Delta Letting You Pay To Secure Status For 2020

Filed Under: Delta, Reward Programs

The end of the year is quickly approaching, which means that many of us are looking at our frequent flyer accounts and trying to figure out how to squeeze a few extra miles out of our travels so we can qualify (or requalify) for status.

Towards the end of the year it’s pretty normal for airlines to let you “buy up” to the next elite tier, should you be just a bit short of their requirements for earning status.

Well, Delta has just brought back their promotion to buy up to the next elite tier, and this year they’re launching the promotion a bit earlier than in the past (last year they launched in early December).

Let’s take a look at the details.

Delta’s Elevate Your Status Promotion

Delta has now rolled out their end of the year promotion for buying up to status, called “Elevate Your Status.”

Who Is Eligible For Delta’s Elevate Your Status Promo?

So, who can take advantage of this promotion to buy up to a higher elite tier?

  • If you are a Platinum, Gold or Silver Medallion member, you are eligible for the promotion unless you received complimentary status for a tier above the tier you earned status for (like if you received complimentary Gold status, but only earned Silver status through published requirements)
  • If you are a non-elite member, you must be within range to reach Silver Medallion status by purchasing the maximum bundle of MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs (for example, for Silver the most MQMs you can buy is 12,500, so if you were at just 12,000 you wouldn’t be eligible, since you need 25,000 to earn the status)
  • If you are Diamond Medallion you aren’t eligible, since you’ve already reached the highest published tier

How To Buy Delta Status

The process of taking advantage of this is pretty easy. Through February 29, 2020, you can purchase a bundle consisting of Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs), and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs). This will count towards your 2020 status.

Here’s how Delta describes what this means for your status:

  • The dollar amount you spend on MQMs and MQSs will then be credited to your 2019 MQDs balance and will apply towards your 2020 status
  • Any MQMs purchased that exceed the amount needed to achieve Medallion status for 2020 will roll over and count towards your 2021 status
  • MQMs, MQSs and MQDs will post to your SkyMiles account within 24 hours of purchase
  • Keep in mind that MQMs, MQSs and MQDs purchased through this offer are non-refundable

You can get started with the process by logging in at this link.

My Delta Status Offer

I’m a Delta Silver member at the moment, and here’s what my qualifying activity looks like for the year (though I should already be Gold, but my miles haven’t posted for my most recent trip):

Then here’s the offer I received for a status buy-up:

So based on my current situation if I wanted to buy enough to earn Gold status, I’d need to buy the bundle with 10,000 MQMs, 15 MQSs, and 1,399 MQDs, for $1,399. That’s about 14 cents per MQM.

That’s expensive in absolute terms and not something I’d take advantage of, though for what it’s worth I’ve seen programs try to charge 25+ cents per elite mile, so by comparison the amount isn’t that nuts.

The pricing is variable, so I imagine it depends on how close you are to status, and also which status tier you’re close to. In other words, I imagine the last 10,000 MQMs to get to Diamond status would be much more costly than the last 10,000 MQMs to get to Silver status.

Bottom Line

Towards the end of the year it’s normal to see airlines offer promotions to buy your way to the next elite tier. In general you’re almost always going to find it cheaper to get on a plane to earn those miles than outright buying them, but of course that’s also significantly less convenient.

In the past I’d say elite status was pretty consistently worth going for as a frequent flyer, though over the years the benefits have been cut a lot. So overall I think there’s less value than ever before in buying elite status.

If you’re eligible for Delta’s “Elevate Your Status” deal, what does your offer look like?

  1. The only scenario where this makes sense is if you would otherwise take a flight for the exact amount. That way at least you wouldnt need to do some random flying and save your time at least.

  2. Seriously. It’s really not how much you go out of your way to fly with us but rather how rich you are to get status. It’s more like a monarchy than capitalizm. Or is it?

  3. @ Ben — More importantly, what are the requirements for earning Medallion status during 2020 for 2021 (through 1/31/2022) . Delta is VERY late in releasing this information, which cannot be good news. It looks like we are in for an increase in requirements. I’m predicting an increase from $3k/$6k/$9k/$15k to $4k/$8k/$12k/$20k.

  4. Any chance the AmEx Platinum Credits would kick in on this? Might change the math slightly since it’s use it or lose it.

