How Delta Choice Benefits Work

Select bonus Skymiles as your Choice Benefit can be a good call, but other options hold value, too.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 
Updated
Edited by Meg Lee

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Airline and hotel loyalty programs increasingly allow high level elite-status holders 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.

In 2023, Delta revamped the way its members earn elite status and along with those changes added some new and revised some existing Choice Benefit options. 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 they achieve Delta Platinum status. Those who attain Diamond status can select three Choice Benefits.

These are nice perks, but how easy are they to get? Let's look at what's required to earn these top-level elite status tiers.

Earning Delta Platinum and Diamond Medallion status

To attain Medallion elite status, you need to earn Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs).

🤓Nerdy Tip

Delta used to consider a combination of MQDs, Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) to calculate status. As of 2024, MQDs are the sole metric used by Delta for earning elite status.

To get elite status with Delta, you will need to earn the following amount of MQDs:

Silver

Gold

Platinum

Diamond

$5,000

$8,000

$15,000

$28,000

MQDs don’t exactly translate to dollars spent on Delta. There’s a bit more nuance to what counts and what doesn’t, as well as some non-flying activity that generates MQDs. Here’s what spending qualifies for earning MQDs:

  • 1 MQD per $1 spent on Delta-marketed flights operated by Delta or one of its airline partners. This includes the fare and airline fees, but not taxes, fees (including government fees), basic economy and similar fares, and insurance purchases.

  • 1 MQD per $10 spent when using the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card.

  • 1 MQD per $20 spent when using the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card.

  • 1 MQD per $1 spent when booking travel through Delta Vacations. The calculation excludes taxes, fees (including government fees), basic economy and similar fares, tips, room service, other booking charges, and insurance purchases.

Terms apply.

Delta credit cards for earning MQDs
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Annual fee

$350.

$350.

$650.

$650.

Welcome offer

Earn 85,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Earn 95,000 Bonus Miles after spending $8,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/17.

Earn 95,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Earn 110,000 Bonus Miles after spending $12,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/17.

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Delta’s Platinum and Diamond status levels are the highest and you’ll need to spend a significant amount of money with Delta to earn either of these tiers.

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 for Platinum status (select one)

  • Four regional upgrade certificates.

  • 20,000 bonus SkyMiles in 2024 (30,000 in 2025) to be added to the member’s account or donated to a SkyWish charity of choice.

  • Gift Silver Medallion status to two members.

  • $250 sustainable aviation fuel contribution.

  • $400 Delta Vacations (flight + hotel) credit.

  • $500 MQD boost in 2024 ($1,000 in 2025) towards the following Medallion qualification year.

  • $250 Delta travel voucher in 2024 ($300 in 2025).

  • $200 American Express statement credit in 2024 ($400 in 2025) on eligible Delta co-branded cards.

  • A deposit of Starbucks Reward stars: 4,000 in 2024 (6,000 in 2025).

  • Wheels Up flight credit of $1,500 in 2025 (not available in 2024).

Delta Choice Benefits for Diamond status (select three)

  • A selection of: four global upgrade certificates,  eight regional upgrade certificates, or two global and four regional upgrade certificates.

  • Executive membership to Delta Sky Clubs (unlimited access for self and two guests) — This option counts as three choices and is available in 2024. In 2025, a selection of an executive membership (will count as three choices) or an individual membership (will count as two choices). The individual membership allows unlimited access for the member while guests pay a fee.

  • 25,000 bonus SkyMiles in 2024 (35,000 in 2025) to be added to the member’s account or donated to a SkyWish charity of choice.

  • Gift Gold Medallion status to two members.

  • $250 sustainable aviation fuel contribution.

  • $500 Delta Vacations credit (flight + hotel).

  • $1,000 MQD boost in 2024 ($2,000 in 2025) towards the following Medallion qualification year.

  • $250 Delta travel voucher in 2024 ($350 in 2025).

  • $500 in 2024 ($700 in 2025) American Express statement credit on eligible Delta co-branded cards.

  • A deposit of Starbucks Reward stars: 4,000 in 2024 (6,000 in 2025).

  • Wheels Up flight credit of $2,000 in 2025 (not available in 2024).

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 during the 2024 calendar year. You will get Diamond Medallion status for the remainder of 2024, during the entire 2025 and through Jan. 31, 2026. In this case, you can make your Delta Choice Benefits selections anytime before Jan. 31, 2025.

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.

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 2023 activity must be selected, applied and flown by Jan. 31, 2025.

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 2024 Choice Benefits selections, the gifted elite status is valid through Jan. 31, 2025 — 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 $1,703 for Silver Medallion and $4,733 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.


To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, see this page.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Cards for Delta from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Points
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more cards for delta
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