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Musing About My 2020 and 2021 Delta Medallion Choice Benefits Selection During COVID!

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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.


2020 is a year like no other. Beyond the devastating effects on so many who have contracted COVID, the travel “world” has been turned upside down. This reality also has impacted us elite frequent flyers. Early on, I called on Delta to extend our Medallion statuses into 2021. They, wisely, eventually did so

While we have to wait until 1FEB2021 to access next year’s “free” Medallion status Choice Benefits, we only have until 31JAN2021 to choose our 2020 Medallion Choice Benefits if we are either a Platinum or Diamond Medallion (#ProTip: Diamonds get BOTH Platinum and Diamond choices each year).

Normally for me, the choice is not a hard one. For my Platinum selection, I either choose SkyMiles or Regional Upgrade (RU) certs. The latter many find hard to use but I have only, after years and years as a Platinum or Diamond, used all but one of them before they expired (including just this past January enjoying an upgrade to a 10 hour Delta One ride to and from Hawaii).

The same goes for at least one of my Diamond choices. One of the greatest values (in dollar terms anyway) are Global Upgrade certificates. To be able to buy a cheap coach ticket and upgrade all the way to Delta One is HUGE (again, not always easy to do, but when you can the value is there).

Randee and Chris Carley seated in Delta One from LAX to Tokyo HND on an Airbus 330.
Chris and his wife enjoyed Delta One to/from Tokyo — thanks to his Global Upgrade certs — but paid just $525 each for coach tickets!

But my choices during COVID are not as clear cut.

I have a number of RUs that Delta extended the expiration dates for (thank you, Delta) but even so, this may the first year a large number of them go unused as I don’t know if I will be flying by June 23rd next year. I have no interest in choosing more RUs until I have a better feeling of where and when the COVID plague will truly end.

So what are my other choices as a current non-traveling frequent flyer?

Delta Sky Club Individual Membership. Pointless and has been pointless for years once Delta killed real club membership. I get in with my non-Delta Amex Platinum card.

Delta Sky Club Executive Membership. See above. Just as pointless.

Delta Sky Club Guest Pass (Credit Card Access). If I were flying this could be one to consider. To be able to get two in free (yes my non-Delta Amex Platinum card qualifies) would have value if I were flying all the time. Now? Not so much.

Bonus Miles. This one has been a long time go-to solid and reliable choice. SkyMiles never expire (well, not until you do) so I have time to spend as I want to. When I had my Delta Amex Reserve card I could use Pay with Miles and at a bottom level get 1 cent each. Now that Delta mortgaged SkyMiles, I fear the value of SkyMiles is heading south.

Give Medallion Status. My wife is my “Diamond lite” plus one so no reason to gift her status since we always travel together. On to the last one.

Travel Voucher or Retail Gift Card – $200 Delta Travel Voucher: valid for 12 months from the date of issuance, also applicable toward a Delta Vacations package; or $200 Tiffany & Co. Gift Card. Here is where I see a choice I would never have considered before.

Most years for the Platinum choice I would rather have 20,000 SkyMiles that don’t expire vs. a $200 voucher that does because I could use Pay with Miles at 1 cent whenever I want.

But I find myself currently holding the better part of 1 million SkyMiles and really don’t want more until I see how nasty Delta gets in devaluing SkyMiles going forward. Thus I am considering, at least for my Platinum choice, a Tiffany & Co gift card and flipping it to a Lowes gift card I can use right now. I would get almost 9/10th of a cent value via CardCash.

As to my Diamond choice, I will likely still take 25,000 Skymiles as there really are no other good options for me personally for my 2020 choices. I really hope by the end of next year the choice will be back to a “normal” year again.

What do you think? What are you going to choose for your 2020 Choice Benefits? Are you struggling with the same choices I am? – René

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.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

5 Comments

  1. Good morning .
    I had not started thinking about Diamond/ plat choice benefits yet! A necessary awakening!
    I was told by delta that two ruc’s I had associated with a cancelled flight , would continue being associated until 2022, so that is a relief! The only way I would fly going forward would be up front— as I did flying to California in sept wearing three masks and a face shield, 5 pairs of nitril gloves to remove layers prn, I purchased cheap throw away seat covers, and wore a full hood and coverage plastic rain coat snapped up and ALSO wore a negative ions
    Necklace air generator and I NEVER went to the bathroom and NEVER removed my mask!!! I sat on window bulkhead seats and turned the two airs away from me to blow away any air.
    I tested after my weekend and was negative!
    Therefore the only way I’d fly was tested and worked so i may keep my GUCs and RUCs. I wonder what others will respond. Thank you for your thoughts as this time is drawing near. Stay healthy and safe all!

  2. My Sky Club Guest pass expired January 31, 2020. The following day, February 1, 2020 I burned one of my 2021 Choice Benefits and selected a 2021 Guest Pass good until January 31, 2022. What a waste. I haven’t flown since March and probably won’t fly in 2021 because of COVID-19.

  3. Rene, I strongly encourage you to reconsider not traveling. If you and your wife are healthy and don’t have any co-morbidities, now is a great time to fly. We flew 3 weeks ago from Orlando to Myrtle Beach for a wedding. Airports were easy. Skyclubs in ATL and MCO were great. Flights were uncrowded. Got updated to FC which was really empty. Just a thought.

    • @Bob – Being self employed I have crummy (yet expensive) insurance so I simply can not risk getting sick. We do all curb-side pickup of grocery and are staying home till this mess is over (yes, I get it will likely take another 6-12 months).

  4. I am traveling each month between Memphis and Philadelphia to visit my daughter and thoroughly love what Delta has and is doing. Planes were pretty empty last spring but summer filled up. No one has traced covid infection to any Delta flight, im not going to hibernate in my house. I wear my mask everywhere and sanitize surfaces when i shop but I am not going to hibernate. I dont socialize or go to bars, I listen to common sense medical advice. People get sick, always have and always will, we should have always been more careful, now we know what to do to lower our risk to minimal so Im not hibernating in my cave. International travel is a bust so im stuck in the midwest until late next year im guessing but im ready as soon as I get my vaccination and visas are cleared for access to my countries. I will be choosing the best values for my platinum and diamond status and that is regional and global certificates…anything else short of the $200 is blowing it in my opinion.

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