Rookie Wednesday: PLEASE don’t ever make these Delta AMEX mistakes I made that can really cost you in Dec/Jan each year.

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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.

just missed my delta amex reserve card spend for bonus

Really AMEX? Grrrr, I hate bad math!

There are two HUGE perks to meeting spending goals on two of the three Delta AMEX personal AND business cards that are publicly available. The goals are simply this:

Now here is the most IMPORTANT part of the above offer. It is per CALENDAR year, that is, all spending that posts to your account (again post date, NOT spend date) during the period each year between January 1st up to December 31st counts toward these spend goals for bonus points.

But take a look at the above screen shot of my Delta AMEX Reserve statement this month. Ugg. Yeah, I made a math mistake and I came up “just” a little bit short to be able to claim my second MQM bonus for the year (*Note: With the Platinum cards MQM points auto post to your SkyMiles account. With the Reserve cards you can choose who gets the MQMs – see E18 posts Essentials Tab).

My mistake is really not “that” big of a deal because, after all, it is only June and I already am Diamond for this year, next year, and will be giving this round of MQMs away to a good friend who needs them (I know, I am just a nice guy). But what if I had made this mistake at the end of the year? What if it were January and I was counting on the MQMs to keep my status? Can you imagine being ~$300 dollars short and getting ZERO bonus points?

So what was my math error? It was a simple one but there are a great many that can impact you and I wanted to cover the most common ones that can bite you.

  • Annual fee.
  • Returns.
  • Some credits.
  • Canceled tickets (including awards).
  • Non qualifying spending.

This list sounds simple enough but even simple things can become confusing. The first one in the list really is simple. At some point in the year your annual fee will bill. That spend does NOT count toward your yearly spend for bonus points. Personally I think this is frustrating and the fee should count but there you are. Recommendation: Over pay your spend goal each year at least as much as your annual fee bills.

Then we have returns. This was NOT my issue but I have only ever not got a new card bonus (for signing up for a new card) once ever in my life and this was the culprit. I had pushed it on spend and was finishing up just before my 90 days was up and I had a return that pushed me “just” under the spend required for the bonus. The bank would NOT budge. I was furious but was short and got no bonus. Recommendation: If you have returns get a store credit to avoid this issue.

On this next one why do I say “some credits”. I don’t want to make this harder than it sounds. There are credits that show up as a payment. These do not count against you. However, some do. Take a simple one like the 20% discount paying for things on Delta flights with your Delta AMEX card offers. Your net payment for whatever is what counts, not the pre-discount cost you at first charged. That is, the 20% off is not a payment applied to your bill. Recommendation: Just be careful with ANY credits in December if your spend is close.

Here is where I went wrong. Most know you earn 2x points for paying for tickets with your Delta AMEX cards. This 2x deal even includes tax as well as tax on award tickets. A sweet deal unless you happen to cancel (and in the case of awards re-deposit tickets). Because if you cancel a ticket, and get money back, that clearly comes off your spend totals for the year. Recommendation: Again, in December each year, be VERY careful of any tickets you cancel that you used your Delta AMEX cards to buy.

This last one in my list is a tricky one. There are many things that AMEX says are non-qualifying but still count and do work. The things that 100% do NOT work are things like a cash advance on the card. Those do not earn points and do not count toward your spend. Now, clearly, getting a cash advance on a card is stupid to begin with (due to the fees and interest and so on) but beyond that it does not help you in your spend goal each year for bonus points. Recommendation: Never do any spend or actions that result in non-qualifying spending.

So there you are. I am no spring chicken when it comes to points and yet I made a mistake. If I can make this kind of math error I am sure even seasoned travelers (a.k.a. not a rookie) can make them as well. I have some other tips to help you before we wrap this post up.

Your AMEX statement date. Did you know you can change it? Yep, no matter what date you now have you can call AMEX and request any date you want during the month. Personally I like the first of each month. You may like the 15th. Either way, no matter when your statement cuts off, keep in mind as talked about already, it is the post date of any charge that matters not when you get your statement. Just consider when you want your statement to close and call AMEX and change it to a date you like rather than the default one they gave you.

Next, just don’t push it. I have so many readers in a panic each year because they have pushed the spend goals until the very end of the year. Why add this stress to your life. This is why I am posting this post NOW rather than at the end of the year. Get your spend done ASAP via all the methods I mentioned in this post each year.

Lastly, considering the current Delta Platinum personal and business card offer, you do still have plenty of time to meet your spend goals before the end of this year if you just now get the card(s). But don’t delay and find yourself “that short” come January 1st! – René


my new delta amex biz card

I just got this card – did you? 🙂


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.


  1. If I could add a newbie/rookie mistake that cost me big-ish: I hit a combined $25,000 spend on Dec 30 a few years ago on my biz and personal Delta Platinum cards. It was something like — for the sake of argument — $6k on the biz and $19k on the personal. I assumed 10,000 MQMs would be deposited into my SkyMiles account because when you spend $25,000, you get 10,000 MQMs, right?


    I learned on an Amex Call of Shame that it’s $25k spend PER CARD to get those beautiful, bonus MQMs (or $30k with the Reserve).

    I realize that most people reading Rene’s amazing and helpful blog understand this (and are laughing their heads off right now). But for those who are new — please, please, please don’t make the same mistake I did.

    The $25k spend is great for the MQD exemption — but if it’s split over two (or three…or four…or…) cards, remember to hit the minimum spend on at least one of them.

  2. @Chris – Txs for your comment and you do make a great point. You also make the point for those who don’t care about MQMs that you can, as far as Delta MQD exempt spending, spread it across both personal and business cards.

  3. I have a question. I have two different companies and I have a reserve card in both names. My sky miles number (same number) is on each. Will I get bonus MQM for each card spend over 30,000?

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