Home > Delta, Elite Status, Skyteam > Getting the most out of Delta’s MQM Rollover policy

Getting the most out of Delta’s MQM Rollover policy

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

There’s only a month left until the end of year, which means that those with elite loyalty status with airlines and hotels are in a rush to reach the next tier … except some of us with Delta. Delta allows rollover MQMs (Medallion Qualification Miles — the elite status counter) and in a lot of cases, it’s better to stay slightly short of an elite status tier and have a bulky rollover than it is to slightly meet that higher tier.

A brief overview of Delta’s elite tiers

Keep in mind that Silver Medallion (FO) is awarded at 25,000 MQMs, Gold (GM) at 50,000 MQMs, Platinum (PM) at 75,000 MQMs, and Diamond (DM) at 125,000 MQMs. Here’s a rundown of major benefits.

Silver is definitely better than no status, and you do not rollover any MQMs under 25,000. While many of the benefits of Silver can be reproduced with holding a Delta American Express, there are a few things you get that non-status members don’t, including:
- 25% bonus Skymiles when flying.
- 1 free bag (on top of 1 free bag with Amex).
- Priority check-in and security (if available to Silver Medallions at airport).
- A shot at upgrades.

Silver to Gold is a huge huge jump for everyone, in my opinion.
- 100% bonus Skymiles (instead of 25%).
- Free Same-Day Confirmed (SDC) Changes on domestic itineraries (down from $50).
- 2 free checked bags.
- Sky Priority – priority check-in, security, and access to Pre-Check without Global Entry.
- Skyteam Elite Plus, Skyteam’s higher of the 2 alliance-wide elite status, which mainly gives international lounge access.
- Free domestic economy comfort at booking. Silvers have to wait until check-in or pay a discounted price.

Gold to Platinum is a great jump for international flyers and for those who have lots of miles to burn in the next year.
- Free international economy comfort (only 50% off for Golds) on Delta and KLM.
- Free award cancellations and changes outside of 72 hours to departure.
- Platinum choice benefit, such as a $200 gift certificate, 20K miles, or SWUs (only usable on highest fares).

Platinum to Diamond is a huge jump for heavy domestic flyers.
- Diamond choice benefit (on top of Platinum choice benefit).
- 125% bonus Skymiles (instead of 100%).
- Free SkyClub membership (you can use the SkyClub when flying any airline).
- Best shot at domestic upgrades.

Taking advantage of Delta’s rollover policy

If you earned status in 2011, that status is good for the 2012 calendar year, and good until February 28, 2013.

If you earn status this year, that status is good for the 2013 calendar year, and is good until February 28, 2014.

I earned Gold Medallion last year, and that’s good until February 28, 2013. I will end the year at 49,976 MQMs, just barely short of Gold again. I will rollover 24,976 MQMs on January 1. However, if I fly 25,024 MQMs before February 28th, I will requalify for Gold before I lose this year’s Gold status.

The huge benefit to that is I will requalify for Gold in the 2013 calendar year, which means that it’s good for the 2014 calendar year and until February 28, 2015! That’s a full year than if I jump over 50K just 2 months prior. And I’ll have 10 months to rack up MQMs for Platinum status, my final goal.

At any other airline, it would be a good idea to get as high of an elite tier as possible before the end of the year, but not so at Delta. If you’re a mainly international flyer who is Platinum, getting Diamond has barely any marginal benefits for you. You get a 2nd choice benefit and 25% MORE Skymiles. However, you need another 75K MQMs in 2013 for Platinum and 125K for Diamond again. If you stop at 124K for Platinum, you only need 26K for Platinum again, which is useful if your travel is dropping off but you want the Platinum choice benefit and free award changes.

My current trips this year will take me over a threshold but I want rollover … what do I do?

There are two good options here … one is to credit to Air France/KLM Flying Blue, where you can credit any Skyteam flight. What makes AF/KLM miles valuable is that they are American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners, so you can always top off any miles you earn. They also allow one-way awards, so there are instances to use Flying Blue miles over Delta Skymiles.

