YIKES: Delta Increases Diamond MQD Waiver To $250K

Filed Under: Delta

Delta was the first global US airline to introduce a revenue requirement for status, award miles based on dollars spent rather than distance flown, etc. However, they’ve also once in a while made some positive changes, and have areas where they’re especially competitive.

One of those areas is when it comes to earning status through credit card spend. Delta has four co-branded credit cards that allow you to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles, and in theory it’s possible to earn Diamond status exclusively through credit card spend (though it requires a lot of spend, and having a lot of cards).

However, regardless of which premium Delta credit card you have, spending $25,000 per year on their cards will get you a waiver of the revenue requirement for each status level (Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond). That’s changing as of 2018, as it relates to qualifying for status for the 2019 program year.

As of 2018, you’ll need to spend $250,000 per year on a Delta credit card to get a Medallion Qualifying Dollar waiver for Diamond status, rather than the current $25,000 requirement. The amount will remain unchanged for Silver, Gold, and Platinum members. Per the SkyMiles News & Updates page:

We are always looking for ways to improve the Medallion experience by listening to your feedback. Because we want to ensure our most well-traveled Members can take full advantage of all the benefits of Diamond Medallion Status, a change is being made to how Members qualify for 2019 Diamond Medallion Status.

Starting January 1, 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.

This qualification change will allow us to deliver on expectations for Diamond Medallion Status so Members can maximize elite benefits like Complimentary Upgrades and Delta Sky Club® access. This update will not change how Members earn 2018 Diamond Medallion Status.

We understand this is a significant increase, but keep in mind that the MQD Waiver to qualify for all of the best-in-class benefits of Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion Statusopens in a new window will still remain at $25,000.

Delta 767

This is a very major change that will have a big impact for a lot of Diamond Medallion members. To those who spend a ton on Delta credit cards and earn status almost exclusively through credit card spend, this is arguably positive, as you’ll be part of a more exclusive group. At the same time, if you’re earning Delta Diamond status almost exclusively through credit card spend, how much value are you really getting out of the status?

But for those people who were somewhere inbetween, and who earned Diamond status through a combination of flying and credit card spend, this is terrible news. If you don’t spend $250,000 on your co-branded Delta credit cards, you’ll now have to earn 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Dollars per year with Delta (in reality that translates to a lot more airfare than that, since taxes and fees don’t count towards that). This puts you at even more of a disadvantage, since many Diamond members were only maybe flying 50,000-75,000 miles per year, and were earning the rest of the miles and the spend waiver through credit card spend. Those members are now screwed:

  • A Diamond Medallion member who actually flies 125,000 miles per year with Delta has to spend an average of 12 cents per mile, before taxes and fees
  • If you’re a Diamond Medallion member who flies 62,500 miles per year with Delta and earns the rest of the MQMs through credit card spend, you’ll have to spend an average of 24 cents per mile, before taxes and fees

With first class upgrades getting tougher, Delta is trying to thin out elite ranks

Typically when changes are made I think they impact a small percentage of members. However, in this case I’d be shocked if this didn’t have an impact on a sizable percentage of Diamond Medallion members. This is a huge move on Delta’s part, and I would be shocked if this doesn’t cause a double digit percentage decrease in the number of Diamond members.

I suspect that’s what Delta wants in this case, given that they’re selling more first class seats than ever before, and they’d rather have more non-top tier elites.

To compare this to the policies of American and United:

  • $25,000 of spend on a United co-brand credit card gets you a revenue waiver for Silver, Gold, and Platinum, though there’s no revenue waiver for 1K members
  • American doesn’t formally offer revenue waivers, though spending $25,000 on an Aviator account earns you 3,000 EQDs, while spending an additional $25,000 on an Aviator Silver Card earns you an additional 3,000 EQDs, for up to 6,000 EQDs through credit card spend (which is half of the revenue requirement for Executive Platinum status

Bottom line

This is a huge move on Delta’s part that will lead to a significant decrease in the number of Diamond Medallion members… and I suspect that’s exactly what Delta wants. It’s one thing if they had increased the spend requirement from $25,000 to $100,000, which would have been a very big jump, but a tenfold increase? YOW!

I’m shocked American Express was okay with this, or that they didn’t have more leverage, as this will no doubt lead to decreased spend on their cards. There had been rumors of Delta limiting the number of MQDs you can earn through credit card spend, but nothing like this.

To Diamond Medallion members, what do you make of this move? Does it impact whether or not you’ll go for Diamond status going forward?

(Tip of the hat to Points, Miles & Martinis)

  1. Insulting. I would be less upset if they just eliminated the waiver.

    Time to seriously reconsider my loyalty. Enough is enough.

  2. Hahaha Delta sure has a funny understanding of the word “improve.”
    Who trusts them on anything related to their frequent flyer miles program?

  3. This is absurd because NOBODY should put $250,000 in spending on a Delta credit card when there are so many more credit cards that offer more points for that level of spending. I’ve been a Delta diamond or platinum for the last 5 years. I put about $50,000 on my card.

  4. Wow. Just wow. It’s been reported that a change was coming, but this change is perhaps one of the worst possible.

    The email they sent about this includes details on how my spend was last year. I’ve been averaging ~$10k in MQD, but well over 125k MQMs. The 25k waiver is essentially the only reason I’m a Diamond. With this change, I’ll be a bit more independent with my flying next year, mixing my travel between JetBlue and Alaska domestically, and choosing the best carrier for a given route internationally. I doubt I spend more than $2k next year with Delta.

  5. Insanity – I put btw $55K and $70K on my card – unless it’s a business AmEx card, who in the world puts $250K+ through it? Has to be a vanishingly small group – a group that probably stands out already, and easily catered to through other means. This $250K cutoff is insulting – at least for individual card holders.

  6. Well this is the one and only year I will qualify for Diamond I guess.. working for a small company where I can’t spend unlimited money on flights means no chance in the world of 15,000 MQD’s, even with 175,000 MQM’s. Damn.

  7. $250K requirement should drastically reduce the number who get status from CC spend. $25K was too easy, but $250K seems ridiculously excessive target. I suspect Amex will be pissed as I expect lots to drop their Delta CCs since they are otherwise crappy cards.

  8. Delta really stands out with their frequent flyer program: no award chart so they charge whatever they want, and within 3 days of award travel you cannot change your ticket, get a refund nor have miled redeposit. And now this. There’s just no reason to be loyal to Delta.

  9. I don’t think it is insulting. As a someone who earns more miles by flying, I hit the MQD amount pretty easily. I think Diamond should be special and more limited to the truly most loyal. When diamonds are 10 deep on upgrade list after a full cabin, that is a sign there are too many diamonds. To shrink ranks, focus on those who fly most.

  10. I was surprised to see this but happy when I thought of the implications. I spend over $15,000 on Delta each year and don’t really see that changing soon. A smaller Diamond pool would be nice.

    I do think $250,000 is excessive though. I’d rather see Delta increase the value of its card if it wants to encourage that much spending.

  11. I sent them a thank you for helping me dump my high fee AMEX and opening up my choices on other airlines….. no reason for loyalty to them

  12. I feel like this is another sign that the credit card gravy train is gradually slowing down.

    Mid to High tier loyalty with multiple airlines is much better for me than top tier loyalty with one airline, I figured that out last year and this is a good example of why. The airlines want too much for top tier and (for me) the difference in benefits don’t come close to offsetting the cost in time, money, etc.

