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Rookie Wednesday: What is the cut off to earn Delta MQMs for 2016, 2017 & beyond each year?

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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.

I hold ALL 3 Delta AMEX cards right now!

If you have not checked the calendar, the 2016 Delta Medallion EARNING year is just about up. I say this because so many are confused by the fact that the Medallion flying year does not end until 1FEB each year but that has nothing, nada, zip and zilch to do with 31DEC each year that is the last day to earn elite points or MQMs (as well as MQSs and MQD spend or exemption).

So today I thought I would bust out in one place so many common questions I get or folks often get wrong. What is the last day you can safely apply for Delta AMEX cards and get the MQMs and will the MQMs count on THIS YEAR – that is, will they post this year or what if your statement closes into next year – what then. Some of this is set in stone and some is more a gray area so take that into consideration.

The Delta Reserve personal and business cards MQM new card bonus are really simple. You get the 10,000 MQMs with your very first purchase. It normally only takes a few days after that for the MQMs to post to your account. I have had readers get the card as late as the 20th and make a purchase and get the points posted. In other words, if you are needing 10,000 MQMs and have never EVER had either of the Reserve cards your time is getting really short and you may want to think about applying ASAP.

Posted days after meeting new card spend!

Regarding the Platinum card new card bonus MQMs it is more of a YMMV because normally the MQMs post about 1-3 days after your statement closes. In my case I missed the spend by a few days and yet still got the MQMs after my statement closed. So, yes, you could get them shortly after you meet the spend but it could post next year and could count on next year’s total. I just can not promise you one way or the other on this one.

Now on to card spend on any of the four cards above. The KEY point you must know is that it is all about posting date. Any spend you have that does post to your Delta AMEX by 31DEC will count as spend on the current year. Even if you buy something on say 30DEC and it posts on 2JAN it counts on the next year’s spend totals for earning and even Delta MQD spend waiver. I have many times in the past purchased deals on the 31DEC and they all posted into the next year and counted on that year.

gift of mqms from delta points
Don’t wait – counts when EARNED!

Next one that those who think they can be sneaky get wrong and it can cost them. Say you have the Reserve card and want to wait until JAN to gift MQMs to yourself or someone else and think if you wait they will count for the next year! WRONG! They count in the year you earned them – that is, they will count, at the time, backwards to the year before. Also, it seems, if you do wait many times AMEX will auto dump them into your account at times if you wait till after the 1st to redeem them.

Now on to one that folks also normally get wrong or are confused about. What flights count on this year? It really is simple and much like the AMEX rules. Any flight that is SCHEDULED to take off before 23:59 on 31DEC counts on this year. Any flights after that time count on next year. And don’t make this hard – if your ticket starts in December and your return is in January then you get credit for the DEC flights for this year and the JAN flights for next year. Clear?

Lastly a few other bits that often come up. No, MQD spend does not rollover. If you spent $60,000 with AMEX last year you are starting at ZERO spend on 1JAN like the rest of us. It would be nice to have this but let’s be happy with MQM rollover for now (that likely will hit by the middle of January fyi).

Any other MQM or elite questions? Fire away – 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. Enrique Estevez Reply

    I have two delta platinum cards and upgrading both would get me from platinum to diamond. I’d rather not have more inquiries on my account so I don’t want to apply to the cards again and I’m already maxed out on Amex cards (4). Does upgrading also get you 10k mqms? I could care less about the skymiles I have a ton.

    Also is your reserve priority higher if you have two reserve cards as opposed to 1? Looking at the business and consumer ones.

    • @Enrique – NEVER EVER UPGRADE! I get tons of reports of NO points (see this post for example). Dump one card and go for a new one and do screen shots of offer (you should do this always anyway). It is just not worth the risk of no MQMs.
      Beyond that there is no advantage for perks or upgrades to have two Reserve cards. Either the personal or business do the same thing ie more upgrades and such.

  2. When is the last day you can redeam or select your Platinum member Choice Benefit (regional upgrade certs for me), I was Platinum in 2016.

    • @Brian P – If you are talking 2016 Choice Benefits earned in 2015 you must chhose by 31JAN17.

