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What the Delta calendar year expiration means for – Bump Vouchers, Elite year, Upgrade Certs & more!

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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.

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This is one of those posts I just had to put up and add to the “Essentials Tab” on the blog. When it comes to dates with Delta Air Lines there are so many seemingly conflicting and contradicting rules. There really is logic behind them all and once you look at them it is not so hard but readers, and even me, have to stop and think about what product or what option is best for them. Let’s look at them one by one:

Bump Vouchers. This one is basically a two year product. From the date you take the bump, you have one year to spend the voucher. You also have one additional year to fly the voucher, that is, you must have completed all flights by two years from the date you took the bump.

Credit Vouchers. These can come from issues. They can be from a canceled ticket or a partial credit or any number of other ways. Much like a bump voucher they are good for one year to spend and you have one additional year to fly them.

Elite year. This one seems confusing but is not when you think about it. You are NEVER earning the current elite year you are in. Even if it is January 1st of whatever year you are not earning that year’s status. It is always, at least, the next year’s status. So say you are just reading this post today. If you, today, were to earn status [whatever level] you would have all the perks of that status free till the end of this year but would have the status next year. That elite year ends the last day of January the year after your earned year. Lastly, you do not get to double dip the elite Choice Benefits as you only get them for the elite year you earned not the “free” partial year.

Upgrade Certs. I have covered this in the Choice Benefits post but good to have it all in this “date” post as I got a reader question just the other day. These certs have a one year “shelf life” if you will, and that year starts the day your redeem them. That is why it is smart to wait to select them until you need them as the expiration date begins the day you select them. Also, unlike bumps, you MUST fly them, that is, complete all flights one year after selection date.

HOOU drink coupons. These are kinda strange. As a rule of thumb they are medallion year based. Keep in mind the old medallion elite year ends the last day of January each year so these, most times, start February 1st each year and must be spent before they expire one year later. You can give these to anyone you want, they just must be spent before they expire. The question often comes up can you use these past the expiration date? Maybe but if so they are “unofficial” that is, the rep will take it and toss it and just give you the drink. Please note that expired vouchers are unlikely to work with regional partners compared to mainline Delta.

Delta e-Gift cards / vouchers. These, per Delta, NEVER expire. But one huge warning when it comes to the electronic ones – they are not tracked or stored anywhere. If you lose the number [and redemption code] that came when you got them they are then just gone.

Delta / AMEX BOGOF certs. These are very much tied to your credit card year that is different from anything else tied to Delta. For example, if your annual card fee bills on July 1st each year you have one year from that date to use AND to fly the cert. You can use this for yourself and another person or you can use it for anyone else you want, that is, any two people you enter in as passengers.

I think that is the bulk of the topics and issues readers tend to face with Delta but if I have missed any please comment below and I will update the body of this post as I want this to be a reference we can keep and bookmark to use. – Rene

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. Question regarding Delta / AMEX BOGOF certs:
    If my “Buy one” flight is paid with miles, do I still “get one free” or does the first one have to be a $ paid flight?

  2. Thanks René,

    I learned something here. I did not realize the DL Amex BOGO was good for any two flyers, I always thought I had to be one of the passengers.

    I will have to keep that in mind if I need to send my kids somewhere without me.


  3. Santastico Reply

    @rene: Totally not related to this post but wanted to get your opinion. Am I just being very unlucky or Delta has gone downhill in terms of plane reliability/on time departure? Only this month I had 3 flights delayed because of mechanical problems. The last two were in a row this week, first was OMA-MSP delayed for a good 45 minutes and yesterday DCA-MSP was delayed by 3:30hs because the plane coming from MSP had mechanical issues.. What is going on with Delta? Nothing was offered to us other than an apology by the pilot.

    • @Santastico – Are you talking mainline or regional? I have only had one really bad mainline this year in 50 or so legs. My main delays have been regional partners.

  4. Just to clarify, for an unused ticket, I think the year to use the credit starts from the date that the ticket was purchased as opposed to the date of travel, yes? Thanks.