  13. I’m also a Delta diamond. I hit the requirement last two years but it’s tight. As a result, I’m done with Delta

  14. I was a charter Diamond Medallion and I have attained it every year since. I would say the program is no longer worth it and If this thins the herd I am for it.

    I am for it even though I have been using the Amex MQD waiver for years. Next year I have already booked two flights with Delta tier 1 partners where the MQDs are a percentage of the miles flown. I will certainly requalify for Diamond in 2019 where a thinner herd will prompt me to stay or if there is no difference I will just leave.

    Ironically, after all the bitching and moaning about Skymiles I hardly have any in my account and I have felt that I have received decent value for them.

  15. Really? I think you are mistaken here. Surely most people who fly 125K per year are spending at least $15,000 on fares to do it, which remains unchanged.

    The only people who needed the waiver to begin with were those who flew on particularly cheap fares, such as people gaming the system. Anyone flying for work will presumably have no problem hitting the $15K regular MQDs, especially since unlike UA Delta awards MQDs for partner flights too.

    The biggest losers here are people with irregular travel patterns, since the other way you can get lots of MQMs and not many MQDs is through having lots of rollover miles. But, even they don’t lose too much, because if they end the year with 130K MQMs and $30K in Delta credit card spend, they roll over 55K MQMs to the next year. For someone who travels a lot (and expensively) every other year, say, they can still then get a good head start on getting back to DM the next year.

  16. That’s it. I’m done. Cancelling the AMEX card (I don’t like it anyway) and scheduling for the next two weeks with American.

  17. As nuts as it is, its makes sense. If anything Im surprised DL even allowed a wavier to Diamond even with $250k.

    Now I hope they stand up and start taking proper care of its Diamonds, unlike UA which still treats its 1Ks as if they were Silver

    Winners are those who do the actual Spend anyways, Losers are guys like me who would never spend .12 per mile and therefore may have been Diamonds on the cheap. My gut tells me DL wont change how it treats its Diamonds and will do so like UAs 1Ks

  18. @ Bgriff — The part where I disagree with you is that I think a sizable percentage of the Diamond Medallion population earns 75,000-124,999MQMs through flying per year, and the rest through credit card spend. It’s the reason so many Delta loyalists have their co-branded credit card, because it has been a unique selling feature of the program. Spending 12 cents per mile flown (pre-taxes and fees) isn’t unreasonable, but now they’re going to have to spend a lot more than that per flown miles to requalify. I do think that makes up a sizable percentage of the Diamond population, but I could be wrong.

  19. If you are a Diamond member who is planning to never fly them again because of this, then Delta is probably pretty happy with your decision. If you are flying earn 125,000 MQM’s and not spending at least $15,000 then you are a pretty low margin customer for Delta and I doubt they’d have a hard time getting more money for the seat you’ll be leaving behind. I’ll cross the $15,000 MQD line before I reach 75,000 MQM’s.

  20. Agree with the purpose, but they should have just eliminated the ability to meet the waiver for Diamond level. Keeping Diamond exclusive is, in the end, a good thing for the customers they value most. Nothing makes business travelers more confused than being on an AA flight with 70 other EPs.

  21. The most disgusting part is that Delta isn’t trying to have less Diamomds. They just want different Diamonds. If needed, they will give the status away to someone else through a promotion or status match to keep the number of Diamonds the same as prior years.

  22. I’m just a lowly silver on pace to hit gold by the new year, but I think this is a good move. There is no point in having a top-tier elite status level if it gets overloaded with too many people meeting the requirements. 250K might be a bit excessive, but Diamond status (or any top tier with any airline) should be for those who truly are the top echelon of loyal customers. Diamonds who actually earn their status the hard way will appreciate this.

  23. In reality I kinda like it. Kinda
    Makes next year a lot easier/simpler. Spend $60K on the Reserve, get 30K MQM’s(and Mile bonuses), hit Platinum and be done.
    $250K is insane UNLESS the earnings power is increased substantially. One point per dollar is lame.

  24. I’ve been Platinum for a few years, was Diamond once. I pay for First most of the time as upgrades weren’t clearing. I have access to the Clubs with the Reserve card. I didn’t really get the point of Diamond, or see the benefit. Sure the phone agents were great, but I’ve never had a bad one on the Platinum line. No way to do that much spend, but who cares?

  25. This is excessive. I can meet the 15K ticket spend, but it’s going to require a lot more effort to fly on Delta, even when it’s inconvenient. I’m a huge Delta fan and I don’t want to go elsewhere, but this is going to be tough, and I don’t want to lose my diamond status. I wonder if they are going to get so many complaints, credit card cancellations and people moving to other carriers that they’ll reverse the change.

  26. While I see this is a huge change for many it actually works in my favor. I never spent $1 on a Delta card but I fly over 125,000 MQM with several international flights on business class. Thus, I easily spend over $15k with Delta tickets. I guess in my case this is good news as I can finally dream of a domestic upgrade out of MSP.

  27. I have been a delta platinum american express card holder since 2002 with diamond status for the last 5 years, platinum most years previously. I spend over $15,000 so I will be okay without getting the credit card waiver, nonetheless, I am appalled at their gull in increasing the spending to 10x the current limit! I could understand if they double or tripled it but if someone spends $250K a year on a card, it would be the reserve card, not the delta skymiles card… Honestly, I’ve started to be disappointed with Delta since my international travel last week. I realized I know more about their policies having been a customer for 15 years compared to people they hired 5 years ago! Their customer service training is horrible, no consistency, and a supervisor actually said to me, “well, when the issue isn’t straightforward, it’s not our fault if a mistake is made, we can’t expect all our employees to know every rule.” Um, WHAT? If a delta employee processes something incorrectly, it’s on Delta to fix it, not make up excuses. I am going to switch to the spg credit card for hotel to get free rooms with points. It’s really sad. I was such an avid delta supporter, I would take 2 or even 3 connections to remain on delta. Need to start thinking about making a change. Going to cancel my credit card in protest.

  28. If Diamonds think that this will thin the herd in 2019 for more upgrades, they have another thing coming. Most Diamonds who don’t make the $15k MQD requirement don’t make it because they purchase lower fare classes. Diamonds who do make the $15k spend will already have been on top of the upgrade list for purchasing more expensive fare classes (typically last minute). The top diamonds (dare I say 1%?) will still be competing with each other, they just won’t have the low fare diamonds below them in the same level.

    I do agree that it’s wrong for folks to get status exclusively on CC spend alone through MQM bonuses, but for those of us who fly well over125k butt in seat miles per year on lower fare class tickets this is a huge blow. Both United and AA spends for top tier are $3k less than DL.

  29. I sound like a broken record. The airlines are doing this because they can. There is zero competition. While you idiots (us idiots) were busy on selfiebook trying to post the perfect selfie, these huge companies were consolidating into a cartel. Next up wireless carriers. I give you exhibit A: AT&T and Sprint… oh break time is up.. back to instagram

  30. Just checked spending on the card for this year, at $120K. 2016 was $150K…so that’s not good enough for you Delta? I will gladly take my spending somewhere else. Jerks.

  31. As a diamond member who actually achieved my status exclusively through actually flying, I can’t help but chuckle a bit at this thread. I totally understand the frustration, but high elite status is supposed to be valued at customer loyalty FLYING not buying a status through credit card purchases. Silver Gold and Platinum I understand being kept at $25k, allowing for card spend to still be a viable option. I’m happy about this move as someone who plans on requalifying next year as a Diamond again through flying, my first class upgrade experience will definitely be better, that being said I see how excessive this is. 100k would be more reasonable, and would still bring elite numbers down.

