Having confirmed with three sources, I can report that Delta is planning to announce, as early as September, negative changes to the 2019 Medallion year qualification requirements.
Delta was the first of the major airlines to roll out a revenue-based program for elite qualification. American just this year rolled out a hybrid approach that allows elites to knock out half of the $12,000 in exempt spending requirement by using their Citi CO-branded cards – all the way to the Executive Platinum top tier status.
With Delta it has been a straight forward spend 25k on any Delta CO-branded AMEX card and you are exempt from the MQD required spending in net ticket prices (i.e. not including tax etc.). This waiver currently applies to all Medallion levels of Silver, Gold, Platinum and even the $15,000 needed for Diamond with Delta.
I have been told that for the 2019 year the waiver will only cover Platinum or lower status. This is horrible news for many loyal Diamonds who are somewhere below the huge 15k MQD spend required as part of the requirement to keep their top tier status with Delta and will likely impact their travel (and Amex spending) choices going forward!
United, being United, was the first to not only allow exempt spending waiver up to Premier Platinum i.e. one step below their 1k top status. Delta has always been a leader in the loyalty space ahead of the other major airlines and for them to closely copy anything ugly United does just blows my mind. This will cost Delta and Amex as I foresee, if this does roll out as expected, massive CO-branded AMEX card cancellations (think Costco-worthy dumping numbers of cards).
What can you (we) do about this?
First off this has not yet been announced publicly but I trust my sources and I believe it is on the way unless we make enough noise to stop it from becoming reality. Here is my call to action that could stop this from happening.
Step one is call AMEX (on the back of your card). When they answer ask for a Supervisor as the first person to answer your call is an outsourced nobody. When you get a Supervisor on the line let them know you have heard Delta is planning to change the MQD exempt spend to NOT include Diamond Medallion status for 2019. If that happens you will be canceling your card and moving your mega yearly spend to other providers (think Chase, Citi etc.). Be sure the rep understands the MQD waiver up to Diamond is a MAJOR reason you keep the card and USE the card year after year (maybe even mention how long you have been an AMEX card holder)! Also make sure they clearly understand you WILL cancel the card if this change is implemented.
Step two is write a letter to AMEX as your name on paper matters. Write to the VPs and tell them same thing you have told the supervisor! Make sure they understand you will be canceling the CO-branded card if they make this change. You can find the contact names and addresses here.
Step three is complain to Delta on Delta.com (the link is here). Again, tell them you have heard that Delta is planning to change to the MQD exempt spend to NOT include Diamond Medallion status for 2019 and if that happens you will be looking at other airlines for the 2019 flying year. Let them know it is harder and harder each year to remain loyal to Delta with all the changes but this would be the final nail in the coffin to drive you to book with other airlines and even as a HUB city resident.
Step four is to also write the Delta VPs and tell them the same thing you mentioned on Delta.com. Again, real paper in the mail with your name on it will have an impact. It is up to you if this matters to you to reach out and let them know. Again, the contact names and addresses are here.
I believe we can get ahead of this, and with enough of an outcry, maybe stop this planned change from happening and help them realize what a stupid idea this is and how much money it will cost BOTH companies long term. Delta’s President Glen Hauenstein just last week told us about the Delta / Amex CO-branded cards:
“I think that’s one of the successes of our [co-branded Amex] card in the marketplace is that there are incredible value propositions for customers out there who acquire and use our cards, and we have no intention to degrade the total value proposition.” – bold mine
If this change happens clearly this would be a MASSIVE downgrade of the “total value proposition” in stark contrast to what was said just days ago by the company president! Right now Delta is one of Amex’s top CO-branded partners. Likely this will change that to no longer be the case if the MQD waiver to Diamond goes away.
Also, when Amex and Delta learn huge numbers of card holders will cancel due to these proposed changes from Delta – Amex may let them know they are not happy with this stupid follow United Airlines bad elite formula.
It is now up you (and me) to ACT and to let them know how we feel! – René