  3. Richmond Flyer Reply

    Just to be clear, once you hit $60K in spending you’ve earned the additional MQMs, regardless of my statement closing date. Correct? Put another way, if my billing date were say the 3rd of the month but I hit the $60K mark on 12/31 I’d still qualify.


    • @Richmond – That is what I tried to make clear yes. Again you have not met the spend until it posts on AMEX.

  4. @Rene—new follower of your site/blog and appreciate all the great advice! Finishing my last biz trip next week and will need about 7,500 MQMs to retain Diamond. Just applied/approved for Delta Reserve and hope I can get this first purchase in and get the 10K credited by 12/31. Already have an AMEX Platinum but the $450 fee seemed better than a 7,500 mileage run last week of year. PS—I was thinking ATL-MSP-ANC RT ;-(

    • Harry – Welcome to the blog and you should be fine. A mileage run from home is always best. Well no chance for a bump and other bits

  5. >> …Reserve card … wait until JAN to gift MQMs to yourself … WRONG! They count in the year you earned them

    I wasn’t aware of that one. It pays to look at the rookie posts even if I’m not a rookie. With the 15k MQM boost from the reserve card I’ll be Diamond this year, but I was debating between going for it or saving the nearly 50k of MQMs (35 plus the 15 AmEx bonus) for rollover for next year to make Platinum qualification easier. Based on what you are saying it sounds like I have no choice as the MQMs will be applied to 2016 regardless of whether I wait until after the end of the year. If that is really true they should update the T&C on this ( since all the T&C says is “If within 90 days, you do not elect to designate an MQM recipient, the MQMs will be deposited in your SkyMiles account.”.

    • @David – Yes it is true (I know this game very well). Also, they don’t need to update anything. The AMEX wording is crystal clear. MQMs count on year earned not when claimed. The wording you quoted on says nothing about the year they apply just about what happens if you do not manually select them.

  6. “@Richmond – That is what I tried to make clear yes. Again you have not met the spend until it posts on AMEX.”

    Maybe i’m not awake yet, little confused.

    So if i hit 60k spend by 12/31/16, but my statement closes 1/4/17. Will i still get the bonus MQM in time? i’m currently at 71k of 75k MQM to hit platnium. Or do i have to do a mileage run to be safe

    • @Michael – As long as you meet spend ie posted spend 31DEC your statement could close 30JAN17 and would count on 2016

  7. I’m ging to be about 7k short of 60k for the year 🙁 and I don’t think there’s any plausible way to come up with it. Any ideas? I’m PM and 30k shy of DM, but I’m just trying to roll over as much as I can.

  8. Oh, I meant for spent. I’m 7k short on the 60k spend to get the next set of MQMs

  9. @Renee I believe you know.

    I just looked at the the AmEx T&C and that scenario isn’t clearly spelled out there either

    That seems like something that could bite someone if they don’t know. Also if they auto deposit it on Jan 1st that is not consistent with their 90 day. I could see a scenario making someone angry where they want to gift the MQMs to someone, meet the spend at the end of December, yet the MQMs get posted to them on Jan 1st. They really should update the T&C to spell this out.

    • @David R – I am not saying they will auto post EXACTLY on the 1st just that many readers have informed me they were well within the 90 day window and during the beginning of January AMEX auto dumped the MQMs into their account and the points counted, naturally, for the previous year.
      Also to me the wording is very clear on the AMEX T&C site:
      Annual Miles Boost℠ for Reserve
      The close of the calendar year is December 31, without regard to the time of the year that the account is opened. This means that for the first year of Card Membership, the Card Member’s Eligible Purchase bonus period may be less than twelve months. If in any calendar year Eligible Purchases on the Delta Reserve Credit Card are $30,000 or more, the Basic Card Member will be awarded 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (“MQMs” as defined in the Delta SkyMiles Membership Guide and Program Rules). If in that same calendar year Eligible Purchases on the Delta Reserve Credit Card are $60,000 or more, the Basic Card Member will be awarded an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs. Eligible Purchases means purchases for goods and services minus returns and other credits. Eligible Purchases do NOT include fees, interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, purchases of travelers’ checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, or purchases of other cash equivalents. The MQMs are not redeemable and only count towards Medallion status. MQMs can be kept by the Basic Card Member or gifted to someone else. MQM gift recipients must have a valid SkyMiles account. If within 90 days, a MQM recipient is not designated, the MQMs will be deposited in the Basic Card Member’s SkyMiles account. Additional Card Member(s) are not eligible to receive miles through Miles Boost; however all Eligible Purchases by the Additional Card Member(s) will count towards the Basic Card Member’s spend level to reach the Miles Boost threshold. Card Members may be permitted to have more than one Options, classic, Gold, Platinum, or Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express account; however, Card Members are only eligible to receive one annual bonus for each type (i.e., Options, Classic, Gold, Platinum, or Reserve) Delta SkyMiles Credit Card account from American Express.
      To receive the MQMs, your account must be active, in good standing, and not in default at the time the MQMs are posted to your account.