  5. I’ve often had low level status with Delta

    However, prices have soared in MSP and benefits continue to fall

    Thus now I simply use Amex Plat or CSR for lounge access
    I buy Extra legroom
    And I buy Freebird for IRROPS

    This way I can fly anyone

    Sometimes I have irrational sadness at lack of Status

    Then I remember my flight on Saturday on Spirit where I had a Big Front Seat, true Category 1 boarding, free snack and drink (Amex)

    And compare that to my last Delta flight that had at least 20 Diamonds and a packed plane

    Did I mention that the Spirit flight was $300 cheaper than Delta coach?

    Status might be worth it at non-hubs. But no way is it worth it from MSP

  6. I flew last Wednesday on PHX-MSP, afternoon DL flight, and there were 81 people on the upgrade list. I could potentially see a case for a small buy-up for a silver to make gold (and thus lounge access), but otherwise don’t see how anyone could justify buying up in a program where upgrades are so rare and miles are nearly impossible to redeem (on DL metal, anyway) in long-haul business class for a reasonable rate.

  7. By the end of this month I will be about 3,000 MQM’s from Diamond…and well over double the MQD requirement. I could easily get those last 3,000 MQM’s in December, and 5 years ago I certainly would have. But with the changes in the value of elite status that we have all experienced, and the benefits of being a free agent, I would much rather be a high-mid level status flyer. Even when I have been top tier I rarely was upgraded on the flights where it really mattered (transcons, international), so why bother? If I have a long flight I just pay for J/F and if I have a short flight I lean on my mid level status with a couple airlines to get a decent seat and a few benefits.

    I would rather take 45,000 rollover MQM’s into 2020, I would rather be at Platinum in 2020 and know that I am starting 2021 qualification with about 45,000 MQM’s in the bank and if I chose not to fly Delta much in 2020 I will still have some status in 2021. I went free agent in 2017 and I wish I had done it several years earlier.

  8. Good grief, as a Platinum member with 37,455 miles left to go to Diamond my offers range from 1,000 MQMs for $2,399 to 25,000 MQM for $4,999. Good thing I have a mileage run to KUL next week.

  9. One reason to take the offer not mentioned is if you have a large amount of mqm but did not make the spend for any level.

    I rolled over 50+k of mqm from last year but this year I only flew about 1/2 way to silver. Paying to reach silver lets me roll over the mqm til next year where I conceivably could fly enough high dollar flights to use them.

    My offer was very similar to yours.

  10. @Gene – that’s a good question. I’m currently Platinum on DL via a status match challenge from Alaska. I’m on the fence right now as to what airline I’ll fly in 2020. I’m leaning back towards AS at the moment, but a massive jump in DL requirements for 2021 status would definitely push me over the edge.

  11. I’m not going to do it as I’ve secured Platinum and not going for Diamond, but here are the low and high purchase options they’re putting out there for me sitting at 80,000 MQMs and $9,459 MQDs YTD. Pricing is steep for me and still wouldn’t get me to Diamond (defeats the purpose right???):

    1,000 MQMs and $2,399 MQDs for $2,399 in good old fashioned USDs
    25,000 MQMs and $4,999 MQDs for $4,999 in good old fashioned USDs

    When I think about how many more upgrades I might get with Diamond vs Platinum I could easily pay cash for them for less than $2,399 for domestic flights. The benefits of sys upgrades are limited and difficult to use and the marginal increase in earned redeemable miles isn’t worth it.

  12. As a Platinum who is about 4,000 MQMs short of Diamond and based outside the USA, I saw this as a good opportunity. And then I looked at what they wanted to charge me…$3,000 for 5,000 MQMs. Are those 4 Global Upgrades, Individual SkyClub membership, and 25,000 bonus miles worth $3,000 to me? Possibly. But I’d rather roll over the 46,000 miles for next year…the return leg on my J ticket CDG-RDU will get me to Gold on January 4th.

    It is interesting to see all the folks who talk about the diminishing returns of loyal to Delta. I think a lot of it depends on where one is based…my home airport is YYZ, and on the 6 Delta roundtrips I have taken to the American Southeast to visit family in the last six months, I’ve missed 0 – that’s zero – upgrades on YYZ-ATL, ATL-ILM, and/or ALT-MYR. Same on 3 AA roundtrips, too, going through CLT (I’m Gold with them). Granted, some of the planes DL runs in between ATL and ILM/MYR are crap, but sitting in first on all 4 legs when paying $300 USD r/t isn’t a bad deal. Can’t imagine that would happen if I were still living in, say, LA…those LAX-ATL transcons must be packed with Diamonds and Platinums. But for me, sticking with DL is paying off.

