Rollover MQMs, AMEX MQMs, Delta Choice Benefits & more 2017 Delta Medallion Q&A!

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2016-to-2017

I normally run a post like this each year in December, but the more I think about it and all the changes we are seeing this year to the elite Medallion program it would be wiser to touch on these right now so you have time to plan and make choices with time to act. Plus, I am getting tons of questions every day in e-mail and having this post to point to would be really helpful. Let’s dive in.

  • Choice Benefits

Now officially, as of the 13th of October, you can upgrade your +1 who is any elite level or even just a SkyMiles member (important that they join) the big question is should you burn one of your Choice Benefits to gift either Silver or Gold Medallion status to someone you love (or like or work with, etc.). This one is really not as hard as most are making it out to be. Look at it this way, if they always travel with you then there is no need for them to hold elite status. If they travel many times a year on their own then both Silver and Gold Medallion status can have some real nice perks. Especially the latter if they are traveling internationally as they are considered “elite plus” with SkyTeam and that matters.

The next one is critically important about when to pick your Choice Benefits (CB). I will “try” to make this simple. If you were NOT either Platinum (PM) or Diamond (DM) this year, that is, 2016 and made it to PM or DM you are in NO rush to pick your CB. However, if you earned PM or DM in 2015, that is, last year you MUST choose your CB on or before 31JAN17 or it will be lost forever.

Another issue some miss is that if you have earned Diamond status you get BOTH, yes BOTH, a PM and DM Choice Benefits each year. You should carefully consider your flying patterns and pick the ones that best fit your needs.

  • Medallion Qualification

This one seems to confuse so many because of the fact that the Medallion “year” ends on the last day of January each year. However, QUALIFICATION ends on the last day of December each year. This means any flight that departs (scheduled) before 23:59 on 31DEC each year counts toward the current year MQMs. If you have a connecting flight that departs on the 1st of January that counts toward the following year!

Just because this always comes up let’s touch on rollover MQMs. First off, you had better have at least $3000 in MQD spend or you will roll over NOTHING. Keep in mind if you are a million miler and have “lifetime” Silver this is status ONLY and will not exempt you from needing to still reach the $3000 in spend to rollover MQMs. Or, clearly, be MQD exempt via card spend each year. Then when will it happen? For the past many years it has happened on or around the 15 of January. I expect the same this year.

Lastly we need to touch on elite mileage runs. If you are planning on booking one you need to get focused now. I am going to work on posting as many runs as I can but once we get to 1DEC each year it gets really hard to find sweet deals. In fact, my personal goals and targets of around 4CPM in coach and 8CPM in first class go out the window in December each year. If you are needing a custom run NOW would be the time to reach out to ADAM for help before prices go crazy.

  • Delta Co-Branded AMEX

Along with the above confusion is when AMEX Reserve card MQMs count. You need to think just like flights. Anything that you charge, and that POSTS to your account, on or before 31DEC each year counts as spend on that year. It does not matter when you claim your MQMs or when your AMEX statement closes your MQMs count in the year you earned them. To be crystal clear, if you wait till say 10JAN17 to claim your MQMs and keep them or gift them to someone they will count on 2016 NOT, again NOT, on 2017 because you earned them in 2016.

This could have an impact on the current increased AMEX card MQM offer as it ends in a few short weeks on November 9th. These MQMs (should) count on this year even if you are finishing the spend in Jan of 2017. However, with this limited time offer there is the remote chance if you do NOT finish the minimum spend until Jan of 2017 the MQMs may count for the following year (I do not see any specific wording in the T&C). Just do this, plan for them to count on 2016 Medallion year and if you need them NOW get your spend done ASAP. If you hope they “may” count into next year finish all your spend ASAP after 1JAN17.

  • 2017 & beyond

Next up we have what happens if situations. You may be dropping in status or going up in status in 2017. Let’s first say you have access free to C+ seats but by the time you fly you will no longer have access. Will Delta dump you out of your seats or charge you more? No – but… (what does no, “but” mean?). It means if there is an equipment change or schedule change or any number of common things you will likely get bumped out and would have to pay to get back. Oh, and don’t expect any more medallion upgrades for you or your +1 after you drop down.

Now what about the other way around. Say you are booking NOW an award ticket as a Gold Medallion for next summer of 2017 and you reach Platinum before the trip. Can you change it free (up to 72 hours before flight)? Yep, all you want as it is the current (at the time) status that matters.

Then we have what is to me a simple choice, that is, should you focus on earning SkyMiles in 2017? Folks, you should not have been focused on earning SkyMiles in 2016 so that has not changed in 2017 with even MORE devaluations of an already beat up travel “currency”. So does that mean no spending on Delta AMEX cards? Clearly not if you value elite status and upgrades as those who spend $25,000 or more each year now get higher upgrade clearance priority. Plus, unless you spend a ton of MQD or Medallion Qualifying Dollars, you need to be exempt to keep your status each year. If you are like me and hold either a Delta AMEX Platinum or Reserve card you need to spend $50/60,000 each year on the card to get the bonus MQMs. But once I hit that level I stop spending as I do not value SkyMiles I value only the MQMs I can earn.

