When and What Delta Medallion Elite Choice Benefits Should I Choose for 2018 / 2019?

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From Delta.com – When you must pick Choice Benefits

One of the remaining mega perks of chasing Delta Platinum and Diamond Medallion status is the yearly Delta Choice Benefits. But what and when you choose them can make them worth more or less than they could be.

First let me knock out a mistake so many Diamonds make year after year. They forget that they get BOTH the Platinum and the Diamond choices each year. The next big mistake is when to redeem these perks.

Notice the screen shot of my page on Delta.com at the top of this post. I have already redeemed both of my 2018 Choice Benefits. These are the ones I earned in 2017 when I reached Diamond in 2017 but I earned them for 2018. Thus, if I had not spent them, I would only have until the last day of January 2019 to spend them. Please, clearly understand if you, this year 2018, have earned your 2019 Platinum or Diamond status, you can wait until the last day of January 2020 to claim those benefits as you can see below!

No rush for my Diamond Lisa!

For me, for my 2019 Platinum Choice Benefit, I have already claimed the Regional Upgrade certs and have used them successfully. My wife, who for the first time ever earned Diamond Medallion status this year has not yet claimed any of her Choice Benefits and is in no rush to do so (fyi you can not double dip, that is, Lisa does NOT get a perk now in 2018 and again in 2019 as you are always earning the following year’s benefits).

So now that we understand what we get and when you must claim them by, the next question is what to pick and their value. I will look at the pro’s and con’s of each.

Delta One for price of Coach? Yes please!

  • Upgrade Certificates. I always pick these for my Platinum choice and I use them. I have only ever, for years, had 1 single cert go unused. I constantly get complaints from readers that they have tons of these that go unused each year. If you, in your area and travel patterns find you can not use them, clearly do not pick them( #ProTip – part of this issue could also be you do not request them far enough in advance). Same goes for Global upgrade certs. These 4 one way (many legs) upgrade certs alone can make chasing status worth it. These save me thousands of dollars each year! Also keep in mind you have 1 year to burn these once you claim them and you do NOT have to keep your status at the current level to use them (or any status for that matter).

No-No and REALLY NO!

  • Global Entry Application Voucher – To me this is just a ridiculous choice for anyone. I would hope anyone who is a Platinum or Diamond with Delta has some travel card that will pay you back $100 every 5 years to pay for your Global Entry (with free PreCheck included). If not keep in mind anyone else who has extra credit card $100 credits can use them on you!
  • Delta Sky Club Individual Membership – This used to be a half decent choice but as of 1JAN19 this is also a very bad choice as many premium travel cards give you the same perks as full individual membership! Know this.
  • Delta Sky Club Executive Membership – See the above. Using 2 perks for one “fake” membership is twice as bad a choice.

Some of the best choices!

  • Bonus Miles – I have picked this a number of times in the past. SkyMiles are worth at least 1 cent each (and soon pegged at that value with changes). The plus of this choice is SkyMiles do not expire until you die so you have time to spend them when you want.
  • Travel Voucher or Retail Gift Card – I do not get this choice. You have limited time to spend this and now that you can spend SkyMiles at about 1 cent each why would you leave $50 in value on the table? Just avoid this choice.
  • Give Medallion Status – This can be HUGE and if someone uses the perk a lot can be one of the most valuable choices (as a gift to someone). Keep in mind the timing on these. Example, if you gift someone Medallion status now from your 2018 Choice Benefit they get status for about 1 month i.e. it ends 1FEB2019. If you gift them from your 2019 Choice Benefit they get status for 1 year and 1 month as it ends 1FEB2020. If you can earn Diamond Status by 1FEB2019 and earn your 2020 benefits you could gift someone (from your 2020 Choice Benefit) status for nearly 2 years! <-WOW!

So there are my suggestions for what and when you should pick your Delta Choice Benefits. The value depends on you and your travel patterns. Any other questions fire away in the comments section below.