Another option is to credit to Alaska Airlines if you have flights on Delta, Air France, or KLM, all of which are “free agent” partners with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Alaska is only partners with Starwood Preferred Guest, but they also have a Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa that offers a way to top off Alaska miles. Also, Alaska is partners with American Airlines and other OneWorld airlines like Cathay Pacific and British Airways, so you can earn/use miles on each of those airlines.

Keep in mind, if you switch out the mileage number before the flight, you won’t be able to enjoy your current Delta elite status benefits, so there is a tradeoff.

Recap

Delta has an interesting rollover elite status system, where it might benefit some people to stop just short of a higher elite status threshold in order to situate themselves in a better position for next year’s elite status run.

Some people might benefit more from 2 years of mid-tier status than from 1 year of upper-tier and 1 year of lower-tier. Rollover helps maximize those benefits over the long term.

Alaska and Air France/KLM offer substitute mileage programs in which to bank extra miles.

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Categories: Delta, Elite Status, Skyteam
  1. Brett
    November 29, 2012 at 8:53 am | #1

    Question: I will end 2012 with 124k miles, rolling over 49k for calendar year 2013. If I amass 1k MQM more by Feb 28, 2013 (taking me to 125k MQM if I add that to the 124k MQM from 2012) will I be at Diamond for the remainder of 2013? Thanks!

    • Amol
      November 29, 2012 at 8:57 am | #2

      No, you have to amass all your MQMs in a calendar year. If you end with 124K on 12/31/2012, you’ll earn Platinum and rollover 49K (124K – 75K). In 2013, you’ll get Gold after 1K, Platinum after 26K, and Diamond after 76K.

  2. Brett
    November 29, 2012 at 8:53 am | #3

    Awesome write-up, by the way! -Brett

  3. Brett
    November 29, 2012 at 11:10 am | #4

    Thanks for the swift reply, quick-draw! I assumed that as the case, but misinterpreted the text above the table relating to strategy. Thanks much

    • Amol
      November 29, 2012 at 11:13 am | #5

      The strategy comes in when you want to temporarily drop a level in order to requalify in the new year (this extending status for a year more than if you qualify in December). Since your old status is good through the end of February, it means that requalifying in February will provide no lapse in your benefits n

  4. Alistair
    December 22, 2012 at 4:40 am | #6

    Great article. What do you advise. I earned Silver during 2012. According to my account this gives me Silver status through Feb 28 2014. As of 12.22.12 my MQM balance is 48,847. I do not have time to make a mileage flight. I think if I apply for the Delta credit card the MQM bonus will not hit my account on time now. Trying to decide if I pay the $395 to buy 2500 MQMs to get to gold now or just get to gold next year given that I will have almost 25000 in rollover miles. I expect to fly more in 2013 than this year. Thoughts?

    • Amol
      December 22, 2012 at 11:44 am | #7

      Gold is a huge jump from Silver so if you are planning on traveling a lot next year, it’s worth looking into.

  5. Ryan
    January 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm | #8

    Do any of you know when Delta rollover miles post to your account? I should have 24,039 as I ended the year with 49,039. However, my account doesn’t show any rollover miles yet (1/2/2013).

    • Amol
      January 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm | #9

      Last year it took about 6 days. Delta already confirmed with me that rollover will happen so there’s nothing to worry about.

      • Ryan
        January 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm | #10

        Thanks for the quick response. Much appreciated.

  6. softwareguy888@yahoo.com
    January 2, 2013 at 11:45 pm | #11

    I just had 144,000 miles roll over today :) Instant Diamond and by the year’s end I’ll be rolling over 250,000 miles next year which is good for another 2 years of Diamond. I really hope they don’t change this program.

