Earlier this week I spoke brilliantly (at least I think so) about Delta’s Silver Medallion status and it’s overall value. If you don’t have a lot of time I can summarize it in two bullet points:
- If you fly Delta often enough, go for Gold Medallion status
- If you do not fly Delta often enough, save your money and time or try another carrier where you might get more value
With all my complaining, I do have a recommendation: American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card.
Why am I recommending this card? Easy. Instead of spinning your wheels on wasted time, money and miles getting a bottom-barrel status that is more a footnote you can get the co-branded credit card and get almost all the same benefits. Let’s have a quick rundown.
|Feature||Silver Medallion||Platinum Delta SkyMiles®||Notes|
|Cost||$3000 (Delta MQDs)||$195 Annual Fee|
|No Foreign Transaction Fees||x||A great benefit when traveling overseas|
|Zone 1 Boarding||x||x|
|First Checked Bag Free||x||x||$25 savings|
|20% In-flight Savings||x|
|Double Miles||x||x||2 x miles per $1 spent with Delta|
|Reduced SkyClub Entry||x||~$29 instead of $50 per visit|
|Free Upgrades||x||Applicable 24 hours from departure|
This is not a full list, but it should give you a general idea of two viable options. That said, you can see that you can work harder or you can work smarter. I am not a certified financial anybody, but if you want to keep some Delta loving in your back pocket because you and a companion check bags at least four times a year then get it. Why did I phrase it that way? Because the annual fee is $195 and if you check one bag per person, four times a year, then you break even ($25 per bag * 4 trips = $100 per person X 2 = $200). With that, you also get Zone 1 boarding which is lets you board fairly early and also snag an overhead bin if necessary.
Overhead Bin Etiquette: Please do not place your coat into the bin until all baggage has been put in first. Coats, jackets, sweaters, sarapes, etc. take up much needed space.
If you have a long flight (trans-continental), then you can use the credit card and save yourself 20% on some over-priced airplane food. Lastly, the effort it takes to gain Silver status comes at a rather high opportunity cost. Let’s take a quick look.
To gain Silver status, you need to do the following:
- Spend $3000 with Delta
- Fly 25,000 miles or 30 segments
On the surface, this seems simple enough. If you fly for business then this might be easily attainable, but then again, why waste all those miles on Silver when you can go for Gold or fly with another carrier who will have a status with a fighting chance? Fortunately, this blog is for everyone else who has to work 9 to 5 and pay their own way.
Below you see a sample short route from Nashville (BNA) to Atlanta (ATL).
This route is exactly 428 miles. If you flew this route a few times a year to visit family, you would need to do so about 59 times a year.
Here’s the math:
- 25,000/428 = 58.4 (59) trips
- We fly economy at $448 per trip
- $448 * 59 = $26,432
So congratulations, you met your $3000 MQD requirement plus another $23,432. That’s a lot of money we do not have just get Silver status. You know, the one with the miracle upgrades, a $25 savings on one checked bag, etc. Sound investment? Hardly. Lets make it a bit more realistic and say you fly home to Orlando to watch UCF football games twice a year. Nashville (BNA) to Orlando (MCO) is 1,232 miles.
More math and I will separate the trips for simplicity:
- 2 * 1,232 = 2,464 miles (Orlando)
- 25,000 – 2,464 = 22,536 miles to fly
- 22,536/428 = 52.65 trips
You are still doing a heck of a lot of flying at a significant hit to your pocketbook.
Maybe we can change it up and pretend you make a solid middle-class salary (whatever that may be in your area) and you are from the west coast. Here is a sample flight from Nashvill (BNA) to Seattle (SEA), through Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). The trip will take 4,188 miles roundtrip.
- 25,000/4,188 = 5.9 (6) trips not bad at all
- We still fly economy at $806 per trip
- $806 * 6 = $4,836
In this scenario, you fly a longer route and reap the rewards. This will also help you meet the $3,000 MQDs.
The alternative…$195 per year for almost the same benefits with the American Express Platinum credit card. Keep in mind that this all depends on:
- What do you value Silver status at?
- How much do you value your time?
- Can you fly that often?
- What is your flying budget?
- Depending on your route, maybe you might be lucky and get upgrades
- Do you really believe that you will be upgraded enough times to warrant the cost?
- Are there some financial issues? Can you get a credit card?
- Should you get a credit card?
- Are you stuck with Delta as your key carrier?
Well, there you have it. You have some questions to answer and just a bit of analysis. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.
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