      No where in the above wording does it say your MQM will count when they are awarded. Clear?

      • I get what you are saying, but I still don’t agree that it the scenario is clearly spelled out, especially that the 90 days won’t be honored. If it was clear, then people wouldn’t be getting confused. There’s a difference between when something is earned and when it is posted/credited to your account.

        If you look at the wording of: “If within 90 days, a MQM recipient is not designated, the MQMs will be deposited in the Basic Card Member’s SkyMiles account.” that states that you have 90 days to decide to gift or keep.

        Let’s say you hit the spend at the very last day of December on December 31st and the MQMs will change you from Platinum to Diamond, so you don’t want them to apply immediately. If you want to wait 90 days and make the designation on day 89 as you aren’t sure if you want to post to your account or gift to someone. If the 90 days was honored as outlined in the T&C, that puts the decision deadline to decide gift or keep at around March 30th. Clearly they are not doing that, so the T&C should say something along the lines of:

        “If within 90 days, a MQM recipient is not designated, the MQMs will be deposited in the Basic Card Member’s SkyMiles account, except when the 90 days is beyond the end of the calendar year. Any MQMs not designated by the end of the calendar year will be will be deposited in the Basic Card Member’s SkyMiles account.”

        • @David – I think the reason why AMEX is auto dumping MQMs is due to what you are talking about. Delta is selling MQMs even into the start of the new 2017 Medallion year (ie until the 15th of FEB). When these MQMs apply is clearly spelled out but I feel AMEX has done a good job stating the calendar year. Then again, as you point out, folks are still confused. Well at least >>> I <<< have warned folks! 😉

  10. I meant I was 7k $$ short of 60k spend, and I’m not sure how i can do that much spend in three weeks.

  11. I am a little weary investing that much money without getting it back quickly. I tried to see if i could pay rent online three months in advance but they don’t take Amex.

    • @Amanda – Take some time to learn about MS. You can, with careful work and w/in reason, meet that spend and get it back inside 30 days (or less). There are so many ways if you take the time to learn. PS my blog is not an MS blog but read up on Frequent Miler here on Boarding Area.

  12. Hi – as a Million Miler (1MM), will my automatic Silver status give me the basic bump and then my rollover miles start qualifying me for Gold – this is for 2018 status? Just starting to calculate where to put my spend now (Delta Reserve, Business Chase ink Plus, Business Platinum AmEx (non-Delta) – I still have 4k to go for spend on the last to get the 100k membership rewards, so leaning toward putting it there first as I’ve already qualified for Platinum in 2017) – thanks for your thoughts!

    • @Meg – Nope. You are gifted status ONLY not a single MQM. You are starting at the same level as the rest of us. If you are not rolling over MQMs then you start at ZERO for next year. Not sure what Membership Rewards points have to do with anything other than you can send the to Delta 1:1 for SkyMiles redemption but that has zero to do with MQMs either.

      • @Rene Ok – so there are my approx 35k rollovers are my start and then 15k miles – which could be done via $30k spent on the Delta Reserve for MQMs rather than the Platinum for the MR – that is why I mentioned MR).

        • @Meg – OK yes and then another 15k from another 30k Reserve spend. Then a few MRs to Asia maybe 🙂

  13. Rene – Any idea when the bonus MQM will post from the offer that was sent out by Amex to earn %k or 10k additional MQM for reaching $50K spend. Note that it posts 10-12 weeks after promotion is met and I got the email Oct 23rd or so – it would seem that it will post in 2017, but since it relates to 2016 spending, it will look back….any clue???

