The benefits of Delta Medallion status

Delta's elite status program offers a lot of nice perks, but you need to spend a lot to earn them

Delta elite status benefits

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While it’s true the Delta SkyMiles program offers a path to earn free flights worldwide, a closer look at this frequent flyer program reveals there is more than meets the eye. If you fly Delta Air Lines often enough — or get the right airline credit card — you may find the elite status benefits you receive are more valuable than you realized.

Numerous perks are available to Delta elite members including — but not limited to — extra mileage benefits, fee waiver benefits, complimentary upgrades and priority boarding. By earning status with Delta Air Lines, you can gain access to these benefits and enjoy them with each flight you take.

While it’s possible to earn elite status with Delta through flights alone, several co-branded Delta credit cards make it possible to accelerate the process and reach status faster. Also keep in mind that, once you earn elite status with Delta, it is good from the day you earn it until the end of the following year.

Before we dive into the ways you can earn elite status with Delta, here’s an overview of the tiers for you:

Delta status levels

Silver Medallion
Gold Medallion Platinum Medallion Diamond Medallion

How to qualify

25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs

plus

$3,000 MQDs or MQD waiver

How to qualify

50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs

plus

$6,000 MQDs or MQD waiver

How to qualify

75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs

plus

$9,000 MQDs or MQD waiver

How to qualify

125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs

plus

$15,000 MQDs or MQD waiver

Base-point rate

7 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

8 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

9 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

11 miles/dollar

Benefits

  • Unlimited rollover MQMs
  • Unlimited domestic Delta One upgrades
  • Unlimited Comfort+ upgrades 24 hours before departure
  • Unlimited first class upgrades 24 hours before departure
  • Unlimited Delta One, first class and Delta Comfort+ upgrades for a companion
  • Preferred seating
  • Priority wait list
  • First checked bag free for you and up to 8 travel companions
  • Waived baggage fees
  • Priority check-in, priority boarding
  • Discount CLEAR membership
  • Dedicated phone line
  • Elite SkyTeam benefits
  • 1,000 SkyMiles on Hertz car rentals
  • Delta Vacation savings

Benefits

Same benefits as Silver level status, plus:

  • Unlimited Comfort+ upgrades 72 hours before departure
  • Unlimited first class upgrades 72 hours before departure
  • Waived same-day confirmed fees, waived same-day standby fees
  • Priority security line access, expedited baggage service
  • High priority phone line
  • Elite Plus SkyTeam benefits (includes priority baggage handling and SkyTeam lounge access)
  • Five Star status in Hertz rental program

Benefits

Same benefits as Gold level status, plus:

  • Unlimited Comfort+ upgrades shortly before ticketing
  • Unlimited first class upgrades 120 hours before departure
  • Higher priority phone line
  • President’s Circle status in Hertz Rental program
  • 1 Choice Benefit

Benefits

Same benefits as Platinum level status, plus:

  • Complimentary CLEAR membership
  • VIP phone line
  • 3 Choice Benefits

Qualifying for Medallion status

Earning Medallion status on Delta requires collecting either Medallion Qualification Miles or Medallion Qualification Segments along with Medallion Qualification Dollars. In case you’re confused about the difference between these things, here’s an explanation of the terms:

  • Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) – MQMs are earned based on distance flown and your fare class. You can earn MQMs by flying with Delta or their partners.
  • Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) – MQSs are based on the number of flights you take. Each segment or individual flight is counted as one MQS.
  • Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) – MQDs are earned based on your annual spending on Delta flights and with partner airlines.
  • MQD waivers – A MQD waiver is a benefit you can earn that will eliminate the need to meet the MQD retirement for Delta elite status. As an example, you can earn an MQD waiver for Diamond Medallion status by spending $250,000 within a calendar year on a SkyMiles credit card from American Express.

You can use either MQMs or MQSs to achieve a status level, but you also need to spend a certain number of dollars with Delta – i.e., Medallion Qualification Dollars – to earn elite status. You can use an MQD waiver to waive the spending requirement.