Have you locked in your Delta Medallion Choice Benefits yet? What did you choose this year? Will the changes Delta has made to the Medallion program for next year alter your choices going forward? – René

 

33 comments

  1. Thanks again for all of the tips over the years Rene. My wife is very excited about our end-of-year trip to Cape Town SA with free stop over in Paris, and I’m excited that it will get me to DM again : ) My question: what impact do you see for upgrade certs now that Delta seems more determined to sell those seats (even “taking” miles)? Do you think they will continue to clear in advance, or that we’ll simply be at the top of the upgrade list at the airport?

  2. @Jim – It is going to make everything upgrade related MUCH harder. The key factor will be how cheap Delta gets with the miles upgrades. As long as they stick to 1 cent each then as we near departure prices for miles upgrades should (again should) go up and make folks think twice. We shall see is my best answer.

  3. Hey friend!

    As a scatter-brained Diamond, I am not sure if I chose all of my Diamond and Plat benefits yet for the current year. Is there an easy way to check that I am not leaving anything on the 2018 table? Secondly do you choose Regionals with Platinum and Globals with Diamond benefits? And finally After I choose my Globals I expect we will get a good group together for some fun milage runs in ’19 to burn them, yeah?
    Merry Christmas Delta Claus!

  4. @Derrick – Just log in and use link above. As you can see from screen shots Delta.com will tell you what you have or have not picked yet. For Diamond you can pick EITHER RU or GU certs (not both) but you can choose your Platinum choice as RU certs and then Diamond choice as GU. Most of the group runs I am doing next year will be on AeroMexico!

  5. Rene, happy holidays and thank you for all of your invaluable DL advice. The above article and recommendations relate to DM Choice Benefits. What is your advice for PM Choice Benefits as I have dropped from DM to PM this year? Thank you once again.

  6. @Frankie – Same advice applies. If you can use RU certs they can worth a ton (to me as I value 1st class travel on longer flights domestic). If not, 20k SkyMiles is not a bad option to consider.

  7. And again I will be leaving some RU certs on the table. Yes, I know. I guess I need to be honest with myself and realize I simply don’t use the RU certs. I despise waitlisting, and I really wish DL would make these certs confirmable at time of booking without having to call and play the flight lottery when booking game. So yes, I have learned my lesson and will be holding off selecting my choices until needed including my all time favorite Sky Club Guess Pass option. It’s almost as good as my old Exec membership with the +2 benefit and I do try to get max usage out of it.

  8. Can I claim 1 diamond benefit now (skyclub +1) and wait until later for the GU?

    … or am I required to claim them all at once?

    Thanks, Rene!

  9. The regional upgrade certificates can be extremely frustrating. I tried to apply one to a DTW-PHX leg more than five months in advance, when 0 out of 24 first class seats were spoken for. I was still told they’d be waitlisted. If Delta agreed to guarantee that so little as 2 seats up front per flight would be eligible for RUC’s that would increase the value of the benefit quite a bit. Also, while I generally agree that the SkyPesos are a much better redemption than the cash voucher, the cash voucher could have a little more value since it generates both MQMs and MQDs, unlike the miles, therefore potentially giving you a status boost for the following year if you’re cutting it really close.

  10. Hi Rene. Since I have the Delta Reserve card, what is the difference between Executive Membership and the Guest Pass?

  11. If I have the DL Reserve card is using 1 Choice Benefit selection to upgrade to Executive Membership a bad choice in your view? Thanks.

  12. @Charlie – Why would you use a Choice Benefit to upgrade to what you already have (as of 1JAN19 with your Reserve card)???

  13. @Charlie – No. Neither does individual membership. It takes 2 choice benefits to gain Executive membership. Better choice is hold the card and use 1 Choice Benefit and you get 2 in free with the guest pass choice as shown in post.

  14. Thanks but is that new? I seem to recall upgrading from Individual (card based) to Executive previously with Choice Benefit.

