Rumored Changes Coming to Delta Amex

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If rumors are true, major changes to the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program could be coming for elite flyers next year. According to one blogger citing “three sources” at the airline, the Medallion Qualifying Dollars waiver granted from the Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards from American Express could face devaluation as soon as next year.

The alleged situation inside Delta

One of the core benefits of holding one of the Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards from American Express (the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card or the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card) is the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) waiver. When frugal travelers spend over $25,000 in a single year with the qualifying card, they would only need to fly the requisite amount of qualifying miles or segments to earn status for the next year without concern of spending the requisite Medallion Qualifying DollarsDia. Currently, the waiver applies to all four status tiers, including the highest: Diamond Medallion.

If the alleged changes turn out to be true, then the potential value could drop for the 2019 qualification year. According to the “three sources” inside Delta, the plan calls for reducing the MQD waiver to only apply to the lower tiers: Silver Medallion, Gold Medallion and Platinum Medallion. This would put the Atlanta-based carrier in line with United Airlines, who also only allows elite qualifying spending waivers from credit cards through their third-highest tier as well.

FrugalTravelGuy has reached out to Delta Air Lines and American Express for comment. As of press time, neither has provided a statement on the rumored changes.

The difference between Platinum and Diamond Medallion

Although it may sound like a small change, the difference between Platinum Medallion and Diamond Medallion status is considerable. Both tiers allow flyers access to complimentary and unlimited upgrades to the domestic premium economy product Delta Comfort+, as well as unlimited complimentary companion upgrades. In addition, both elite tiers have nearly all of their fees waived, including those for checked luggage, same-day flight changes and redeposit fees.

However, life at Diamond Medallion is a little nicer, starting with access to first class. Diamond Medallion passengers have the highest priority to upgrade to the front cabin, with premium priority boarding at all times. In addition, Diamond Medallion flyers also get to select between three choice benefits for 2017, including Delta Sky Club Membership, upgrade certificates, bonus miles and gift cards. Platinum Medallion flyers only get a selection of one benefit for 2018 medallion year.

Finally, Platinum and Diamond Medallion flyers earn miles at different speeds. Platinum Medallion flyers only earn nine Medallion miles per dollar, while Diamond Medallion flyers earn 11 Medallion miles per dollar.

Will the Medallion Qualifying Dollars spent hurt frugal travelers?

If the rumors are substantiated, then those who do much of their primary spending on their Delta American Express cards could find their overall value diminished. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics determined the average household had nearly $50,000 in expenditures every year, not counting contributions to pensions and Social Security. If all of that spending was done on the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, frugal travelers could not only qualify for the MQD waiver but also earn up to 20,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles as well.

The rumored devaluation aligns to hurt those who not only fly the most, but those who do all of their spending on their Delta American Express credit card to maximize value. Those who rely on the bonus 20,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles and waiver to earn Diamond Medallion status annually would be forced to spend $15,000 in MQD airfare every year. Although it is plausible, spending that much more could be difficult when expenses are factored in.

Until the rumor is confirmed, they are just that: unsubstantiated claims of additional change. However, those who are loyal Delta flyers who earn miles and waivers through credit card spending may want to brace for change into the future.

Will the rumored changes affect your plans with Delta in the future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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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  • Annual Fee:
    $95 fee waived for the first year
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Add to Favorites
FTG Review Reward Breakdown Points Breakdown
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions – as long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


First 3 months

50,000

$4,000


Travel Purchases

2.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Coffee Shops Purchases

2.00

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Fast Food Purchases

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Alcohol & Bars Purchases

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