So what is next and what do I see for 2017. I am very reservedly optimistic and sad to say I expect to see that trust crushed as it has been over the past many years. Yes, this year Delta, under the new CEO, has very slowly made some positive changes to the program but they have also devalued the award charts that they still use but do not publish. Will we see a straight up 1 cent each value for SkyMiles, that is, total revenue based redemption? If Delta does this it will make SkyMiles one of the least valued currencies period as just about ANY other travel currency will be worth so much more (or a LOT more even). They would have to “peg” the value of a SkyMile for an award at least at 1.5 cents each to be at the bottom of the choices and at 2 cents each to be marginally competitive. Even at the latter a $4000 ticket to Europe in Delta one would cost you 200,000 SkyMiles and that is a price I am just not willing to spend.

Any other questions before 2017 hits that I forgot to cover? Ask away in the comments below! – René

 

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42 comments

  1. Hello
    I reached my 25,000USD spend on my Delta Amex in August but Delta has not yet acknowledged my reaching the threshold. We corresponded and they came up with a lot of nothing but it appears that they wait at lest two billing cycles before they register the reached spending threshold.

    This obviously means that for two months the customer has fewer upgrade chances (compared to customers whose threshold has been registered). It may also means that someone who reached the threshold in the December statement loses the spending bonus altogether (both the 10,000 MQMs and the MQD waiver).

    Has anyone had the same experience?

  2. @Gabriele – This is not right. Normally they update spend every few days. You need to take this to a higher level. If they do not fix this soon email me and I can help. Best – René

  3. @Gabriele – my experience is that the MQM bonus posts on the closing date of your AMEX monthly statement in which they are earned. For me, this is always the 3rd of each month. I agree with Rene that something is wrong. You did not specify in your comment whether you had the Delta AMEX Platinum or Reserve. Platinum earns 10K MQM at $25K spend and Reserve earns 15K MQM at $30K spend. I am not sure is non-US accounts are treated differently, however.

  4. @Glenn – I think we are talking MQD spend here NOT MQM bonus. Yes those post normally after statement close but MQD spend updates every few days (normally).

  5. Rene,

    I reached DM this year and got a 2016 & 2017 PM Choice and only a 2017 DM choice. Was I suppose to receive a 2016 DM choice as well?

    Thanks!

  6. @Eric – If you were PM last year you only got a PM choice for 2016. If you this year hit DM you should get 2017 PM & DM choice for 2017. What you do this year ie PM or DM ONLY impacts 2017 that is your 2016 Choice must have been from what you did in 2015.

  7. Still cant upgrade your companion when your both using miles to travel on same PNR. Delta makes an improvement but still leaves you out in the cold when using all those miles they throw around for travel you want to take. Cant even get the “upgrade” of economy +.

  8. Bad news for me all around. After years of enjoying PM I am now facing NO elite status next year. I did not realize MQMs do not roll over. I was counting on the MQMs earned this year to give me a decent head start for 2017.
    I think what I really will miss most about loosing status is not being able to use the “magic” elite phone number. That really helped earlier this month when stuck in Florida in the hurricane aftermath.
    Rene, do you know of a direct phone number non-elites can use to get to a real (helpful) person at Delta?

  9. Rene, I have a hard enough time spending $25000 on my Amex card in 12 months. How is Barry supposed to spend that in the 2 1/2 months left in 2016?

  10. @Eric – If you had NO status last year then you should ONLY have earned the 2017 Choices this year. If you got a 2016 bonus I would just be happy and shuusshhh 🙂

  11. Thanks Rene for your quick response to my dilemma… especially the international numbers. In some circumstances the international call might be worth the extra spend.
    Thanks too for the spend suggestions. (Semi)-retirement has drastically changed my travel and MQM earnings this year. I will strategize and plan better for 2017.

  12. @Barry – If you are willing to mix up the spend 25k is not “that” hard to do over next two months (see link in other comment). Semi-Retired means time to visit a few places to beef up spend 😉
    .
    PS Keep an eye out for another OM/OD VDGC sale as they were selling $600 worth for $585

  13. Renee
    I became PM july this year so qulified for 2017 and am MDQ exempt from my spend on Delta AMEX.The PM gift of 4 upgrades are they worth?silver status for my husband will not help as we travel together .

  14. If at the end of the year you meet the $3,000 SM MQD limit, but not the $6,000 GM MQD limit, and have, say 65,000 MQMs, do you roll over 40,000 MQMs (65K-25K) or 15,000 MQMs (65k-50K)? No MDQ waiver, because no card. Thanks.

