Back in July I wrote that Delta was apparently considering eliminating the ability to spend on its credit card instead of meeting minimum spending on tickets for elite status for those qualifying for their top Diamond tier.
Currently Delta requires you to spend a minimum of 12 cents a mile for status (eg $3000 for 25,000 mile Silver, $15,000 for 125,000 mile Diamond) but waives the requirement for customers living outside the U.S. and for U.S. customers spending at least $25,000 on a co-brand American Express card.
Supposedly they were only going to let you earn up to Platinum using this waiver. They didn’t do that, but they might as well have.
Starting next year in order to earn top tier Diamond elite status for 2019 and beyond they’re upping the spend requirement from $25,000 to $250,000.
As a Credit Card Member, we want you to be aware that starting January 1st, 2018, the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) Waiver for Diamond Medallion Status is increasing. The MQD Waiver for Diamond Medallion Status is currently earned by spending $25,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year on a SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. It is being adjusted to $250,000 in a calendar year.
We understand this is a significant increase, but wanted you to know that the MQD Waiver to qualify for all of the best-in-class benefits of Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion Status will still remain at $25,000.
You can still spend $25,000 on a Delta co-brand card and waive the minimum ticket spend for elite status up to Platinum. But if you want to earn Diamond the new spend requirement increases tenfold.
This is a blow to the value of Delta co-brand credit cards. As it is the heavy elite traveler looking for a waiver of the spend requirement for status (or looking to earn elite qualifying miles for status) is the only one that should spend any money on this credit card after earning the card’s signup bonus.
Not only are Delta miles worth less than other currencies, but even the cardmember who wants to earn Delta miles can earn more Delta miles with other cards. That’s because American Express offers several cards with broader bonus categories which earn more Membership Rewards points, Membership Rewards points transfer to Delta, and offer the flexibility to transfer to better frequent flyer programs.
Ultimately this change is:
- Good for flyers who spend enough on Delta to earn top tier status without needing the credit card waiver. They’ll have less competition for upgrades since many of those doing $25,000 on the card and earning Diamond now will be shed from the ranks.
- Bad for flyers who have been loyal travelers but need the spend waiver to hit Diamond. Delta is saying that their business is worth less, that earning via credit card along with travel isn’t worth enough to be a top tier elite unless you all of a sudden earn ten times as much as before.
- Bad for American Express, who keeps taking it in the chin from Delta. Not only did American Express set the bar with a new most-expense co-brand travel card deal after losing Costco, but Delta knowing they’re the next-biggest partner of American Express after Costco was they’ve continued to chip away at the value American Express gets for their top dollar. The elite status that Black Card members get, for instance, is even devalued and American Express lounge access with Delta no longer comes with guests either.
(HT: Andrew H.)