Delta Adds Limits To How Many MQMs You Can Earn Through Credit Cards

Filed Under: American Express, Credit Cards

As much as there are aspects of Delta SkyMiles that drive me nuts, one thing that the program has going for it is that they make it pretty easy to earn elite status through credit card spend.

How Delta makes earning status through credit cards easy

You can earn a full waiver of Delta’s revenue requirement for status by spending $25,000 per year on their co-branded credit card, and on top of that you can earn tons of elite qualifying miles for reaching certain spending thresholds.

Specifically, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card (both personal and business) offers 10,000 bonus MQMs after spending $25,000, plus a further 10,000 bonus MQMs after spending $50,000, while the Delta Reserve Card (both personal and business) offers 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $30,000, plus a further 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $60,000.

So in theory if you had both the Platinum and Reserve Card, and spent $110,000 between them, you’d earn 50,000 MQMs. Meanwhile if you had all four cards — the personal and business versions of the Platinum and Reserve Card — and spent $220,000 between them, you’d earn 100,000 MQMs. That almost gets you all the way to Diamond status.


Delta is adding restrictions to earning status through credit card spend

Rene’s Points notes that changes have been made to the cardmember agreement for the Delta Reserve Card as it relates to the Miles Boost opportunities. This section now reads as follows:

You may receive a Miles Boost award based on your eligible purchases for the calendar year. A calendar year is from January 1 to December 31 regardless of when you open your Card Account. This means in your first year as a Card Member you may have fewer months to accumulate eligible purchases towards a Miles Boost award.

The Miles Boost award and the eligible purchases required to receive the bonus are shown below.

Annual Eligible Purchase / Miles Boost Award
$30,000 / 15,000 miles and 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles
$60,000 or more / an additional 15,000 miles and 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles

Some Miles Boost award restrictions
You can now only get two Miles Boost awards for each Card account. In addition, if you have more than one Reserve Card Account linked to the same SkyMiles account, you are eligible for only two Miles Boost awards each year.

The wording on these new restrictions is a bit confusing. What I’m not yet sure of is if the limit is a total of two Miles Boosts across all Delta Amex Cards, or two Miles Boosts across Delta Reserve Cards and two Miles Boosts across Delta Platinum Cards. The earnings capability here is either being cut by half or three quarters.

So while this won’t impact those who get just a couple of Miles Boosts per year to top off an account (which is probably a majority of people), this potentially has a huge impact on those who primarily earn Delta status through credit card spend.

I’ll try to track down the exact details of these changes, though it’s clear that some major restrictions are being put in place.

Does anyone presently earn more than 30,000 MQMs per year with Delta through credit card spend?

  1. Figures… Delta was the airline that originally ‘diluted’ the frequent flyer experience by allowing “credit card spend” to fill the First Class seats with people who only fly a few times a year.
    Guess it finally dawned on them that the people actually buying airline tickets were the ones to focus on.

    Standing by to see United and American match this move, as they always follow.

  2. This is great news for those that actually earn status by flying.

    Too bad so sad for those manufactured spend credit card scammers who got status through their shady purchase schemes.

  3. @Tachyon_OGG-SBA-IAD. How can United follow? They don’t have a way to earn PQMs unless you have their Presidential Plus credit card which you can no longer get…

  4. Well said, Jimmy! Next up, no longer getting the required MQD’s waived by spending 25K on Amex for PM and or DM.

  5. Either way, on AmEx terms and conditions, it says you can only get ONE bonus per year per ACCOUNT… So it would be actually just making sure the legal from AmEx matches Delta. One is not supposed to receive bonus from 2 amex cards… but we do receive them because the system lets us.

  6. Clearly dykwia Goldbox has not seen how much $DAL earns from AMEX each year and how spending matters more than ever for upgrades.

  7. I dunno why they’re killing the golden goose. $220k of spend at roughly 240bps of merchant interchange is $5280 of gross revenue right there, before counting any annual fees.

  8. I have a (personal) Delta Amex plat and a Business Delta Amex plat — so together they generate 10Kx2x2 = 40K MQMs per year for me (on $100K spend). If they only allow 30K MQMs I will definitely drop a card because the companion fares on these are the only other benefit, and difficult to use.

  9. Great move. Hopefully they eliminate this completely. Airlines have gotten to caught up in these credit cards. I have my Amex Plat for work. I shouldn’t have to get another $550 annual fee card just to get better upgrade priority. I spend 25K per year flying Delta. I should be prioritized over someone who spends 5000 per year and gets Diamond free from the credit card MQMs and waivers.

  10. Airline status should always only be able to be earned by BIS flying and actual airline spend, not credit cards. The small boosts are OK, but beyond that isn’t. Same with hotel status.