  32. A miserable attempt at customer retention for high-yield customers.
    The aviation economy is obviously doing far too well.

  33. This really highlights the biggest issue all of this consolidation has brought. When the airlines were smaller, it actually took more effort to fly enough on any one carrier to achieve elite status. Now that we’ve got AA/DL/UA essentially serving 85%+ of the same city pairs, it’s really easy to rack up qualifying miles on any of them. This, by its very nature, diminishes the value of status by making more and more people eligible for status.

    As Syndrome (aka Buddy) says in The Incredibles “When everyone is super, nobody is super.”

  34. Well the economy is doing better (Canada and Europe in general as well) so it makes sense that they can now focus back on paying customers as paid yields get better. Back when the economy was in the crapper you could basically get any award seat any time. As things keep getting better you will see a massive dilution of award programs especially for business/first class in the coming years. Until it all goes down the drain again…

  35. This is definitely goodbye to Delta, not just for me but for family members whom I gift status and buy tickets.

    I currently have 216,500 MQMs for this year (only 10,000 of which from the credit card) but only $13,500 in spend, and with my remaining tickets it will be $14,500 by Dec. 31. Under the new rules, I would get Platinum despite flying what will end up being close to 240,000 miles and spending almost $15,000. What an insult.

    Today it’s officially over. Three Delta Amex cards (average spend $100,000 per year) are going to be cancelled for sure, and no further flights for anyone in my family will be bought on Delta after my 2018 Diamond status expires. It feels good to break the Delta addiction after years of watching Skymiles be dismantled. Looking forward to giving my business to Alaska/Virgin.

  36. As a frequent business traveler based out of Seattle, the credit card was a nice insurance policy given that I mainly fly the west coast which generally sees fares in the $200-$300 range, even when booking the week before. Without this insurance policy for keeping my Diamond status there is no point to keep the Amex card since the miles are generally so devalued. I spoke with Amex and they said they were not happy about this either but that it was pushed by Delta.

  37. The jump from $25k to $250,000.00 is absolutely jaw dropping. This kind of decision means nothing is off the table for Delta, and that’s quite scary. Having said that, I am in the camp of people who believe top tier status should be reserved primarily for those who fly a lot, so something had to change. For example, trying to redeem GU certificates right now is incredibly difficult, and being given perks that you can’t use just leads to frustration. I believe a better solution would be to eliminate the Amex waiver for everyone, and have a sensible spend amount for each tier.

  38. For the twentieth time “enough is enough” I am not staying loyal to delta anymore.

    See you for the twenty first time. Same place, different time.

  39. I generally meet both the MQD and waiver spend, generally the spend first but both normally by the end of the year. But, and its a big but, the way this was done makes me want to reconsider my relationship with Delta. Why would I want to travel on Delta when they are obviously not interested in working with me. As for saying this was from customer feedback, come on.

  40. What’s interesting to me is I actually believed Delta was in a prime position to show off something better in the wake of United’s woes and American’s devaluations. Nope.

    Instead of getting creative to make a product worth aspiring to, (say, their own version of ConciergeKey) they chose to move the goal line. *Slow clap*

  41. Prediction — Delta will soon eliminate free award redeposits for Platinum members. This will be the last step in the complete devaluation of award balances of gamers.

  42. Oh no… Delta is rewarding customers that actually fly instead of those who spend on their card? How dare them. My gym should allow me to spend $25,000 on a credit card to have a perfect body instead of having to actually go to the gym.

  43. I understand why they might want to increase the limit – but unless you are a business, who spends that kind of money on a card? Why not just double, or triple the requirement? For tha matter, why not just eliminate the waiver entirely?

  44. Wow. No ramp-up, no intermediate steps. Just *bam* 10X the previous (admittedly, IMO, too low for Diamond) waiver amount. One could argue for 3X or maybe 5X. This? No.

    I can see the writing on the wall, and if an increased waiver for Platinum is next, I’m out. Fortunately, true Prem Eco is now being installed by AA, and just starting to roll out on DL (ahem, UA, ahem). Between that, domestic first monetization, and foreign carriers offering some decent W product or discount J opportunities, I can in future find the TATL comfort I want and can get off the Delta ‘loyalty’ treadmill.

    Great job Delta, you’ll be thinning the elite ranks — but by driving profitable customers to other airlines. Huh.

  45. @Sam Woodworth – If your numbers are correct, you are paying something like 6 cents per seat mile. Delta is not even breaking even on your fares. When there is excess capacity (see 2008-2011) I am sure any airline would be happy to have your business but when there is not (see 2012 to the present), they can get more money for your seat, quite easily. I am sure this is disappointing if you’ve been that loyal but the writing has been on the wall for about 3 years on this, it’s all about passenger revenue per available seat mile these days.

  46. 10x increase definitely is not just a change only, quite surprised to see the 10x jump. Delta must think they have too many diamonds members coming from the waiver.

  47. You know, I think this makes sense. I get it – its not beneficial for playing the game as a casual traveler but, times are changing. I know plenty of 175k per year butt in seat mile travelers who choose Delta for their better product and, guess what – they don’t care about their reward chart or anything like that because they have 1,500,000 miles built up. These people exist, Delta has data that shows that and is trying to cater to them – can’t hate them for that.

    Now, for the casual traveler – just buy first class if thats what you really want. With fares being only ~$100 more than a economy ticket on most non-transcon flights it just makes sense to buy the seat you want. The game is changing – airlines are segmenting their customers better and they are creating products that work for those segments – hard to reach status for the 125k per year flyers and low first class fares for the casual traveler.

  48. I don’t have a problem with programs withholding their very top status with lots of upgrades to those who earn loyalty qualification by credit card spend. This is no different from United. American is a bit different in that they will give you half of the distance to the spend requirement for top status, but no waiver.

    I think they should have just done away with waivers for top tier status and been done with it instead of the $250,000 requirement. Though, that may have been insisted upon by Amex.

  49. I’m a charter Diamond member who does not have a Delta Amex. I’m 2018 Diamond qualified and my MQDs is well over $25k without a credit card and several more flights through year end. Isn’t the point of this change to reward those who actually fly Delta? I find it funny that Amex customers are spending most of their money NOT on Delta and reap the benefits of Delta, yet mad when Delta wants to reward those that spend actual money and actually use their product at the top level. Take it up with Amex, not Delta, as the annual fee is even less worth it and they should be rewarding your spend with them through membership points or some other benefit.

  50. The 10x jump is dumb. No question about that. Maybe they don’t have any statisticians working on this. I bet a 3x or 5x jump would accomplish most of the weeding out without being as in your face about the change.

    That said I understand why they’re doing this. The point of the frequent flyer programs used to be to reward people that fly not people that use their credit cards. That said they should have probably just dropped the waiver.

    As an AA EXP I actually like that about their program. If you’re an EXP you’ve been in the plane for some amount of miles and dollars not riding your wallet.

  51. This totally sux. I have had occasional Diamond status by carrying over leftover MQMs from my typical Platinum status–a rate of one Diamond every 4 or 5 years. I will not be able to hit the $250k spend next year, even though I will have rolled over enough MQMs for 2019 status. Unfortunately, I don’t have other airline options where I live and I have nearly a million miles accumulated, so I can’t just dump Delta. I do agree that prior limits were too generous but this 10x increase is outrageous.

