The Complete Guide To Delta’s Status Match Challenge (Earn Through January 2021)

by Miles Jackson

Delta’s on-time stats are mighty impressive and my allegiance to them is simply because they outperform the other US carriers in this category. For many however, jumping from one loyalty program to another means having to go without elite benefits as you try to “earn back” some status. Well, if you have status with another airline, now is the perfect time to do a Delta status challenge to become a Delta Medallion elite member.

That means you can start enjoying the benefits of a Delta Medallion status immediately while participating in the challenge.

To match from your current elite status to Delta’s equivalent, you are required to meet certain challenge thresholds for MQM (Medallion Qualification Miles) or MQS (Medallion Qualification Segments) and MQD (Medallion Qualification Dollar) spending with Delta.

But here is the great reason why you should do it now: you will keep your new Delta Medallion status through the rest of 2019, all of 2020, and even through January 31, 2021. That’s potentially more than 18 months of Medallion status and benefits you can start enjoying today.

delta status challenge

What Are The Qualifications To Participate In The Challenge?

Delta has three requirements to qualify for a Status Match Challenge — and you must meet all three of them.

1. You have not received a Status Match or complimentary Medallion Status in the past three years, unless the complimentary Medallion Status was through your Million Miler Status.

2. You have elite status with a qualifying airline that was earned through that airline’s published requirements. Complimentary Status or status earned through a promotion does not qualify.

3. You are able to present both a valid, current elite credential and a statement showing your earned elite status.

How Much Do I Need To Fly In Order To Earn Status Past The Three Months? 

Once you submit your required documentation and Delta approves you for the challenge, you have to meet certain flying and spending thresholds in order to keep the status beyond the three months. These are the requirements for each tier level. Note that you cannot status match to Delta Diamond.

delta status match

Which Airlines’ Elite Status Qualify for a Status Match?

Delta provides a chart of the most common airlines for status matches:

Delta Status Challenge - July Airline Match Chart“If you have status with an airline (excluding Delta airline partners) that is not listed above but meet the participation criteria, you can still submit your request to participate in the Status Match Challenge.”

You may be surprised to see that even Southwest Airlines elite members can get status matched. Southwest A-List matches to Silver Medallion with Delta, while A-List Preferred matches to Gold Medallion.

Key Things to Know About This Status Match Challenge

  • The Delta Medallion Status Match Challenge is only offered for Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion Tiers 
    • This means even if you have top tier status in your current airline program (i.e. Executive Platinum with American Airlines) you can only status match to Platinum with Delta
  • Members who are matched to Platinum Medallion Status will not be eligible for Choice Benefits unless the requirements to extend Platinum Medallion Status are met.
  • Only travel on Delta and Delta Connection-operated flights will count towards this challenge.
    • That means travel during the challenge must be on tickets issued by Delta. You can fly on other ticketed SkyTeam partner airlines (i.e. KLM, Korean, Aeromexico…) and those flights would earn you MQM’s, MQS’s and MQD’s, but those would not count towards this challenge.
    • Flights may be operated by other partner airlines, for example you may be on a KLM aircraft but it is a flight marketed by and issued by Delta Air Lines. Tickets issued by Delta begin with the numbers 016.
  • Delta’s Medallion MQD’s requirement will be waived if you make $25,000 or more in eligible purchases during the calendar year by the end of your three month trial with your eligible Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express.
  • The challenges must be met within a three month period beginning the day you’re granted temporary status.
    • My Advice: Don’t sign up for the challenge until right before you have a qualifying flight that gets you started earning towards your targeted Medallion status.
  • You will not get a physical Medallion membership card during the 90-day qualification period. You will be able to enjoy Medallion benefits on Delta or Delta Connection by providing your SkyMiles number when making reservations or at check-in. You can see your digital Membership Card through the Fly Delta app. During this 90-day period, you will not have access to all reciprocal Medallion benefits with Delta’s partner airlines, including access to SkyTeam® lounges.

Going Forward: Keep Or Upgrade Your Status

Once you earn the status after the challenge period, if you are interested in keeping it beyond January 2021, here are Delta’s requirements to do so.

Delta Medallion Status Match Challenge Now

Credit Cards Can Help You Earn an MQD Waiver And Help With MQM

MQD

Delta has a spend requirement, Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD’s) for each Medallion tier.

Getting the MQD waiver allows you have your Medallion status you earned on MQM or MQS, without necessarily having to spend the qualifying amount on tickets with Delta. This can be a great savings if you have (or can plan) regular spending with your American Express credit card(s) in the year.

“The MQD’s requirement will be waived if you achieve the MQD Waiver. The MQD Waiver can be earned for Platinum, Gold or Silver Medallion Status for the Status Match Challenge if you make $25,000 or more in eligible purchases with your eligible Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express.” Read the full terms here.

You could get one or more of those credit cards listed below and begin spending to meet the welcome bonus initial spend requirement and also work towards earning your MQD waiver. Your spend is additive, so if you need to meet the $25,000 spend to get the MQD waiver, you could spend $10,000 with one card and then $15,000 with another card and you would earn the $25,000 MQD waiver from Delta for Medallion statuses up through Platinum.

Diamond Medallions must either spend $250,000 on their (combined) qualified Delta/American Express credit cards or $15,000 in net ticket purchases with Delta. Ouch!

MQM

Delta’s terms of the challenge state: “Only MQM’s, MQS’s and MQD’s earned through travel on Delta, Delta Connection, and SkyMiles Partner Airlines will count towards the challenge. MQM’s/MQS’s/MQD’s earned through other sources, including but not limited to SkyMiles Credit Cards, do not count towards the challenge.”

However, in practice, Delta has regarded all MQMs equally. There are many reports that credit card bonus MQM’s do count towards these status match challenges. This means you could possibly jumpstart your status challenge with bonus MQMs. While YMMV, this makes for an opportunity to pick up a Delta credit card to earn bonus MQM’s. That makes this status match challenge even easier to complete.

To that end, below are the Delta credit cards issued by AmEx, and the first three offer an MQM welcome bonus.

Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards

Some of the best Delta/American Express co-branded credit cards include:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card (Learn More)
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (Learn More)
  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card (Learn More)
  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card (Learn More)

Read more about these offers and compare the cards here.

Using Juicy Miles For Status Challenges

8 Year Old Earns Diamond Medallion Status with Delta in One Trip 

If you really want to leverage your status challenge, reach out to our partners at Juicy Miles who have travel professional experts who specialize in meeting status challenges. They have put together some awesome elite status mileage runs such as one for this 8-year old who celebrated her birthday by earning Diamond Medallion Status in just one (but long) mileage run itinerary!

The Upshot

Now is really the ideal time to meet a status challenge with Delta.

The two best things about the Delta Medallion status match challenge are that your status earned is good for nearly 18 months and the status is given to you immediately during the three month qualification period. That means you don’t have to start without status (and no benefits) and earn your way back to an elite status.

There will never be a better time to earn elite benefits and perks for such a long period of time. Enroll by clicking here.

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.

2 comments
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2 comments

Greg January 14, 2020 - 6:18 am

I might have missed it, but how long does it typically take to process a status mach request. I held off until submission today for my flight on Thursday (2 days away) to maximize my window for flying, but it says 5 business days and up to 2 weeks.

Does it typically take this long? If so, will I get credit for this flight retroactively?

Thanks!

Reply
Miles Jackson January 14, 2020 - 7:28 am

Greg,

In my experience it takes Delta less than 72 hours to approve or deny a status challenge request. Best of luck to you.

Our partner Juicy Miles can assist you in completing your challenge if you are seeking a professional approach to a solution.

Reply

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