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!
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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Delta Sky Club Guest Pass (Credit Card Access) – This one I like and should, if you use it, have real value. Get a card that gets you into the Sky Club (Delta Reserve card or non-Delta Amex Platinum personal or business card for example) and then use the perk to bring up to 2 guests in for free. It would only take 9 guests over the year to get more value than the next choice.
- 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