  15. I’m thinking RUCs for my PM choice and GUCs, SkyClub Guest Pass and GM for my wife for my DM choices. The GM status has saved a few SDC fees in the past so it seems worth it.

  16. From the Choice Benefits page on delta.com:

    “Members who qualify for 2019 Diamond Medallion Status and already have a Delta Sky Club Individual Membership valid through January 31, 2020 may use one of their Choice Benefit selections to upgrade to an Executive Membership.”

    Doesn’t that say that I can upgrade to Executive Membership with 1 Choice Benefit?

  17. @Charlie – Do you already have paid yearly or lifetime membership? If not it takes 2 choice benefits to get executive.

  18. No. I have access via DL AMEX Reserve card and as a DM for that matter. I have just called the Diamond Line and confirmed the info you provided in your posting – should have listened you to begin with :).

    Not that it matters but given that all Diamonds have complimentary access why would they offer Executive Membership to Diamonds as a Choice Benefit? I don’t get that.

  19. @Charlie – Diamond USED TO have complimentary access. That died when Delta went from 2 CBs to 3 CBs. That may be your confusion.

  20. Maybe but I still have complimentary access via DL AMEX Reserve. In any event, I know what I need to do and appreciate your guidance.

  21. Onq question regarding Diamond benefits: wouldn’t the $200 voucher make sense to select as your platinum choice vs the 20k miles? Assuming you get MQM’s and MQD’s for booking with the voucher (not true of an of award ticket on miles), the value may be the same but you’d earn miles from that same flight if booked on a voucher. Do I have that right?

  22. @Gretchen – I can see your logic and I agree to a point and worth consideration. For some your suggestion is wise but there are the downside of a voucher. The first is limited time to spend vs SkyMiles that only expire when you die. Next up, you can, with work, get much higher point value in premium cabins with the SkyMiles.

  23. So as a DM you get 3 choice benefits. Is there away to select all of the GU/RU options? Or are you only allowed to select one of the 3, and must choose from the other options for your remaining choices?

    Four Global Upgrade Certificates
    On Delta and select partner-operated flights, you can use one-way Global Upgrade Certificates on paid published Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+ fares, except on Basic Economy fares (E Class).

    Eight Regional Upgrade Certificates
    On Delta flights, you can use Regional Upgrade Certificates on all paid published Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+ fares, except on Basic Economy fares (E Class). These can be used on the same routes as Medallion Complimentary Upgrades, including all flights with the First Class and the domestic Delta One experience.

    Two Global and Four Regional Upgrade Certificates
    Select a combination of Upgrade Certificates, which feature the same policies outlined in Four Global Upgrades and Eight Regional Upgrades.

  24. Rene – Awesome reading. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I’ve been DM for 2 years now and always select upgrade certificates. Using GUs for the first time this year ATL/NRT on way to and from the Philippines. Was put on the wait list when requested but updated recently that we will be in Delta One on a 777. Excited for the trip!! Thank you again for all the great reads! Safe travels.

  25. I have 2018 Platinum *and* 2018 Diamond to choose right now. But currently I am Silver, what do I choose? I really have no idea this year. My default would be the 20,000 miles, and the 25,000 miles, but then I still have two more choices to make!

    Can a Silver Medallion use upgrade certificates? The Delta explanation (here – https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/skymiles/medallion-program/medallion-upgrades.html#certificate ) says “Upgrade Certificates are available exclusively for Diamond and Platinum Medallion Members as a part of your Choice Benefits.”

  26. I’m still confused as to which to choose …

    Platinum –
    20,000 miles

    Diamond –
    25,000 miles
    8 RUCs
    And what else???

  27. @Mark – You can choose multiple 25,000 options (add 2X to yourself or donate 1X or give to someone else etc.). [There’s a confusing +/- selection box that adds ‘1’ at a time (1 = 25K).] Also, as per Rene’s comment, you could choose Platinum = 4X RUCs and Diamond = 4 GUCs, if you thought you might travel internationally.

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