  11. Mr. Credit Card Salesman:

    How much DL earns from AMEX? Is that similar to the revenue you generate from referral links (by broadcasting that multiple cards and MS + upgrades and free status by not flying) in order to maintain your blog and put food on your table at home?

  12. Yes, I get 30,000 MQMs on my Delta Reserve card. And then I get 15,000 on my husbands reserve card. And that gets me to platinum. Will he be able to still gift the MQMs to me or not?

  13. So someone like Carole above flies 45000 miles per year and gets upgraded ahead of someone who flies 75000 miles per year AND spends of $9000 on Delta flying! THAAt has got to change. Also Diamond should NO WAIVERS. Look how big the upgrade lists are… look how many Diamonds are on each flight. I was #17 using an RUC from LAX-HNL! Crazy! Time to toughen up and make sure those who spend big bucks flying get SOME benefits back .

  14. As a Delta PM who earns status 100% though butt-in-seat miles I’m very happy to see this change. Let those who actually fly enjoy the benefits.

    Thinning the elite herd should also help with upgrades.

  15. The purpose of a company is to maximize profit.

    Loyalty programs reward customers that contribute the most to a company’s bottom line. This is especially true of SkyMiles. If a credit card holder spends enough to reach that profitability threshold, then s/he should get the benefits that go along with it. It doesn’t matter if it was from BIS flying or from buying Shawn Mendes posters through the shopping portal.

    At the end of the day, all that matters is profit.

  16. Sorry to disappoint all of you REAL diamonds, but you will see very like impact from this.

  17. What about gifted boosts? I have family who have the card and I get one or two from them if they don’t need it. On top of my earned two.

  18. @vasya

    Fair enough. I haven’t followed the UA credit cards since I cut up and sent back my vanilla Chase MP and Presidential Plus cards years ago when I divorced them and moved to American. My wife just challenged over to Alaska 75K Gold and I’m thinking of following, as the AAdvantage program atrophies to nothing…

  19. Not sure what to make of it. I get 30K MQM from my biz reserve, then my wife “gifts me” 30K from her Reserve. I am assuming I’ll be fine.

  20. Just for clarification, I never get upgraded as a platinum. I try to get status so that I can cancel award tickets for no fee and I can get a better schedule when there are schedule changes. So I don’t see how my spend on Delta Amex affects anyone.

  21. What a bunch of cry babies. I would bet that most of the people bitching are not the one actually spending the big dollars, it is your companies. Frankly I would like to see the end of free upgrades and make people pay for a seat in first. It is about time for freeloaders to stay in the back of the bus where they belong. Cheers

  22. Pretty sure it simply means that if you have both Reserve accounts, you can only get a max of two bonus between the 4 offered. You can still collect the 4 bonus from the Platinum offering if you have both of the platinum cards.

  23. Just read this on

    To review the rules, please visit If in any calendar year your Eligible Spending on your Delta Reserve Card is $30,000 or more, you will be awarded 15,000 Bonus Miles and 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs). If in that same calendar year your Eligible Spending on your Delta Reserve Card is $60,000 or more, you will be awarded 15,000 Bonus Miles and 15,000 MQMs. You may be permitted to have more than one Options, Classic, Gold, Platinum, or Delta Reserve Card from American Express account; however, you are only eligible to receive one annual bonus for each type (i.e. Options, Classic, Gold, Platinum, or Delta Reserve) of Delta SkyMiles Credit Card account from American Express.

    They must mean one annual max bonus – because of course you receive 15k for the first $30,000 and 15k more for the second $30,000. But it appears it may be saying if you own ANY business cards, along with the regular card, you can only get one per type (ie Reserve or Platinum).

  24. A retired teacher, I work (and spend) carefully to achieve Platinum status. I have Reserve and Platinum cards. Yes, I earn mileage “boosts” from both cards. I only fly Delta and also support them by paying high annual fees on both cards. Delta profits from these fees! I pay for my flights myself. I will never achieve Diamond level because I’m not a business person having my ticket paid for by someone else. Should I happen to be upgraded to the front of the plane, it’s not cool to feel discriminated against by flyers that consider themselves elite because they fly at the expense of others! Stop being so arrogant!!!

  25. Well said.

    Do business travelers deserve to get perks and status? Sure, perfect, great. Do they deserve to have elitist, shitty attitudes acting like they’re superior to others? No, that’s a crock.

    What actually I am impressed by are people who do not fly for business all the time, and pay for their tickets and earn status on their own (specifically the ones who are not loaded with $$$). That takes skill and being clever and should be lauded in these days of cats from consulting companies soaking up status very easily.

  26. Let’s be clear here, folks. All these frequent flyer miles, points, rules, etc, are simply creating a game.

    We all play the game. If the rules are changed so that our pattern of consumption results in less benefits, worse upgrades, etc, we biotch and moan.

