The Complete Guide to Delta Medallion Elite Status

For travelers who fly frequently on Delta and its partners, Medallion status can provide both savings and comforts.
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Written by Sam Kemmis
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Whether you’re in it for complimentary upgrades, free checked bags or just the smug sense of superiority, there are many good reasons to pursue Delta Air Lines elite status.

Delta’s Medallion elite status works much the same as other major U.S. carriers like American and United, with spending minimums for each tier and some acronyms like MQDs.

Whether you’re a wizened old frequent flyer or are new to the game, here we’ll break down everything you need to know about Delta Medallion status and its accompanying program (while keeping the acronyms to a minimum).

What is Medallion status on Delta?

Delta has four tiers of elite status: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond.

In 2024, Delta revamped how flyers earn elite status and now uses only one qualifying metric: Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs), which essentially amounts to how much you spend with Delta. This is similar to how American Airlines awards elite status. United Airlines, which is the third major U.S.-based global carrier, still grants elite status through a combination of flying and money spent.

You can earn status by earning enough MQDs within a single calendar year, and once earned you’ll keep it through the following calendar year. So if you earn Gold status in August 2024, you’ll keep it through the end of 2025. If you’re just short of reaching status before the end of the year, well, tough luck.

You can also earn lifetime status by flying at least 1 million miles as a member of SkyMiles. This starts at lifetime Gold status for reaching “only” 1 million miles. Once you earn 5 million miles, you will get an invitation to Delta 360.

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Medallion levels at a glance

Here’s an overview of Delta’s status levels and a peek at what they offer. Jump to the "Medallion status benefits" or the "How much is Delta Medallion status worth" sections to learn more about these figures.

We’ve included the best benefits provided at each tier. Each succeeding tier of status also includes all the benefits of the prior tier; when it comes to upgrades, the higher your status level, the earlier your upgrades clear.

Silver Medallion

  • Value: $876.

  • How many MQDs required to earn: $5,000 MQDs.

  • Estimated cost to earn: $3,797.

  • Bonus miles earned: 40%.

  • Best benefits: Free baggage, free upgrades, priority check-in and boarding and Five Star status in Hertz Gold.

Gold Medallion

  • Value: $3,256.

  • How many MQDs required to earn: $10,000 MQDs (or MQD waiver).

  • Estimated cost to earn: $10,127.

  • Bonus miles earned: 60%

  • Best benefits: Free same-day flight changes, priority security line access, expedited baggage service, SkyTeam Elite Plus status and four in-flight drink vouchers.

Platinum Medallion

  • Value: $$6,161.

  • How many MQDs required to earn: $15,000 MQDs (or MQD waiver)

  • Estimated cost to earn: $15,190.

  • Bonus miles earned: 80%.

  • Best benefits: One Choice benefit, President’s Circle status in Hertz Gold.

Diamond Medallion

  • Value: $14,153.

  • How many MQDs required to earn: $28,000 MQDs (or MQD waiver).

  • Estimated cost to earn: $25,316.

  • Bonus miles earned: 120%.

  • Best benefits: Complimentary Clear membership, three Choice benefits and VIP customer service line.

How to get Delta Medallion status

You earn Delta Medallion status by earning enough Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) for each tier.In Delta’s status universe, you can’t game the system by taking several long, cheap flights (as you can on Alaska Airlines) because you’ll need to reach the minimum number of MQDs for each tier.

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

Silver

Gold

Platinum

Diamond

Requirement in MQDs

$5,000.

$10,000.

$15,000.

$28,000.

How Medallion Qualification Dollars work

Delta’s new way of earning elite status simplifies this process. However, if you think a Medallion Qualification Dollar is just a dollar, Delta makes it a little more nuanced.

You can earn MQDs in a variety of ways, including:

Terms apply.

With respect to the MQDs earned from flights and Delta Vacations, you’ll want to note the fees that are excluded so you actually know how many MQDs you’re earning. For example, if your ticket costs $500 — $100 of which are taxes and fees — you’ll earn 400 Medallion Qualification Dollars.

How to earn Delta Medallion status through credit card spending

It is possible to earn Delta Medallion status without stepping foot on an airplane, but you'll have to do a lot of spending on a Delta credit card to get there.

Delta credit cards that earn MQDs
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
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

Add content

Add content

Annual Fee
$650
$650
$350
$350
MQD earn rates

1 MQD per $10 spent.

1 MQD per $10 spent.

1 MQD per $20 spent.

1 MQD per $20 spent.

Horizontal scroll

Terms apply.

