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Travelers hoping to earn elite status on Delta Air Lines in 2021 and 2022 are about to get more help from two of the airline’s American Express-issued credit cards.
The carrier is expanding the “Status Boost” feature of its Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and its Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. Status Boosts earn extra Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) — one of the main metrics that determines elite status on the airline, and typically earned from flying — by making everyday purchases on the two cards.
The Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex normally earns 10,000 MQMs for spending $25,000 in purchases on the card. For 2021, card members will earn an extra 2,500 MQMs with that same amount of spending, for a total of 12,500 MQMs. The bonus MQMs will also apply to a second Status Boost earned in the same calendar year.
The boost is even larger for Delta SkyMiles Reserve Amex card members, who normally earn 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 in purchases spent on the card, up to four times in a calendar year. Each Status Boost on the Delta Reserve card in 2021 will earn an additional 3,750 Medallion miles for a total of 18,750 MQMs.
And for small business owners, the business versions of the two cards — the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card — will get the same respective enhanced Status Boost offers as the personal cards.
These extra elite miles make it theoretically possible to earn Delta elite status all the way through 2022 without stepping foot on a Delta plane, though it requires using one or both of the credit cards for a significant amount of spending.
Getting Silver elite status on the airline requires earning 25,000 MQMs, which can be done with two enhanced Status Boosts on either Delta credit card. However, two Status Boosts requires $50,000 in spending on the Delta Platinum Amex, or $60,000 on the Delta Reserve Amex, though card members can take all of 2021 to reach the spending thresholds and still earn status for 2022.
For those hoping for an even higher status level, Delta Reserve Amex card members can earn Gold status — which requires 50,000 MQMs — with three Status Boosts, and Platinum elite status can be reached with 75,000 MQMs by hitting all four Status Boosts in 2021.
Earning Delta elite status also normally requires spending money on flights with Delta and its partners, in addition to earning MQMs. However, that second metric, known as Medallion Qualification Dollars, is waived for all status levels up to Platinum when you spend $25,000 on any Delta credit card in a calendar year.
It’s unlikely that most people have expenses large enough to earn elite status purely through everyday credit card use. However, the airline is also rolling over elite MQMs earned in 2020 to next year, so these enhanced Status Boosts in 2021 will augment any MQMs that Delta flyers already have in their SkyMiles accounts. That could make earning elite status — or perhaps a higher level of status — an easier proposition than usual.
Also, while Delta has already extended any elite status earned for 2020 all the way through to January 31, 2022, any additional status earned in 2021 will be valid from the date it’s earned until January 31, 2023.
If you don’t want to wait until next year to earn extra MQMs, existing Delta Platinum Amex and Delta Reserve Amex card members who had their cards as of July 1 can already earn a few extra elite miles in the remaining days of 2020. Through December 31, these cards earn 500 bonus miles and 500 bonus MQMs for each $1,000 spent on purchases, up to 25,000 bonus miles and 25,000 bonus MQMs.
And while the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card don’t have access to Status Boosts, card members who had either of these two cards prior to July 25 can currently earn 4 miles for each dollar spent at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) through December 31, as well as 5 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases. Card members must enroll at americanexpress.com/deltagoldoffers before making purchases to earn the bonus points.
The Delta Platinum Amex and Delta Reserve Amex aren’t inexpensive credit cards. But if you expect to be on the road in 2021 and think Delta elite status will be a useful tool to have in your travel arsenal, next year’s enhanced Status Boost feature could make these cards worth the price.