Delta Wants You to Spend a Quarter of a Million Dollars?!

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I have to chuckle a bit at Delta raising the minimum spending requirement on the co-branded Delta Amex Cards from $25,000 per year to $250,000 per year if you want to have an elite qualifying dollars waiver for their top tier Diamond Status. As it stands, for all of their elite status levels you don’t have to worry about spending a minimum amount on your Delta tickets to qualify for elite status as long as you spend $25k per year on your co-branded Delta Amex Card. That is a lot of cash per year on a credit card, but it is an attainable amount for many in the miles and points game.

Delta was already much more generous than American Airlines and United with their spending waiver as neither of those airlines offers a credit card spending waiver for top-tier status. If you want United’s top tier 1K status (and you live in the United States) then you must not only fly 100,000 elite qualifying miles per year, but you have to spend $12,000 elite qualifying dollars with the airline since their credit card spending waiver is only valid through the second tier Platinum level.

With Delta, US-based members must fly 125,000 elite qualifying miles to earn their top-tier Diamond status and now either spend $15,000 per year in elite qualifying dollars with the airline or simply charge a quarter of a million dollars per year on your co-branded Delta Amex Card. A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS. That works out to charging just over $20,000 per month on the Delta co-branded cards to hit the annual requirement. I don’t know very many people that are running more than $20,000 every single month on their Delta cards.

This huge change is almost funny to me for two reasons. First, believe it or not, Delta is still actually more generous than the others in making a credit card spending waiver available at all for top tier status. But second, retaining a waiver but putting the bar at $250,000 per year is simply sort of laughable. I’m laughing, anyway. Maybe if I were a Delta elite flyer I wouldn’t be laughing quite so much. Had they simply done away with the spending waiver entirely it might not have been so shocking.

Delta says that the change will allow them to deliver on expectations for Diamond Medallion Status so members can maximize elite benefits like Complimentary Upgrades and Delta Sky Club access. This change kicks in beginning January 1, 2018, so it won’t impact what you are doing to earn status this year for next year. I don’t have hard numbers, but anecdotally I know many frequent flyers who largely travel on cheaper tickets that are being kept out of United’s top elite tier solely because of the spending requirements, so I imagine it will work out the same way for Delta.

Delta Sky Club

It is also worth a mention that beginning January 1, 2018, the spending you put on the new no annual fee Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express will not count towards the qualifying dollars waiver unless you also have another eligible Delta Amex Card. Delta is thankfully retaining the $25,000 co-branded card spending threshold for all elite status levels below Diamond.

How will these changes impact your Delta elite status qualification next year? Do you plan to run a quarter million dollars through your Delta Amex cards?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Wow how many customers are they going to chase away with this change. That’s just an astounding change. If you are flying on Delta and only making Diamond because you also put enough spend on a card to meet the PQD waiver you should seriously reconsider your options. In my opinion they are sending a very direct message that you’re not welcome anymore. They are basically firing these customers, breaking up, divorcing – how can I put it more clearly.

  2. Don’t want to defend Delta here but kudos for you for emphasizing that for no matter how ridiculous this is it is still better than what AA and UA offer. Yes, it is ridiculous but at least Delta gives an option while competitors don’t. This is called marketing.

    BTW, Delta is trying to make top flyers and spenders on Delta happy. They are actually targeting people like me. I never spent $1 on a Delta card but I fly over 125,000 MQM with several international flights on business class. Thus, I easily spend way over $15k with Delta tickets. Thus in my case this is good news as I can finally dream of a domestic upgrade out of MSP.

  3. If you travel for work (i.e employer pays your travel) you shouldn’t need the waiver. If you don’t travel for work you really shouldn’t be chasing status. Its an addiction you should seek help for.

  4. Yeah except that some travel for work and pleasure, and some people who travel for work very frugally. No reason to give those extra trips to Delta for those people now?

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