  13. My offer is the same $1399 for 10,000MQMs to move from Silver to Gold. The MQDs are irrelevant, since I spent the money on my Amex to get the waiver. Therein lies my issue with whether I should take this now or not – I completed my $30k spend on my Amex Reserve just a couple days ago. I’ll be gold regardless once I credit my 15k MQMs from that spend, and sit at about 8,000 miles short of platinum based on year-end travel plans. If I take this offer now, I’ll actually make platinum. If I wait and am already gold, I’m sure my price will increase. Is $1399 worth it for Platinum Status? And actually, based on the above, I think $1199, to become platinum? I could do a mileage run, but 8,000 MQMs might be lengthy and could be a wash in terms of price (yes, have considered I would actually have redeemable miles from a run).

  14. Interesting, just yesterday I was talking with Delta about my dilemma. I have the MQM’s but am $114 shy of the MQD’s. It was before the offer was emailed to me. He told me it would be far less expensive to just find a cheap flight and do a quick round trip. So, off I go from SMF to SEA and back out at 6:30am home by 11:30am. Status assured for 2020 and at a fraction of the buy it price.

  15. Does anybody know why delta does mqm rollover but not mqs? I feel like I’m in a bucket that gets absolutely hosed: 40k MQM, 71 MQS, 16K MQD (short, expensive flights for work). Anybody else feel like they fly a ton of segments and spend a lot, but get minimal status return? I’m currently 29 segments from platinum or 35k miles from platinum. For 71 flights and 16k spend, it feels like I should be much closer to platinum than that.

  16. I am only $237 MQDs left to Diamond, I have exceeded MQM requirement for Diamond (and I have a roundtrip to Sydney in two weeks that should take care of the remaining MQDs), however, for the benefit of the readers, my offer is as follows (note that there is not an option that would be even remotely reasonable for someone who needs just $237 MQDs as of the time of the offer):

    1,000 MQMs + 3 MQS + $2,399 MQDs = $2,399
    2,500 MQMs + 6 MQS + $2,799 MQDs = $2,799
    5,000 MQMs + 9 MQS + $2,999 MQDs = $2,999
    7,500 MQMs + 12 MQS + $3,199 MQDs = $3,199
    10,000 MQMs + 15 MQS + $3,299 MQDs = $3,299
    12,500 MQMs + 18 MQS + $3,399 MQDs = $3,399

    Another interesting observation is the price increments: the first 1,000 MQMs is $2,399. The last 5,000 MQMs are $200.

    Every year, these offers appear to become more and more pricey. I appreciate the added option to qualification they offer (and folks get Regional or Global Upgrade Certificates at higher status, which make it more appealing), but having flown my way to status every year and seeing fewer and fewer complimentary upgrades, I tend to agree that to make benefits “meaningful” for all, there will soon need to be some innovative thinking about Silvers, Golds… and also Diamonds – how do you recognize loyalty at nearly 90% load factors? There will probably be an increase in the qualification requirements with some “enhancements to current benefits” or a creation of a “Super Diamond”.

  17. My option to get Platinum suggested in an email to me is:
    5,000 MQMs + 9 MQSs + $1,399 MQDs = $1,399

    I’m only 2300 miles from Platinum, so when I log onto the purchase page I could also do this:

    2,500 MQMs + 6 MQSs + $1,299 MQDs = $1,299

    I have a Delta credit card, & met the spending requirement so I don’t need any MQD. Also I’m traveling in 2 weeks and will get the required MQMs. I’ve never made Platinum so I *might* be tempted if I weren’t traveling any more this year (& knew I would be a lot next year)

  18. I find it interesting that the lower your status level, the cheaper these bundles are. The screenshot in the post is for a silver member. I’m currently Gold, and my bundle starts at $999 and goes up to $1,999 for 12,500 MQM. Based on other comments, it looks like if you’re platinum, those numbers go up even further.

  19. @ Colin M – I am guessing that’s because the benefits increase, in theory (and for me, in practice), the higher the status. For example, for me – a person who travels to Asia 2-3 times per year from North America, the 4 Global upgrades might be worth the $3,000 to get to Diamond. You don’t get those upgrades unless you hit Diamond.

  20. Currently I’m 701 mqms and $592 short of platinum. My offer was 2500 mqms 6 mqs and $1299 mqds for $1299. I’m in the middle of a trip and I knew I’d make the mqms but be about $400 short on dollars. I choose to take a trip to key west for a $500 flight plys roll over mqms and try to spend my marriott suite night rewards at the same time. Fingers crossed it get my marriott upgrade!

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