    • Amol
      January 2, 2013 at 11:49 pm | #12

      Nice! Are you planning on diversifying your elite holdings? You might be able to challenge for United 1K and possibly American Executive Platinum. If you don’t like them, at least you’ll still have Double DM to return to (and Delta Million Miler isn’t worth chasing if that’s your goal …).

  7. Angie
    March 16, 2013 at 6:05 pm | #13

    Awesome! Finally an answer to some of my questions over this whole MQM business. I swear this whole travel hacking thing is freaking exhausting. However, this post cleared up quite a bit for me. Thanks and Thanks again.

    Quick Question: Is the Status Effective Date the Same for Everyone (MAR 01 YYYY – FEB 28 YYYY )?

    • Amol
      March 16, 2013 at 6:06 pm | #14

      It’s good from the day you earn status until Feb 28 two years later.

      So if you hit Silver medallion today, you’ll get it immediately until Feb 28 2015.

  8. Ed
    July 11, 2013 at 5:33 am | #15

    I just earned silver but it says my effective date is JUL 06 2013 – FEB 28 2014 . Thoughts?

    • Amol
      July 11, 2013 at 5:17 pm | #16

      It’s a well-known glitch. You’ll be fine past 2014.

  9. Corey
    July 19, 2013 at 11:36 am | #17

    I qualified by segments, so i have under 25,000 miles but have silver now. will those roll over if i don’t exceed the 25,000 mark? or is the rollover exclusive to people who earn status by miles only?

  10. xin
    August 2, 2013 at 10:44 am | #18

    I am 11 miles shy to silver after 2 international trips. no further trip is planning at this time. Any other way to make up this 11 miles without flying? thanks!

    • Amol
      August 2, 2013 at 10:53 am | #19

      You can sign up for a Delta Amex card that has MQMs as a sign up bonus. Other than that, no other options for the time-being.

  11. Paulette
    August 16, 2013 at 9:59 am | #20

    I am new at this and I am a bit confused. I just made silver status in Aug, and with upcoming MQM rewards and a trip I should be at around 39,000 MQM’s by the end of September. So if I am getting this right it would be better for me to keep my MQM’s just under 50,000 through the end of the year and then try to exceed the 50,000 mark by next Feb. for and extra year before qualifying for gold status. Is that right?

  12. September 23, 2013 at 11:31 am | #21

    I’m hopelessly confused. I just got Gold status last week, and my SkyMiles account says it is effective through 2/28/2014. Does this mean I drop down to no status on March 1, 2014?

    • Amol
      September 23, 2013 at 11:33 am | #22

      It’s a well-known glitch on the Delta website .. If you passed 50,000 MQMs recently your status is good through February 2015.

      • September 23, 2013 at 11:39 am | #23

        Awesome…thanks so much for the quick response!!

  13. Boyema
    October 1, 2013 at 10:04 am | #24

    Alright, I am very impressed with your understanding. I know you focused on Gold upwards but here is my question. i am Silver and it is good thru 02/28/14. I currently have 15,000miles as at today. I have an 8000miles trip december and 11000 miles in feb, where does that put me. I also know they have added $$$ a s a criteria. Do i retain my silver after the feb trip or I loose it and start to rack up with the feb trip

    • Amol
      October 1, 2013 at 11:40 am | #25

      If you don’t hit 25,000 MQMs by December 31, you will not requalify for this year, and would lose your current status on Feb 28 2014.

      You would have 0 rollover MQMs since you need to at least qualify for silver to get rollover.

  14. LeaSD
    October 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm | #26

    Amol – you seem to be the man with the answers
    I was confused how my status runs March 1 to Feb 28 but MQMs are accumulated on the calendar year – but I inferred from your great explanations that this is the norm. I am predicted by year end I will have 73,081 MQMs (I fly around 50,000 but get 20,000 from the Delta AmEx as I get to put lots of business stuff thru it in addition to my business travel). So that would give me 23,081 rollover miles – but unless I fly 51,919 miles before Feb 28 I would lose Platinum and be Gold for 2014 – correct? So even if I hit the 51,919 in June 2014 I would not be Platinum again until March 1 2015. I am contemplating paying for the difference for a first class ticket on my last trip this year ($400) but with the 50% MDM boost it gives me another 1956 MDQ and I would retain Platinum by 37 miles (whew!) – this year – my first year Platinum I would say I get upgraded about 30% of the time I take 14 direct RTs a year typically so 8 to 9 one ways of upgrades…. might be worth it.

