Delta Air Lines Is Even Devaluing Your Banked Rollover Elite Qualifying Miles

With Delta’s big changes to how elite status is earned starting next year, they’ll only use a single metric: qualifying dollars.

They are retiring qualifying miles and qualifying segments. So your rollover qualifying miles – the elite qualifying miles you’ve banked to use later by going over the threshold for the final status you earned – lose all meaning.

Delta will let you choose to convert these rollover miles into:

  • redeemable miles, or
  • qualifying dollars

You also don’t have to do all of one or all of the other – you can assign tranches of 25% of your rollover miles balance into each.

But here’s the kicker:

  • Rollover qualifying miles only convert into redeemable miles at 2:1, meaning if you had 10,000 rollover qualifying miles you’d get just 5,000 SkyMiles. And qualifying miles have long been more valuable than redeemable miles.

  • Rollover qualifying miles only covert into qualifying dollars at 20:1. How can this make sense? Diamond status required 20,000 qualifying dollars and 125,000 qualifying miles this year, a ratio of 6.25:1. They’re devaluing your rollover qualifying miles by more than a factor of 3.

Leave it to Delta to stick it to their best customers’ stored value in this transition.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The one I’m curious about is whether we’ll get MQD from Lyft earnings – if those will be 1:1, then I might – *might* – have a reason to continue engaging with the DL ecosystem at all. Still will be cancelling my (multiple premium) Amex cards though.

  2. Someone has to pay for the extra money given to pilots and flight attendants, so now we know who will be contributing by getting less for their miles.

  3. @ Greg — United hasn’t announced their qualification requirements for next year yet. I imagine that we will get more of the same devaluation from United. Gotta love that AA was smart enough to move their qualification year by 2 months. That was a genius move, as now they can hold off and announce their changes last.

    I find it hilarious that airlines think people will keep on spending more and more to earn their crappy miles and useless status. It makes so much more sense now to earn redeemable currencies, especially on a 2x card like AMEX Blue Business or CapOne VentureX or Citi Double Cash. People aren’t as dumb as the airlines seem to think.

  4. Loving all these changes! Let them eat cake! Organically spending $50k on Delta. THIN THE HEARD!

  5. Genuinely surprised Tim hasn’t swooped in and done his usual predictable cheerleading of Delta and lashing out at Gary.

    It’s actually very refreshing that he’s not littering the comments section today, quite a nice surprise!

  6. Really? Already took away my diamond status and was close to moving up. It’s time to find a new airline. And maybe a new cc linked to a new airline.

  7. @Jeffrey Paul
    The herd has not heard you, nor do they want to…..we are done with wannabe monarchs.
    Let them eat donuts!

    Seriously though, who cares? If you want a seat upfront on the plane or lounge-eteria food, just buy it.
    Queue up road warrior rage…..

  8. Since the Pandemic I have been able to manufacture Platinum status through rollover MQMs, AMEX status boosts, and a few transcon flights a year. Since hitting Platinum I haven’t had a single complimentary upgrade, usually missing out by 2 or 3 slots on the upgrade list. My point is that if Platinum status doesn’t nearly guarantee an upgrade, what good is it? Unpopular opinion, but I feel like they had to make this change in order for status to make sense again. I’ll leave the upgrade jostling to those of you who actually fly regularly.

  9. As a Diamond Medallion I will now be starting to fly United. Delta just keeps stabbing it’s customers in the back.

  10. @Derek

    Couple of things…

    1. AAdvantage is a better program on a much crappier airline
    2. We still do not know what next year’s requirements on AA will be. My money is on them matching DL’s requirements.

  11. Wonder if competitors (American, United) will match delta status to attract customers and lure them from Delta.

  12. This is very disappointing as we have worked hard to maintain our Diamond status. I guess it doesn’t make sense paying 695.00 for the platinum card for my husband and i each pay each year..time to down size all my Amex card just keep 1 . Start to shop for United Airlines.

  13. Pretty pathetic. Say so much about customer loyalty then crap on them. Is this cover pay for Tom Brady being new face of Delta. I travel every week multiple times for work coast to coast. Big FU to all of the customers. To prick said thin herd. Ass hates like you think you above everyone like take out in woods put down.

  14. 1.8 million miler here. I’ve been a Diamond since 2014. This year, I’m at $23,000 MQD with about $6,500 in outstanding spend for the year.

    Here are my thoughts:

    1) Unless you’re doing transcontinental or international Delta One business-class at least 5-7 times a year, who spends $35,000 on domestic flights in the Lower 48? I buy first-class on flights over 2 hours. Depending on the route, that’s $650-$1,500. If I wait to a couple weeks out maybe it’s $2,000 for a 3-hour flight in first. Seldom more than that. I don’t know how anyone could hit $35,000 on domestic alone. I think what Delta is doing is making it impossible to get an upgrade because EVERYONE will be a platinum. The number of diamonds will be significantly reduced. That means fewer upgrades and more seats in premium cabins to sell. It also means fewer global upgrade certificates.

