underscored delta plane against gray sky

CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Looking to earn elite status with Delta Air Lines but don’t fly enough to do it the traditional way? Fortunately, earning elite status in 2023 can be incredibly easy with help from some of the airline’s American Express-issued credit cards.

With the “Status Boost” feature of both its Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and its Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you can earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) — one of the main metrics that determine elite status with the airline and can typically be earned from flying — by making everyday purchases on the two cards.

Delta Platinum Amex card members can earn extra MQMs in 2021 with enhanced Status Boosts.

With the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex, you’ll earn 10,000 MQMs for spending $25,000 in purchases on the card. You can earn these qualification miles up to two times per year, which means a total of 20,000 MQMs if you’re able to spend $50,000 on the card in a calendar year.

For those with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Amex, you’ll earn 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 in purchases spent on the card, up to four times in a calendar year. This means you can earn up to 60,000 MQMs, though you’ll need to spend $120,000 in a calendar year to get them.

But how do these MQMs translate into status? Although it requires a significant amount of spend, it is theoretically possible to earn Delta elite status all the way through 2024 without stepping foot on a Delta plane.

Getting Silver Medallion elite status with Delta requires earning 25,000 MQMs, which can be done by spending $60,000 on the Delta Reserve Amex for a total of 30,000 MQMs. Or, if you have both cards, you can spend slightly less — $55,000 in total — by putting $25,000 on the Platinum (earning 10,000 MQMs) and $30,000 on the Reserve (earning 15,000 MQMs).

For those hoping for an even higher status level, Delta Reserve Amex card holders can earn Gold Medallion status, which requires 50,000 MQMs, or spending $120,000 on the card in order to earn the four Status Boosts. Or, if you have both the Delta Reserve Amex and Delta Platinum Amex in your wallet, putting $60,000 on the Reserve (for 30,000 MQMs) and $50,000 on the Platinum (for 20,000 MQMs) will also earn you Gold status.

Earning the 75,000 MQMs for Platinum Medallion elite status is much more difficult, but can be done by combining spend on both the Platinum Amex and Reserve Amex. By going all in on spending with both cards, you can earn 60,000 MQMs on the Reserve and 20,000 MQMs on the Platinum for a total of 80,000 MQMs. While this will require a jaw-dropping $170,000 in spending on the two credit cards combined, it’ll get you past the 75,000-MQM requirement threshold.

Earning Delta elite status also normally requires spending money on flights with Delta and its partners in addition to earning MQMs. However, that second metric, known as Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs), is waived for Silver, Gold and Platinum Medallion statuses when you spend $25,000 on the Delta Platinum Amex or Delta Reserve Amex in a calendar year.

Delta Reserve Amex card members can potentially earn Platinum elite status in 2021 without ever leaving their home.

It’s unlikely that most people have expenses large enough to earn elite status purely through everyday credit card use, but earning status just through credit card spend is possible. However, never spend more than you’re able to financially manage. A more likely scenario is to combine credit card spend with flying to earn your desired status level.

Additionally, if you qualify for a business credit card both the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card also offer the same Status Boost opportunities as their personal card counterparts.

The Delta Platinum Amex and Delta Reserve Amex aren’t inexpensive credit cards. But if you expect to be on the road for the rest of the year as well as next and think Delta elite status will be a useful tool to have in your travel arsenal — and also have an obscene amount of upcoming credit card spend — then this Status Boost feature could make these cards worth the price.

Click here for rates and fees of the Delta Platinum Amex.
Click here for rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Amex.
Click here for rates and fees of the Delta Business Platinum Amex.
Click here for rates and fees of the Delta Business Reserve Amex.

Read CNN Underscored’s guide to the best credit cards currently available.