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).
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 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
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