What is the Value of Delta Diamond Medallion Status? [2020]

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Diamond Medallion is the highest frequent flyer tier in the Delta SkyMiles program, above Platinum, Gold, and Silver. Requiring the most amount of money spent and the most amount of miles flown for Delta elite status, the benefits are plentiful and very beneficial.

Diamond Medallion passengers are given the best treatment among any of Delta’s frequent flyers (except for the elusive Delta 360 status, which is by invitation only).

Diamond Medallion benefits include fee waivers, SkyTeam Elite Plus, Global Upgrades, the highest priority for complimentary upgrades and much, more.

While the requirements to earn Delta Diamond Medallion are the hardest amongst all the tiers, it can certainly be worth it for those that travel for business or those that appreciate extra comfort throughout their air travels.

How to Earn Delta Diamond Medallion 

Earning Diamond isn’t easy. It’s the hardest to earn of the 4 elite tiers that Delta has, and is actually harder than several competing frequent flyer programs.

To earn Delta Diamond you must fly 125,000 miles a year (known as Medallion Qualifying Miles) or fly 140 segments a year (known as Medallion Qualifying Segments), and then also spend either $15,000 a year (known has Medallion Qualification Dollars) or participate in a waiver.

If this is a lot to digest, you’re not alone.

  • Medallion Qualification Miles are those miles you earn by flying — literal amounts flown. So, a trip with a flight length of 672 miles would net you 672 Medallion Qualification Miles, or MQMs.
  • Medallion Qualification Segments are those segments you earn by flying — each takeoff and landing. A trip with 1 connection would be 2 flight segments.
  • Diamonds need to complete their qualification requirements by December 31 of each year. If they don’t, they won’t earn Diamond for the following year.
delta comfort+
As a Delta Diamond Medallion, you can expect to receive many upgrades to Comfort+ and first class. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Choice Benefits (Up to $2000 Value)

Diamond Medallion members get to choose 3 benefits from a Choice Benefit pool, allowing them to tailor the benefits that matter most to them.

This is unique to Delta — it lets members choose benefits based on their travel styles.

The choices are:

  • 4 Global Upgrades
  • 8 Regional Upgrades
  • 2 Global and 4 Regional Upgrades
  • Delta SkyClub Individual Membership 
  • 1 Executive SkyClub Membership (requires 2 Choice Benefits)
  • 1 Delta SkyClub guest pass
  • 25,000 Bonus SkyMiles
  • 1 $200 Delta travel voucher or 1 $200 Tiffany & Co. gift card
  • Gifting of Delta Gold Medallion

Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail:

  • 4 Global Upgrades allows you to secure an upgrade in advance on any Main Cabin, Comfort+, or Premium Select fare, excluding Basic Economy. If there’s upgrade inventory, you can upgrade. These upgrades are most valuable for long-haul routes, such as to Sydney, London, or Johannesburg. 
  • 8 Regional Upgrades can be used to secure an upgrade in advance on any route where you would ordinarily be able to upgrade via the traditional Medallion Complimentary Upgrade process, including to Delta One. 
  • 2 Global and 4 Regional Upgrades combines the best of both long-haul and regional travel. For those elites that only maybe travel internationally once a year, they can use the Global Upgrades and then use the Regional Upgrades for domestic travel.
  • Delta SkyClub Individual Membership normally can be purchased outright, or you can get it using the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. If you don’t want to pay for it through another channel, this is certainly a great way to get it for free.
  • Delta SkyClub Executive Membership allows for you to access the SkyClub for yourself and 2 other guests, but comes at a premium as you need to use 2 Choice Benefits.
  • Delta SkyClub Guest Passes are good for those that have normal SkyClub membership through a credit card and want to allow a guest to enter on every visit.
  • 25,000 bonus miles are traditionally good for a one-way domestic first class ticket, or a few one-way economy class tickets, however, the number of miles will vary since Delta employs dynamic award pricing.
  • The $200 Delta travel voucher is good for those that want to reduce the amount of personal spend on Delta travel but comes as one of the least valuable benefits. The same goes for the Tiffany & Co. gift card.
  • Finally, gifting Delta Gold Medallion status, which comes with SkyTeam Elite Plus, can be useful, but only if the person receiving the status would ordinarily fly enough to make use of the benefits. 

Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades ($1500 Value)

Delta Diamond receives complimentary upgrades on all routes within the U.S. and select international destinations, such as the Caribbean, Mexico, and Canada.

Diamonds are always at the top of the upgrade order, so you can know that as a Diamond, you’ll always be among the first to get upgraded.

In all upgrade cases, you must be on a paid ticket (except E Fares), an award ticket, a Miles + Cash ticket, or a Pay with Miles ticket. You can never be on a Basic Economy fare, as these types of tickets do not receive upgrade privileges.

Here’s an easy to understand chart from Delta on how and when you can receive complimentary upgrades:

Type of UpgradeWhen the Upgrade May Clear
Unlimited complimentary U.S. 50 Delta One upgradesDay of departure
Unlimited complimentary first class upgradesBegins 120 hours (5 days) prior to departure with priority
Unlimited complimentary Delta Comfort+ upgradesShortly after ticketing
Unlimited complimentary U.S. 50 Delta One, First Class and Delta Comfort+ upgrades for a companion (includes paid tickets as previously mentioned and SkyMiles companion certificates)Yes
Unlimited complimentary Clase Premier upgrades on select Aeromexico-operated flightsBegins 120 hours (5 days) prior to departure
Complimentary preferred seatsYes

For upgrade order, it’s a fairly easy process to understand.