People with one of the eligible MQD-earning credit cards automatically get a 2,500 MQD boost at the start of the year. So to earn entry-level Silver status on credit card spending alone, you'd have to spend $25,000 in a calendar year on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or $50,000 in a calendar year on the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. Terms apply.

Medallion status benefits

All Delta Medallion elites get unlimited complimentary upgrades, complimentary preferred seats, priority check-in and priority boarding and waived baggage fees.

All Medallion tiers above Silver receive priority security lane access and priority baggage service at select airports, waived same-day confirmed fees and are eligible for upgrades as early as right after ticketing (depending on status tier) to 72 hours before departure.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of some of the benefits:

Silver

Gold

Platinum

Diamond

SkyMiles earned per dollar spent

7 (40% bonus).

8 (60% bonus).

9 (80% bonus).

11 (120% bonus).

Upgrade eligibility*

• Free upgrades to first class or Comfort+ seats starting 24 hours before departure.

• Free upgrades to first class or Comfort+ seats starting 72 hours before departure.

• Free upgrades to first class seats starting 120 hours before departure and to Comfort+ seats soon after ticketing.

• Free upgrades to first class seats starting 120 hours before departure and to Comfort+ seats soon after ticketing.

Fee benefits

• Waived baggage fees.

• Waived baggage fees.

• No fees for same-day flight changes.

• Waived baggage fees.

• No fees for same-day flight changes.

• No ticket reissue fees.

• No fee to redeposit awards when canceling a ticket paid for with miles.

• Waived baggage fees.

• No fees for same-day flight changes.

• No ticket reissue fees.

• No fee to redeposit awards when canceling a ticket paid for with miles.

Status on SkyTeam partner airlines**

Elite.

Elite Plus.

Elite Plus.

Elite Plus.

Choice benefit

N/A.

N/A.

1 benefit.

3 benefits.

*For all statuses, companions on your reservation get the same upgrade eligibility as you. **All levels above Silver also get access to SkyTeam lounges.

Upgrades

Although complimentary seat upgrades are one of the biggest benefits of any airline's elite status, the process by which upgrades are determined can seem daunting and confusing. This is because all complimentary upgrades are essentially a lottery, with no certainties (even for travelers with Diamond Medallion status).

For example, although upgrades begin clearing for Diamond members 120 hours prior to departure as the above table describes, this only means that they get the first crack at seats that are available at that point.

More seats will open, sometimes at the last minute, and those will get assigned to Medallion members still on the upgrade waitlist in descending order of status (and fare class). In other words, the highest Medallion status members get first dibs on upgrades, but only when those upgrades are available.

So if you’re a Gold Medallion member flying from Atlanta (Delta’s home airport) to New York, for example, you’re far less likely to score an upgrade than you would be on another flight with fewer elite members.

Companions traveling with you are also eligible for complimentary upgrades, though it gets a bit convoluted. You can learn all the details on Delta’s upgrade page, but here’s the gist:

  • Companions must have a SkyMiles membership to be eligible for upgrades.

  • A companion booked on the same reservation as you will get upgraded at the highest tier of the two. For example, if you’re Platinum and your companion is Gold, you will both be eligible as Platinums.

  • For a companion booked on separate but linked reservations, it’s complicated — basically, these companions are unlikely to be upgraded unless they have Medallion status of their own.

  • For groups of three or more, it’s extremely complicated and very easy for no one in the group to be upgraded. We recommend calling Delta if you’re booking a group ticket and are curious how the upgrades will shake out.

Finally, basic economy (E) fares are not eligible for any complimentary upgrades, so think twice before booking these tickets for long-haul flights.

The Delta Sky Club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photo courtesy of Delta.

Choice benefits

Delta offers a unique choose-your-own benefit option for both Platinum and Diamond Medallion members. It’s a nice perk, as it lets you focus on the benefits you value most and skip the ones you’d never use.

Platinum members choose ONE of the following:

  • Package of four regional upgrade certificates.

  • 20,000 bonus miles.

  • $200 Delta travel voucher.

  • Gift of Silver Medallion status to a friend.

Diamond members choose THREE of the following:

  • Executive membership to Delta Sky Clubs (unlimited access for self and two guests) — this option counts as three choices.

  • Package of as many as eight upgrade certificates (eight regional, four global, or two global and four regional).

  • 25,000 bonus miles.

  • $200 Delta travel voucher.

  • Gift of Gold Medallion status to a friend.

Partner benefits

The system for Medallion benefits on Delta’s partner airlines is so complex and inscrutable that we can’t possibly explain it all here. Delta’s own partner benefit page starts with a glossary of terms like a list of characters at the beginning of a Russian novel.