  52. I think it’s great. It should really reduce the amount of Diamond folks. I qualify through miles and segments. You should have to fly to make it to Diamond. Maybe all those that disappointed will fly with someone else and leave the upgrades for the real traveling businesses. Should have done this years ago. I also spend over $250,000 on my amex platnium card every year for last 4 yrs.

  53. I had no idea that Delta let you roll leftover MQMs over from year to year. No wonder they have to do some trimming of top-tier elites.

    AA is an buy and fly every year model which keeps the EXPs down to the people that fly.

  54. I have been a Diamond member since the first year they offered it and looks like 2018 will be my last.
    I will still fly Delta when I can , still love the product , but the one casualty will be my Delta Amex Reserve card. No need to pay $450 for that card anymore. Will switch my spend to Chase Sapphire Reserve, and possibly consider a lower fee AMEX card, not sure if Platinum is worth it

  55. 250k? yikes! That really thin out the herds. I know very few people that can get up there. All of them are business people.

  56. I wouldn’t have a problem spending that amount on credit cards. As it is, I spend well over $100,000 on delta credit cards each year. I would spend more if there were additional MQM bonus. I switch most spend to another card once I max out my bonus on delta Amex cards. It seems that Delta likes to take away but doesn’t give back. If there was a benefit for me to spend that much on my 2 delta cards I would. Being diamond isn’t enough incentive. It looks like after 20 years of loyalty (and being top tier medallion member for most) I will be looking for a different airline.

  57. @Another Steve: “If you are flying earn 125,000 MQM’s and not spending at least $15,000 then you are a pretty low margin customer for Delta ”

    What you are forgetting is that miles you earn with credit card spend on your Delta Amex translate directly into money in Delta’s pocket, because Amex buys the miles from Delta. As others have noted, spending on these credit cards is likely to decline, so Delta will take a hit from that.

    Of course, I’m sure Delta has some idea of how much they’ll gain and lose from this move. My point is that it’s not quite as simple as Delta firing “low margin” customers.

  58. When will company’s realize that this sort of communications-school BS irritates rather than soothes.

    In the first line, they talk about looking for ways to “improve” the Medallion experience and that they are “listening” to feedback. They don’t articulate how this is an improvement and what feedback they listened to. For many, many members, this is not an improvement and they certainly didn’t ask for it.

    Why didn’t they articulate that there feedback was that their Diamonds — especially those with high MQDs — were saying that they couldn’t get upgraded, that the SkyClubs were too crowded, etc. That the cause isn’t too many Diamonds but the monetization of these experiences doesn’t get articulated either. Instead, they through in a murky line about “our more well-traveled” customers and leave it to us to parse it out.

    I don’t understand why anyone would hang on to the Delta card now. It’s pointless.

  59. Delta has made first class upgrades rare for diamonds since they’ve been discounting those seats in the last year or so. Now just reaching diamond status will be that much harder. No more Delta Reserve Amex for me, and why bother trying to get to diamond at this point?

  60. @snic – Fair point, I obviously don’t know how many credit card purchased miles are contributing revenue for Delta but it would need to be a pretty large number to make a material difference. Most years I am paying over 18 cents per seat mile, this year and next it will be closer to 22 cents. And I am sure many people pay more based on the particulars of their travel pattern. If I flew 125,000 miles this year Delta would have something like $25,800 MQD’s from me, and the same amount of actual dollars. If I flew as much as @Sam Woolworth I would be spending more than $50,000 with Delta.

    So, unless the average Waiver-Earning-Diamond is accumulating $10,000 worth of miles from their Amex Delta card spending, Delta is going to want to focus on the people who are consistently paying higher fares, not just flying frequently and using an Amex card. What does Amex pay for Delta miles? I don’t know but Bloomberg says it is generally 1.5 to 2.5 cents per mile. Even if it is 3 cents, if the average Waiver-Earning-Diamond gets 50,000 Delta miles from their $25,000 in spending, that adds $1,500 to their revenue total. I am not trying to disparage anyone who is getting low fares, I fully encourage people to pay as little as possible for airline tickets and everything else – but it’s unreasonable to expect treatment as one of the airlines most important customers if someone is not even spending $15,000 per year on airfare, And even more unreasonable if they are spending less than $15,000 but flying 150,000 to 250,000 BIS miles.

    Based on the disappointment express above, I feel like I’ve been getting the short end of the stick – I spend more with Delta than quite a few Diamonds apparently, and yet I consume half as many seat-miles, and yet I don’t get the same benefits of a Diamond. If I was representative of the average Delta customer their revenue would increase by about 50% and their operating cost would remain the unchanged.

  61. I’m sure AA is tuned into this development at DL so it’s just a matter of time before the other shoe drops.

  62. “I suspect that’s what Delta wants in this case, given that they’re selling more first class seats than ever before, and they’d rather have more non-top tier elites.”

    This. Just booked BOS-SFO over Christmas and there was tons of Delta One availability at $549-$599 one way (vs. $350-$500 in Comfort+). Excellent value. Same thing flying home from BCN-BOS last month. They are discounting their Biz Class cabin to make it a worthy to buy out of pocket. I will fly who will give me the most comfort/value for the $$$. Usually it’s jetBlue but Delta is winning me over lately. Right now, Mint is priced at $829 – $1,225 while Delta One is $549 on most flights. As much as I love Mint, Delta One is priced to move.

  63. This is actually a good thing for the real fliers .. those who earn their status by actually flying 125,000 miles per year and if you fly that amount of miles it is easy to get the MQD by spending $15,000 on net cost of tickets.
    Those real “flyers” will greatly improve their chances for upgrades .
    Since Delta was a trailblazer in introducing MQD’s for status requirement in 2012- -the other major airlines followed.. Soon the other airlines will also increase their waivers..

  64. I’m really intrigued to know if ANYONE spending $250,000.00 a year on a credit card would do it on a Delta Amex? I’m genuinely curious whether someone would deliberately choose a Delta Amex over other credit cards in this situation, considering the MQM rewards are not increasing.

    I’m also wondering how many people have a high enough spending limit to be able to spend the 250k?

  65. Could this just be a fat-fingered mistake when typing…? Maybe I’m just being nicely hopeful? I know I’ve tried to delete and add a number/letter before and actually kept the original in there. I.E., it was $25,000; the person meant to delete the 2 and and a 0, but instead they added a 0 and forgot to delete the two? In other words, it was supposed to end up saying Diamond needs $50k spend? Maybe I’m just an optimist. 🙂

  66. Wow, there’s a lot of upset people. If you’re upset about this, maybe think about the fact that you weren’t nearly as lucrative to Delta as you thought you were. It’s Delta’s program, they can change as they see fit. You can also leave as you see fit. I’ll happily watch you leave, as somebody who spends $60k+ on Delta every year.

  67. I think the key here is the roll-over miles. I typically am at ~125K miles and 15-20K spend, but it fluctuates a ton based on where i’m travelling to. Some years i may only fly 75K miles and 10K spend while other years i’ll put up 200K and 25K in spend. with the old system, this was fine because my roll-overs covered me from a miles perspective and the CC spend covered me from a MQD perspective. Now, I’m screwed in the years i may not spend as much even though overall, i should be a somewhat valuable customer to Delta.

    What confuses me is why the increase is so much. If they put it at $50K or $75K in spend, thats somewhat attainable and at least more people would try, but a lot of people who used to qualify on spend may not hit those thresholds, helping to thin the pack. However, putting it at $250K is something that so few people can possibly hit, many simply aren’t going to try. The big loser here is Amex who is going to lose a ton of spend because people don’t find it worth it anymore.