    2) What happens to 360? Someone spending $35,000 until now in some markets was eligible for 360.

    3) How does Sky Club access work for diamonds? Delta hasn’t announced that. I better get a membership as a benefit if I’m spending $35,000 on flights. And what happens to the Sky Clubs once the exclusive Delta One business-class lounges open up? A good number of customers that presently crowd the Sky Club in markets like Atlanta, New York, Boston and Los Angeles will move over to the Delta One lounge. I’m really interested to see what happens on this front.

    4) I spoke to a client. She’s the CEO of an enterprise that makes hundreds of millions of dollars. She is a Diamond and Reserve cardholder. She is done. She flies first every time on a paid ticket. If she’s done, what about other key corporate clients? If I was United I would rethink what I’m doing and purposely go after the Delta customers who spend $20,000 to $25,000 in MQDs every year.

    This is a very risky strategy.

    The US economy is weak, inflation is still an issue and business travel has not recovered.

    Look at Hyatt. They think business travel domestically is never coming back like it was. They are pivoting to resorts and all-inclusive for growth and profit. Delta seems to think the opposite. Both of them can’t be right.

  15. As someone who flies 1-2x a week domestic out of Seattle and 5-6x international- ill be shifting to a non US based carrier for the later.

  16. Thus really pisses me off. I’ve been a LOYAL Delta customer for the last 10 years and fly exclusively on Delta. I have been Platinum for the last 5 years at least, and have both the Resrve and Platinum Amex cards.

    Now hearing about this BS is a slap in the face from Delta. Basically it will be impossible to achieve Platinum and Diamond, and even Silver or Gold. They basically want you to spend $1000k on your card just to get to Silver????

  17. Business traveller here, been Diamond for the last 7 years. Detroit home base Nearing million miler.
    Typically fly 140-170 segments a year, almost always made Diamond on segments not miles. ( Day trips to other Midwest cities) I guess Delta overlooked the fact that many ( if not most) business travelers are required to book through a corporate travel agency. While I can almost always choose the airline, the hotels and car rentals must be made through the agency to assure cost controls. I will be looking to see who offers the best status match, Delta is not the only way to get around the countr

  18. 2.3 Million Miler here. I was loyal to delta for 24 years, flew right after 9/11 when nobody would, thru the recession of 07-09. I watched over the years of them trying to devalue upgrades and the customers always swayed them back until covid. They started offering crumbs and the newer generation took them and we all lost value. I started flying only first class about 7 years ago when the diamond upgrades were getting worthless. I also slowed down my flight schedule because of the hassle (I own the company). Which means I stopped qualifying in 2020 for diamond status and via miles flown but had tons of MQM’s, I asked delta for an extension for Diamond they said no. I had the reserve card and spent about 100k a year on it and they raised the threshold to 250k in spend but I could not justify because the cash back cards were so much of a better value. So I have been platinum ever since because of the rollover miles. Ed. B. is loved by wall street and he has prospered by the merging of airlines not his business sense. I still have 1.6 million miles that are worth practically nothing of what they were 5 years ago. I use to buy family’s tickets to get them miles now I have just depleted there miles as they are becoming worthless. I cursed the NW merger with the united and american mergers basically making the skies an oligopoly this was bound to happen. Delta cancelling the 787 and has the oldest planes in the sky asking top dollar and giving no loyalty. However, we have conditioned the next generation to accept this lack of service at higher rates and we are paying the price. It cost 10x as much to regain a lost client than maintaining one and eventually that will show oligopoly or not. As my miles dwindle with redemption like they have been so will my choice of airline, delta has me locked for now but once the miles are gone so is my loyalty. Great job Ed, way to lower the quality of life of the people who provided your way of life.

  19. For those saying they will shift to United or AA, will you do that because you are pissed with these changes or because you think they are better? Here is my take. I am pissed but won’t switch. I live in a Delta hub, Delta is by far the best US airline and it takes me non stop to almost anywhere I need. Thus, I won’t switch. Now, where they will lose my loyalty is where they don’t fly directly. For example, I fly Delta to Amsterdam to then connect to another European city. I will now connect domestically to fly to my final European destination on another airline mostly European ones. They won’t see me in international flights anymore.

  20. @ Santastico — I seriously question your statement that “Delta is by far the best US airline”. I have held top status with AA, AS, DL and UA. The differences between them are many, but they each have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. None is “by far” better than the rest. Maybe, FOR YOU, Delta is by far the best, but not for everyone. I live in a Delta fortress hub city and will attain Diamond this year with ZERO DL credit card spend and only 22 DL segments totaling less than 19,000 DL flight miles. If I never step foot on one of their planes again, I won’t care. There are MANY other choices, even from a huge DL fortress hub.