Is Delta elite status worth it?

If you fly Delta Air Lines or its partners frequently, then, yes, earning elite status is probably worth it. Elite status perks cannot only make your travel experience more comfortable -- they can save you money over the long haul. Here are some of the most valuable perks you can earn:

  • Free checked bags – If you have Silver status or higher with the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program, you get free checked bags for you and up to eight travelers on your itinerary. Since checked bags typically cost $25 on domestic flights, this perk could easily save you hundreds of dollars.
  • Priority check-in – If you have Silver status or higher, you’ll also get priority check-in at the airport. This perk can help you avoid long lines and get you to your boarding gate sooner.
  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades – All tiers of elite status with Delta receive unlimited complimentary upgrades, although higher status tiers get access to these perks sooner. With complimentary upgrades, you have the opportunity to move to a roomier seat at the front of the plane when seats are available.
  • SkyTeam elite status – Having elite status with Delta means you also have crossover status with other airlines in the SkyTeam alliance, entitling you to benefits such as priority boarding and preferred seating whenever you fly with a SkyTeam member.
  • Choice Benefits – Platinum Medallion and Diamond Medallion members get to choose from a list of additional benefits, including upgrade certificates, Global Entry application vouchers, Delta Sky Club memberships and guest passes, bonus miles, gift cards and the ability to gift Delta Gold Medallion status to others.
  • Earn more miles – When you achieve elite status with Delta, you have the opportunity to earn miles faster. You can earn between 7 and 11 base miles per dollar depending on your status level (compared to 5 base miles per dollar for regular SkyMiles members). These miles can help you earn more free flights over time.

Shortcuts to Delta elite status

  • Get a co-branded Delta credit card – While you cannot achieve elite status with Delta just by signing up for a credit card, several co-branded Delta cards offer MQMs that can help you get there faster:
  • Receive the gift of elite status – Platinum and Diamond Medallion members with Delta have the option to gift elite status to someone else if they select from their list of Choice Benefits. If you know someone with a higher tier Delta status who is willing to use their benefit on you, you could receive Gold Medallion status quickly.
  • Roll over your miles – Each tier of elite status with Delta lets you roll over your MQMs from one year to the next. If you earn more MQMs than you need for elite status one year, you can apply them toward elite status the next year.
  • Spend at least $25,000 with the Platinum Delta Business card each year – The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business card offers a bonus for reaching specific yearly thresholds: 10,000 MQMs each year you spend $25,000 and 10,000 additional MQMs each year you spend $50,000.

Bottom line

Elite status on Delta Air Lines comes with some pretty posh perks including its unique option for Platinum and Diamond members to customize a few of those perks. However, Medallion status doesn’t come cheaply. If you don’t fly Delta Air Lines frequently enough to naturally rack up MQMs and if you haven’t earned an introductory bonus through a Delta SkyMiles card to boost your MQMs, you have few options for collecting a sufficient number of MQMs to earn status, besides spending a lot of money either with the Platinum Delta Business card or directly on Delta Air Lines. You’ll need to figure if elite status perks are worth the extra spend.

Your gateway to Delta perks

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles card

Why should you get it?

Since its annual fee is waived in the first year, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card is the most affordable option for scoring a large introductory bonus and perks with Delta Air Lines.

More things to know: 

  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • $50 statement credit if you make a Delta purchase with your card in first 3 months
  • 2 points per dollar on Delta purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • First checked bag free for you and up to 8 companions
  • Priority boarding privileges
  • $0 annual fee in the first year ($95 thereafter) (See rates and fees)
  • Terms apply 

See Related: What are Delta SkyMiles worth?, Which Delta SkyMiles card is best for you?, Best ways to earn Delta SkyMiles, Best ways to redeem Delta SkyMiles, Delta SkyMiles partners, Delta Sky Club lounges, How to book a flight with Delta SkyMiles


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Updated: 09-21-2018