Credit CardsPrivate: Credit Cards > Travel

Is Delta Silver Medallion Elite Status Worth Earning?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

There was a time when having silver elite status on an airline’s loyalty program meant something. But in 2014, Delta Air Lines became the first U.S. carrier to have its loyalty program, SkyMiles®, go from members earning status based strictly on number of miles flown to a formula based on miles flown, segments flown and money spent on fares. Delta was followed by United Airlines and American Airlines.

The change was designed to add more revenue to Delta’s bottom line and reward travelers who spent top dollars on fares. As a result, travelers now feel silver status has been tarnished.

However, there are perks with Silver Medallion that may still make it attractive to travelers looking to achieve it. We’ll take a look at Delta Silver Medallion status to see how you earn it, what benefits you receive and if it’s worth your efforts. We’ll also see how Silver Medallion benefits stack up against Delta’s co-branded American Express cards.

How to earn Delta Silver Medallion

Travelers can earn Delta Silver Medallion status by doing the following in a calendar year:

  • Earn 25,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) or 30 Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs)
  • And spend $3,000 Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) on airfare.

MQMs are earned based on distance flown and fare class, while MQSs are earned based on the number of flights you take. However, the MQDs needed for silver for a qualification year will be waived if you spend $25,000 or more during a calendar year with eligible Delta SkyMiles American Express-branded credit cards.

What comes with Delta Silver Medallion

  • Complimentary preferred seats. Travelers can choose where they want to sit, near the front of the plane on fares booked in Q class or higher.
  • Delta Comfort+® upgrades. These seats, when available, have up to four inches of extra legroom, dedicated overhead bin space and early boarding. All revenue fare classes (except Basic Economy), award tickets and pay-with-miles tickets are eligible.
  • First class upgrades. This perk is available within 24 hours of departure. Note that higher status levels — Diamond, Platinum, and Gold — are upgraded before Silver. All revenue fare classes (except Basic Economy), award tickets and pay-with-miles are eligible for upgrades.
  • Waived baggage fees. You and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation can check one bag for free on U.S. flights.
  • Priority check-in. You can use a dedicated line at the airport to check in for your flight.
  • Priority boarding. You board with Main Cabin 1, although first class, Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallions all board before Silver.
  • Priority phone line. Use a dedicated number to call Delta for help.
  • SkyTeam elite status. When you fly with any of the 20 SkyTeam partner airlines, you’ll receive Elite status, which offers benefits including priority check-in counters, extra baggage allowance, priority boarding, preferred seats and a priority reservation waitlist.

Credit card options to earn MQMs

It’s possible to earn Delta MQMs without setting foot on a plane. The airline has five credit cards that help maintain elite Medallion status:

  • : Earn Earn 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles after spending $30,000 on the card in a calendar year. And you can earn another 15,000 MQMs and another 15,000 bonus miles after spending $60,000 on the card in a calendar year.
  • : Spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year and earn another 15,000 MQMs. After spending another $60,000 in a calendar year, you’ll earn another 15,000 MQMs and another 15,000 bonus miles.
  • : With Miles Boost®, earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 on the card in a calendar year. Earn another 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 on the card in a calendar year. Plus, earn 3X Miles on Delta flights and Delta Vacations®.
  • : Spend $25,000 or more per calendar year on the card and receive 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs. If you spend $50,000 or more, you’ll earn another 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs.
  • : If you don’t meet your MQDs during a calendar year, you can still earn Silver status if you spend $25,000 or more on the card.

What are the benefits worth?

The most valuable benefits of Silver are free preferred seats and the potential for upgrades.

However, your upgrade chances will be somewhat limited since you’re at the bottom of the pecking order, behind Diamond, Platinum and Gold travelers. Unless you are flying on a non-business, non-leisure travel-heavy day or a less frequently traveled route, it is highly unlikely that you’ll snag that upgrade to first class.

Silver status does allow you an upgrade of sorts by allowing you to choose preferred seats toward the front of the plane for free. The same goes for seats in Delta Comfort+, although again, Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallions have access before Silver.

Having that free checked bag for you and eight companions on U.S. flights is a great benefit that saves you a $30 fee for each checked bag. Main Cabin 1 boarding ensures you’ll have overhead bin space for your carry-on bags and gives you time to get settled before general boarding starts.

The bottom line

The perks that come with a Delta-branded American Express can sometimes be better than what you receive with Silver status, depending on what card you’re carrying.

All of Delta’s premium cards come with a free bag, but for up to nine traveling companions instead of eight with Silver status. The cards also come with Main Cabin 1 priority boarding, but not the priority check-in that Silver Medallion members receive.

If you’re all right knowing that you probably won’t get an upgrade to business or first class with Silver Medallion, then the other perks that come with it make it worth having. But if you want a better chance to get those upgrades, along with more perks, then it’s worth it to go for higher Medallion status.

The information related to the and the has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.