Delta Permanently Extends Medallion Elite Earnings on Award Travel, Lifts Mileage Earning Cap – Forbes Advisor

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Delta has announced two exciting changes coming to the SkyMiles program. Starting April 1, 2022 SkyMiles members will permanently earn Medallion elite status credits on Delta award travel booked using SkyMiles. Also, big-spending travelers will no longer be limited by mileage caps on expensive tickets. Here’s what you need to know about these two flyer-friendly changes from Delta.

Delta Permanently Extends Elite Earnings on Award Travel

Through the pandemic, airlines got creative to get travelers back in the sky from blocking middle seats to eliminating change fees. In March 2021, Delta launched a unique, but initially temporary, earning option: earning elite status credits on award travel. This promotion was so popular that Delta extended it through December 31, 2022.

Now, exactly one year to the day after Delta originally announced this new earning opportunity, Delta has permanently extended Medallion elite status earnings on Delta award travel.

Keep in mind that you will not earn elite status credits on SkyMiles award travel booked on partner airlines or Delta award travel booked using partner programs like Virgin Atlantic.

SkyMiles members will no longer have to pay out-of-pocket for a flight to earn toward Medallion elite status. And there’s no cap on how much you can earn through award travel. If you have enough SkyMiles, you can potentially earn Delta Medallion elite status solely from award travel.

This move further cements Delta’s treatment of SkyMiles as another form of currency — one that you can use for anything from flights to drinks in a Delta Sky Club lounge. While Delta removed mileage charts years ago, you can find real deals with Delta’s Flash Deals.

How You Earn Delta Medallion Credits on Award Travel

Delta Medallion credits from award travel work similarly to earning on cash tickets. However, you’ll need to do some simple math to calculate Medallion Qualifying Dollar earnings. Here’s how it works:

  • Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) are earned based on the actual distance flown on the award flights. You can find the distance between any two airports using a tool like Great Circle Mapper.
  • Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQS) are earned at one MQS per segment flown. That means one good aspect of needing to book a connecting flight is earning additional MQS.
  • Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD) are calculated based on how many SkyMiles you used to book the award. Just take the number of miles spent and divide by 100 to get the total earnings for the ticket. That means a 15,000-mile award ticket would earn 150 MQD. To calculate the earnings for each individual flight, divide the cost by the total number of miles flown.

How to Boost Your Delta SkyMiles Balance

Now that you can permanently earn Delta Medallion elite status credits on award flights, SkyMiles just became just a bit more valuable. There are plenty of ways to earn Delta miles — including signing up for a new SkyMiles credit card or transferring points from a partner.

Current credit card offers include:

Another way of accumulating Delta SkyMiles is by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards. You’ll get 1,000 SkyMiles for every 1,000 Membership Rewards transferred. Just note that Amex charges a fee of $0.0006 per mile — up to a maximum of $99 per transfer — for point transfers to Delta SkyMiles.

Delta SkyMiles also partners with several hotel loyalty programs. The best option for most U.S.-based travelers is transferring points from Marriott Bonvoy to Delta SkyMiles at a 3:1 transfer ratio. Plus, earn a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred. That means you’ll get a total of 25,000 SkyMiles for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred.

Delta Removes the Limitation on Mileage Earnings

Before today, Delta capped SkyMiles earnings at 75,000 miles per ticket. Not only is Delta eliminating this cap going forward, but Delta is also retroactively removing it as of January 1, 2022. If you were affected by this limit so far this year, Delta will credit additional SkyMiles to your account by April 1, 2022.

Until now, this seemingly arbitrary mileage earning limitation was standard among other U.S. airline mileage programs. However, it only really affects travelers buying expensive cash tickets.

Delta Diamond Medallion Members earn 11 SkyMiles per dollar spent on base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges. So, even Delta Diamond Medallion members were only limited by this cap when spending more than $6,818 on a ticket. General SkyMiles members — who earn 5 SkyMiles per dollar — would have had to spend $15,000 to reach the 75k earning limit.

Removing this mileage earning limitation helps Delta position itself as even more friendly to business travelers and other premium travelers.

Bottom Line

Delta just permanently extended Medallion elite status earnings on Delta award travel and removed the cap on earning SkyMiles on paid travel. These are two flyer-friendly moves that incrementally make the SkyMiles program better for award travelers and big spenders.

To view rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please visit this page.
To view rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, please visit this page.
To view rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please visit this page.