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How to plan your Delta SkyMiles Medallion qualification strategy for 2025
Source
American Shipper
Post Date
07/02/2024

Its that time of year again, when elite status junkies thoughts turning to re-qualifying for status in their preferred airlines. With Delta Air Lines, its an even more fraught decision this year, since Delta announced a slew of changes ... not only to the Delta SkyMiles Medallion loyalty program, but also to its cobranded credit card portfolio.
One of the biggest changes is that Delta is now determining status based solely on one metric: Medallion Qualification Dollars, or MQDs. These are essentially a measure of how much you sp with Delta Air Lines in its many iterations.
But what if you already earned enough MQDs for next year?
Thats just one of the many questions weve gotten at TPG from readers about the future for status, and what the strategy should be for the rest of 2024, especially for those elites who may have already hit needed thresholds for status either via flying, credit card sping, or through the not-long-for-this-world MQM rollover.
For me, for example, Ive been happily not paying much attention to re-qualifying for top-tier Delta Damond status, since I was able to choose to ext my status by a year via a special one-time Choice Benefit that allowed me to take my unused rollover MQMs and turn them into Diamond status through 2025.
Other Delta elites have already earned status for 2025 the old-fashioned way, by a combination of sp and flying.
Here are some things to think about as you go about planning the rest of the year.
?How (and when) to decide on your rollover MQM ion.
?How to plan your credit card sping strategy for the rest of the year.
As a reminder, here are the new requirements for status with Delta.
?Delta Silver: Youll need to earn 5,000 MQDs.
?Delta Gold: Youll need to earn 10,000 MQDs.
?Delta Platinum: Youll need to earn 15,000 MQDs.
?Delta Diamond: Youll need to earn 28,000 MQDs.
Thats a lot of sp on Delta Air Lines or on its credit cards (more on that below).
The earning metric known as Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) is gone as of this year, which means that Delta has also removed the annual rollover benefit. Prior to 2024, Medallion members could each year with an MQM boost ?specifically, the number of MQMs earned beyond last years qualification threshold.
The good news is that any extra MQMs from 2023 can still be very useful. Delta made several one-time conversion choices live in your Delta SkyMiles account earlier this year.
You can choose to convert your MQMs to MQDs (10 MQMs = 1 MQD), redeemable miles (2 MQMs = 1 mile) or a combination of both. Here are those choices:
?100% redeemable miles, 0% MQDs
?75% redeemable miles, 25% MQDs
?50% redeemable miles, 50% MQDs
?25% redeemable miles, 75% MQDs
?0% redeemable miles, 100% MQDs
Members with MQM rollover balances over 100,000 can also choose to ext their 2024 Medallion status for one year for every 100,000 rollover MQMs.
Please note that you must make those choices by Dec. 31, 2024. Its a use-it-or-lose-it situation, so be sure to make your choice by then. However, your ion is final ?so its important to carefully consider your options.
I had 108,671 rollover MQMs, so I used one hundred thousand of those MQMs to ext my Diamond status by a year. That means Ill be Delta Diamond through 2025 (and part of 2026) just via MQMs. I knew my chances of reaching Diamond organically were slim, so I opted for the guarantee of another year of Diamond. This has enabled me to focus on re-qualifying for American Airlines Executive Platinum status with American instead of going out of my way to fly Delta this year.

