Is It Worth Pursuing Delta Medallion Elite Status in 2018?

Last week, I wrote about chasing American AAdvantage status and if it was worth it. In certain situations, it can be a worthwhile investment for the frequent flyer, especially if:

  1. You fly American and/or oneworld partners as your primary carrier(s),
  2. You primarily purchase premium cabin airfare and live near an American city,
  3. You fly often and want the premium multipliers towards frequent flyer miles.

This week, I want to look at a program that is much more complex in nature, but potentially more rewarding: Delta SkyMiles and their elite-tier Medallion status. Although Delta Medallion status used to be within reach of every flyer, recent changes to the program have made it more difficult to achieve status. However, once you obtain it, it can be surprisingly easy to keep.

Is 2018 the year you earn Delta Medallion status? Here are the pros and cons we could find and our evaluation of when it makes sense to start running for status.

What are the Delta Medallion Status tiers?

Like all of the legacy carriers, Delta Medallion status is divided up into four tiers. While the lowest tier does offer some benefit for flyers, the top tiers offer the best chances of upgrades, benefits and bonuses as a reward for loyalty in miles flown and dollars paid.

Delta Silver Medallion Status: 25,000 qualifying miles or 30 qualifying segments and $3,000 qualifying dollars spent

  • Earn 7 SkyMiles miles per dollar spent on airfare.
  • Upgrade list for flyers and companions begins 24 hours to departure.
  • Complimentary preferred seats and waived baggage fees.
  • Priority check-in, boarding and waitlist status.

Delta Gold Medallion status: 50,000 qualifying miles or 60 qualifying segments and $6,000 qualifying dollars spent

  • Earn 8 SkyMiles miles per dollar spent on airfare.
  • Upgrade list for flyers and companions begins 72 hours to departure.
  • Complimentary preferred seats and waived baggage fees, same-day confirmed and standby seats.
  • Priority check-in and waitlist status, with Sky Priority boarding and access to priority security lines.
  • Expedited baggage service.

Delta Platinum Medallion status: 75,000 qualifying miles or 100 qualifying segments and $9,000 qualifying dollars spent

  • Earn 9 SkyMiles miles per dollar spent on airfare.
  • Choice of one elite gift.
  • Upgrade list for flyers and companions begins 120 hours to departure.
  • Comfort+ upgrades available shortly after ticketing.
  • Complimentary preferred seats and waived baggage fees, award redeposit/reissue fees, same-day confirmed and standby seats.
  • Priority check-in and waitlist status, with Sky Priority boarding and access to priority security lines.
  • Expedited baggage service.
  • Elite crossover rewards with Starwood Preferred Guest.

Delta Diamond Medallion status: 125,000 qualifying miles or 140 qualifying segments and $15,000 qualifying dollars spent

  • Earn 11 SkyMiles miles per dollar spent on airfare.
  • Choice of three elite gifts.
  • Upgrade list for flyers and companions begins 120 hours to departure.
  • Comfort+ upgrades available shortly after ticketing.
  • Complimentary preferred seats and waived baggage fees, award redeposit/reissue fees, same-day confirmed and standby seats.
  • Priority check-in and waitlist status, with Sky Priority boarding and access to priority security lines.
  • Expedited baggage service.
  • Elite crossover rewards with Starwood Preferred Guest.

Are there shortcuts to earning Delta Medallion status?

Before 2018, one of the most popular ways of shortcutting Delta Medallion status was bypassing the Medallion Qualifying Dollar requirement through spending on Delta-branded American Express Credit Cards. However, for most of us, that shortcut has been cut off thanks to the new minimum requirement: to waive the elite qualifying dollar requirement, flyers have to spend $250,000 on their Delta American Express credit cards – or ten times the previous amount.

However, credit cards can still offer an easy way to earn Medallion-qualifying miles. Both the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card and Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express allow flyers to earn bonus Medallion Qualifying Miles from their spending habits.

When does it make sense to earn Delta Medallion status?

Of all the legacy carriers’ programs, Delta Medallion status may offer the most generous program for those seeking long-term frequent flyer rewards. Although the cost-of-entry is high into earning elite status, once you have it earned you have more options to keep it. Medallion status is valid through January 31 of the next year it is earned, and unused Medallion-qualifying miles can rollover into the next year. That is: if you have Medallion-qualifying miles that were not applied to earning status, they can be applied to the next year’s status run.

That being said, for top-tier elite status, Delta also has the highest cost of acquisition. 125,000 flight miles translates to around 342 miles per day, while 140 segments would require an average of flying one flight segment every four days. While the mileage requirements and $15,000 in airfare in a year is achievable for some, for others it’s not feasible at all.

If you know Delta will be your primary airline program now and into the future, or live in a city where Delta is focusing their options, earning Delta Medallion status may be a good use of time and resources. Because of their rollover elite-qualifying miles program (a benefit absent from other elite programs), actualizing at least low-tier status in future years is in reach for even the casual flyer – assuming you spend $3,000 in qualifying airfare every year (or $8.21 in Delta spending every day).

Those looking for the benefits of elite status without the time or money commitment may be disappointed: the mid-tier Delta American Express Credit Cards (the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card and Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card) come with annual fees for one free checked bag, priority boarding (not necessarily Sky Priority boarding) and discounted Delta SkyClub access. But the one free checked bag benefit is the most generous of all programs, extending to up to eight people on the same itinerary.

Interested in learning more about these cards and other ways to earn rewards? Head here, herehere or here.

In short: if you are going to fly at least 25,000 miles on Delta, earning status with a combination of spending, flying, or even a little help from a credit card could make a big difference in your experience – with the help of rollover miles to keep that status every year. However, if you only fly for the miles, there are better ways to earn them, such as transferring from Membership Rewards. In which case, flight price – not loyalty – should always be your first priority.

Joe Cortez
Joe Cortez is an award-winning journalist and blogger focused on travel, leisure, and loyalty programs. As a frequent traveler, Joe has flown across the United States, Canada, and Europe primarily on award bookings and discounted flights. In addition,…
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Earn (pt.)

Spend


3 months

30,000

$1,000


JetBlue Purchases

6.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Groceries Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


The JetBlue Plus Card

  • Annual Fee: $99 fee waived for the first year
  • Foreign Fees: 0%
  • Card Type: Travel
FTG Review Reward Breakdown Points Breakdown
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
  • Earn 6 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • No blackout dates on JetBlue-operated flights & redeem for any seat, any time on JetBlue-operated flights. Points required for an Award Flight will vary based on the published base fare at the time of booking
  • Points awarded in your TrueBlue account don’t expire.
  • Earn and share points together with Family Pooling
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases like cocktails and food & the primary cardmember’s first checked bag is free on JetBlue-operated flights
  • Enjoy TrueBlue Mosaic benefits for one year after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases each calendar year with your card
  • Enjoy a $100 statement credit after purchasing a JetBlue Vacations package of $100 or more with your JetBlue Plus Card
  • Your first checked bag is free.

Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


3 months

30,000

$1,000


JetBlue Purchases

6.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Groceries Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


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