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If you’re looking to earn or renew Delta SkyMiles Medallion status, you can do a lot of flying, or you can take advantage of credit card and partner offers to earn it faster on the ground.
It’s possible to earn enough Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) to become a top-tier Platinum or Diamond Medallion with Delta SkyMiles through credit card spend alone, letting you take advantage of priority for upgrades to Comfort Plus and First Class, savings on award fees, and SkyTeam lounge access.
There are four Delta SkyMiles cards from American Express that earn Delta MQMs, and the key is you can hold as many of them as you’d like to boost your MQM earning each year, especially if you have a small business to get the business versions of each card. Amex is happy to let you earn the MQMs from more than one card if you can meet the hefty spending requirements.
First, we’ll walk through how each card earns MQMs, then show the combinations of cards and spending that can earn you each level of Medallion status.
Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card – Up to 25,000 MQMs your first year, 20,000 MQMs during ongoing years.
Earn 10,000 MQMs after spending $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account (limited time offer expires 11/9/16). Then earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 on your Platinum Delta Amex within a calendar year, earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 on your card within a calendar year, $195 annual fee.
Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card – Up to 25,000 MQMs your first year, 20,000 MQMs during ongoing years.
Earn 10,000 MQMs after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account (limited time offer expires 11/9/16). Then earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 on your Platinum Delta Amex within a calendar year. Then earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 on your card within a calendar year, $195 annual fee.
Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express – Up to 40,000 MQMs your first year, 30,000 MQMs during ongoing years.
Earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after your first purchase on the credit card. Then earn 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 on the card within a calendar year, earn an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $60,000 within a calendar year, $450 annual fee.
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card from American Express – Up to 40,000 MQMs your first year, 30,000 MQMs during ongoing years.
Earn 10,000 MQMs after your first purchase with the credit card, earn 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 on the card within a calendar year, earn an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $60,000 within a calendar year, $450 annual fee.
Sometimes Amex has promotional offers that let you earn even more MQMs during the introductory bonus period. For example, we’ve seen the Platinum SkyMiles Amex offer as many as 10,000 MQMs to start, compared the 5,000 MQMs it usually offers, so it pays to keep an eye on the latest deals and check what offers you’ve been targeted for. The Delta Reserve is rarely above 10,000 – 15,000 MQMs to start, so it’s generally a safe one to get at the 10,000 MQM level.
Each SkyMiles Amex card that earns MQMs has a spending requirement that, when you meet it, will earn you an MQM bonus. Any spend you do on the cards, not just Delta purchases, counts toward the spending requirement needed to reach each card’s MQM earning threshold, and after you reach it, you’ll get an email from Delta confirming the milestone.
The miles will post as MQMs in your SkyMiles account, usually within a day of meeting the spending requirement, so you don’t have to wait for your monthly credit card statement to see the MQMs post.
Don’t forget, MQMs alone aren’t enough to qualify for Delta Medallion status anymore.
You also have to meet a Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) requirement, which is the number of dollars you need to spend on Delta flights in addition to the Medallion miles you need to earn.
But for now, there’s a way around that. It’s possible to waive the dollar requirement by spending $25,000 or more on an Delta Amex each year.
In the example below, this SkyMiles member has qualified for Platinum Medallion despite only $534 in Medallion Qualifying Dollars by spending $25,000 or more on a Delta SkyMiles Amex
All of the thresholds that earn MQMs with Delta Amex cards are at $25,000 or more in spending, so if you spend enough to earn MQMs with a Platinum or Reserve card, you’ll already meet the threshold to waive the dollar requirement.
Earning Medallion status purely by credit card spending with no flying at all is pretty rare. But if you fly, you’re probably thinking about what it takes to earn the next level of Medallion status without booking more trips
Here are the combinations of SkyMiles Amex cards that will upgrade each Medallion level.
For a one year upgrade, get the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card. You’ll earn 5,000 MQMs just for signing up, and you’ll need to spend $50,000 on the credit card to earn 20,000 more MQMs.
If you think you’ll want to upgrade your status again, better to get the Delta Reserve card.
Again, since you’ll need 25,000 additional MQMs, maximum, just get the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card. You’ll earn 5,000 MQMs as the signup bonus, spend $50,000 on the card within the calendar year to earn 20,000 additional MQMs.
If you think you’ll want to upgrade your status again, it is better to get a Reserve card since it can earn 30,000 MQMs after the first year, compared to 20,000 for the Platinum.
If you need a one year upgrade, go all in with both Platinum cards. It’s possible to earn 50,000 MQMs in the first year from the signup bonus (5K MQM times 2) and spending $50,000 on each card (20,000 MQM times 2).
