Rumor: Earning Delta Diamond Status Could Be More Expensive In 2019

Filed Under: Delta

Nowadays the “big three” US carriers all have revenue requirements for earning status, though they have different ways that you can potentially circumvent that requirement:

  • With Delta SkyMiles, you can get the revenue requirement waived for all status levels by spending $25,000 per year on one of their co-branded credit cards
  • With United MileagePlus, you can get the revenue requirement waived for Silver, Gold, and Platinum status by spending $25,000 per year on one of their co-branded credit cards (however, this doesn’t apply to 1K members, who have to fulfill the full spend requirement)
  • With American AAdvantage, you can’t get the revenue requirement waived, but you can earn up to 6,000 elite qualifying dollars by spending $50,000 on the Aviator Silver Card

Keep in mind that on top of the above, Delta is the only airline that potentially lets you earn top tier status exclusively through credit card spend. For example, if you have four of their co-branded cards (the business and personal version of the Platinum and Reserve Card), you could earn 100,000 MQMs by spending $220,000. That’s a lot of spend, though also the potential to earn a lot of elite mileage.

Anyway, while it hasn’t yet been confirmed, Rene’s Points shares a rumor about how Delta may soon be making it tougher to earn Diamond status through Delta’s credit cards. While I haven’t personally heard anything about this, Rene’s Points claims he has confirmed this with three sources, and that it could be announced as early as September.

The rumor is that as of 2019, the Delta SkyMiles revenue requirement waiver (by spending $25,000 on a co-branded credit card) will only cover Silver, Gold, and Platinum status, and not Diamond status anymore. In other words, Delta would be following United’s lead here.

That means that Diamond members would have to earn the full 15,000 MQDs (Medallion Qualifying Dollars) in order to earn that status. This also makes it less useful to earn MQMs through credit card spend, since you’d proportionally have to spend more for those miles you do fly on Delta.

Like I said, I have no inside knowledge about this, though I’ll certainly be looking for an announcement. This change wouldn’t surprise me in the least, and I’m actually surprised Delta hasn’t made the change sooner.

Rene suggests taking all kinds of action to express displeasure with this change. Personally I don’t think there’s any benefit to doing that. First of all, this hasn’t been officially announced, so writing letters based on rumors seems a bit premature. Second of all, we’re talking about Delta here, and if they decide to do this, there’s no way they’re going to reverse course.

To Diamond Medallion members, would this rumored change impact you?

  1. Actually it might affect American Express more. It would make it less attractive to have their card

  2. Hi, it may be best to rack up some miles, in the 2017/18 year, as they will roll over, My spouse will just take the card, and go on a bigger spend? ha ha

  3. Just can’t do business with Delta. Was waiting for your take on their Ann Coulter snafu over the weekend.

  4. THANK GOODNESS!!! SO MESSED UP! that Delta lets people earn Diamond without the spend requirement. Very Very Very smart move. Im hate the fact that I spend the big bucks and then the people who fly half as much as me get to skip me in the upgrade line because of the stupid credit card.

  5. If this comes to pass (and I don’t think it will in this form), this will finally be the end of Diamond status for the FCQ and I. I wouldn’t put much weight on anything that Rene says, as he has little inside (or really, any) knowledge of Delta. He incorrectly announced the end of the existing DL credit card waiver system AND lifetime million miler program about two years ago, and that never happened. That said, I do believe Delta will implement a change to something similar to AA’s system, not UA’s system.

  6. Honestly, as a true business flyer I am fine with this. I’ve spent $6k in the last four months alone on airfare and that should count for something. And, honestly, I see $129 one-way upgrades weekly on my 950 mile commute, with fares at ~$200 six weeks out if you are a leisure traveler it makes more sense to just wait and pay your way up down the way. Can’t hate the airlines for monetizing and segmenting better.

  7. Paying for my own travel and in the $5-10k MQD range plus partner non-MQD flights, and credit card spend and waiver for my Diamond. If this comes to pass, I will go back to splitting DL and UA, instead of DL DM and UA G, I’ll go for Platinum on each. I’ll likely sick drawer one or both of my Ame Delta Platinums, it will be like my Chase MileagePlus Explorer, spend $25k/year and not a penny more.

  8. Loyal Delta flyer. Last few years as Plat, then one as Diamond, now back to Plat. To be honest, I never saw the difference being Diamond. I book upfront most of the time, I have a card that gets me into the clubs, and I am NEVER able to use all the certificates. I just never saw the extra value in the extra level. I did get a thirty second ride in a Cayenne once, from JFK T2 to a plane. I suppose that was worth a year of flying and MQD spend?

  9. Surprised it’s taken them this long.

    Top tier status for $4k in cheap tickets and $25k in credit card spend is not a good deal for the airline.

  10. Who cares? No, really. Delta has so watered-down the benefits, what does an elite get these days? I cannot imagine that anyone is “chasing” diamond medallion status with their credit card.

