Delta Will Sell You Qualifying Miles Instead of Making You Mileage Run

Delta is selling end of year elite qualifying miles, so you can give them a whole bunch of money instead of giving them a whole bunch of money and spending your time flying.

They will sell you between 2500 and 10,000 qualifying miles, at a cost that will vary based on you status.

I have 10,146 “MQM”s for the year. Had I been flying Delta I would have credited the miles to Alaska Airlines. So this isn’t from a Delta flight. Instead, it’s from a Saudia business class flight that was redeemed for someone else out of my account and which posted incorrectly.

Since I’m more than 10,000 miles away from status, and I cannot roll over these elite qualifying miles to next year, so these purchased miles are literally of no use to me.

They’ll still sell them to me, of course, at the following prices:

At these prices you don’t even receive any redeemable miles.

As a Diamond member, Delta Points reports prices of:

  • 2500 qualifying miles for $795
  • 5000 qualifying miles for $1195
  • 7500 qualifying miles for $1595
  • 10,000 qualifying miles for $1995

And he reports Gold member prices as:

  • 2500 qualifying miles for $595
  • 5000 qualifying miles for $895
  • 7500 qualifying miles for $1195
  • 10,000 qualifying miles for $1495

Now the Delta Points blog calls this “CRAZY – JUST CRAZY!” I’m not so sure.

Oh, it’s very expensive. And it’s not obviously worth it for many folks. But I can see it appealing to some, and Delta certainly expects that it will.

If I were a Gold member needing 5000 miles, I might consider letting my excess miles above the status I’ve qualified for roll over to next year and just fly aggressively in early 2014.

And I’d get a Delta co-branded American Express card, because both the Platinum and the Reserve card come with qualifying miles as a signup bonus (and redeemable miles as well).

But someone determined to make a higher status level, and for whom the opportunity cost of time is especially great? This isn’t ludicrous. Even at $2000 — assume that actually flying 10,000 miles would cost half that and take two days. So someone basically chooses to buy back their time at $500 per day. That’s pricey for some, but assuming a 240 day work year that’s the value someone places on their time at a $120,000 a year salary.

That’s why it’s not cheap. It’s expensive. But it’s not completely bonkers.

In fact, it’s only a little bit more than American is asking. An Executive Platinum (100,000 mile flyer) needing 10,000 miles to requalify can buy that for $1799. Choke-worthy, sure, but it suggests Delta is roughly in the ballpark (albeit a couple hundred bucks higher for top tier).

Once upon a time American charged as little as $299 to retain status (although that was for Gold, andthe offer didn’t apply to their highest tier). Those days are clearly gone.

Offer details:

  • MQMs purchased will be deposited to your 2013 MQM balance
  • MQMs purchased through this Buy MQMs offer are nonrefundable
  • Rollover MQMs are a Medallion benefit only. General members with fewer than 25,000 MQMs by December 31, 2013, will not roll over unused MQMs
  • Members who qualify for Rollover MQMs toward 2015 Medallion status must also earn the minimum amount of Medallion Qualification Dollars effective for January 1, 2014
  • If applicable, Medallion status and Million Miler™ status will be updated within 24 hours of MQMs purchase
  • The minimum/maximum MQMs per transaction are 2,500 / 10,000
  • The maximum MQMs that may be purchased for one SkyMiles account for the 2014 Medallion year is 10,000
  • All transactions are processed in U.S. dollars
  • All the terms and conditions of the SkyMiles program apply
  • (Note that cards in this post offer credit to me if you’re approved using my links. The opinions, analyses, and evaluations here are mine. The content is not provided or commissioned by American Express, by Chase, by Citibank, US Bank, Bank of America, Barclays or any other company. They have not reviewed, approved or endorsed what I have to say.)

    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 »

    More articles by Gary Leff »



    1. Why would it cost more as a Diamond to purchase MQMs than as a Gold? I’m not sure I follow the logic.

    2. @jc Presumably the Diamonds will be trying to keep their tier level for which there are more benefits. Thus the spend to reach that higher goal should cost more.

    3. Probably not wise to advertise that you are redeeming for others from your account and earning MQMs, especially since it likely was for a client.

    4. @Gene – it was not for a client, I do not EVER redeem miles for clients from my own accounts! And I wrote this with full knowledge that Delta could claw back these miles, it was a mistake for them to award them in the first place. I would be fine with that.

    5. @jc – Diamonds value the status more and get more from their status, so Delta figures Diamonds are willing to pay more

    6. My husband is a silver Medallion and has gotten several short first class upgrades, which are nice, but never on the long haul ones. So for $1079, I don’t think it’s worth it. There are the extra miles, but still not that great a deal. Just what are they thinking???

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *