Delta Medallion elite status: What you get and how to earn it

A woman flying first class, wearing headphones and looking out the window.Image: A woman flying first class, wearing headphones and looking out the window.
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Delta Medallion status could make your flight more relaxing with a first-class seat upgrade.



At a glance: Delta Medallion status levels

Delta SkyMiles members earn five miles for every $1 spent on airfare (excluding basic economy fares and the cost of government taxes or fees). And while it’s free to register for a Delta SkyMiles rewards account, frequent flyers who qualify for one of the four Delta Medallion elite status levels will have access to even more perks. 

Let’s see how the Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond Medallion levels compare.

  Checked bags Delta Sky Club membership Clear® membership
Silver Medallion 1 No Discounted
Gold Medallion 1 No Discounted
Platinum Medallion 1 No Discounted
Diamond Medallion 1 Complimentary with your Choice Benefit Complimentary

How Delta Medallion status works

To qualify for Delta Medallion® status, it’s important to understand how to navigate the terminology Delta uses.

  • Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) measure the physical distance you’ve flown. So you would earn more MQMs on a cross-country flight between New York and Los Angeles than you would on a regional flight between New York and Boston.
  • Medallion® Qualification Segments (MQSs) measure the number of flights where you take off and land. So if you fly nonstop from New York to Los Angeles, you’d only earn one MQS, but if you picked up a connecting flight in Chicago, you’d earn two.
  • Medallion® Qualification Dollars (MQDs) measure how much money you spend on flights. This figure factors into the price you pay for the ticket, plus any airline fees, but it doesn’t include government taxes and fees.

So which perks do you get at each Delta Medallion status tier, and how many MQMs, MQSs and MQDs do you need to get there? Let’s take a closer look. 

Delta Silver Medallion status

What does Silver status get you?

Delta Silver Medallion members earn a higher rate of seven miles for every $1 they spend on flights.

As a Delta Silver Medallion member, you’ll be eligible for complimentary seat upgrades. If you’re on a long domestic flight that features Delta One® cabins, you could be upgraded to this luxurious cabin on the day of departure — or you could be upgraded to first-class or Delta Comfort+® a day earlier.

Unfortunately, you’ll be last in line behind all of the higher-tier Medallion members. So there’s no guarantee you’ll score an upgrade, which may be hard to come by on busy routes. But at the very least, you should be allowed to select your preferred seat when you book the flight — helping you snag a window or aisle seat so that you can avoid getting stuck in the middle.

You’ll also enjoy a more relaxed airport experience with priority check-in, a free checked bag, discounted Clear membership to help you breeze through security lines, and priority boarding.

How do I qualify for Silver status?

To qualify for Delta Silver Medallion status, you’ll need …

  • 25,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) or 30 Medallion® Qualification Segments (MQSs), plus
  • $3,000 Medallion® Qualification Dollars (MQDs) or the MQD waiver

You might even be able to use a Delta SkyMiles credit card to earn Silver Medallion status without ever flying if you’re a big enough spender. For example, with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you can earn 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles as part of the welcome bonus if you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months (after which you also get 50,000 bonus miles and up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants). Plus, you can earn 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend – up to four times annually. 

Delta Gold Medallion status

What does Gold status get you?

Delta Gold Medallion members earn a higher rate of eight miles for every $1 they spend on flights.

As a Delta Gold Medallion member, you’ll be eligible for complimentary seat upgrades a little bit sooner. You could be upgraded to first class or Delta Comfort+ beginning three days before departure. But you’ll still have to wait behind Platinum Medallion and Diamond Medallion members to see if there are any spots left when it’s your turn to upgrade.

The cool thing about Gold Medallion status is that Delta waived same-day confirmed and standby fees. So if you can’t score an upgrade on the flight you originally booked, you could wait for the next one.

You’ll also be eligible for Sky Priority®, which gives you enhanced access to things like priority security lines and expedited baggage service.

This comes in addition to all of the perks that Silver Medallion members get.

How do I qualify for Gold status?

To qualify for Delta Gold Medallion status, you’ll need …

  • 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs, plus
  • $6,000 MQDs or the MQD waiver

As with Silver, you’ll be able to earn 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend each year on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, up to four times a year. Or, if you have the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, you’ll be able to earn 10,000 MQMs for every $25,000 in purchases, up to two times a year. 

Plus, new Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card cardholders can get up to 10,000 MQMs as part of the welcome bonus for spending $3,000 within the first three months (you also get 50,000 bonus miles and up to $100 in statement credits for U.S. restaurant purchases). And new cardholders with the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card will be eligible for the same welcome bonus of 90,000 bonus miles and statement credits (up to $100 for purchases at U.S. restaurants) in addition to 5,000 MQMs if they make 3,000 worth of purchases within the first 3 months. 

Delta Platinum Medallion status

What does Platinum status get you?

Delta Platinum Medallion members earn a higher rate of nine miles for every $1 they spend on flights.

As a Delta Platinum Medallion member, you’ll be eligible for complimentary seat upgrades even sooner. You’ll be bumped up to Delta Comfort+ almost as soon as you book your flight, assuming seats are still available in that cabin. You could also be upgraded to first class beginning five days before your departure. While this gives you a better chance, you’ll still fall behind Diamond Medallion members on the waitlist.

The nice thing about being a Platinum Medallion member is that you’ll also qualify for one Choice Benefit. You could choose from …

  • Four regional upgrade certificates (to lock in your upgrades ahead of time when you fly domestically)
  • Giving Silver Medallion status to someone you know
  • 20,000 bonus miles to help you book an award flight
  • $200 Delta travel voucher to help you save money when you book your next flight

This is in addition to all of the perks that Gold Medallion members get.

