Delta, United, and American all have minimum spending requirements for earning their elite status.
- Delta requires you to spend a minimum of 12 cents a mile for status (eg $3000 for 25,000 mile Silver, $15,000 for 125,000 mile Diamond) but waives the requirement for customers living outside the U.S. and for U.S. customers spending at least $25,000 on a co-brand American Express card.
- United requires you to spend a minimum of 12 cents a mile for status (eg $3000 for 25,000 mile Silver, $12,500 for 100,000 mile 1K) but waives the requirement for customers living outside the U.S. and waives the requirement for earning up to the Platinum level – but not 1K – for U.S. customers spending at least $25,000 on a co-brand Chase card.
- American requires you to spend a minimum of 12 cents a mile for status (eg $3000 for 25,000 mile Gold, $12,500 for 100,000 mile Executive Platinum) and does not waive the requirement for customers living outside the U.S. U.S. customers can earn up to 6000 elite qualifying dollars based on spend with a Barclaycard co-brand Mastercard [3000 for $25,000 spend on an Aviator Red card, 3000 each at $25,000 and $50,000 spend on an Aviator Silver card].
Rene’s Points says he has confirmed with 3 sources that Delta will be making a change to only allow the American Express credit card spend waiver to count towards Platinum status. In other words, $25,000 in spend will allow customers to avoid the $9000 minimum qualifying dollars for Platinum status but customers seeking Delta Diamond would still have to spend the required $15,000 on travel whether they spend on the American Express card or not.
This would be a real blow to the value proposition of Delta’s American Express cards which currently make sense only for:
- The casual traveler who wants to have some travel benefits on Delta but doesn’t fly Delta enough to earn elite status. This person probably lives in the Southeast, in New York, or the Upper Midwest.
- The heavy elite traveler who doesn’t spend enough on tickets to earn the status level their flying would otherwise qualify them for.
The heavy elite traveler looking for a waiver of the spend requirement for status (or looking to earn elite qualifying miles for status) is the only one that should spend any money on this credit card after earning the card’s signup bonus.
Not only are Delta miles worth less than other currencies, but even the cardmember who wants to earn Delta miles can earn more Delta miles with other cards. That’s because American Express offers several cards with broader bonus categories which earn more Membership Rewards points, Membership Rewards points transfer to Delta, and offer the flexibility to transfer to better frequent flyer programs.
Delta refuses to deny that they are making this change. A spokesperson offered only, “I don’t have any info on what you’re asking [..] – we haven’t announced any such changes.”
I followed up explicitly asking for more than a non-denial denial, and they replied “We haven’t announced anything to this effect – that’s just a fact.”
Clearly they haven’t announced it. But they chose not to deny it, either. If this turns out to be a change that Delta is making, it will be:
- Good for flyers who spend enough on Delta to earn top tier status without needing the credit card waiver. They’ll have less competition for upgrades.
- Bad for flyers who have been loyal travelers but need the spend waiver to hit Diamond. Delta is saying that their business is worth less, that earning via credit card along with travel isn’t worth enough to be a top tier elite.
- Bad for American Express, who keeps taking it in the chin from Delta. Not only did American Express set the bar with a new most-expense co-brand travel card deal after losing Costco, but Delta knowing they’re the next-biggest partner of American Express after Costco was they’ve continued to chip away at the value American Express gets for their top dollar. The elite status that Black Card members get, for instance, is even devalued and American Express lounge access with Delta no longer comes with guests either.
Two years ago American Express refused to claim that Delta miles were getting more valuable. We know that Delta’s claims to the contrary are disingenuous.