Excess MQDs will not rollover
One thing to flag is that, unlike MQMs in previous years, excess MQDs you earn beyond a qualification threshold do not roll over.
Delta is very clear about this on its Medallion website: "MQDs will not ext or roll over from year to year, and MQD balance will be reset to zero on or about January 1 each calar year."
The carrier also made that clear in a communication with TPG. "Just as a reminder, any excess MQDs above a status threshold will not roll over," a Delta spokesperson said.
This is a powerful reason to wait until your 2024 travel and sping activity is closer to final before converting your rollover MQMs. Many of those with rollover MQMs have taken a wait-and-see approach. That allows you to gauge your progress to your desired Medallion tier before determining whether youd benefit from additional MQDs ?or would be better off with miles to use for your next trip.
For example, Nick Ewen, TPGs senior editorial director, is waiting to make a decision. He qualified for Platinum Medallion last year and only has 9,024 rollover MQMs. Converting those entirely (or even partly) to MQDs will only make sense if they help push him to the next status tier. Otherwise, hell take his 4,512 redeemable miles ?which is better than nothing.
Another thing to consider is your card sping strategy.
Remember that Delta and American Express made a bunch of enhancements to its American Express cobranded credit cards. Those changes included a status boost for current cardmembers with one (or more) of the following cards:
?Delta SkyMiles?Reserve American Express Card
?Delta SkyMiles?Reserve Business American Express Card
?Delta SkyMiles?Platinum American Express Card
?Delta SkyMiles?Platinum Business American Express Card
For each of these cards you hold, you get 2,500 MQDs at the start of each year just for being a cardmember. These stack for travelers with multiple eligible cards. That means if you have two of those cards, for example, youd get a 5,000 MQD head start on status for the year.
Related: Best credit cards for flying Delta Additionally, Delta also issued a one-time status boost for some cardmembers. Travelers with the Delta Reserve card prior to Feb. 1 received an extra 1,000 MQDs this year as a "token of appreciation."
You also earn MQDs on sping you put on those cards. Cardmembers earn 1 MQD per $20 of purchases for Platinum cardmembers and 1 MQD per $10 of purchases for Reserve cardmembers.
However, as mentioned earlier, any MQDs you get beyond a given status threshold mean nothing if you cant reach the next tier.
If, for example, you reach the MQDs needed for Platinum status, and you dont think you can earn the 13,000 additional MQDs required to obtain Diamond status by the of the calar year, then it might be a better option to switch to a different credit card that earns more than a mile per point.
Should you put your sping on a different credit card?
Some readers will decide to stop some of their sping on Delta credit cards (for example, those who have automatically exted status like myself). For me, it doesnt make sense to sp a lot on my Delta Reserve card since I dont need the status boost this year. Instead, Im using other credit cards.
TPG reader Jay Joyce wrote to us wondering what other cards he might want to use instead of sping more on his Delta card.
"I expect to reach 12,000 MQDs by the of June from my American Express Reserve card. My one time MQM rollover will allow me to convert to 16,000 MQDs. Together, I would have the 28,000 MQDs needed to give me diamond status in July of this year and enjoy it through January 31 of 2026 as I understand it. But any additional sp on my American Express Reserve card is worthless. So it will be time to find another card."
Another reader was in a similar quandary.
Greg Bixby told TPG hell be able to reach Diamond Medallion status easily this year, but is a bit frustrated overall with Delta. Hes president of Bixby Consulting Group, and said if he had known last year that Delta would be ing rollovers, he would have pushed harder to make Diamond status (He earned Platinum last year).
He added, "In years past, I would continue to sp as much as I could on Amex even after I reached the status I wanted [in order] to max out the bonus miles and MQMs for rollover. Now, sitting here evaluating where to direct my sp, with MQDs not rolling over towards 2026 status, it seems that I have no incentive to put any more sp on Amex ... "
Youll still earn redeemable miles for sping on your Delta Amex cards, and your calar year MQDs do play a role in your spot on the upgrade list, so continuing to do so isnt totally worthless. Nevertheless, Deltas new qualification metric (and lack of rollover MQDs) may lead some travelers to look elsewhere once theyve qualified for their desired status levels.
TPG has plenty of recommations for nate travel rewards cards. Im personally a fan of The Platinum Card?from American Express, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred?Card both of which earn points that can be transferred to multiple programs.
Related: TPGs guide to getting started with points, miles and credit cards Still, you need to consider the best strategy for your own credit card sping this year.
Other ways to earn Delta SkyMiles status

There are other new ways to earn status this year too. You now earn 1 MQD for every $1 spent on Delta Vacations (excluding taxes and fees).
Delta sometimes offers limited-time methods to earn MQDs for activities. For example, through June 24, you can earn 1 MQD for every dollar spent on hotel stays and car rentals booked through Delta Stays (with a checkout date on or before Sept. 8).
As we reach the halfway mark in the race towards status, its time to get serious about your Delta Medallion status strategy.
While its increasingly difficult to achieve Deltas highest status tiers (and much more expensive), there are lots of interesting ways to earn Medallion status without necessarily flying. You could sp your way to status via the airlines cobranded credit cards, or you could leverage your rollover MQMs to ext last years status by a year (or more). Maybe you just fly a lot on expensive last-minute tickets.
But for many of you, it will make sense to think strategically about how much status is worth to you and if you might be better off putting that sp on a credit card that earns transferable currency instead of less-valuable SkyMiles.


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