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Earning elite status on your preferred airline can be a worthwhile goal, especially if you travel a lot. On Delta Air Lines, if you fly and spend enough, you can reach Diamond Medallion status, the top tier in the SkyMiles loyalty program. This status comes with incredible perks — on the ground and in the air.
We’ll look at Diamond Medallion elite status, its benefits and how to reach this level.
Delta Diamond Medallion benefits
Delta’s Diamond Medallion benefits are sure to make any travel experience easier, from lounge access and upgrades to free same-day changes and VIP customer service access.
Here are some of the most popular benefits available to Diamond Medallion status holders:
Earn 11 miles per dollar spent: You’ll earn 11 SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta-operated flights, as opposed to 5 miles earned by a general SkyMiles member.
Priority Boarding: Board immediately after the Delta One or first-class cabin.
Sky Priority® benefits: Receive priority check-in and access to security lines as well as expedited luggage service
Clear membership: Receive a complimentary membership in Clear, a Trusted Traveler Program, valued at $189.
Free baggage: Get one free checked bag for you and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation when flying on Delta or select airline partner flights.
Free same-day changes: Same-day confirmed ticket change fees are waived for Diamond members.
VIP phone line: Receive access to a dedicated phone line for Diamond elite members.
SkyTeam Elite Plus status: Get top SkyTeam status, which grants perks like free baggage and lounge access when flying with SkyTeam’s member airlines.
» Learn more: Your guide to SkyTeam
How to get Delta Diamond status
Delta Diamond Medallion status is earned through a combination of flying and spending on Delta and Delta partners.
The program is rooted in three metrics for obtaining elite status:
Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs).
Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs).
Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs).
Time spent in the air, including the class of service and distance flown, is reflected in MQMs, while MQSs reflect the number of flight segments taken. The spending part is reflected in MQDs.
To earn Diamond status, you’ll need to bank 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs. You’ll also need to spend $15,000 in MQDs (note that this will increase to a $20,000 minimum starting in 2024) or qualify for an MQD waiver by spending at least $250,000 on eligible purchases with your Delta co-branded American Express card.
Here’s a breakdown of how to get Diamond Medallion on Delta.
1. Earning MQMs
MQMs are calculated based on distance flown and fare class on Delta, Delta Connection, Delta Shuttle and select airline partners. Delta basic economy fares are excluded from earning MQMs, but all other fares earn MQMs. The greater the distance of the flight, the more MQMs.
Booking a higher fare class can lead to more MQMs thanks to fare class multipliers. For example, a full-fare first class, Delta One or Delta Premium Select ticket (all fare class “J”) earns 200% MQMs of the actual distance flown. This is also true of “J” class tickets on airline partners like Air France and Virgin Atlantic.
It's also possible to earn MQMs if you hold one of the premium Delta SkyMiles American Express cards through the card’s status boost benefit:
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Earn 15,000 MQMs after making $30,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year, up to four times per year. That means you could bank up to 60,000 MQMs each year solely from credit card spending. Terms apply.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Earn 10,000 MQMs after making $25,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year, up to two times per year, for a total of 20,000 MQMs. Terms apply.
If you earn more MQMs in a year than you need to reach a certain elite level, Delta will let you roll them over to the next year. This way, you don’t lose the MQMs you’ve earned.
» Learn more: Do Delta SkyMiles expire?
Say you earned 105,000 MQMs last qualification year and achieved Platinum status, which requires 75,000 MQMs. Though you didn’t make the cut for Diamond at 125,000 MQMs, you’ll roll over the additional 30,000 MQMs you earned to the next year.
Those who earn more MQMs than Diamond status requires will roll over the excess toward status in the following year.
» Learn more: Which Delta Air Lines credit card should you get?
2. Earning MQSs
MQSs are earned through flight activity on Delta, Delta Connection, Delta Shuttle and select airline partners. Basic economy fares are excluded from earning MQSs.
Recall that the first part of qualification for Diamond Medallion status is 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs, not both. The MQSs typically come into play for those who fly short distances often. There are no shortcuts through credit card offers or otherwise to accelerate MQSs.
3. Earning MQDs
MQDs are earned by spending on Delta and its partners and redeeming award travel on Delta.
For Delta-marketed flights in the main cabin or above, you’ll earn MQDs on the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges but not on government-imposed taxes and fees. For select partner airline flights not ticketed directly through Delta, MQDs earned will be equal to one-fifth of the base miles in economy, supplemented by class bonus miles, if applicable.
For award travel on Delta flights, MQDs will be granted based on the miles redeemed for the flight divided by 100. For example, if you book an award flight that costs 40,000 miles, you will earn 400 MQDs.
If you don’t think you’ll reach $15,000 in MQDs through airfare spending, another option is to obtain a Diamond MQD waiver. To do so, you’ll need to spend $250,000 or more with an eligible Delta SkyMiles co-branded American Express card.
You can get a good start toward earning Diamond Medallion status based solely on your spending. If you spend $250,000 on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card to get the MQD Diamond waiver, you will also earn a status boost of 60,000 MQMs. That leaves 65,000 MQMs to reach the 125,000 MQMs needed for Diamond. If you also received a welcome offer of MQMs with a new card sign-up, you’re almost there.
What else you need to know
You can't status match to Diamond, but you can for other Delta elite levels
Even if you hold top elite status with another frequent flyer program, you can't match to Diamond status.
Delta has four elite tiers; while it’s possible to do a status match for Platinum, Gold and Silver tiers, Diamond is untouchable.
» Learn more: What are the best Delta credit cards?
How long does Diamond Medallion status last?
Medallion status is earned in a particular calendar year, and then it extends to the following year and the next until the end of January.
So, if you earned Diamond status through flight and spending activity in the 2023 calendar year, your status would extend through 2024 and expire Jan. 31, 2025.
SkyMiles earned are not the same as MQMs
With all the talk of MQMs, MQSs and MQDs, you may be wondering: How are they different from SkyMiles?
While MQMs are used only to obtain elite status, SkyMiles can be used for award flights, seat upgrades and more. As a Diamond elite member, you’ll earn 11 SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta-marketed flights.
» Learn more: The 4 best ways to use Delta SkyMiles
How much is Diamond Medallion elite status worth?
Delta Medallion has an estimated tier value of $10,860, according to a recent NerdWallet analysis. We estimate it will cost roughly $18,072 to obtain this status, giving it an earn rate of 60% — on the high end compared with earn rates for equivalent ultra-elite status tiers across American Airlines and United Airlines.
Delta Diamond, however, offers the best experience and value overall compared with its competitors.
Though Delta edges American and United, generally speaking, you'll likely get similar value from any of the ultra-level elite programs.
» Learn more: What is Delta status worth?
Delta Diamond Medallion, recapped
If you’re a Delta loyalist and fly frequently, you may want to consider working toward Delta Diamond Medallion status. The fastest way to do so is to fly Delta and its partners, apply for a premium co-branded credit card and spend, spend, spend.
With Diamond Medallion status, you'll enjoy several premium benefits such as automatic upgrades, bonus miles on flights, a free Delta Sky Club membership and more.
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 2022, 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