Delta Is Letting You Pay To Secure Elite Status For 2019

It’s the end of the year, which means a lot of people are looking at their frequent flyer accounts and trying to figure out how to squeeze a few extra miles out of their travel so they can qualify for the next elite tier.

Towards the end of the year it’s pretty normal for airlines to let you “buy up” to the next elite tier, should you be a few thousand elite qualifying miles short.

At the beginning of November American announced their Elite Boost promotion, allowing you to pay to secure the next elite level if you’re within a certain range of qualifying. The costs are sort of ridiculous, especially when you consider that elite status is worth less than it used to be.

Delta has now revealed their end of the year promotion for buying up to status. Through February 28, 2019, you can purchase a bundle consisting of Medallion Qualifying Miles, Medallion Qualifying Dollars, and Medallion Qualifying Segments. This will count towards your 2019 status.

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

  • The dollar amount you spend on MQMs and MQSs will then be credited to your 2018 MQDs balance and will apply towards your 2019 Status.
  • Any MQMs purchased that exceed the amount needed to achieve Medallion Status for 2019 will roll over and count towards your 2020 Status.
  • MQMs, MQSs and MQDs will post to your SkyMiles account within 24 hours of purchase.
  • Keep in mind: MQMs, MQSs and MQDs purchased through this offer are non-refundable.

And here’s who is eligible for the promotion:

  • If you are a Platinum, Gold or Silver Medallion Member, you are eligible for Elevate Your Status unless you received complimentary Status for a Tier above the Tier you earned Status for.
  • If you are a General SkyMiles Member, you must be within range to reach Silver Medallion Status by purchasing the maximum bundle of MQMs, MQSs and MQDs, in order to be eligible.
  • If you are a Diamond Medallion Member, you are not eligible, because you have already reached the top Tier of Medallion Status.

I’m a Delta Platinum member who won’t be requalifying, so here’s the buy-up offer I’ve been given:

As you can see, my offer tops out at about 11 cents per MQM. As far as buy-up offers go, that’s actually on the lower side (I’m not saying it’s a good deal, but I’ve also seen them have offers where they wanted 25+ cents per MQM).

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

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


  1. My flying rest of the year will make up for it, so don’t need to purchase, but this was what they offered:
    1,000 MQMs + 3 MQSs + $2,399 MQDs = $2,399
    2,500 MQMs + 6 MQSs + $2,799 MQDs = $2,799
    5,000 MQMs + 9 MQSs + $2,999 MQDs = $2,999
    7,500 MQMs + 12 MQSs + $3,199 MQDs = $3,199
    10,000 MQMs + 15 MQSs + $3,299 MQDs = $2,2399

  2. Since this is an MQM purchase as opposed to a bonus mile purchase, it should qualify as a direct airline purchase (and earn 5x on a Platinum card), right?

  3. I received a similar offer to extend my JetBlue Mosiac status today and the rates were crazy. The max you could buy was 15,000 points for $5,500 ($5,966 with tax). 250 points was only $45 which seemed a bit more reasonable if you were just short.

  4. @lucky
    just kind of curious, what airline elite status will you have for next year. You said that you won’t be requalifying for AAdvantage Exec Plat in a previous post, and now you said you’re not requalifying for Delta Platinum. So that leaves you with Alaska MVP 75K iirc. And I’m not sure if United unbanned you yet from MileagePlus.

  5. Remember that diamond isn’t the highest DL status, 360, by invitation only, is. They get the highest upgrade priority.

  6. I got up to 12,500 MQMs for $1999 (or as few as 1,000 for $999).

    I’m presently a Gold, requalified as a Gold, and (having the fancy CC) I see no benefit to splurging for the excess MQMs. The annoying thing is that if the pricing was *sane* I might consider it, but:

    (1) If I *needed* 1000 MQMs, I’d just jam some wonky trip in the Northeast in between now and 12/31. A walk-up BOS-WAS ticket for a few hours from now caps out at about $926 in full F, with a stop in either LGA, JFK, or DTW (so I’d get no less than 2,000 MQMs for my trouble). In something more like A (again, for tomorrow) you’re looking at $330 or so (which would in turn kick out a minimum of 1500 MQMs). And so on. LAX-SFO is a similar story (if not quite as lucrative as a forces split-leg in the Northeast). No need to spend $1000 for it…if nothing else, I could probably finagle a one-way in A alongside a return in paid F on the Acela for a combined $700.

    (2) If I needed the *spend* (I’m waivered via the CC), see above. Looking at those prices, I could probably find a way to match or exceed the MQM total for $2000 (though I’d need to plan in advance and it might involve making a hash of Christmas). The *floor* doing those NEC two-leg flights in A is somewhere around 7500 MQMs (BOS-NYC-WAS) or 8500 (BOS-DTW-WAS), and I’m fairly certain that with some aggressive poking at possible routings I could do better (SFO-LAX-ATL-PHF kicks out something like 4300 MQMs in A/G for about $600, so 3x that would put me over 12,500). Probably the only “edge” is not having to pay airport taxes/fees.

    (2b) And of course, spending to kick over the waiver should be *relatively* doable with some lead time, and it would almost assuredly cost less than the above.

    Of course, with the off chance I flub something in the next month, this might accidentally dump me into Platinum (which I do *not* want).

