Many airlines offer a status match or challenge, which is essentially a way for someone who is loyal to one program to switch their business to a competitor without having to start from scratch.
In many cases these offers are “once in a lifetime,” so you’ll want to choose carefully. The terms also vary greatly by program — some programs will outright match you with no strings attached, while others require you to fly a certain amount in a certain period of time to maintain your status.
If you’re someone who is interested in earning status with Delta SkyMiles, and if you have upcoming travel to plan, this could be the ideal time to request a status match. This is both due to July being the ideal time to start such a status challenge, combined with the accelerated opportunities for status this year.
Delta status challenges
While Delta SkyMiles doesn’t offer an outright status match, the program does offer a status challenge. With these challenges, you’ll receive a certain status for a period of 90 days, and then you can requalify for status based on your activity over that period.
Who is eligible for a Delta status challenge?
Delta offers status challenges to Silver, Gold, and Platinum Medallion status. As a general rule of thumb, Delta doesn’t offer status challenges to Diamond Medallion (though we’ve seen some targeted promotions in the past).
Here are the challenges you’re eligible for depending on your status with another program:
With Delta, status challenges aren’t “once in a lifetime,” but you’re not eligible if you’ve otherwise requested one in the past three years.
How much do you have to fly to requalify?
While Delta will give you the status for a period of 90 days, if you want to keep the status you have to earn the following over the course of 90 days:
- Silver: 6,250 MQMs or 8 MQSs AND 750 MQDs or MQD waiver
- Gold: 12,500 MQMs or 15 MQSs AND 1,500 MQDs or MQD waiver
- Platinum: 18,750 MQMs or 25 MQSs AND 2,250 MQDs or MQD waiver
Delta SkyMiles has made it easier to earn Medallion status in 2021, in light of everything going on, and this also means you can qualify for a status challenge faster than usual. With the current Delta SkyMiles promotion:
- SkyMiles members will be rewarded a minimum of 50% more MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs, for all flights (even award flights qualify towards status right now)
- SkyMiles members will be awarded 75% more MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs, when purchasing a premium fare product, including first class, Delta One, Premium Select, and Comfort+; this is 25% more than economy passengers receive
- That 75% bonus applies to whatever class of service bonuses you get; in other words, if you book a discounted first class fare that offers 150% MQMs, you’d earn 262.5% MQMs
This accelerated earning rate also applies towards a status challenge, though only when traveling Delta (and not partner airlines). In other words, a Platinum status challenge requires 18,750 MQMs and 2,250 MQDs. However, if you booked a discounted first class ticket you’d earn that with just ~7,140 miles of flying (since you’d earn MQMs for 262.5% of the distance flown) and ~$1,286 of pre-tax spending (since you’d earn MQDs at 175% of the rate you’re spending).
Why now is the time to start a status challenge
If you start a status challenge on July 1 or later and complete it, then the status is valid for the remainder of the year, the entire following year, and through January of the year after that.
In other words, if you successfully completed the challenge, status would be valid through January 2023. Meanwhile if you did a status challenge in June, the status would have only been valid through January 2022.
So if you started a challenge now, you’d get the status for 19 months.
Status challenge terms to be aware of
There are some terms associated with Delta’s status challenge that you should be aware of, including the following:
- Miles earned for travel on Delta and its partners qualify towards this requirement, so you don’t have to fly Delta; however, MQMs earned through credit cards don’t qualify towards this requirement
- Members who are matched to Platinum Medallion Status will not be eligible for Choice Benefits until the flight requirement to maintain Platinum Medallion Status is met
- Through this offer, you may maintain the same or lower Medallion status tier as your matched status; in other words, if you sign-up for a Platinum challenge and complete the Silver requirements, you’d maintain Silver status
- You won’t be issued a physical elite card until after you complete the challenge
Earning Delta status with Delta credit cards
While a status challenge is an ideal way to earn Delta status, requalifying for status might be easier than you think.
American Express and Delta have a co-brand credit card portfolio, and these credit cards can help you greatly towards earning status. You could always use a status challenge to earn status now, and then in the future use credit cards to help you maintain status.
Let’s go over some of the ways to earn Delta status through credit card spending. Note that:
- I’ll exclude credit card welcome bonuses, though Delta Amex cards do have some great bonuses right now
- For 2021 Delta is offering a 25% status boost on elite miles from credit card spending, which I’ll reflect below
Delta Platinum Amex MQMs for spending
The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (review) and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card offer the following for ongoing spending:
- Earn 10,000 bonus MQMs after spending $25,000 (12,500 bonus MQMs in 2021)
- Earn an additional 10,000 bonus MQMs after spending $50,000 (12,500 bonus MQMs in 2021)
If you spent $50,000 on either of these cards you’d earn 20,000 bonus MQMs (25,000 bonus MQMs in 2021).
Delta Reserve Amex MQMs for spending
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (review) and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card offer the following for ongoing spending:
- Earn 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $30,000 (18,750 bonus MQMs in 2021)
- Earn an additional 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $60,000 (18,750 bonus MQMs in 2021)
- Earn an additional 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $90,000 (18,750 bonus MQMs in 2021)
- Earn an additional 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $120,000 (18,750 bonus MQMs in 2021)
If you spent $120,000 on either of these cards you’d earn 60,000 bonus MQMs (75,000 bonus MQMs in 2021).
If you are considering going for status with Delta, this is the ideal time to start a status challenge, since you’d get 19 months out of the status if you complete the challenge. Furthermore, this year Delta flights qualify towards status 50-75% faster than usual, and those increased earnings rates even count towards a status challenge.
In the future, requalifying for status with Delta shouldn’t be too difficult, especially in conjunction with credit card spending.
Anyone considering a Delta status challenge now that you can get status for a full 19 months?