    I personally will still likely hit Diamond with my travels, but am canceling my DL Amex card since its no longer worth holding. My airfare spend will go to my Amex PLT and all my other spend will go to my Reserve card. the Amex DL just lost $25K in spend and an annual fee.

  68. I feel like Delta has a gap in their Elite Status at the 100k mile tier. I wouldnt be surprised if they create a new level to fill that gap.

    I really think the AA way of using EQD to prioritize upgrades makes too much sense so I’d expect that to show up in the future as well.

    I do wish there was more competition so I’m hoping the new Alaska-Virgin get bigger and Jetblue as well.

  69. I am an ex NWA high flyer and was screwed when Delta took over my account. There mileage program is no where near what NWA offered. But with the amount of miles I have flown with them I have reached my destination safely and so pretty hard to up and leave and go over to UA or AA. Also the company I work for uses AMEX and is the most useless card ever! That is why I have never signed up for a Delta card. Hardly anyone will take it. Just flew to Dublin for work and was turned down 3 times or extra fee for using it was added. Lastly I am glad the Diamonds will be thinned out. The Delta lounges are crowded and sometimes I just walk in and turn around. No real complaints with Delta service, always been good to me and as long as they fly safe, then I’m happy!

  70. For years and years I had a American Express Platinum card.. then I switched to a AMEX reserve card.. but the lounge access is terrible in Minneapolis you can find a seat they are so crowded.. so i dropped the card… The service at AMEX is awful. It used to be world class.. Chase Sapphire Reserve is now the best!. This is another blow for my AMEX stock for sure.. Anyway in regards to Delta. I fly them every week.. spend 20-25k per year on flights… however… i never get upgraded( When I say that it is about 25% of the time.) That is down from 75% and 50% i bet that last 3 years. Delta end game here is to just make money. For all we know they shrink all the first class seats and put in another row of Delta Comfort… the planes are old. (MD 90) …. anyway. Delta has some major areas locked up for direct travel.. as a business person it is hard to stop and Delta know it .. if we had more Southwest Direct flights in MSP I would drop Delta 100%.. until then I don’t have a choice. …

  71. I’m extremely offended by Delta’s newest way of only rewarding the rich – and not the loyal – with Diamond status! My wife and I have been Diamond for the past 5 years (and will be again in 2018) by flying exclusively with Delta and being loyal with every penny we make… but we aren’t filthy rich, and we would never be able to both spend a 1/2 million dollars ($250K each) a year to maintain the Diamond level in 2019 either! Why not just change the name from “Diamond class” to “Fat cat, super rich, white guys class”… Or maybe just have us send in our IRS Tax form to see if we’re rich enough and skip all that FLYING NON-SENSE anyway!? Right? As I see more and more with Delta, rewarding rich people who often rarely even fly their airline… This is no longer a reward for loyalty… just for those who are rich. Shame on you Delta! This is a rotten way to treat you most loyal flyers!

  72. I’ve got a few friends who earn Diamond status the old fashioned way and they’ve complained about how upgrades are nowhere near as common as what I used to enjoy with “just” Platinum status.

    With this change, I imagine those that travel the most will see huge benefits with their Diamond status since fewer will be competing for those upgrades.

    Up until this change, Diamond status just wasn’t as exclusive as it was when it was first introduced.

    It does however seem like a ridiculous jump. Maybe they should have just done away with it altogether.

  73. I find it interesting the number of people that are saying that I am not profitable to Delta. I have been a solid platinum for the last 5 years and am on track to hit Diamond this year with roll over and cc waiver. I did the math and my spend is about .07 per seat mile. But I buy the tickets at the price Delta asks. I buy right off the website booking usually a few weeks in advance. And since i bill clients for expenses I can not buy first class most of the time, they just will not pay for it. So, do I call Delta and plead with them to charge me more for my ticket? I guess I could buy my tickets the day before but home base is Tampa which has full flights routinely and I have been shut out waiting too late before. I usually fly 85 to 90k a year but won’t hit the MQD amount for platinum. I am not complaining about the change for the waiver because I know flying out of Tampa as a platinum that I can be #25 on the upgrade list. So some thinning is appropriate. But I will now have to rethink my reserve card. The only benefit I got from it was Skyclub access but increasingly I walk in and turn right around because the gate area is less crowded. It is a horrible product as far as earnings go. I may have to lookk at the Chase Sapphire card to go with my Chase Marriott. And maybe United since I get gold status through Marriott.

  74. It would be easier and less controversial if they simply said you can’t earn it via credit card spend. That’s basically what they mean.

  75. It would have been a lot less insulting to simply say “Diamonds no longer can earn any MQD via credit card spend,” as really, how many people are going to spend $250,000 just to eliminate MQDs for the “honor?”

  76. I have been a diamond member since its inception and platinum before that. I spend roughly $40-$50k a year on my Delta platinum card and my annual miles have declined from around 200k miles/year to 100k. With this announcement I am no longer loyal to Delta. This is absolutely absurd and what an absolute slap in the face to all loyal Delta patrons. Delta continues to alienate their most steadfast customer base even though the service, cancellations, late departures/arrivals, and reduced services have all suffered over the past few years. To be honest, I feel worse for the some of the wonderful Delta employees that will no doubt take the blunt of this announcement. Adios Delta! I’m going to someone who still understands customer service!!!

  77. I have consistently traveled 125k+ in actual airmiles/year on Delta for the last decade, but rarely, if ever spent $15k on airfare. I did, however, buy into their marketing on how great the Delta Amex card would be for me. Sorry, Amex, but canceling immediately and calling American to see what kind of status match they can do. Delta just showed me what they think of my loyalty. I will respond by moving my business and that of my employees elsewhere.

  78. I’m platinum level, so I think that this change could personally help me. It’s been difficult for me to get upgrades, even using my platinum upgrade certificates. And the lounges are overcrowded. Having said all that, I found Delta’s email to be just plain insulting. They must have gone to the “Good News, You’re Screwed!” school of public relations.

  79. I think it is a direct result of the “Pay with Miles” option. I am a Diamond for about 5 years now and a Delta Reserve Card member for 10 years. I am a business traveller that doesn’t look too closely at my flight costs. However, my company does have limits on what we can spend! I travel at least once a year, if not 2 times, internationally, for pleasure. This is when I use my miles. I pay down Delta One or Business Class international fares with miles. I have gone Delta One to Tokyo and have only spent $1500 in cash because I paid for the rest with the “Pay with Miles (PwM)” option. The PwM option allows you to still get MQMs for that long, long flight – plus the bonus MQMs and Miles for the Delta One/First Class Booking. But, your MQDs suck! If you book an award ticket – you get ZERO MQMs for that 16 hour one way flight. I am not sure what I will do with all the miles I will have saved up — because now I have to compare the cost ratio of PwM tickets and MQDs. I think MQDs will win the battle.

  80. Oof. Just did the status match to Delta, but I think I’ll just cancel the flights I literally booked today that would have got me Platinum.

    If they’re willing to pull such a major shift like this, I’m wary about what else they’re capable of. It doesn’t make sense for me to try to get status on an airline that feels it’s appropriate to change its rules so significantly at the drop of the hat. No predictability. This was my worry when I was entertaining the switch to Delta, and this happening today feels like a sign.