  7. @Chub
    Great question -> please list all of your current status levels.
    Suprised you havent done so in the past.

  8. Last year I had gold status, this year I’m not going to even reach silver, I do have a SkyMiles card which helps some benefits and I also have a TSA number which I appreciate more than the status on Delta, I really don’t care where I sit as long as its an aisle seat as I work a job where I am standing and walking nearly the whole time, sometimes for up to 12 to 16 hours. I wish they had a walking Track on the airplane! I need to get up quite often to stretch my legs and just to walk around some, the longest I usually ever sit in a seat is to have dinner! Even at a movie I usually get up at least once. And as far as getting on early I only ever take a small carry-on that I can put it under my seat. So I don’t need to worry about where to put my carry-on! Admittedly I do like the higher status but it’s not really worth it to pay anything for me.

  9. @JAn
    As well as status how many miles need to reach the next level.
    At United it makes a difference looking at my friends, my wife and my offers.

  10. I am have been Diamond Medallion (2018) trying to requalify for Diamond Medallion for 2019. My MQM balance is currently 115,669 with 124 MQSs. I already have upcoming travel booked with Delta between now and the end of the year for 6 more MQSs and 6,232 MQMs. My “Elevate Your Status” offer looks like this:

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

    If I don’t have any more work-related travel (beyond what I already have booked), I will be 3,099 MQMs or 10 MQSs short of requalifying for Diamond…which means I will have to shell out $2,999 to “elevate my status” or buy a roundtrip ticket that costs less than $3K and burn a weekend day flying the roundtrip route that will earn me 3,100+ MQMs. I’m not sure if this is a contributing factor, but I am Atlanta-based.

    I wonder what route I could fly from ATL that would be the cheapest and allow me to earn the 3,100 MQMs I will need to requalify for Diamond? Anyone have a good suggestion?

  11. Got the same offer as

    1,000 MQMs + 3 MQSs + $2,399 MQDs = $2,399
    2,500 MQMs + 6 MQSs + $2,799 MQDs = $2,799
    5,000 MQMs + 9 MQSs + $2,999 MQDs = $2,999
    7,500 MQMs + 12 MQSs + $3,199 MQDs = $3,199
    10,000 MQMs + 15 MQSs + $3,299 MQDs = $2,2399

    I have over 200K MQM (due to rollovers) and am short $800 and am awaiting some MQD to be award to my account. Was curious and surprised to see those high numbers

    Why do I need to buy $2,399 MQD when I could spend $800. Lucky, maybe you can explain the logic

  12. Got the same offer as

    1,000 MQMs + 3 MQSs + $2,399 MQDs = $2,399
    2,500 MQMs + 6 MQSs + $2,799 MQDs = $2,799
    5,000 MQMs + 9 MQSs + $2,999 MQDs = $2,999
    7,500 MQMs + 12 MQSs + $3,199 MQDs = $3,199
    10,000 MQMs + 15 MQSs + $3,299 MQDs = $2,2399

    I have over 200K MQM (due to rollovers) and am short $800 and am awaiting some MQD to be award to my account. Was curious and surprised to see those high numbers

    Why do I need to buy $2,399 MQD when I could spend $800. Lucky, maybe you can explain the logic

  13. @ Angela
    Roundtrip from ATL to Phoenix or Vegas should get you the required MQMs. Phoenix is probably cheaper and shorter. You should be able to find something for $500 or so.

  14. I lived in Amsterdam for a year, back to Atlanta in August, and didn’t realize until it was too late that buying tickets on, even for transatlantic flights, gave me about half the MQMs as buying the same ticket on Too late to fix it now. Back to Platinum after years as a Diamond. Anybody know someone at SkyMiles that might have mercy?

  15. I was going to be 4600 MQMs short. Found a RT MCO to Minneapolis to LAX flight for $199. Flew yesterday…5600 MQMs…Im Platonum, far cheaper than these offers.

  16. If I buy up per the offer to get platinum status will I be platinum for the remainder of this year or only starting January 1? I have another flight later this month and I was wondering if I will be platinum for that flight or stay at gold for December? My upcoming flight will not get me to platinum but the buy up will for $.15 per MQM.

  17. I’m silver and will just need about 2500 MQMs to qualify, but alas I don’t think I’ll make it. I got the same offer as the writer of the article. It’s not worth $599 to me to be upgraded to delta comfort 3 times a year and get a banana instead of a cookie 🙂

  18. Justin Gates, I urge you to check miles actually received. Your cheap flight might get you only 995 MQM. I tried that with a short trip to Europe on an off-season economy fare, which should have qualified me for a medallion level upgrade and a few thousand miles to roll into next year, even before my Christmas travel. Should have been 9600 MQM.
    But the Delta MQM limit of 5 times the ticket price kicked in, and I got something less than 5,000 MQM, so I now need the MQM from my Christmas travel.
    (I still got 9600 miles in the bank from the Europe trip, but I have over 600,000 of those right now.)
    OTOH, maybe the 5x rule doesn’t apply to Platinum, in which case you won’t have an unpleasant surprise.

  19. I am 640 MQM short of diamond got the same offers as above $2399 for 1k MQM.

    That’s a lot of money. I booked a trip out west in FC to do some skiing for about $1000 and will have some fun and get > 4k MQM, not a good deal to buy up!

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