    If you want to sit in the front of the plane, then pay to sit in the front of the plane. It’s a much easier way to do it.

  11. It’s, in my opinion, ridiculous. I run a small business that involves heavy travel, and I hit 75+ MQS per year. I always look to conserve spend whenever possible, as a way to increase my bottom line. What does it mean to Delta if I spend $15,000 on my own travel, or $150,000 across my entire business? This is the type of change that wouldn’t cost them the $15K of my own travel, but the factor of ten amount larger of my entire staff. It’s really silly. I would consider moving all my business to another airline in light of this.

  12. Yeah, like others, I’m OK with this change. Delta sells flights, they should reward their best flyers. Otherwise they’re just going to need to create another level to differentiate (eg, Executive Diamond Pro Elite Plus). Credit cards should get SkyTeam Elite Plus at best, and that’s just Delta Gold.

  13. lucky,I beg to differ on your statement that “we’re talking about Delta here, and if they decide to do this, there’s no way they’re going to reverse course.”As a counter-point I offer that René and I spear-headed a campaign in 2016 to convince Delta to rethink their +1 policy on Comfort+ seating when Diamond & Platinum Elites were travelling with a companion. With the support, voices, emails and letters to Delta, the new CEO, Ed Bastian, announced a reversal to that policy just 72 hours after it was put into effect (May 16, 2017)

  14. I’m for the removal of the revenue requirement waiver as it recognizes the true loyal frequent fliers. Achieving elite status should be based on actual travel and therefore should not be achievable by simply spending on a credit.

  15. I mean this would hurt American Express more than Delta in the end. I have 2 Amex Delta Credit Cards one for business and one personal and if they institute this you can guarantee that I will dump both of them in a heart beat and go over to Chase. The waiver was the main reason I kept both cards in the first place. No use in having a card that doesn’t reward me. 1mile per spend with 2miles of spend with Delta does not even begin to come close to Chase Reserve’s 3 chase pts per travel or Amex Platinum’s 5 pts for flights. This move would also negate the point of rollover MQMs. Who cares if your MQMs rollover if you still have to spend 15k to hit Diamond. Some years I spend that much others I don’t. Will still likely stick with Delta as the change will mean less Diamonds and more chances to upgrade but my credit card spend would change dramatically. Chase must be chopping at the bit for Delta to make this decision.

  16. This does indeed have an impact on me. I do everything humanly possible to always fly Delta and am barely able to clock 115,000 miles per year and have a spend level with Delta at about $12,000 per year. The credit card earns me an additional 10,000 MQMs and the waiver which puts me at Diamond.

    IMHO, that should be enough for top tier status.

    Rene is all over this and I thank him for it. Lately, Delta has been listening more to us and Rene has been been a leader in these efforts. The time is now to make your voice heard- don’t wait until the decision is announced.

    For those unconcerned Diamonds on here, maybe you should be Delta Private Jet customers instead of Diamond frequent flyers. The price of status actually matters to some of us!

  17. I think it’s a good move. Platinum, maintaining the credit card spend allowance, is very decent from a rewards perspective (within the Delta world). Reserving Diamond for truly higher margin/grossing customers and thus rewarding them more just seems to make sense.

  18. Yeah I travel delta internationally a LOT. The MQM miles I get from the card spend pushes me over the diamond status line consistently. Please don’t do this Delta, as we will be forced to shop around for a better program. It’s already hard enough to maintain Diamond.

  19. If they are going to copy United’s MileagePlus plan, then why not reduce Diamond to 100,000 MQMs and $12,000 spend JUST LIKE UNITED? I feel as though Diamond is already difficult enough to achieve with or without the Spend Waiver. Might be time to switch if Delta is going to lead the way into reduction of benefits.

  20. Reading the comments, yields the following observation: commentators think what is best for them is what should be done. Keeping with that theme, I have already spent $20K on Delta this year and will probably hit about $35K by the end of the year. Therefore, I favor requiring a real spend to obtain Diamond status. Currently, there are simply way too many Diamond status passengers thus diluting the value for upgrades, use of certificates, etc.

  21. Delta just sent an email to all Diamond flyers…. You must spend a whopping $250,000 (up $225,000) on their credit cards in an annual year remain Diamond. This is absurd. I can see going up a bit from Platinum, but I now have to spend $250,000 a year on a Delta credit card?

    I meet the MQM every year and previously always the credit card spend… Unless I am missing something, is the MQM requirements I meet every year now worthless?

  22. I just received the same email. I am very confused by this requirement. I have been hitting Diamond that past several years by flying about 100,000 miles and earning g the rest through my MQMs on my Delta Reserve card (spending about $60,000 per year). I’m not sure if this means you have to spend $250,000 on the combined DeltaAmex cards of if this is required only if you don’t meet the $15,000 Delta spend waiver.

    It’s very confusing.

  23. @ Kcomo — To satisfy the revenue requirement you need to either spend $250K on Delta Amex cards OR earn 15K MQDs through the program. You don’t have to do both.

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