What is Delta Elite Status Worth?

Delta Medallion status maxes out at over $22,000 worth of value for its highest tier status.
Aaron Hurd
By Aaron Hurd 
Edited by Meg Lee

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Your Delta Air Lines flight just started boarding. You hear the boarding call for Diamond Medallion members and a herd of well-heeled travelers strut up to the front of the line, metal tags clinking against their Tumi luggage.

These most prolific road warriors will spend an estimated $43,210 (according to NerdWallet’s analysis) to earn the highest level of elite status on Delta, but is the status they earn worth it?

Let’s explore the value of status with Delta Air Lines.

Delta Silver Medallion: Estimated tier value of $1,703, earns 7x miles

Delta’s entry-level status, Silver Medallion, is granted to customers who earn $5,000 Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD).

Silver Medallion members enjoy the standard suite of benefits granted to most holders of entry-level airline frequent flyer status, including:

Having SkyTeam Elite status also comes with a limited set of perks across all SkyTeam flights.

In some ways, Delta is more generous than other airlines, but in other ways, it is less. For example, its checked bag benefit allows a Silver Medallion member plus up to eight traveling companions a free checked bag. This is among the most generous checked baggage benefits for entry-level elites.

On the other hand, Delta does not offer free same-day confirmed flight changes to its entry-level elite members like United Airlines. Silver Medallions must pay the same $75 fee as non-elite members. On average, Delta offers its entry-level elites an experience similar to other North American legacy carriers.

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Delta Gold Medallion: Estimated tier value of $4,733, earns 8x miles

Once you reach $8,000 MQDs, you will earn Delta Gold Medallion status.

Gold Medallions receive SkyTeam Elite Plus status, which grants you and one guest access to airport lounges when traveling internationally and an additional baggage allowance on SkyTeam carriers. In addition, when traveling on Delta domestically, Gold Medallions receive higher upgrade priority, with upgrades clearing up to 72 hours before departure and waived fees on same-day confirmed flight changes.

Like Silver Medallion status, the perks of Gold Medallion status are more-or-less in the middle of the pack compared to what is offered with mid-tier status at United and American Airlines. If anything, Delta Gold Medallion ranks slightly behind United Premier Gold status because the latter allows its mid-tier elites to select Economy Plus seats at booking. Delta Gold Medallions must wait for this “upgrade” to be processed three days before departure.

Delta Platinum Medallion: Estimated tier value of $8,732, earns 9x miles

Fly or earn $15,000 MQDs and Delta will elevate your status to Platinum Medallion.

Delta Platinum Medallion is the level at which benefits start getting interesting. Platinum Medallion members can select one Choice Benefit each year. Available benefits include:

  • Four regional upgrade certificates.

  • 20,000 bonus miles.

  • Ability to gift Silver Medallion status to two friends.

  • $250 Delta travel voucher

In addition to higher upgrade priority and complimentary clearing five days before departure, Platinum Medallion members may receive a complimentary upgrade to Delta Comfort+ shortly after ticketing if upgrade space is available. Finally, Platinum Medallion members receive three free checked bags when traveling within the U.S. and Canada.

Once again, the benefits of Platinum Medallion status are similar to what you would expect with high-tier status at United or American. United might offer a slight edge to its high-tier flyers because the PlusPoints earned by Premier Platinums can be used internationally. Still, those traveling domestically will get more mileage from selecting four regional upgrades as a choice benefit.

Delta Diamond Medallion: Estimated tier value of $22,036, earns 11x miles

A diamond is forever, and you might want to remain a Diamond Medallion forever if you can swing earning $28,000 MQDs. Diamond Medallion is the highest level of Delta Air Lines status available and grants the most generous benefits. Diamond Medallions receive the highest complimentary upgrade priority, with upgrades clearing up to five days before departure and complimentary Clear membership. In addition, Diamond Medallions can choose three Choice Benefits from an expanded list, which includes:

  • A SkyClub Executive Membership.

  • Ability to add a guest pass to complementary SkyClub access they earn from a credit card.

  • Regional or global upgrade certificates.

  • 25,000 bonus miles.

  • Ability to gift Gold status to two people.

  • $250 Delta travel voucher.

Delta is again in the middle of the pack for an ultra-tier elite status, mainly because of its relatively low elite-earning rates. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines have higher elite-earning rates.