If you want to upgrade your status again, go for one Platinum card and one Reserve card which will earn you 20,000 + 30,000 MQMs after you spend $50,000 + $60,000 on each card.
Now if you’re really hard core, here’s a look at how you can earn Delta status without flying at all by Medallion level, just using Delta Amex credit cards to earn your MQMs.
You can earn Silver status with just one credit card for the first year. Apply for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card and earn 5,000 MQMs from the signup bonus. Then earn an additional 20,000 MQMs by spending $50,000 on the credit card within a calendar year.
Maintaining Silver status after the first year will require a second credit card. To keep annual fees as low as possible, you would want to get the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card. In the first year of having this card you can earn status with this card alone like you did with the personal Platinum SkyMiles Card.
In Year 3, you can earn Silver by putting $50,000 on one of your two Platinum SkyMiles cards for 20,000 MQMs, and $25,000 on the second to earn 10,000 more MQMs.
If you would rather have just one credit card, you could pay for the $450 annual fee Delta Reserve and spend $60,000 on it within the calendar year to earn 30,000 MQMs which gets you Silver Medallion. If you go this route, in the first year you would only need to spend $30,000 to earn enough MQMs (10,000 intro bonus + 15,000 MQMs by spending $30,000 on the card).
You’ll need two cards right off the bat to earn Gold status. Your best bet will be to apply for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card and the Delta Reserve. The first year, you’ll earn 15,000 MQMs just from signing up, and will need to spend $30,000 on the Reserve to earn 15,000 MQMs and $50,000 on the Platinum to earn 20,000 MQMs, for a total of 50,000 MQMs.
In Year 2 and beyond, you’ll have to spend the full $50,000 on the Platinum to earn 20,000 MQMs and spend $60,000 on the Reserve to earn 30,000 MQMs, for a total of 50,000 MQMs.
It’s possible to earn Platinum Medallion status in Year 1 with just two credit cards. Sign up for both the personal and business versions of the Reserve card. You’ll earn 20,000 MQMs from signing up, and 30,000 MQMs from spending $60,000 on each of the credit cards. 5,000 MQMs will rollover to the following year.
Going forward, you’ll need to add in a card. You’ll have your 5,000 rollover MQMs from Year 1, and 60,000 MQMs from spending $60,000 on each of the Reserve cards. Add in a Platinum card to earn the 5,000 MQM signup bonus and spend $25,000 to earn 10,000 more MQMs. Again, you will have 5,000 rollover MQM.
In Year 3, you’ll have your 5,000 rollover MQM from year 2, plus 60,000 MQM from spending $60,000 on each of the Reserve cards. You’ll need to spend $25,000 on the Platinum card to earn the additional 10,000 MQMs needed to cross over 75,000 MQMs. After Year 3, you will need to spend the additional $25,000 on the Platinum card to earn 10,000 more MQMs in order to qualify.
The further up the status levels you go, the tougher it gets to earn status without flying. Luckily, Diamond Medallion is the last level. You’ll need all four cards mixed in in order to maintain Diamond status.
In Year 1, apply for both Reserve cards and both Platinum cards. You’ll earn 30,000 miles just from the signup bonuses (10K times 2 for the Reserve and 5K times 2 from the Platinum). Spend $60,000 on each of the Reserve cards to earn 60,000 MQM and spend $50,000 on each of the Platinum cards to earn 50,000 MQM. For the year, you’ll end up with 140,000 MQMs, 15,000 of which will rollover to Year 2.
In Year 2, you’re still going to have to do a lot of spending to keep your status. Spend $60,000 on each Reserve card to earn 60,000 MQM and $50,000 on each Platinum to earn 50,000 MQM. Including the 15,000 you rolled over from the previous year, you’ve just barely qualified for status assuming that you don’t fly at all, which would be a waste of the perks unless you stick to flying entirely on award tickets.
American Express has a one bonus per lifetime per card rule, so you can earn an introductory bonus for each card once. Different card levels like Gold vs Platinum and personal vs business cards are all separate, so you can earn up to 4 different sign on bonuses for each of the Delta SkyMiles Amex cards that earn MQMs.
Spending through December 31 of each calendar year is counted toward the year that it is in, regardless of your statement date.
The Delta Reserve card also gives you the ability to gift the bonus MQMs you earn through spending. After meeting the spend, you have 90 days to designate who you would like to gift the MQMs to. If you don’t designate someone in this time, they will automatically be applied to your account.
Delta and Hilton often partner near the end of each year to let you earn MQMs via Hilton hotel stays. It’s not great for a lot of MQMs, but if you’re 500 – 2,000 MQMs short it can be a great option.
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