How do I qualify for Platinum status?

To qualify for Delta Platinum Medallion status, you’ll need …

  • 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs, plus
  • $9,000 MQDs or the MQD waiver

And like the other levels of Delta Medallion elite status, you could opt to use a Delta SkyMiles credit card to get most of the way to Platinum status.

Delta Diamond Medallion status

What does diamond status get you?

Delta Diamond Medallion members earn a higher rate of eleven miles for every $1 they spend on flights.

As a Delta Diamond Medallion member, you’ll be at the top of the list for complimentary upgrades when seats are available. Even though you can only be upgraded to first class the same day as Platinum Medallion members, beginning five days before departure, you’ll have priority over them and all other Medallion members.

You’ll also receive a complimentary Clear membership.

What’s more? Diamond Medallion members have even more Choice Benefits to choose from. You can pick up to three benefits from the following list (take note that some of those listed count as two benefits alone):

  • Delta Sky Club® membership
  • 4 global upgrade certificates (to confirm your upgrades when you fly internationally)
  • 8 regional upgrade certificates (to lock in your upgrades when you fly domestically)
  • 2 global upgrade certificates and 4 regional upgrade certificates (guaranteeing upgrades on both international and domestic flights)
  • Giving Gold Medallion status to someone you know
  • 25,000 bonus miles to help you book an award flight
  • $200 Delta travel voucher to help you save money when you book your next flight

All of these perks are in addition to what Platinum Medallion members get.

How do I qualify for Diamond status?

To qualify for Delta Diamond Medallion status, you’ll need …

  • 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs, plus
  • $15,000 MQDs or the MQD waiver

Again, like with the other Delta Medallion elite status levels, you could use a Delta SkyMiles credit card to help you get part of the way to Diamond status. If you have the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, for example, you’ll get 15,000 MQMs every time you spend $30,000, up to four times a year. And if you make $3,000 in purchases within the first three month, you’ll get a 10,000 MQM welcome bonus.

Is there a shortcut to Delta Medallion elite status?

Delta SkyMiles® credit cards don’t come with complimentary Medallion status. You still have to earn it. 

But a Delta SkyMiles credit card could make it easier for you to get there. You might be able to earn MQMs or even qualify for a MQD waiver based on how much money you spend on your Delta SkyMiles card. In fact, big spenders might even be able to qualify for Medallion status without ever flying!

What’s great about Delta Medallion status is that as long as you qualify for the lowest tier, Delta will automatically roll over the MQMs you don’t use. So you can get a head start earning status next year. 

But even if you lose your status because of an inability to travel, you may be able to get it back through a new Delta program called Reclaim My Status. 


Which Delta SkyMiles® credit card is right for me?

If you’re loyal to Delta, a SkyMiles® credit card might be worth considering.

With a Delta SkyMiles® credit card, you could earn even more miles to help you book award flights. It could also pave the way for you to earn Delta Medallion status. But you might decide you don’t need Medallion status, because SkyMiles credit cards offer some of the same perks. 

Let’s take a look to see if we can find the right Delta SkyMiles® credit card for you.

If you’re a budget traveler …

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card comes with a $0 annual fee and None foreign transaction fees.

You’ll earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending 500 on purchasing during the first 3 months of card membership.

Plus, you’ll earn …

  • 2 miles for every $1 spent on Delta purchases
  • 2 miles per $1 at restaurants
  • 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases

Once you save up enough miles, you could package them into an award flight.

You’ll also save 20% on inflight purchases of things like food and drinks.

If you’re a frequent flyer …

The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card might be a good fit. 

You’ll earn 90,000 bonus miles and 5,000 MQMs after spending 3,000 on purchases during the first 3 months of card membership. On top of that, you’ll get up to a $100 statement credit at U.S. restaurants for purchases you make during the first three months of card membership.  

Plus, you’ll earn …

  • 3 miles for every $1 spent on Delta purchases
  • 3 miles per $1 on direct hotel purchases
  • 2 miles per $1 at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (not including warehouse clubs or superstores)
  • 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases

But what really sets this card apart are its perks. The companion certificate should help offset the cost of the $250 annual fee. You’ll also receive one free checked bag, priority boarding and a statement credit to apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

If you’re a luxury traveler …

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card gives you a taste of luxury.

You’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $3,000 on purchases during the first three months of card membership. Moreover, you’ll get up to a $100 statement credit at U.S. restaurants for purchases you make during the first three months of card membership.

Plus, you’ll earn …

  • 3 miles for every $1 spent on Delta purchases
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases

But the miles take a back seat to the perks this card has to offer.

You’ll have access to Delta Sky Club® lounges and American Express Centurion® Lounge locations. 

If you’re traveling with someone else, you can use your annual companion certificate for both of you to fly first class.

Delta also makes it easier for cardholders to earn Medallion status. If you already have Medallion status, you’ll get upgrade priority over other Medallion members who are at the same level. But even if you don’t qualify for status, you’ll still be eligible for complimentary upgrades to first class, based on availability.

So if you appreciate luxury, these perks might even make the $550 annual fee worth it.


About the author: Tim Devaney is a personal finance writer and credit card expert at Credit Karma. He’s a longtime journalist who prides himself on being a good storyteller who can explain complex information in an easily digestible wa… Read more.