Posted by William Charles on September 26, 2017
Airline Rewards

Published on September 26th, 2017 | by William Charles


Delta MQD Waiver For Diamond To Be Increased To $250,000 (From $25,000) For 2019 Qualification Year

Delta has sent out an e-mail to American Express Delta cardholders informing them about an important change (change is also announced here with some F.A.Q). The e-mail states the following:

  • As a Credit Card Member, we want you to be aware that starting January 1st, 2018, the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) Waiver for Diamond Medallion Status is increasing. The MQD Waiver for Diamond Medallion Status is currently earned by spending $25,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year on a SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. It is being adjusted to $250,000 in a calendar year.

This is only affecting Diamond status, the MQD waiver will still work for Silver, Gold, or Platinum.


Delta Diamond

To qualify for Delta Diamond status you need:

  • 125,000 MQMs (Medallion Qualifying Miles) or 140 MQSs (Medallion Qualifying Segments) AND
  • $15,000 MQDs (Medallion Qualifying Dollars) or MQD Waiver Qualification

The MQD waiver basically meant you didn’t need to spend $15,000 with Delta. With this new change you’ll need to spend $250,000 to receive a MQD waiver.

Our Verdict

If you’ve been taking advantage of the MQD waiver then this is obviously horrible news, I don’t think spending $250,000 on Delta cards is realistic due to their poor earning rates and the opportunity cost of not putting that spend on a card that earns at a higher rate. If you’re a Delta Diamond member that doesn’t take advantage of the MQD waiver then this is actually good news for you as it means there will be less Delta Diamond’s in the system. I personally don’t chase status, but I know this will affect a lot of readers who do.

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I guess Amex won’t be too happy to see the rush to close Delta cards..

Stefan Krasowski (@rapidtravelchai)

I have Delta Gold personal and business, both hit AF 9/15, a couple days ago no retention offer, will try tomorrow to see if they have had a change of heart. I also have Delta Platinum personal and business, the personal AF also hit 9/15, hadn’t called yet, will try those, too. I am a Diamond Medallion by way of the MQD waiver.


The change is so drastic it’s almost like a joke lol.


Title should be edited to indicate that the change is for Diamond elites only. First impression I got was that Silver, Gold and Plat were affected, too. Much to my relief it’s not.


Looks like Delta is focusing on their most loyal customers.

Jeff W
Jeff W

I guess they just had too many Diamond members and that it was tough delivering that premier experience to everyone with Diamond status.

I get that. But, the uptick was extreme… 25k to 250k… The problem with that is that the program doesn’t seem like a gradual step ladder. To get people to continue to spend, you want the next level to be within reach so in customers’ heads they’re thinking that they’re almost there.

I think it would have made more sense to do a more gradual minimum progression across the tiers. So maybe 25k -> 50k -> 100k -> 200k. I mean, I’m making these numbers up. You would need to look at the data to see what minimums would make sense to achieve the right number of customers at each tier. However, to keep it static until the last level and bumping it up by 10x would seem like a deal breaker for some people. (meaning, I couldn’t care as much to stay loyal on Delta for my all of my flights)

I was thinking about the Delta Reserve card versus the Amex Plat myself. I was leaning on Amex Plat, but this kind of kills the discussion. I know it’s just for Diamond right now, but it doesn’t bode to well for future changes.


I suspect Delta wanted to get rid of the MQD spend waiver altogether but Amex probably raised hell and so $250K was agreed. $250K will likely appeal to a certain tiny segment who chase status no matter what, but will surely make a sizable number of current card holders dump their cards. Now, if Amex added some category spend bonuses in grocery, drug etc, some might be willing to meet the spend.

I will still put $60K on the Delta Reserve to get the MQMs, but once stop biz travel in a few years, will dump the Reserve card like a hot potato.

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