  15. @Rene, when you gift a PM to someone like a silver status does it go a year from the date you pick it or on another calendar cycle?

  16. @Marcos – It depends on the medallion year. For example, if you waited till 30 JAN 17 to gift your 2016 gift they would be Silver for ONE DAY. However, if you did like me and gifted status from 2017 choice back in FEB to my wife she has it all this year and all of next year too. Clear?

  17. @Jon Orr – You would roll over every MQM over 25,000 as you only met those two parts of the dual parts needed for Gold.

  18. I have an offer from Amex for $25 credit when I spend $100 at staples. Can I go buy a gift card to take advantage of this? And, thank you for the link to how to spend $25000 in 13 days. Impressive.

  19. @Roger – Yep. But I would look at a $200 VDGC as that way you get more spend done and still get $25 AMEX credit. 🙂

  20. I know the fee for having the plat card does not count toward the $25000 you have to spend for the mqd qualification but what else doesn’t? Approximately how much over $25000 do you recommend putting on the platinum card to make sure you hit the exemption? Like you, I’m trying to just qualify so I can put additional spend on a different card.

  21. I will be earning an additional 10,000 MQMs once I reach $50K in charges -Platinum Amex Express. Once I earned the Add’l MQMs from Amex and two pending trips already booked with Delta, I will be about 4,000 miles short from Gold [by 11/14/2016]. I will have a month and half left to end the year with SM status.
    I am willing to give up gold this year in order to start ahead 2017 rolling over 19,500 miles before turning GM [Total MQMs by 12/31 ~ 45,000 of which, 19,500 can be rollover??] I am hoping I am doing the math correctly.
    The confusion I have is – Do I have to hold off in flying/earning MQMs until 1/31/2017? or once January begins I can starting accumulation MQM in order to reach GOLD? Do I wait after January 2017?
    I am clear with the Amex spending but not clear with Delta Rules since they end in January?

    Thank in Advance Rene for your advice,

    By the Way – I received my first upgrade to 1st class today.

    Vladimir

  22. @Vladimir – You can start flying at 00.01 on 1JAN17. Rollover will hit before 31JAN17 you will will have those MQMs plus any flights departing afte 00.01 1JAN

  23. Im confounded, i took the exact same route two different times this year and delta issued lower base miles and bonus miles? But MQM was the same! Does the base cost of the ticket affect that? I was platinum in march and diamond in October but the ticket cost was half.

  24. Okay i understand mqm are not impacted, but i still dont get why i earned less on the second trip…granted my ticket cost was half the price but i was diamond on the second trip!! So miles and bonus are impacted by ticket price??? Hummm??

  25. My flight departs from X on 12/31/2016 at 22:00PM and reaches Z (final destination) on 1/1/2017 at 6:00AM. However, on the way there is a 45 minute layover in Y on 1/1/2017 at 12:45AM to pick up more passengers. We won’t be changing planes (no deplane or flight number change). How will the earned MQM be allocated?
    1. MQM from X to Z will count in current year 2016
    2. MQM from X to Y will count in current year 2016 where MQM from Y to Z will count in next year 2017.

  26. @Fred – You are making it too hard. If one flight number it is departure time of that flight. If two flights then part two is next year. Simple right?

  27. Husband reached $25000 spend threshold last week and our cycle ended Monday. I haven’t seen anything about the miles or mqms. I was giving delta a pass given that it is thanksgiving week but it looks like I’m not the only one who delta has stalled on giving the earned points. Guess I’ll have to
    contact delta and ask why.

  28. @Christine – Takes 1-3 days after statement close to post. Keep in mind annual fee does NOT count towards spend totals.

  29. Reserve card posted as soon as the number hit so that’s why I thought the platinum would do the same. I have had to call in the past on the platinum card. And, yes, I know the fee doesn’t count – almost had to learn that the hard way!

  30. I am 2,400 miles short of gold status for the year. I can buy the MQMs for around $800. I usually fly once or twice a month. Think it’s worth it to achieve gold?

  31. Hi Rene I am extremely confused re Eric question
    I was PM 2015 and used my RUs
    I had been PM 2016
    And became DM this year too into 2017 status
    I have not opened my RUs yet for 2016
    So do I also get GUGs for 2016 and 2017
    Or
    Do I only get global for 2017 and no RUs for 2017?

  32. I know this has been beat to death. I hit the 30K spend with AMEX reserve card in December 2016 I called AMEX about when it would hit my Delta account, she said I have to wait until after my closing date (January 14th). On January 14th the Miles showed up but not the MQM’s. I found the page where you go in to redeam bonus MQM’s,(never knew about that) and did so on January 16th. They show up (as you said) in last years summary on Delta.com. Did I do something wrong / stupid, are these miles (15k bonus) gone for ever, or should they roll over to 2017?

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