While this is only a limited time promotion for now, this sure suggests to me that Delta SkyMiles may be looking to follow the lead of American AAdvantage…
Delta SkyMiles awarding MQDs for hotels & rental cars
Just about all major airlines have portals through which you can earn bonus miles for booking hotels and rental cars. After all, there are commissions to be made on this, and those who fly a lot are also likely to stay at hotels and rent cars a lot.
Historically Delta SkyMiles has only awarded redeemable miles for these kinds of activities, but that’s changing for a limited time. At the moment Delta SkyMiles is offering one Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) for every dollar spent when booking a hotel or rental car at this link, in addition to earning two redeemable miles. As you’d expect, there are some terms to be aware of:
- This is valid for hotel and rental car bookings between February 27 and March 31, 2023
- You must travel between February 27 and September 4, 2023
- You’ll earn one MQD per dollar spent on base rates for hotels and rental cars, before taxes, fees, etc.
- The SkyMiles account and credit card being used must belong to the same person, and the first and last name must match
- It can take up to eight weeks after a completed activity for MQDs to post to accounts
For context, Delta SkyMiles Medallion elite status is earned based on a combination of earning Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) AND Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) OR Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs). You can also earn status through credit card spending, including earning a waiver of the MQD requirement that way.
It’s important to mention that while earning miles and even elite status for a hotel or rental car booking might sound appealing, keep in mind that there’s typically an opportunity cost to doing so. For example, with hotels you can’t earn hotel points if you book this way, and you typically don’t get elite perks. Furthermore, you’ll often find better rates elsewhere.
Will Delta follow American’s lead?
Independently this promotion isn’t that rewarding or interesting, in my opinion. What I’m much more intrigued by is whether this is Delta’s first step to following American’s lead.
While Delta is the airline that pioneered earning elite status with credit cards (and does incredibly well with its Amex co-brand agreement), arguably American overtook Delta in 2022 when it comes to earning status through non-flying means, with the introduction of the Loyalty Points system. With Loyalty Points, the concept of spending requirements and elite miles was eliminated, in favor of a new program that rewards miles earned from most sources in the same way.
As much as I’m not necessarily a fan of the Loyalty Points system for my own preferences, I think the program is brilliant. I don’t think Delta will go quite as far as American did, but I do think we’ll see Delta create some long term way to earn elite status qualification with hotels and rental cars.
After all, there are commissions to be made, this is pure profit for Delta, and any incentives that would cause people to book this way make sense. Presumably this promotion is being run as a test, and as a possible first step to something more permanent.
Delta SkyMiles has a promotion whereby you can earn MQDs for hotels and rental cars booked through the carrier’s portal. For a limited time, you can earn one MQD per dollar spent, in addition to the standard two redeemable miles you earn per dollar spent.
While this promotion is just valid for bookings over the coming weeks, something tells me that Delta will be counting more than just flying and credit card spending toward elite status in the near future.
What do you make of this Delta SkyMiles promotion, and do you think we’ll see the program increasingly reward non-flying and credit card activity?
Tim Dunn would you use this
Could I book hotel stays for others using this link (as long as it’s my CC) or do I have to be the one staying?
I may need to do more research on this but on a quick look this is not bad at all. I have a summer trip to Italy and France and all the hotels I booked are non chain hotels so I won’t earn points anyway. I used this Delta link and it appears that they either use Booking.com or Hotels.com search engine. The prices for the hotels I am staying are exactly what I am...
I may need to do more research on this but on a quick look this is not bad at all. I have a summer trip to Italy and France and all the hotels I booked are non chain hotels so I won’t earn points anyway. I used this Delta link and it appears that they either use Booking.com or Hotels.com search engine. The prices for the hotels I am staying are exactly what I am paying if booking directly on their website. Thus, all things looking the same, why wouldn’t I book through this link and earn a ton of MQDs (2 hotel rooms for 15 nights)?
You are also forfeiting Booking.com or Hotels.com loyalty programs.
Never use them. I booked directly at the hotels website so in that case I am not forfeiting anything.
Just because you left money on the table previously by not using OTA doesn't mean you didn't forfeit anything.
Booking direct might give you some extra benefit and easy to deal when things go wrong. (The opportunity cost you pay extra for not using OTA). However, I hardly believe non chain hotels in EU would give you any of those benefit.
