Why Delta’s Elite / Medallion Credit Card Spend Waiver is the BEST of the BIG 3 Airlines!

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I love this card even with the $450 fee!

I have been a long time Delta AMEX Reserve card holder as you can see from the above. That is many years of expensive annual fees. Now I don’t “use” this card for daily spend because for me the SkyMiles I earn are nothing but a byproduct of the real goal and that is elite bonus points or MQMs. By spending $60,000 each year on this card I can harvest 30,000 bonus MQMs. For someone who is still chasing and does value elite status, this is a HUGE perk let alone all the other perks this card affords me like many more upgrades on Delta. But today I want to touch on why the Delta spend waiver is the best of the legacy major carriers that is DL, AA & UA.


Screenshot from United.com

Let’s first look at UA. Now I will freely admit I am not a big fan of United Airlines. I have had, over the years, nightmare after nightmare flying them and avoid them whenever I can. Plus, when it comes to the award program, they take all the negatives changes Delta makes to their program and clone them, but at one step WORSE than Delta did. Take the elite spend waiver that you see above for example. They allow you to be exempt by spending $25,000 on their co-branded travel card but you are limited to one step down from the top tier exemption. What message does this send? To me it screams put your mega spend each year on another credit card. Can do United and I bet many do.


Screenshot from AA.com

Next up we have AA. They have just recently updated their policy on elite spend exemption and it is, much like United, a clone of Delta but again much worse on a number of levels. First off, as you see above, you can with a MASSIVE spend of $50,000 on their co-branded travel card get 50% off the top tier spend level. Some may argue that this is a good idea but for that kind of spending to be only half way rewarded again tells me to go spend my money on other cards that value my spend much more.


Screenshot from Delta.com

Lastly we have Delta. Considering Delta was the first to move to this kind of spend based loyalty elite program they did it right the first time and have stuck with a very good option (at least as of this post date). They make it simple. Spend on the Gold, Platinum or Reserve Delta AMEX co-branded card, personal or business (or a combo of the two) $25,000 and the elite spend part of status goes away. Done! It really is that simple and straight forward and does both drive spend and reward spend.

Some may argue that either UA or AA still has an edge because you only need 100,000 elite points (they call them EQMs we at Delta call them MQMs) but I would argue the 30,000 I can earn from my Delta Reserve card each year for my mega spend lowers it down to 95,000!

You tell me. Do you agree Delta and AMEX have the best path to elite spend waivers or do you think United or American’s is better currently? – René

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  1. Delta by far is the easiest. I earn Status to Diamond just on spend. Last week for the first time I was surprised and able to experience getting picked up in a Porche and taken straight to Baggage claim.

  2. Wow René, I had no clue how much better my Am Ex Delta Reserve card is compared to the other legacy airline offerings. Thanks for enlightening me. Even with 175K flight miles a year I would not reach the top tier with the other carriers. I’m just going to sit back, relax, and keep climbing with Delta.

  3. The credit card waiver and MQM rollover put delta ahead of AA and UA. And I believe delta makes MQDs applicable to US residents only.

    On the other hand, AA allows elites to get up to eight SWUs (GUC equivalents) per year which is twice the number that you can get from delta but it probably requires a lot of flying long haul international flights in coach. If you fly the 200,000 miles required to get all eight SWUs a spend waiver will most likely be unnecessary.

    As far as UA, some people may not even be able to get the UA MileagePlus card as it is a Chase card affected by the 5/24 rule. As you point out, even if you get the card and make the spend it only gets you Premier Platinum at best. What is the other United card that qualifies for spend waiver?

    So I hate to admit it but delta probably wins this one.

  4. Interesting but completely ignores fact that skypesos are worth maybe half what UA miles are worth and almost impossible to find useful awards at “saver” levels (charts not even shown anymore). I’ll spend 25k on a Chase card that earns UR before I’d spend a dime on DL

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