  21. @Santastico You are 100% correct! DL is still the best US airline for service and comfort. I used to be a loyal AA flyer until they became like UA, down right rude and nasty. I prefer a European carrier over any US carrier for flying internationally. I may actually start locking at adding my Flying Blue or VS loyalty accounts when I fly domestically.

  22. @Gene: yes, it is my opinion. Delta flies non stop to almost anywhere from my hub. Spending more time with family is my #1 priority so anywhere I can fly non stop with Delta that will always be my option. I have to connect sometimes to small cities in Colorado where United is the only option. They suck!! Horrible service. No matter how many times I tried, they are bad. Flew a few times on AA to Uruguay as they are the only option. Old planes, lazy FAs, bad food. Thus, yes, for me Delta still beats the other ones. Now, if flying to Europe where Delta won’t fly non stop from my hub, I will definitely fly to another US city and fly non stop to there on ITA, Austrian, LOT, etc… No more Delta to Europe or Asia.

  23. These changes makes sense for Delta. If planes are full, and they bank $6.5 billion a year from Amex, why give anything away except to you highest revenue passengers? of course, most Skymiles members will not enjoy this but Delta has consistently devalued their loyalty program and what happened? Amex spending and Amex revenue to Delta soared. This proved to Delta that people are not that value oriented when it comes to SkyMiles, er SkyPesos.

    Delta will give this a shot and if planes stay full and Amex spending stays high, it will stick. The best thing that could happen would be a deep recession that causes flying to decline dramatically. More concerning is what United and AA do.

  24. @rjb: What am I missing here? Amex is the biggest loser with these changes in my opinion. I have Amex Platinum and 3 Amex Delta cards. They are basically useless for me now. A few days to use the lounge? I am not spending $350k on their cards so I will probably cancel all of them or maybe keep one. Thus, not sure what Amex gets from this.

  25. I was born in Atlanta, and have been a loyal Delta customer of 50+ years. Recently, I’ve watched as they’ve devalued over 1.5M FF miles in my account by about 70%. Now they’ve just devalued the MQM rollovers I had banked for Platinum Medallion to practically zero. They’ve effectively stolen the reward points for over $300K worth of my credit card spent on my two Delta Amex cards. I could have spent those dollars for cash back or other awards on plenty of other cards with better perks. Now they are worthless. 20:1 conversion? Are you kidding me? GFY!

    If Delta wants to change their program going forward, OK fine. I can make my choices in the future accordingly. However, changing the rules so that they get to claw back/erase my hard earned dollars spent over the past years is highway robbery.

    In one move, Ed Bastian just destroyed any and all good will and loyalty I had for Delta that was built up over a lifetime.

  26. Platinum here. Devaluing rollover MQMs this late in the year feels like a huge bait and switch as I already planned my year end strategy. The TATL I already booked for Jan is now pretty worthless in terms of earning status. I get that things had to change but there should be a glidescope to getting there vs. such an abrupt step change.

  27. Look at it another way: you can currently get 60,000 MQMs by spending $120,000 on the Delta Reserve card. For me those will all rollover. Those 60,000 MQMs then turn into $3,000 qualifying dollars. But if you spend $120,000 on the Reserve card in the future you’ll end up with $12,000 qualifying dollars. Seems like their conversion ratio is off by a factor of 4. I spent on the Reserve card knowing that if I end the year with 250,000 MQMs that would qualify me for Diamond status both this year and next year. Now they are saying instead I’ll get Diamond this year and just Gold next year? Talk about a bait and switch.

  28. Like many on here I have 3 co-branded cards and Amex Platinum. I will be canceling my 3 Amex.

  29. I recently flew Delta LA to Honolulu and returned. I arrived at LAX 6:30 in the morning and upon arrival learned that my flight has been canceled. I was issued a ticket which directed me to a different island and then a Honolulu on a coach fair. I complain that I had paid first class fare, and should fly First class. They re-designated another flight which left at 3 PM and upon arrival to Honolulu and to the function that I had hoped to get to earlier I missed the function. Having to wait all that time as an 81-year-old retiree disabled person is extremely difficult. I tried to get into the lounge, utilizing my prior credit cards, which did allow me and was told that I would have to buy some other ridiculous card for 600+ dollars in order to use the lounge.
    I’ve been a loyal customer with Delta for over 30 years and a flown many many trips business class to other countries. I’ve never had such treatment as I got this time with Delta. The fact that I am going to be losing my collected air miles is another sore point for me, and my satisfaction with Delta has gotten to the lowest point ever.
    I don’t think I’m the only person who is losing faith in Delta. It appears that the working person doesn’t count and only wealthy people are the ones that should fly. I’ve lost my faith in Delta.

  30. Been flying Delta for many years, DM for the past 2. The way I look at it is if you had your butt in a seat for x amount of miles, you earned that amount. Not half. The same goes for MQDs. What you spent you spent, not 1/10th. I retired at the end of last year. Gonna still travel a bit part time but glad to be free of the rat race. I believe Delta will rue the day they turned on their clients.

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