Rookie Wednesday: What kinds of Delta tickets earn points / MQMs? Does payment type matter? Will I earn points if I…

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.

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.

With only a few hours to go for the current month’s Delta SkyMiles “Flash Sale“, that is about 20% off Premium Select seats and ~8% off coach, I thought it would be as good a time as any to review just what kinds of tickets will earn you points and what kind of points and does payment matter in the equation. Plus, since I get these questions often, to have a post to link to would be great as a reference point! Let’s dive in:

SkyMiles award tickets. These do not earn any points. They do not earn you SkyMiles nor MQMs or MQSs.

Partner award tickets. These do not earn any points. They do not earn you SkyMiles nor MQMs or MQSs.

Miles and Cash tickets. These do not earn any points. They do not earn you SkyMiles nor MQMs or MQSs as they are also considered an award ticket. This type of ticket is NOT the same as a PWM ticket you see next.

Pay With Miles tickets. These do not earn SkyMiles unless you are paying part of the ticket with “cash”. Then you only earn SkyMiles on the cash portion of the ticket. However, you DO earn full MQMs for this ticket and MQSs.

Paying to upgrade (w/ Delta). This one is mostly straight forward. As long is it is before you check-in (i.e. avoid at OLCI) you will earn whatever class of service bonus if you upgrade your ticket i.e. 50% or 100% etc.

Paying to upgrade (w/ Partners). This will not earn you bonus points of any kind. Your ticket will earn points based on the fare you paid to begin with. If Delta is not getting paid they are not going to give you bonus points.

Upgrade with SkyMiles. You will not earn bonus points for this upgrade. You will earn points from the base fare. BTW, most times, using SkyMiles this way can cost as much or more than just booking a ticket with SkyMiles!

Paying with a bump voucher (Delta or partner). This will earn you full SkyMiles and MQMs plus MQSs and class of service bonus if you are in that fare class. Just think of bump vouchers the same as cash i.e. you earn whatever you would if you paid cash.

Paying with a Delta gift card (real or e-Gift). This will earn you full SkyMiles and MQMs plus MQSs and class of service bonus if you are in that fare class. Gift cards are the same as cash i.e. you earn whatever you would if you paid cash.

Amex Bogo or Buy One Get One (free) certs. The primary flier i.e. the one you pick as flier #1 will earn full SkyMiles and MQMs plus MQSs as well as class of service bonus. The second flier earns nothing at all.

Medallion upgrades. These do not earn you class of service bonus points. You will earn based on the fare class paid.

Global Upgrade certs (w / Delta). These do not earn you class of service bonus points. You will earn based on the fare class paid.

Global Upgrade certs (w / Partners). Officially you should NOT earn class of service bonus points for these but many times you do (even most times). Keep this YMMV tip in mind next time you are thinking of redeeming a GU cert and need more MQMs.

Regional Upgrade certs. These do not earn you class of service bonus points. You will earn based on the fare class paid.

Paying with other points (Amex MR, Chase UR, Citi TY, USBank FP etc.). You will earn full points just like you paid cash i.e. SkyMiles and MQMs and MQSs. You will earn class of service bonus as well. The only thing to be careful with is not accidentally buying E BASIC fares. BASIC fares with Delta still earn FULL points (unlike other airlines) but still have crummy restrictions so try to avoid them if you can.

OTA tickets. That is Online Travel Agent or web sites that sell tickets should, most times, earn you full points just like paying cash. I say most times as there are exceptions where these sites can at times sell you a consolidator fare that earns less than full points but most times these are associated with a package deal with hotel and such.

Delta Vacations. This is an OTA and should earn you full points always as it is owned by Delta. It has been years since I reached out to them but with my last contact I was assured you will / should earn full points booking anything via Delta Vacations. If you do not, gripe enough until you get the full points.