Don't disagree on your points at all but since I need MQD to requalify for Diamond on Delta this is not a bad option for my needs.
Given the use case you describe with independent hotels I agree with you. I'm looking at booking a trip to the DR and one of the hotels I'm looking at isn't in any one of my preferred hotel programs. Booking through Delta and picking up a couple grand in MQDs might make hitting $20k this year a bit more likely.
Think about it: Disney looks at what a family generates across revenue channels and over a lifetime. The airlines need to be looking at their customers the same way: as lifetime multi-channel revenue sources.
Except Disney isn't as hypocritical as Delta in asking customers to book direct with them while encouraging their customer to not book direct with other vendors.
That's like having a funeral home in Disney parks.
Hypocrisy has nothing to do with it. It's just good business. I'm guessing that most folks on OMAAT are willing to do a bit more work to get a better deal on hotels/car rentals. For the family that takes 1-2 vacations a year, booking a hotel and car at the end of their flight booking is easy and Delta makes a bit of a commission by offering it on their site.
Hypocrisy doesn't mean it's good or bad business.
But it's still hypocrisy.
Who said funeral home in Disney parks won't be a good business.
Ask any of your elected politician. They are all Georges Santos, the question is how much.
I expect that we will see an MQD-only pathway to status at Delta over the next few years, as much as there are benefits to DL from the MQM system (in terms of either people signing up for and spending across both Platinum and Reserve or in people having to invest time (since outside of credit card spend, it takes at least X hours all told (barring things like crediting a cash La Premiere flight...
I expect that we will see an MQD-only pathway to status at Delta over the next few years, as much as there are benefits to DL from the MQM system (in terms of either people signing up for and spending across both Platinum and Reserve or in people having to invest time (since outside of credit card spend, it takes at least X hours all told (barring things like crediting a cash La Premiere flight to DL) to get X thousand MQM), which is the ultimate finite resource for all of us... that time investment in turn means it's relatively harder to achieve meaningful status at both DL and a non-SkyTeam carrier, which in turn means that DL can get a price premium, though the spend-based statuses at AA and UA change that situation a little). If you asked me to design it, it would be a simple add-on:
- For every full $1000 you exceed the MQD for a given level, the MQM for that level is reduced by 5k (the excess above that reduced requirement still rolls over)
So if you hit $8k MQD, you'd have the choice of using 50k MQM for Gold, or could take Silver and roll everything over (one might do this if they anticipated no travel in at least the first months of the year but could expect to hit the MQD waiver before their first major trip, which could lock in Gold for more than a year). At $12k MQD, you could choose to use 75k MQM for Platinum, 35k MQM for Gold, or 0 MQM for Silver. At $19k MQD, you could choose to use 40k MQM for Platinum or 0 MQM for Gold; likewise at $27k MQD, the choice would be 90k MQM for Diamond or 0 MQM for Platinum. Redeeming 4.5 million SkyMiles in a year would guarantee you Diamond (in before someone says "so that's a Comfort+ flight from RDU to ATL, right?").
I am curious about this statement "Qualifying Dollars include the cost of the hotel room, before taxes and fees, charged at the time of booking." Does the "charged at time of booking" language mean that only pre-paid reservations will get MQDs?
I have this same question and haven't found the answer. Julie, were you able to figure out if the reservation needs to be pre-paid?
I think Delta has a challenge now that because they've had very generous MQM rollovers for a few years due to COVID, a lot of people have way more MQMs than they need, so a lot of people are basically facing just the United system of needing dollars to qualify for status. And while Delta has offered various ways to earn MQMs through non-flying means for a while, ways to earn MQDs have trailed behind until now.
Would this count for hotel stays as part of Delta Vacations too, or only 'normal' hotel bookings through the portal?
@ Jannis -- Best I can tell, only bookings through this portal qualify, so Delta Vacations packages wouldn't.
Whatever Delta is up to here, I’m sure Tim Dunn will be along shortly to tell us it’s genius.
@ Never In Doubt -- LOL, I would be curious to get Tim Dunn's take on this, so that he's on record prior to something like this possibly becoming permanent...
If Hiltons can be booked, we can have the DCS and Tim Dunn show...
Levi, DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS!
Thanks for the reminder Egon.