    • Amol
      October 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm | #27

      Are you Platinum now? You’re correct that you will have 23,000+ rollover MQM and your current status will be good through the end of February 2014.

      On March 1, 2014 you will become Gold Medallion. However, once you hit 75k MQMs anytime during 2014, you will become Platinum and keep it through 2/2016. So that means you only need to fly about 52,000 MQMs in 2014 to get Platinum through 2/2016 (you get any higher status immediately, you don’t have to wait to get it).

      If you hit 75,000 MQMs before 12/31/2013, you will be Platinum through 2/2015 and will have close to 0 rollover, so will need to have another 75K MQMs in 2014 to be Platinum through 2/2016.

    • Amol
      October 23, 2013 at 5:45 pm | #28

      So I guess what I’m saying is that if you don’t mind being Gold for a little while during 2014, keeping your 23K+ MQMs of rollover will give you a running start to hit Platinum in 2014 and keep it for longer.

      For example, I had 24K of rollover at the end of 2012 and hit Platinum in April 2013 by getting 49k MQM. But I will keep that until 2/2015, which is almost 22 months of Platinum.

      • LeaSD
        October 23, 2013 at 7:53 pm | #29

        Again – very detailed and helpful answer! Unfortunately I typically acquire more of my MQMs in the second half of the year – will do some more calculations. Happy travels – and I loved the picture of the bathroom/shower on the A380!

  15. LeaSD
    October 23, 2013 at 4:50 pm | #30

    OH – and thanks in advance by the way!

  16. Tara
    November 6, 2013 at 9:19 pm | #31

    I just earned silver status in August 2013, and I am currently on the verge of earning gold before the end of the year. If I earn gold before Dec 31, 2013, will it apply for March 2014 – Feb 2015, or will it expire in Feb 2014?

    • Amol
      November 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm | #32

      You’ll have Gold status immediately good through February 2015.

  17. Tara
    November 6, 2013 at 9:29 pm | #33

    Great, thanks for the quick reply!

  18. Dami
    November 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm | #34

    I have gold status now and currently have 22,000MQM, will my MQM rollover in 2015

    • Amol
      November 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm | #35

      No because you need to reach at least 25,000 MQMs (Silver) in order to have rollover.

  19. Dami
    November 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm | #36

    Thanks!
    My wife has silver medallion status now, she currently has 26,000MQM but only $1,600 in MQD, what will her status be in 2014, and will she roll over 26,000 MQM, vs 1 ,000 MQM or no MQM

    • Amol
      November 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm | #37

      MQDs don’t matter this year, only next. She will have Silver and roll over 1,000 MQMs.

  20. Dave
    December 12, 2013 at 11:21 am | #38

    Question about rollover… do rollover miles expire? The reason I ask is that Marriott Rollover Nights DO expire. Here’s how:

    2011
    – start with 0 nights
    – stay 15 nights.
    – 10 = Silver status.
    – 5 Rollover to 2012
    2012
    – start with 5 nights
    – stay 15 nights
    – 10 = Silver status
    – ONLY 5 rollover to 2013

    But, you might ask, why not 10 rollover into 2013? Because the original 5 from 2011 only rollover for one year… they drop off after the “one year of rollover”.

    Does Delta do this? (not that I want to give them any ideas) Or, are your rollover miles “yours forever”?

    • Amol
      December 12, 2013 at 11:38 am | #39

      They don’t expire as long as you always have medallion status (so at least qualify for silver each year).

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