  81. This brings up a related issue I have with my Delta Reserve card: MQMs bonus miles top out after I spend $60k each year (or $50k for a platinum Amex). After I hit this threshold, I switch to another card that has better incentives per dollar spent. I only hit around $100k per year in total credit card spending, so the $250k is out of my league anyhow. But my point is that those high rollers who do spend $250k per year are similarly better off switching to other cards after $60k. Even if you have both a Reserve and Platinum card you would max out bonus miles at $110k. I can’t imagine a scenario where the $250k provides optimal benefit per dollar spent. Delta ought to have just disabled the waiver for Diamond altogether.

  82. yea, i’m one of those approx 100 segment guys that just clears 125K on a good year, if I don’t quite, the carry over gets me there the next. I’ve done the math on my longer haul flights, takes about 150-160K miles of flights to get the 15K MQD…so I’ll enjoy my last 4 months of diamond ever. Maybe it is time for United…gosh….throwing away millions of miles in history. Yea, if I’m going to spend 250K on a card (and I have) it isn’t going to be on that Delta Amex….so good can pitch that card next year, saves me $175 bucks, thanks Delta!

    It is the people with Black/Reserve cards that get free Platinum that get me, they pay 3K fee, travel on the tourist routes JFK to PBI or FLL and make my life miserable. I’ve been Platinum at West Palm beach and been 64th on the upgrade list. can’t even get econmy comfort on those routes

  83. Honestly, I have never been able to hit Diamond and I still think this is for the best. It is a good thing to have fewer elite members. It’s like they say, if everyone is special, no one is special.

  84. Is $250K/yr waiver requirement on a single delta credit card or can it be spread over multiple delta credit cards ?

  85. Craziness. The tone deaf nature of this communication is puzzling coming from Delta. It’s like they took a page from United’s comm team.

    The loser here is the flyer who depends on rollover MQMs to ensure Diamond status on “off” years and spends $25k those 125k+ mile years.

  86. Dear Dube,

    That is literally the most obsurd adjustment in the entire history of loyalty programs. You are forgetting the key word here… LOYALTY.

    I’ve maintained Diamond status for 8 consecutive years since moving from Alaska 75Gold and 6 years removed prior to that being United 100k.

    I thought moving to Delta due to their benefits rewarded to their most loyal customers was the best thing in the world in the last 8 yrs. It appears you don’t value my loyalty anymore but would rather spit in my face with such an obsurd increase and I’m am truly offended.

    I had no questions prior to this announcement that Delta was the unparalleled choice, and will now need to strategorize on where I need to go next. All good things come to an end and now that I’m flying internationally in 1st class more often, it will be better served with a carrier that is loyal to their best members. I see your true colors now, and greed will surely show its response by the many others that will jump ship.

    Thank god for the elite status matches by your competitors. They will be getting a lot of business from your completely corrupt business sense.

    Darin Deck

  87. I dont understand most folks that have said they are leaving Delta and moving elsewhere. If you arent moving out of the US, where are you moving to, in another words all the junk you hate about DL you will find exists for top status @ UA & AA. In other words we all all screwed, except if a person can get to where they need to with AS or B6 or WN but all 3 dont have TATL or TPAC flights and unless you are in their hub you will have to connect and waste alot of time. And if fly Intl then those flights wont be on your metal = greatly reduced benefits.

    Im sorry to say we really dont have much of a choice if we fly TPAC and/or TATL. Best thing is to look at all of THE US3 and see which will result in better benefits and go with that, for some that may be remaining with DL and accepting that Plat will be the top status you will be able to reach

  88. I wonder if they keep giving bonuses on the reserve card every 15k now or change up that structure. Even putting 250k on an Amex platnium seems like a better value. I wonder now how high of a percentage of all diamond flyers are from cc spend?? I! Willing to bet also one year from this post the other airlines follow suit.

  89. Wow!!! I read this and I wonder, I am NOT a Delta traveler. I have been a 1K with United for years. Always get upgraded and with 6 system wide and 6 domestic upgrade certs. it is a breeze to get an upgrade. United’s Chase card does give you MQMs after $40,000 spending, BUT can only be used to get to Platinum. You must fly to get 1K and spend 12K. Period.)I am not including Global in this group. I see few of those This makes it easy to continually get upgrades. The downside is, of course, that United isn’t the best airline flying. Star Alliance has good partners which helps internationally. AND we get to see what is available on award flights.

    I am certainly not encouraging any of you to join United OnePass (it could hurt my upgrade ability) but I must say that the benefits outway the negatives to me.

  90. UA 1K doesn’t have a CC spend exemption (even $250K won’t work). But then UA has a level above 1K called Global Services – which requires a very large spend – > $50K or more. At least DL Diamond is achievable with $15K spend.

    AA EXP (no longer top tier – CK is) can be had for $6K spend and 80K EQM if you spend a total of $90K. Barclay Silver ($50K) and Citi Exec Card ($40K).

    But for DL – Diamond is top tier (unlike UA GS and AA CK that are not earned by specific numbers).

  91. Honestly, I do not see any logic in CC waivers. It is unlikely that AmEx is paying DL more than $0.01/mile. Thus, with $25K in spending this would give DL $250 in revenue due to the miles sold. Even $250K is only $2.5 in revenue for DL. (O.K. the numbers would double when all the spending is on DL. But then you will be Delta 360 way before hitting $250K in DL spending).
    Perhaps, the main reason is that DL is going to sell (or “upgrade to”) the Diamond status for more than $250 and similar to AA and the old days USair ?

  92. I cannot believe this 10x increase. Really?! I was a previous NWA million miler when Delta took over. I personally paid for a LIFETIME membership to NWA Worldclub (now Skyclub). So the Diamond SkyClub access is worthless to me as they had no choice but to honor the “lifetime” membership but the clubs are full in MSP. I am a small business. Last year they took away SkyPerks by changing qualification. They apparently have no interest in small business breaks and are catering to “global” interests. We small potatoes people that fly > 125,000 miles a year but try to economize on fares domestically mean NOTHING when it comes to status. Goodbye reserve card goodbye platinum card goodbye green card. Goodbye spg card. GOODBYE AMEX.

  93. I am 100K miles away from being a 4 Mln miler with Delta. I have almost 700K rollover MQMs. Due to business changes I have not been flying as much with Delta this year. It was a shock to see the 10X increase. I have been a Diamond since they introduced it. After reading the e-mail I figured this is a good way to dump someone like me with lots of MQMs. This year was the first time that I was going to use the waiver. Platinum AMEX will work just fine to get the same perks. I wonder what is happening with the 360 program.

  94. @Randy that’s not correct. Delta has a very secret, unpublished tier about Diamond called Delta 360. That tier is invite only and requires very high levels of spend. Like $75K/year, or more, depending on the market you are flying to/from. DL360 can bump Diamonds out of Domestic F upgrade seats (happened to me once), get airport gate transfers via a Porsche on the tarmac, personal escorts in the airport, dedicated service desk

  95. Jeez…Maybe I should thank Delta more than complain. Their ticket prices are always at the top on searches and yet I have paid them. Even kept paying them as year after year they have valued my loyalty less and less by skymile changes. I’ve been exclusively flying Delta for 25 years and today they made it clear what that loyalty means. I agree…it would be less insulting to just eliminate the spend allowance. The Platnium AMEX with Membership Rewards is a much better option now than the Delta Reserve Card…..maybe I need to even move to the Chase card. Shop your tickets…use a different card…pay the economy comfort seat differential and you will still be better off than what Delta offers.

  96. Can’t blame them either. And can’t blame AA and UA for changing their programs as well these past years to make it harder for common people to feel VIP’s (?) And for what? For two or three hours flight inside a metal tube with a glass of wine in ones hand? Who cares!