    If the rules are changed so that our pattern of consumption results in more benefits, better upgrades, etc, we feel like thats the right move, and more so now than in the past, we are entitled to our benefits.

    And in the words of the great Mirandal Priestly (from “The Devil Wears Prada”): “That’s All”:

  27. The airlines are begininv to focus more on where they make a profit, or perhaps who they make a profit from. Why should 125,000 BIS low profit economy miles be weighed over 25,000 BIS miles of A or F from someone who is routing 220k+$ of business and personal spend in a way where they get to sell FF miles. You’re just sore that your business isn’t as important to them as you’d like.

    I expect more and more we’ll see them focus perks on decision makers at the corporate offices, not the folks who are actually flying regularly. AA already does with CK and United with GS for example

  28. They just announced that a $250,000 per year spend (yes, that isnt a typo) on the card to satisfy the MQD requirement up from $25,000 Crazy

  29. It’s kind of funny to read how upset all these real “frequent flyers” get when they have to compete for upgrades to those of us who earn status because of mileage boosts from our spending on credit cards.

    Someone mentioned how frequent they fly and how frustrated they are because the some of us, who should otherwise be in “the back” are taking the good seats.

    Here’s a way around all this… PAY FOR YOUR FIRST CLASS SEAT. Don’t sit around waiting for your names to be called off an ever growing list. Rather, If you think you should be upgraded before someone else because you fly more, you are wrong. Just pay more and you’ll get that seat in the front. The rest of us who paid for the cheap seat, hoping to win will be fighting for that upgrade just like YOU. See you on the plane friend.

  30. My dad is still getting more than 30k MQM’s from Delta credit card spending on an annual basis.

  31. I agree with those who actually pay for tickets and fly a lot. It’s frustrating to be platinum medallion and be #30 on the upgrade list. For those of you arguing that point, it’s a FREQUENT FLYER benefit, not a who spends the most at the office benefit. It’s a benefit for people who are traveling all the effing time, and show brand loyalty. To Anthony, i have paid for several first class tickets this year, BUT, when I fly locally, i don’t buy the first class tickets. BUT, if I’m eligible for an upgrade, it’s annoying to be bumped out simply because someone runs a large office, and spends on their cc.

  32. I’m new to the Medallion chase and just spent $30,000 on the Delta Reserve Card. 15,000 bonus miles have been awarded, but not the MQMs. Is there a delay or should I contact Delta SkyMiles?

  33. Hi Roger,

    They do not put it in your account for 3 months unless you actually claim it online or gift it to someone else sooner. It is easy to claim on line if you know where to look.

    I have a Reserve card and my wife has her own Reserve card. She gifts her two 15000 mqms to me so I can get platinum status. I then gift her Silver status.
    I find that wIth platinum status, you can sometimes get an upgrade. (gold status has become impossible) When we fly together–she gets my benefit of Platinum status and is upgraded with me. . It is an ok situation.

    I wish other gifts of 15k MQM were awarded with spending $90,000 and $120,000 though. I can then get rid of the second Reserve card.

  34. Just FYI – According to Amex now if you have two platinum business cards you can only get 2 boosts in total for those two cards, not 4 you think you would get for 50k spend on each card. You can get 2 boosts from a Biz card and then 2 from a personal card for a total of 4 but not two Biz plat cards. I have gotten them in the past they said was a mistake? They were around the same time so maybe they didn’t see it but I looked at the cardmember agreement and it says pg 3
    “Some Miles Boost award restrictions:”
    “You can only get two Miles Boost awards for each Card Account. In addition, if you have more than one Platinum Card Account linked to the same SkyMiles account, you are eligible for only two Miles Boost awards each year”.

    Sucks because I had the spend and short 10k for Diamond what a waste a spend.

  35. All you “must earn Diamond only via BIS miles” people need to take a seat, so to speak. I am the most loyal Delta customer you will ever meet. My father was a Delta Flying Colonel, and I have flown nothing but Delta for the last 20 years. I got Diamond this year for the first time, and couldn’t have done it without my company’s (it’s my business) having spent over $250k on our Delta AMEX cards in 2019. To celebrate, I flew a round-trip, same–day trip on Delta for no “reason.” Bear in mind that this MQM boost program isn’t just Delta — it’s AMEX’s incentive to use their cards. Diamond is an exclusive group, especially since the $250k threshold, and I don’t feel like I’ve “cheated” my way into it.

  36. I’m with you, Sid. Through my personal and business spending I hit Diamond this year. In no way do I feel that after spending over $250k on Delta’s co-branded cards that I’ve cheated my way in. They make the rules, we abide by them.

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