That said, in general:

  • Silver Medallion holders get SkyTeam Elite status, which offers a few limited benefits on most partners.

  • Gold, Platinum and Diamond holders get SkyTeam Elite Plus status, which offers more robust benefits like lounge access.

  • All Medallion holders get one extra free piece of luggage on partner flights.

  • Most partners offer their own combination of benefits to these two groups. If you’re unsure which airline to fly based on your Medallion status, check the partner page and compare the offered benefits.

How much is Delta Medallion status worth?

In NerdWallet’s annual analysis of the best airline elite status programs, we sought to determine how much value the major U.S. airline loyalty programs deliver to flyers. Here's how the Delta Medallion program did.

Value of benefits

Cost to earn

Elite earning rate

Silver

$1,419.

$6,173.

23%.

Gold

$3,944.

$12,346.

32%.

Platinum

$7,436.

$18,519.

40%.

Diamond

$18,209.

$34,568.

53%.

Status matching, Reclaim My Status and rollover MQDs

Delta offers several helpful ways to give you a leg up on earning Medallion status (or help you get it back after lapsing).

Status matching

If you’re a frequent flyer on another program and are considering switching loyalty, Delta will match your status for three months to give you a sense of the benefits. To qualify you must:

  • Not have received a status match from Delta in the past three years.

  • Have elite status from another qualifying airline.

  • Be able to prove that you have this status and that you earned it from flying (not through another status match).

If approved for a status match, you’ll also be enrolled in a status challenge. Essentially, this lets you extend your status beyond the three-month trial if you’re able to hit certain the following spending milestones during the trial.

  • Silver: $1,250 MQDs.

  • Gold: $2,500 MQDs.

  • Platinum: $3,750 MQDs.

In fact, you can extend your Medallion status through the entire following year if you begin your status match after July 1. For example, if you begin your match (and challenge) on July 2, 2023, and meet the milestones, you’ll keep your status throughout 2024.

'Reclaim My Status'

This helpful program is essentially parental leave for airline elite status. That is, if you were a Medallion status member who had a major life event that caused you to lose your status, Delta will let you reclaim your previous status in a similar way to the matching program above.

To qualify, you must be able to provide documentation of the life event, but Delta claims that “all life events will be considered.”

If approved, Delta will reinstate your former status for three months and give you the opportunity to extend your reclaimed status through the following year in the same manner as the status challenge above. So, you should only apply for the program when you’re ready (and planning) to start flying again.

Rollover Medallion Qualification Miles allowed in 2024

Previously, Delta used a combination of MQDs, Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) to determine elite status, but starting in 2024, Delta only uses MQDs.

To ensure that all the elites who earned a ton of MQMs in 2023 don’t go unrecognized, Delta is permitting a one-time conversion of any MQMs earned in 2023 towards 2024 status. If you happen to be an elite who has a rollover balance of 100,000 MQMs or more, you can choose to extend your 2024 elite status by one year for each 100,000 rollover MQMs.

Delta flyers have until Dec. 31, 2024 to decide what they want to do.

Is Delta Medallion status worth it?

Delta’s Medallion elite program is great for travelers who frequently fly on Delta and its partners, as it can provide money-saving and comfort-improving benefits to all Medallion holders. Just realize that — to save money — you'll have to spend money. And for most status tiers, that means spending a lot of it.

Sure, roughly $14,000 in value from Diamond status is great, but you'll only get it by spending an estimated $25,000 with Delta. Be realistic about what you'll actually spend on Delta flights ahead of your quest to become a Delta Medallion member.

For what it's worth, Delta tends to rank somewhere in the middle among all the other major airline elite status programs. Delta's top-tier Diamond Medallion status is not nearly as valuable as the boffo $29,000 that NerdWallet estimates American's Executive Platinum status is worth. But, it takes an estimated $50,00 to earn American's top-tier elite status, so it might not net out to be all that worth it.

Meanwhile, the Delta Diamond Medallion perk's are more valuable than those you might expect to get in the Alaska 100K elite status tier, which are worth just $8,300.

It's almost always a good idea to sign up for the Delta SkyMiles program, even if you're just taking the occasional flight, considering it's free to join. If you fly frequently and live near a Delta hub (like its headquarters in Atlanta), pledging allegiance to one airline can be more worthwhile than chasing the lowest fare deals. Especially if you can earn elite status in the long run and take advantage of its value. Even the lowest tier of Delta Medallion status, Silver Medallion, can offer hundreds of dollars in value by saving you on Delta checked bag fees, netting you Delta priority boarding and more.


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Cards for Delta from our Partners
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