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Airline and hotel loyalty programs increasingly allow elite-status members to choose which benefits they receive from a list of options. As with many loyalty program developments, Delta was far ahead of its competition in this regard. Although American Airlines Loyalty Point Rewards and Alaska MVP 100K Choice Benefits are relatively new, Delta Choice Benefits date back over a decade.
Although it's been around for years, Delta is keeping the Choice Benefits program fresh with a revamp in 2023. Here's what you need to know about earning and choosing Delta Choice Benefits.
How to earn Delta Choice Benefits
Delta SkyMiles members get one Choice Benefits selection when earning Delta Platinum Medallion. In addition, members earn three Choice Benefits selections upon achieving Diamond Medallion elite status. But first, let's look at what's required to earn these elite status levels.
(Editor's note: Big changes are coming to Delta's SkyMiles program in 2024, including how members can earn elite status. The carrier will also be cutting back Sky Club lounge access. Read more on these upcoming changes here.)
Earning Delta Platinum Medallion status
Delta SkyMiles members make Platinum Medallion status after earning the following requirements:
Flying — 75,000 Medallion Qualification Miles or 100 Medallion Qualification Segments.
Spending — 12,000 Medallion Qualification Dollars or earning an MQD waiver by making purchases totaling $25,000 or more on an eligible SkyMiles credit card. Note that MQD requirements don't apply to SkyMiles members based outside the United States.
Earning Delta Diamond Medallion status
To earn Diamond Medallion status, a SkyMiles member must complete the following requirements:
Flying — 125,000 Medallion Qualification Miles or 140 Medallion Qualification Segments.
Spending — 20,000 Medallion Qualification Dollars or earning an MQD waiver — unless you're based outside the U.S.
To earn an MQD waiver for Diamond Medallion status, you'll need to spend a whopping $250,000 on an eligible SkyMiles credit card in a calendar year.
» Learn more: The complete guide to Delta Medallion elite status
Delta Choice Benefits options
As soon as you've completed the hard work of earning Delta Platinum or Diamond Medallion elite status, you'll get the chance to select your Delta Choice Benefits. But what are your options, and what should you choose? Let's review your choices.
Delta Choice Benefits Selected After Feb. 1, 2023
Delta is revamping its Choice Benefits choices effective Feb. 1, 2023. Delta Platinum Medallion elite members now get a choice of one of the following Choice Benefits:
Four regional upgrade certificates.
20,000 bonus SkyMiles.
Gift Silver Medallion status to two members.
$250 sustainable aviation fuel contribution.
$400 Delta Vacations experience (flight + hotel).
$500 MQD boost towards the following Medallion qualification year.
$250 Delta travel voucher.
$200 American Express statement credit on eligible Delta co-branded cards.
Upon reaching Diamond Medallion status, you'll get to choose three of the following Delta Choice Benefits:
Four global upgrade certificates, or eight regional upgrade certificates, or two global and four regional upgrade certificates.
SkyClub Executive Membership — an individual membership that also allows complimentary entry for two guests or your spouse/domestic partner plus children under 21 (requires two Choice Benefits for the 2023 Medallion Year and three Choice Benefits for the 2024 Medallion Year).
25,000 bonus SkyMiles.
Gift Gold Medallion status to two members.
$250 sustainable aviation fuel contribution.
$500 Delta Vacations experience (flight + hotel).
$1,000 MQD boost towards the following Medallion qualification year.
$250 Delta travel voucher.
$500 American Express statement credit on eligible Delta co-branded cards.
» Learn more: Is a Delta SkyMiles credit card worth it?
The deadline for selecting Delta Choice Benefits
Delta Diamond and Platinum Medallion elite members must select their Choice Benefits by Jan. 31 of the year following their elite year.
For example, say you earn Delta Diamond Medallion elite status from flying and spending during the 2023 calendar year. You will get Diamond Medallion status for the remainder of 2023, throughout 2024 and through Jan. 31, 2025. In this case, you can make your Delta Choice Benefits selections anytime before Jan. 31, 2025.
However, if you earned Delta Diamond or Platinum Medallion status during 2022 — granting you status for the 2023 Medallion year — you only have until Jan. 31, 2024, to make your Delta Choice Benefits selection(s).
And you don't want to miss this deadline. Unlike some loyalty programs, Delta doesn't default to offering a particular Choice Benefit to members that forget to make a selection. Instead, the benefit is lost forever.
» Learn more: The guide to Delta status match
When you should choose Delta Choice Benefits
Timing matters — at least for some Delta Choice Benefits.
Certain Delta Choice Benefits are only valid for one year after you select them. For example, Delta travel vouchers are only valid for 12 months from the date of issuance.
Similarly, Regional and Global upgrade certificates are only valid for one year after you select them as Delta Choice Benefits. However, Delta now also requires that you use these upgrades by the end of the Medallion year. Therefore, any upgrade certificates earned from your 2022 activity must be selected, applied and flown by Jan. 31, 2024.
Other rewards aren't time-sensitive. For example, Delta SkyMiles won't expire as long as your account is open. So, it doesn't matter when you choose bonus SkyMiles as one of your Choice Benefits.
Generally, you should treat Delta Choice Benefits as an ace in your back pocket during the year.
Found a particularly good use of a global upgrade certificate? Redeem one of your Choice Benefits for upgrades and apply it to that trip. Need to top off your SkyMiles balance for a redemption? Use a Choice Benefits selection for bonus SkyMiles to make that booking happen.
The exception to this is gifts of Medallion elite status. If you're sure you want to give a gift of Medallion status, you'll want to do so as early in the year as possible. That's because this status is only valid through a set date. For example, for 2023 Choice Benefits selections, the gifted elite status is valid through Jan. 31, 2024 — no matter when in the year you give it.
Choice Benefits on Delta recapped
The value of each Delta Choice Benefits option depends on your situation. For example, global upgrade certificates can provide outsized value if you can use them for high-value flights. However, beware of the tight deadlines for selecting, applying and utilizing these upgrade certificates.
On the flip side, choosing the bonus SkyMiles is a safe choice. Unlike Delta travel vouchers and upgrade certificates, you don't need to worry about SkyMiles expiring. Per NerdWallet analysis, SkyMiles provide a baseline value of 1.2 cents each. That means a 20,000-mile bonus Choice Benefits selection would provide around $300 in value.
If you're considering gifting elite status, NerdWallet analysis pegs the value of Medallion status at $876 for Silver Medallion and $2,442 for Gold Medallion. Just keep in mind that valuation assumes the traveler flies enough to utilize all of the perks of the status — which might not be the case if you're gifting status in the first place.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card