Rebooked tickets (higher fare class). This can happen for any number of reasons that you are say booked in a dirt cheap fare class that should not earn any bonus points but the Delta rep rebooks you in a “Y” or other “F” fare class. What should happen is that you only earn the paid and booked fare class points but sometimes you get bonus points based on the rebooked class of service. Enjoy those few times it happens to you (but don’t expect it)!

Rebooked tickets (new route). The important part of this is a question: Was the ticket reissued. If it was you will earn based on the new route i.e. say you were booked ATL-DTW then flew ATL-MSP-DTW. If reissued you earn more MQMs and an extra MQS. If not reissued you earn based on the original. However, if you were booked the longer route and due to whatever you were forced to fly the direct route you can after the fact email in and request original route credit and if persistent Delta should grant you what you originally booked.

Competitors ticket. This is when, one of the few remaining say United, moves you over to Delta for whatever reason. In the past you not only could request United points for the flight you did not take but you would also earn SkyMiles if you put your SkyMiles number in before the flight. Now Delta has attempted to stop this so don’t expect SkyMiles or MQMs or MQSs. It is a gift if you get it today.

Lastly, before someone comments something like: “I had (whatever) and earned points for that ticket”. Good for you and congratulations. You should not have earned points but did. Just be happy and enjoy the bonus but don’t expect it to happen again under the same conditions. I, for example, often put in my Flying Blue number when booked on a business class Delta SkyMiles award and sometimes earn FB points – but I do not expect them.

I think that is the complete list of types and ways you can get a ticket from Delta. I may have missed one and if so ask about in the comment section below and I will bring it up top into the post.- René



  1. I still think it’s appalling that, when downgraded, you only get the points / miles for the cabin travelled in, rather than your original fare. That stinks 🙁

  2. Here’s a question, not about earning, but about upgrades. If you are flying revenue on AF (or KLM) marketed flights to Europe, and one domestic segment is a DL aircraft, but has Partner flight number and was Partner marketed, do you get on the upgrade list on the domestic segment that is operated by DL? (Say you are Diamond Medallion on DL and you put your Sky Miles number into the AF or KLM reservation). Thanks.

  3. @Shatner’s Bassoon – Maybe. If they refund your money (i.e. fare difference) it is hard to argue for the points. However, if you do NOT get any kind of refund then yes I would fight them for full credit.

  4. @Don – It is based on where you purchased the ticket. Thus if you purchased on partner web site you earn per the partner earning charts even if on Delta metal.

  5. Been a diamond for several years so far from rookie:) But had two questions I have heard different answers on.

    If you use a voucher you receive from VDB or as compensation or that was received as compensation for a problem with a flight, etc. does that $ amount counts towards MQD?

    Also do chase point tickets, etc. earn MQDs? (MQD’s don’t matter to me right now since I have the Am Ex spending but if that goes bye-bye for diamonds this will really suck if these don’t earn MQDs).

    This is a little OT but since Chase points were mentioned thought I would throw this out here. I’m new to using the travel portal on chase and seeing a lot of E fares come up. Is there anyway of having the chase portal avoid E fares? Or if I purchase an E fare using chase points can I call the diamonds line immediately after and ask to buy up to the first available lowest class of service using a credit card without a fee? (wasn’t sure if E fares have a restriction of no changes in the first 24 hours or not since I refuse to buy them). Do we have the 24 hour cancel policy with the chase portal like we do with Delta?

  6. @Gary – Vouchers and CC points earn full MQDs. I am not a expert on UR points booking. I use mine for other matters. With FlexPerks you can call and request higher fare class. My guess is you can do the same with UR but not 100% sure or tested. Maybe other readers can chime in with their results.

  7. Not sure if this is a pertinent question but I’m going to ask anyway. I have the delta Amex reserve and delta Amex platinum. My points get automatically deposited into skymiles. Are those the same as the amex MR points you mention in the post? Is that just how those points work or should I keep them as Amex MR points to use other than booking an award ticket with delta?

  8. Thank you for such a simple to understand and comprehensive breakdown. How about a simple chart with columns with yes and no checkmarks? Delta should link this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *