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What You Need to Know About the Delta Amex MQD Waiver

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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.


One benefit of holding certain Delta American Express cards is the opportunity to spend your way to Delta MQD exempt status. Except two Delta Amexes are losing that perk — kind of.

Earning MQD Exemption Waivers with Delta Amexes

Delta’s MQD requirements for Medallion status ($3000 for Silver, $6000 for Gold, $9000 for Platinum) are waived if you spend $25,000 on one or across multiple qualifying Delta American Express cards during a calendar year.

(The $15,000 Diamond MQD requirement is waived if you spend a quarter million dollars on your Delta Amexes. There are ways to avoid that. We’ll talk about it in a few minutes.)

For example, spending $25,000 on the Platinum Delta Amex will earn you the Silver/Gold/Platinum MQD waiver.

Or spending $20,000 on the Platinum Delta Amex and $5000 on the Delta Reserve Card does it as well. (Again, just an example.)

Mix and match! Collect ’em all! Trade with your friends!

Except there’s one (actually three) big exceptions.

Not All Delta American Express Cards Equally Earn MQD Waiver Exemption Spend

Beginning January 30, 2020, purchases on your Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express and/or Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express will not count toward your MQD waiver spend if those are the only Delta Amexes you hold.

It’s the same restriction currently in place for the Delta American Express Blue card (read Rene’s review).

But if you have at least one of the below credit cards, then your Delta Gold Amex spend will count against your MQD waiver:

The Delta Reserve Card from American ExpressDelta Reserve Card

Delta Reserve Business Card from American Express.Delta Reserve Business Card 

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express.Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express 

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express 

 

In other words, if you have a Delta Gold card — and it’s your only Delta Amex — but spend $25,000 on on it, your MQD waiver accrual will be $0.

But if you get a Delta Reserve or Delta Platinum card, that $25k spend on the Gold will earn your MQD waiver.

It’s kind of a racket, I know.

How to Make This Easier

Get a Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express or its business counterpart. The everyday spend bonuses are far superior, you get a Global Entry / TSA PreCheck credit (starting January 30, 2020), companion certificate, and can buy access to Delta Sky Clubs. (Or get a Reserve personal or business card and enjoy complimentary Sky Club and Centurion Lounge access whenever you fly Delta.)

Your Gold card becomes superfluous at point — unless you want to gamble that Amex Offers savings will cover the $99 annual fee.

Other Ways to Earn MQD

If you hold only a personal Delta Gold Amex or the business flavor but don’t want another Delta credit card, there are two other ways to earn MQDs. (These complement each other, BTW, so mix and match.)

  1. Spend the required amount ($3k/$6k/$9k/$15k) on Delta Air Lines-marketed flights. Remember that only base fares and surcharges qualify as MQD. Government fees do not count.
  2. Travel on a partner airline and credit the flight to your Delta SkyMiles number. Why? Your MQD accrual for those flights is based on a percentage (determined by fare class) of miles flown, regardless of what you pay.

For example, I posted a trip on Virgin Atlantic from LAX to Johannesburg, South Africa. (We often post them to our mileage run section, FYI.) The airfare was about $1860 for Premium Economy.

But because the trip travels about 22,090 miles and Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy “K” fares award 30% MQD based on distance flown, SkyMiles members can expect to earn around $6627. On one trip. That costs less than a third of the MQD it earns.

Aeromexico 737 at Mexico City Airport

If you (understandably) wondered “Why are these people always so excited about AeroMexico runs to Ecuador or day trips to Guatemala City?” now you know. 😉

So if you don’t want to earn MQD with Delta credit card spend, consider taking a couple of MQD runs. (Keep in mind the mileage run masters at Juicy Miles can cook up something ridiculously awesome for you.)

Questions?

Ask away in the Comments section!

–Chris

Other Delta Amex Topics We’ve Covered This Month

Now is a fantastic opportunity to apply for Delta Amexes because many have great welcome bonuses — and you can lock in a year at their current annual fees.

We’ve covered several related topics during the past several weeks including:

Big Welcome Bonuses Expire WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30!

The Delta Reserve Card from American ExpressDelta Reserve Card 

Delta Reserve Business Card from American Express.Delta Reserve Business Card 

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express.Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express

Delta Gold American Express CardDelta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card 

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.

15 Comments

  1. Opening up a bank account in Canada makes you MQD exempt if you claim Canadian residency.

    • @Frankie – True. But if you then do not start a majority of your trips from Canada, and Delta audits your account, they can shut you down and take all your points and cancel all your booked trips (on award points). Oh and dump you from the medallion program and end your million miler status (if you have it). Not worth the risk IMO.

  2. Do you think the Reserve offer with 75,000 miles and 10,000 MQM’s is a good deal or would you wait for a better offer? I have a Delta Platinum Amex. Card. Thank You!

    • @Tom – It is a sweet offer plus you lock in 1 year at the lower fee vs the higher one next year. Thanks for using the links here on the blog if you go for the card!

  3. Barry Graham Reply

    It is odd that the MQD waiver is only for US residents. Is it because only a small percentage of Medallion members live outside the USA?

  4. If I book Virgin Atlantic flights via the Amex Travel site will the MQDs credit through correctly? Any issue if it’s using Amex reward points.

    • @John: They should, as long as you’re paying with through Amex’s travel site and using MRs to offset the fare.

  5. Stephen Fletcher Reply

    Hi I’m getting close to the $25,000 threshold, but it will be quite tight (without randomly spending on stuff I don’t need!) Do I actually have till Dec 31st 2109 to make purchases to reach the milestone or do I need dollars spent to actually appear on a Statement, which means I would only really have until Dec 19th? Thanks!

  6. If I’ve earned the waiver, is it safe to close/cancel/downgrade my Delta Reserve card? Or will that revoke the waiver?

    • @Rory – Once earned you do NOT need to keep the card open. HOWEVER – you have earned this years waver for 2019? That will NOT count for 2020. The waver has to be re-earned each year starting on 1JAN each and every year! Clear?

  7. Understood, thanks. Next year I expect my business travel to increase enough that I shouldn’t need the waiver and want to put my spend elsewhere.

    • @Rory – Got ya. Just keep a few points in mind before you act please.
      1) Never downgrade unless you have had THAT card before. If not, apply for a new card (for the bonus – thanks for using our links btw) then cancel the old Amex card.
      2) Never cancel before your fee bills. You have 30 days to cancel at that point. Wait for BOGO to post to your “My Delta” then you can cancel and the BOGO sticks.
      3) Never cancel w/in 1 year if you got the card inside 12 months. Amex can (and has) sucked back new card bonus.

  8. Barry Graham Reply

    Just a technicality here. Although I wish you could earn MQD with Amex spend, you can’t. So it’s not really correct to talk about earning MQD via Amex spend. it would be really nice if you could convert Amex spending to MQD (for Diamond divide Amex spending by 16 2/3 for any spending, not only if you reach 250K, 250K/16.6666666666 = 15000, the MQD target).

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