    I was barely able to get Alaska MVP Gold this year and probably I won’t requalify for 2018. Yes it’s great to be upgraded to First once in a while, I get on the plane first (yay!), and leave first (yay) but still have to wait 20min for my luggage like everyone else…. Right? I assume same happens on Delta, or AA or UA. So status is all about the upgrades on flights that are maximum 5.5 hrs long? Who cares!

    Like others have said, if I want the experience (of reclining seats mostly here in the US by the way,oh but free alcohol for those hours…right?), so we are all crying for that? Then I’ll just buy the damn ticket in biz or first.
    For 20yrs airlines in the US have been trying to stay afloat by offering and offering, getting all of us “hooked up” on the “perks”, eventually using CC’s for that purpose too but now it’s enough, and I agree!
    Last year I managed to get AA Gold, by mistake.. what a joke, I get to the gate and I’m N. 32 n the upgrade lists (!!) That’s when I realized it’s all a big joke and only rich people deserve to fly in the big chair.
    There’s no perks.
    What matters to me is the free checked bag (also introduced recently, 2008 right?)
    There’s just rich and not rich and finally the airlines here have decided to cater to the rich, which is damn right! Why should I be able to travel in first class in shorts and flip flops? I don’t want to! Next to me a biz man that makes $300k a year and I’m wearing flip flops??? Wtf? I shouldn’t be there and he knows it and I respect that.
    That’s why they originally called them First Class seats and then created Biz Class in the 70’s for longhauls! For people that actually could afford those seats.

    With that said, screw the airline CC’s. The only options for “us mortals” is flexible point cards, like MR, UR, and TY points. Now that’s where I focus.
    Now I can wear my suit and fly on a REAL first class experience like Emirates or Cathay or Korean air… Right? Yes I’m a mortal and have done that. Leave those airline cards and focus on where institutions really reward medium to high spenders… cause they are more greedy!

  97. I love it! I travel a ton and have refused to get the Delta AMEX card, despite the daily barrage of spam email begging me to get it. I’ve earned diamond the hard way. Travel. I was expecting to get all sorts of upgrades but…….. they seem just as difficult now as they were during my Platinum days. All things being equal, the AMEX card holding diamond members have taken precedence on the upgrade list. Thin the herd I say!

  98. “That’s the last straw I am no longer flying Delta”

    Once again…. Whoever says this, will you shut up already? The model has already been proven 100000 fold over and over – you simply won’t. There’s not enough competition for airlines to give a rat’s ass about your piddly diamond status. Oh wait so you’re telling me you’ll spend $100 more to connect in Chicago versus flying direct? Oh wait so you’re telling me that you’re willing to spend $100 x a family of 4 to fly that route? Shut up already. The model is already proven , your bitching and whining means ZERO to the airline cartel

  99. The thin the herd argument just doesn’t hold water. It’s not that we have too many Diamonds, it that we don’t have enough available seats to upgrade to.

    So all you big spenders who overspend for your tix and think that killing off other more frugal Diamonds will help you get more upgrades, think again. Instead of being #5 of 50 for 0 seats available, you will now be #1 of 50 for 0 seats available. What good does it do you to be the best looking horse in the glue factory?

  100. Seems like there are too many diamonds. Why not weed them out? If you are the unfortunate business traveler that actually flies all those miles, you’ve earned the upgrades! Bummer for me as I was enjoying my diamond status and it’s likely going away. Maybe platinum will actually get you something going forward!

  101. As a non US card holder, this doesn’t affect me at all. Just commenting on the fact a lot of people are questioning the reasonableness of moving to 250k .. this is not based on being ‘reasonable’, this is a deliberate move to thin out ranks. They are probably assuming an incredibly small number of people will qualify this way now. I guess I have to side with Delta, and those commenting, that this is a good move. Spending on CC’s shouldn’t net you status above those actually using the airline IMO.

  102. You can still be Platinum if you spend 25K which has nearly the same benefits as Diamond. Ya’ll need to calm down.

  103. Delta has been telling us for several years that Diamond status requires spending 12 cents per mile. Now they are making it clear that they are serious. In other words, Diamond status is really only for their frequent fliers that are worth significant money with profitable butt in seat time.

    The real reason folks are upset is that they had figured out how to fly at a Gold to Platinum Medallion level, but use credit card spend to achieve Diamond status. And now Delta is taking that game away because it’s not lucrative for Delta AND it’s pissing off the folks who fly 150K at 12 cents per mile.

  104. I am glad about the change. As a Diamond FF with Delta 4 years consecutive, simple earned with miles flown it rubs you a bit the wrong way knowing someone can just spend themselves into a higher status.
    It is a Frequent Flyer program not a Frequent Spender program.

  105. @Joe Boes and that is what Delta is saying. People who are upset are the ones that figured out how to use a Delta Amex to get Diamond status while only being worth Gold or Platinum to Delta. Delta is not going to give you Diamond benefits when you only bring them Platinum revenue. That’s just a losing model for Delta.

  106. It was a surprising number but it doesn’t effect my DM earning since I get my MQD through actual ticket spend. This will most likely weed out the DMs that never pony up for a first class ticket and b*** to everyone when they don’t get upgraded.

  107. Looks like I am out in 2019. I needed the MQMs the way they were. 250K – I could do it with my business. I base this on the award chart, value of the miles and the value of points I can get in other programs. For example with Chase or AMEX business cards I can make that 250K into 750K points with more flexible options. I have two reserve cards- me and business partner and amex plat business. So 2018 will be my last yr. Currently Delta RTeserve the 60K gets you 90K miles (for what that is worth) These days that will get you business class ticket low level when you can find it. Anyway 250K, and in my case 500K total with my business partner is too much to give Delta.

  108. “This puts you at even more of a disadvantage, since many Diamond members were only maybe flying 50,000-75,000 miles per year, and were earning the rest of the miles and the spend waiver through credit card spend.”

    If this is the case, then this change is a significant positive for normal Delta fliers (i.e. those that earn status via actual BIS flying and actual spend on flights). There are probably too many Delta elites as it is.

  109. Another Diamond here who will miss flying Delta. Just applied for AA Aviator and am going to hopefully do a status challenge/match. Next up – cancelling my Delta AMX and mailing 1/2 to AMX and the other to Delta.

  110. A disgraceful move, a slap in the face for loyal Delta customers like me. X10 is an insult. I shall strongly consider taking my $60k per year spend on the Delta Amex credit card elsewhere and take the match program to move to United with my 110k flown miles each year. Shameful customer treatment Delta

  111. @GH but w/o spending $12K or is it $15k on tkts besides flying 100k the max you can be on UA is Plat, which has some fees nowadays assessed as well. With UA the CC only waviers Spend for status up till Plat 1K must be earned teh hard way

    So youre ticked off but if I was you Id 1st workout which Im better off with DL or UA not as top tier

  112. I am one of those high value clients for Amex and Delta. I do not fly for work but for pleasure. I also pay for 4 people to fly each trip. I can reach 250k spend a year. Glad to see they still value me and rightfully so. I still fly Delta when it’s much more expensive and buy first class tickets when needed. They have all the data that shows which people they make the most money from. That’s why they left the mqd waiver. They would lose 20k-30k in easy revenue (spread across 4 people) thru cards and high priced tickets if there was no mqd waiver for me. I think their point is loyalty – which means fly Delta only and use their card only. They see the value of retaining high income family/pleasure travelers that are usually on the weekends anyways and don’t interfere with most diamond business traveler upgrades.

