be good for 2016 since I will be spending a bunch of time in coach exit row seats with no “enhanced experience” for me.

7) Thinking your MQM rollover is safe. Unless you have at least $3,000 in MQD spend, or are MQD exempt via AMEX spending of $25,000, you will NOT get any rollover MQMs. If you have 200,000 and have not met the other minimums they will be GONE on 1JAN forever. Poof. Yep, know this fact.

8) Forgetting to spend your AMEX Platinum card or AMEX Gold card travel credits. These are calendar year based and reset on the 1st of the year each year. After the first, if you have Delta as your selected airline, you can change to another airline if you want. If you don’t want to change you can just spend away again for this perk.

9) Booking a flight that spans 31st & 1st and expect 2015 credit. When you get MQM and MQS credit for a flight is scheduled time of departure. If you have a round trip flight that departs before 23:59 on the 31st of December and returns on or after 00:01 on the 1st then you get credit for the outbound on 2015 but the return on next year 2016. Be clear on this!

10) Allow points to expire. OK this one is not really Delta related but worth mentioning and a reason to have an Award Wallet account. There are a great many programs that if there is no activity your points go away. Some, even if you DO create activity by say using a shopping portal or something else still just go away at some date like year end. Just look over all your programs and check the clocks. Normally spending your points for something like merchandise is just dumb to do as the value is not there. But if your points are going to vanish in a few weeks anyway something is better than nothing!

So there you are. We all work very hard for our status, our points and our rewards from travel. The worst thing we can personally do is things that cost us! – 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. orioncarol Reply

    I’be been Platinum all year and earned Diamond status last month. So do I getto select Diamond options now for the rest of this year, and then select again after Feb 1 for year 2016?

    • @orioncarol – Again see the linked post already touched on but you have earned your 2016 benefits for PM & DM. You have until 31jan17 to spend those but you can spend them RIGHT NOW if you want. To have add more choices you will have to earn 2017 status during 2016 flying year.

  2. Hi Rene, i met the mqd threshhold for silver (due to work travel), but am 1,100 miles away for mqm threshold. I will fly to atlanta from nyc in December which will get me 750 mqms. Do you think it is worth it to fly first class for an extra 200 dollars to get the bonus miles to push me over the mqm threshhold?

    I guess I am really asking if it is worth it to spend an extra 200 dollars to get silver medallion. I fly delta 10-20 times per year. thanks.

  3. I think I am good for next year in SkyBonus as I have not received anything telling me I’m out. I’m still not spending those points as last year I got a pile of drink vouchers early December and when I received them the expiration date was end of December. I simply don’t trust Delta anymore I guess.

  4. Rene, aren’t there two timelines for DM and PM benefit gift(s)? The time line to SELECT the RUC and GUC by 1/31/?? and the time line to USE the gift within 12 months of selection. Correct? I don’t select the upgrades unless I know for sure I am going to use them immediately and/or I am forced to based on 1/3/?? date.

    • @DDiamond – Correct. You have a clock you must redeem them by that is by the END of THAT medallion year you earned them for then there is the clock to spend them that starts the day you redeem them.

  5. Hi René. Quick question on what you’re saying re: the impending doom of the SkyBonus program and points for some of us. I constantly see people mention the unloading of these for drink coupons, status for others, etc. If I was reasonably sure I was going to take a trip in 2016 that I could use a SkyBonus award for, wouldn’t it make more sense for me to get a certificate for that trip on the last days of 2015? (i.e. correct class, correct time, etc. is something I know that’s important.) The certs are valid for 12 months from issue as far as I can tell, and it doesn’t appear I still have to actually be in the SkyBonus program to use them. Is there anything incorrect in that logic? Thanks and keep up the great work on the blog, it’s my go-to Delta resource.


    • @JT – I would use the UG certs if you can. Yes you will have to call but should be able to spend. I may still get 2015 drink coupons but should not. I will gripe if I do.

  6. On (1), I had a panic attack just now, as I chose my Choice Benefits 2 weeks ago. Just looked at my DL Wallet, and my Executive SC membership shows Current Exec membership ends 1/31/16, and Upcoming Exec membership ends 1/31/17. So perhaps an edit needed, at least for Choice B’s of Exec SC.

    • @Bob – Delta’s IT is all over the board on this right now. If it was your 2016 choice benefit that is why it worked. If it was your 2015 choice benefit it will reset to nada as THAT one should only be until 31JAN16. See difference. Hard to not get overly wordy in post plus the warning is more for those who still have 2015 CB to spend.

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