The value of Delta miles

If you fly Delta frequently enough to earn Delta elite status, there’s a good chance you will earn a pile of SkyMiles, which can be redeemed for flights on Delta and its partners. How much are these miles worth? If you redeem SkyMiles for main cabin airfares, NerdWallet values SkyMiles at 1.2 cents each.

Delta SkyMiles no longer has an award chart and its redemption rates float with the retail price of airline tickets. This makes it challenging to identify sweet spots for Delta redemptions. However, the program still offers a few gems.

  • Short-haul U.S. domestic flights.

  • Economy class international flights.

  • Booking flights speculatively; Delta award flights can be canceled and miles redeposited until departure with no fee.

  • Earning status by booking flights using miles on Delta Air Lines.

How the value of Delta status compares to competitors

The value of Delta status is similar to the value of equivalent status at the other U.S. legacy carriers, but how valuable Delta status is to you will depend on where you live and your travel patterns.

Here’s how the value of Delta status compares to other major airlines in the United States, according to our most-recent NerdWallet analysis.

Overall, Delta ranks towards the bottom of the pack, and well below "Big 3" competitors American and United. This is largely because you have to spend more with the program to earn status compared with other programs.

Should I earn elite status with Delta this year?

Whether you should earn elite status with Delta will depend on your travel patterns, how you value upgrades and other perks and how easily you can earn the status level. Two of Delta’s co-branded credit cards, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offer cardmembers the opportunity to earn MQDs (1 MQD per $20 spent on theDelta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and 1 MQD per $10 spent on theDelta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card). Plus, cardholders receive an annual $2,500 MQD headstart each year just for holding one of the cards.

In other words, you’d have to spend $25,000 on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card to earn the lowest level of elite status without flying Delta at all. Other airlines have higher elite earning rates at lower levels, so if you are not a huge spender and you have choice between airlines, you might target elite status on another airline.

Will you get value out of the status?

The most significant factor determining how much value you can get from any frequent flyer program’s elite status is how many flights are available from your home airport. For example, if you live in one of Delta’s key hubs and markets, you will likely have enough Delta flights to get almost anywhere you want to go flying the airline, meaning you’ll enjoy the most upgrades and in-flight elite benefits. Delta’s domestic key hubs and markets include:

  • Atlanta.

  • Boston.

  • Detroit.

  • Los Angeles.

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul.

  • New York-JFK.

  • New York-LaGuardia.

  • Salt Lake City.

  • Seattle.

Can you credit your flights to Delta?

One of the most common ways to earn MQDs in an airline program is by flying with that airline and Delta is no different. Every Delta flight you credit to your SkyMiles account, excluding basic economy fares, will help you on your journey to earning both redeemable miles and medallion status.

Partner flights offer an opportunity to earn additional redeemable miles and MQDs because many Delta partners earn miles based on distance flown. If a flight is marketed by another carrier, meaning it does not carry a Delta flight number, the miles you earn will be determined by distance flown and fare class. Sometimes this can work to your advantage, as business and first-class travel marketed by partners can earn more redeemable miles than a similarly-priced Delta flight.

Can you earn Medallion Qualifying Dollars?

Delta’s sole metric for elite status qualification is MQDs. Delta requires an increasing number of MQDs for each status level, starting at $5,000 MQDs for Silver Medallion status and topping out at $28,000 MQDs for Diamond Medallion. MQDs on Delta-marketed flights are calculated on the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges.

Spending dollars on Delta flights isn’t the only way to meet your Medallion Qualifying Dollar requirements. Some co-branded credit cards offer an opportunity to earn MQDs with spending as well.

Can your credit card earnings help you out?

Like other airlines, Delta offers several co-branded credit cards that can help give you a boost to earn status. If you want a card that can help you earn elite status with Delta, look to the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (or their business card counterparts).

Both cards offer MQD “boosts” and an MQD headstart. The MQD boosts allow you to earn 1 MQD per $10 of spending on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or 1 MQD per $20 of spending on the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. Terms apply.

The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card both grant an MQD headstart of $2,500 MQDs per calendar year, which is half of the MQDs needed for the first level of status. Both business and personal versions of the Delta AmEx cards offer similar MQD benefits.

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® Reserve 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 our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Cards for Delta from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

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Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

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Rewards rate


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.


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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.

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