  113. Amen @Jayco. That is how it’s supposed to be. Who can afford to pay gets valued and it’s perks, who can’t can fly coach. Its been like this with any form of transportation, even with the Romans! (Coach = you walked) I hope also UA and AA start changing the rules. Like I said I have no status that matters, nor can I spend $250k on cards but when I can and for the right trips I buy F or J. Time to reward who pays, not who plays (and I’m a player!)

  114. the sad part is, is that even if you do fly the miles or segments, you may miss out on status if you do not have the MQD spend. you can fly. You can actually fly 150,000 miles and still not reach Diamond if you don’t reach $15,000 MQD or the waiver. Being taxes, fees and code share flights (that are not DL flights ) are not calculated, it is not easy to reach $15,000.

  115. It never fails….. corporate GREED wins! A loyal Delta Diamond customer leaves and Delta nor American Express could care less. This is a pure function of numbers folks, that’s what this is plain and simple. Audacity at it’s finest….

  116. While I’m not thrilled, I understand the shift. I would appreciate some transparency on the 15k MQD though because it is actually far more since fees and taxes don’t count. So 15k is really 20k or something.

  117. @Tom actually, this particular change caught Amex by surprise. They had no part in it. And a minute of thought tells us why. This will inevitably lead to high spenders putting less spend on their Delta Amex cards since it no longer has the benefit to them that it used to. Amex would not want that, at all.

    @MSYDL I’m not sure what you mean by transparency on MQDs. It’s pretty transparent. Only dollars spent on actual fares, not taxes or fees, count for the MQD numbers.

  118. Well I thought that Frequent flyer programs were supposed to reward loyalty. As a Delta frequent flyer – I am definitely not wealthy – it would take me 6 years salary to make $250,000 much less spend it on one credit card. I have lived overseas for 21 years but I maintain a US address – Delta does not fly to wher eI live and yet I have remained a loyal Delta member for over 30 years and will choose a Delta (or Delta partner) for my travel needs. Basically they are saying that unless you are extremely wealthy – they do not value you loyalty over all of these years. As I am a 1.5 million miler however I do qualify got Silver yearly. However I feel betrayed by Delta after all my years of being loyal to them now they throw me under the bus. If they wanted to be more fair – they could have gradnfathered in those with over 25 or 30 years in the program who also had over a million miles. Since morst of us are probably in our 60s or older – and probably not flying as much as we once did – this would not impact them a lot. Then they could set incremental levels for those for example that were frequent flyers for say 20-25 years (perhaps $50K), 15-20 years (perhaps $75K), 10-15 years (perhaps $100K). This would reward frequent flyers for their loyalty over the years and at the same time over a few years time it would achieve the objective they want. In addition I would think anyone who has $250,000 each year tht they can put on their credit card – it would probably be easy for them to purchase first class tickets and then give them other additional perks beyond Diamond status.

  119. This is a terrible policy Delta adopted with or without the knowledge of AMEX. I will be reconsidering my Amex Platinum card and Delta options. This is an extravagant jump to 250000 dollars spending

  120. > Gene says:
    > September 26, 2017 at 12:55 pm
    > The most disgusting part is that Delta isn’t trying to have less Diamomds. They just want different Diamonds. If needed, they will give the status away to someone else through a promotion or status match to keep the number of Diamonds the same as prior years.

    Different Diamonds would be money launderers and manufactured spenders.

  121. Bon voyage bargain travellers!
    Hello more benefits for true DM members !

    Was about time time Dl took care of its most elite travelers who actually obtain the DM status by actually flying 125K and spending 15k on tickets.

    Thank you Delta for the upgrade

    All of the haters I hear that southwest has cheap fares !

  122. Think everyone is looking at this the wrong way. Delta gets 100% of the margin when they sell a ticket and someone earns MQMs. Delta doesn’t get 100% of the margin on the credit card transactions. My guess is that Delta and AMEX had a disagreement on the size of the transfer of $ from AMEX to Delta on card spend for 2018. So, Delta told AMEX, “we’re in charge” and showed AMEX that they control the flying public’s behavior. A $250k barrier is so much less approachable than the $15k spend and it hurts AMEX the most – 10X increase to $250k tells AMEX, “you lose”. Delta doesn’t care about AMEX spend unless AMEX is transferring enough margin to them to make them care. Guess AMEX is no longer doing that.

    My proof? Look at the comment list and count the number of posts saying AMEX cards will be canceled.

  123. W.S if this was true then DL would have raised the Spend amounts for Silver,Gold and Plats as well, they didnt. And theres alot more S,G and Ps then Diamonds

    And dont forget both UA and AA dont also allow any amount of spend on their CCs to waivers for ExP or 1K, so DL is simply very late to the party.

    Everyone should be happy it lasted this long

  124. Isaac, not necessarily true. Delta isn’t shutting things down with AMEX, just sending a shot across the bow. The shot that will be felt the most is with Dimond level travelers who qualify for Diamond through card spend.

  125. Given the sad state of competition, I think amex will see a small decrease in some Diamonds who quit, but I dont see a ton of Diamond ppl jumping to AA. The rest of the non Diamonds will just continue spending like they always have to get their $25k exemption. And for every Diamond that jumps ship, there’s probably an AA EXP waiting to come over. I’d expect this to be a wash for Delta. The upshot of this is that fewer diamonds = fewer miles to pay out. Paying out 9 miles per dollar vs 11 miles per dollar adds up. For every Diamond who drops to Plat that means 20k+ miles per person per year

    However, for the vast majority of ppl, I think convenience of flying Delta (if they were already with them) outweighs trying to get to AA especially if theyre not near a major AA hub.

  126. Wally, You are forgetting that it will only affect those Diamonds who didnt meet the min Spend and used Amex as a means to get the min Spend waviered.

    Those same folks wont be top dog at UA or AA since w/o hitting the min Spend you cant be UA-1K or AA- EXP And thats exactly what DL wants, it simply wants what AA & UA have , which is its top earning tier being only those who actually helps its bottom line.

  127. They should be more concerned with that fact that in many business hubs (JFK, ATL, ORD) the entire plane is Sky Priority so the boarding process is a cattle call. Comfort Plus should board before the main cabin since it’s now a class not an upgrade.

  128. Platinum is the new Silver and if I can afford to spend 205k on a credit card, you can bet your ass I’ll be flying private.

  129. I am a Diamond caught in the middle. I have been a DM ever since the Northwest merger. I have earned DM status every year through miles and or segments flown (Earned The Hard Way & Right Way). My MQD spent In 2017 was $13,335. NOT for the 2019 changes! My travel exspences ARE NOT paid for by my employer. I earn status with MQM, MQS and with the Waiver but now I can fly my usual 125,000 plus miles or my 140 plus segments and only make Platinum status because my ticket purchases fall short of the $15,000 bar. Delta’s Medallion Program is no longer a Frequent Flyer Program it is now a Who Paid The Most For Thier Ticket Program. Delta is no longer rewarding LOYALTY but only $$$$$$$! United Premier 1K looks like the BEST OPTIONfor all of us Diamonds caught in the middle. I have already spoke to United and discovered a parrellel move is not that difficult. Their agent informed me a lot of calls have been coming in from Delta Diamonds. Apparently this is what Delta wanted. A sad, sad day for a Million and a Half Miles Diamond Medallion whose loyalty no longer matters to Delta. I contacted Delta several times to try and make since of this corporate think and was robotically told “At least you can still make Platinum status.” What an INSULT to a customer who actually travels to earn Diamond Status!

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