    • @RV – Not my offer so not a clue. I think it said 6-8 weeks after end so keep waiting. It should count on this year but no idea since again not one of my links.

  14. Hi Rene,

    Want to confirm as you are pretty vocal regarding this, but if I already have a Platinum Delta AMEX and want to get a Delta Reserve AMEX for the sign-up MQMs, it needs to be a business card; not a personal card, right? Also I should close the personal card so that in 12 months I need the MQMs, I’m past AMEX rule on new card holder MQM rule. I’m short 4500 MQMs and wont be able to jump on mileage run.



    • @Joe – You can get the personal card no problem if you have NEVER had it EVER before. The AMEX credit card rule is max 4 (some say 5) and charge cards do not count towards total cards you can hold. Does this help?

  15. Rene – Thanks for the quick response. So if I read your response correctly, even though I hold a personal Platinum Delta AMEX card, I can get a personal Reserve AMEX card and still get the 10,000 MQMs after my first purchase? I should still shut down the Platinum card as the privileges on the Reserve card are the same plus greater ones.

    • @Joe – No need to cancel anything unless you already have 4+ AMEX credit cards. Notice the photo at top of page. I hold 3 DL AMEX cards and got bonus (1x ever) for each card. You can do the same.

      • Hi Rene,

        Just got my new Reserve card in less than three days! Now going to charge something to get those 10K MQMs. I did want to follow up and ask you why you recommended keeping both Platinum and Reserve cards. I though the game was to turn off the Platinum card and wait a year and then apply again to pick up the sign up bonus MQMs?


        • @Joe – New card MQMs are 1x lifetime. If you can spend 50k this coming year on the Platinum and 60k on the Reserve it may be worth holding both or even just for the BOGO certs.

  16. Thanks for the quick response Rene! So if I read your answer correctly, I can apply for the personal Reserve AMEX and still get the 10K MQM after my first purchase. I should therefore cancel my Platinum Delta AMEX as the Reserve card has the same privileges plus greater ones.



  17. Hi Rene,

    Thank you for helping us all out. I’m a current Silver Medallion, a personal Platinum Delta Card holder and have spent $25k+ this year, but will not be making it up to the $50k mark. I am thinking about going for the Delta Reserve card soon. How should I go about this? I don’t really want to be paying for both Platinum and Reserve, I will only want one or the other. Plus I currently have another Platinum card attached to my account, assigned to a family member.

    Also, I have not used/redemeed my Companion ticket from my Platinum card, will I loose that voucher if I upgrade?

    • @Arvin – Don’t upgrade. Very bad things can and do happen and if you don’t get points you will have blown only 1 shot in lifetime to get new card bonus points. Get new then cancel old one. Even though AMEX will tell you BOGO certs goes away it will not until EXP date. You can pay for it with new Delta AMEX Reserve no problem!

  18. If I apply for the Reserve card, you think I can cancel my Platinum card once I have received the Reserve card? Also, what would happen to the other platinum card I have attached to my account, can I just add the platinum card to my reserve? Or should I keep both Reserve and Platinum cards? I know I can for BOGO, but don’t know if I would want to be paying for both cards.

    • @Arvin – I would consider biz card at this point since you just got personal reserve card.

      • Sorry, I ONLY have the Delta Platinum card and a family member is attached to my account and they too have a platinum card. Should I apply for the Delta Reserve card or the Business Delta Reserve card. Then would I cancel my Delta Platinum card?

  19. Hey Rene, quick Q for you.

    I enrolled in an MQM booster on my platinum Delta AMEX. I will get an additional 5,000 MQMs for my $50K spend. I am 2,626 shy of PM, and amex told me this could take 10-12 weeks to appear. Will this count as 2016 status and make me PM or will my additional MQMs past gold roll over?

  20. Thanks Rene. Delta stated as long as I earned the MQMs in 2016 they would count towards status for that year even if they dont post until 2017. Im a little hesitant to believe them and am debating upgrading to the reserve card and purchasing something quickly before year end,

  21. Hi Renee. I have an Aeromexico flight on 12/31 that is scheduled to leave from Brazil at 11:55pm. This will put me at Diamond. If the flight leaves late, would that matter?

    • @Rich – Scheduled departure is what matters. As long as it does not cancel on you what time it really leaves does not matter.

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