    • @Lee – Good questions. That can be a YMMV situation. Many times it can be the date you request credit will be the date of the new ticket credit voucher. Then the above rules apply after that. If a rep wants to be nasty they can go back to first purchase date. Then again, with SNAPP now, it may soon default you back to purchase date. 🙁

  5. Santastico Reply

    @rene: The OMA-MSP was a Compass operated CRJ but the DCA-MSP was what looked like a brand new A320 with all LED lights and the new designed overhead bin. That was a Delta operated flight for sure.

    • @Santastico – Maybe it is just you and Delta does not like you 😉 (I am clearly so kidding).
      If I were you I would send in a quick and short complaint at and maybe ask for some SkyRubles for your many issues?

  6. Santastico Reply

    @rene: LOL!!! I already sent them a complain. Last time they gave $50 in Amazon gift cards. What concerns me here is that the 3 delays were related to mechanical problems and not weather.

  7. I’m with Santastico. The regionals have been simply awful of late with their crappy CRJ’s. I’m actually surprised when we leave on time any more. 2/3 have been late to very late this year.
    Rene, I’ve found that printing the egift cards is simply the best way not to lose track of them. We have so many(all in $50 increments for obvious reasons) that they get confusing without a paper trail.

    • @Geoff – Yeah, I agree with you and Santastico on regional issues. They can not get the CS100 & CS300s fast enough for me but will take a while sad to say.
      Nice tip on printing the certs. What I do is have a spread sheet and dump in the news ones and then when used the date when spent (and on what trip). Either way I think it is shameful Delta will not let you track them on Delta.dumb 🙁

  8. I have Diamond status now, and hope to achieve diamond status for 2017 as well in the next few months. My question is – when’s the deadline for selecting choice benefits for 2017? Delta website says – January 31, 2018, but one of the reps said January 31, 2017.

    I still have some unused RUC, so want to select the benefits as late as I can. Btw, can I use GUC/RUC even when I fall out of status?

    • @Ashker – Please re-read post and understand medallion year. For example, if you today earn 2017 Medallion status (Diamond) that ends on last day of Janruary 2018. You have until that day to choose your 2017 Choice Benefits. Some of them, if you wait, you will get 1 day of use out of for example gifting Status to someone else. The other, like RU or GU are smart to wait as the 1 year expiration clock starts that day (even if you are no longer Diamond after that day). Clear? See this post:

  9. @rene – I see you mention HOOU drink coupons a lot in your blog. I’ve been Diamond with Delta the last three years and received vouchers in the mail one time. Not that I need them in first or EC+ but just curious how often you come across them.

  10. IMO it is good advise to check your Delta Wallet (on computer not app) MONTHLY to make sure you are aware of all of your credits, certs, free companion fares etc….. AND their expiration dates.

  11. Thanks Rene! So there’s no way to choose the two DM choice benefits separately? If that was possible, I would choose Gifting GM ASAP and the RUCs, as late as possible.

  12. robert himelfarb Reply

    For my delta amex platinum i get a bonus 15000 mqm if i reach threshold spending by end of year.

    My question, do i need to pay the bill by year end? Or is resching the spenx sufficient and i can pay when my bill is due the next month


    • @Robert – If you spend $25,000 on either the personal or business Delta Platinum cards before 31DEC each year you get 10,000 MQMs. I hope you pay the bill off each month and never pay interest. If you spend $30,000 on the personal or business Delta Reserve cards before 31DEC each year you get 15,000 MQMs.

  13. robert himelfarb Reply


    Thanks. I understand that. So if i spend $30,000 on December 30th on my Delta Reserve, and then pay it when the bill comes in january (no interest). Do i get the MQM bonus? Or do i also have to pay it before end of year?


    • @Robert – The key is the charges must POST by 31DEC. If you spend on 30 or 31 DEC it could post into next year. Your point if they post before 31DEC will count this year even if you pay the bill into next year.

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