  • Your Delta Diamond Medallion status will be the most important deciding factor — Diamonds get upgrades before all other tiers
  • If all else is equal between 2 Diamonds, the 1 with the higher fare class will get upgraded
  • If all else is equal, a Diamond with a Delta Reserve card will get upgraded
  • If all else is equal, the Delta Corporate Traveler will get the upgrade
  • If all else is equal, if you spend over $25,000 on a Delta co-branded American Express card, you’ll get the upgrade
  • If all else is equal, finally, the upgrade will go to the person who requested the upgrade earlier

Delta Diamonds are the first people to receive upgrades on any flight, and from past conversations with these travelers, they are in the forward cabin a majority of the time, though that percentage is starting to decline as Delta begins to more heavily upsell its premium cabins. As a consolation, a Delta Diamond will be upgraded to Comfort+ right after they purchase their ticket, so at the very least, they can sit in the extra legroom seats scattered throughout the cabin.

Delta Airlines A220 First Class
Upgrades to first class are one of the more popular perks of Delta Diamond Medallion. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Earning More Points ($500 Value)

As a Diamond Medallion, you earn 11 miles for every dollar spent — the highest amount of any elite tier. So, a minimum spend of $15,000 would result in 165,000 miles earned annually.

Diamond Medallions can also rollover miles. If you fly more than the 125,000 required for status, the overage will count toward the following year’s status earning. For example, if you earn 150,000 MQMs in a year, you can rollover the excess 25,000 MQMs earned beyond the 125,000 MQM requirement to next year’s balance — a great jump start to earning next year’s status!

Delta uses a dynamic system of pricing out awards and has removed its award charts, so it is difficult to actually estimate what the 165,000 miles earned with Diamond may be redeemed for. In general, this would roughly be worth 1 round-trip business class to Europe, if redeemed for maximum value. Because these miles are accumulated over time, and award availability may be limited, the value can’t be compared to what an actual ticket may cost.

Complimentary CLEAR Membership ($179 Value)

Diamond Medallions receive a free membership to CLEAR, the fee-based program that allows you to breeze through the identification and boarding pass scan process before security. Normally, this membership costs $179 a year, however, Diamond Medallions receive it for free.

CLEAR requires members to enroll by scanning their fingerprint and/or iris, and then as they come to the airport for flights, they simply scan their boarding pass and fingerprints and then proceed directly to the metal detectors and bag scanners. This avoids Diamond Medallions having to wait in line to have their information checked and will help expedite them getting through into the terminal and to the gate or club.

Highest Priority Boarding ($150 Value)

Delta Diamond Medallions receive the highest boarding priority, just after pre-boarding (for folks who need more time getting onto the plane) and active-duty military personnel. Diamonds board with Delta One customers. 

Here is the boarding order, from Delta:

Boarding OrderEligibility
Pre-Boarding
  • Customers needing assistance or additional time to board
  • Active-duty U.S. military personnel with ID
Delta One
  • Delta One customers
  • Diamond Medallion members
First Class or Delta Premium Select
  • Delta Premium Select customers
  • First class customers
  • Diamond Medallion members (if aircraft does not have a Delta One cabin)
Early boarding for customers traveling with car seats and strollers
Delta Comfort+
  • Delta Comfort+ customers
SkyPriority
Main Cabin 1
Main Cabin 2Main cabin customers
Main Cabin 3Main cabin customers booked in T, X and V fares
Basic EconomyBasic economy customers (E)

SkyPriority (Included in SkyTeam Elite Plus Value)

As part a Diamond, you also receive SkyPriority, allowing you to get through the various aspects of travel within airports faster. It’s worth noting that Gold and Platinum also receive this benefit, so there’s nothing necessarily differentiating the Diamond level.

SkyPriority includes:

  • Priority check-in, where you can speak to an agent from a separate queue
    • Check a bag faster, check-in for your flight faster, and seek agent assistance faster during irregular operations — a huge benefit compared to those that need to wait in the standard lines that may be long.
  • Priority security in select airports, usually those that are hubs and/or major cities
    • At these airports, you don’t have to stand in the regular lanes and can instead use the priority lanes for faster access;  these lanes are separate from TSA PreCheck and CLEAR, so if you have access to one of those services, you’ll want to use those respective channels
  • Expedited baggage service
    • Your bags will be tagged with a priority tag at check-in and be among the first bags to come off of the aircraft at your arrival
skypriority check-in delta
With SkyPriority, you’ll breeze through check-in. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Waived Change Fees for Award Travel ($500 Value)

This can be a very beneficial benefit if you add up the cost savings. Delta Diamonds can redeposit the miles from award tickets for free or make changes to an award ticket without any fee. Normally, this costs over $100 to do so every time, so being able to speculatively book tickets you think you may want to take is a great way of using your elite benefits in case you need to cancel and get those miles back.

Delta requires that all award flights be canceled at least 72 hours before departure, meaning that your flight plans will need to be firm by that time. When you book award travel, set an alarm or reminder before this 72 hours deadline that way you don’t miss out on losing your miles. If you should cancel after, you risk losing all of the miles for the entire trip, which isn’t fun.

Free Checked Bag ($350 Value)

You receive your first checked bag free on all Delta and partner flights as a Diamond Medallion perk. The free checked baggage benefit also extends to 8 of your traveling companions, which can be several hundred dollars saved depending on the itinerary and how many bags you may be checking.

Delta Self Service Baggage Drop
As a Diamond Medallion, you don’t need to worry about paying checked baggage fees. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Waived Same-Day Confirmed Fees ($400 Value)

Like both the Gold and Platinum Medallion tiers, Diamonds get free same-day confirmed changes, where they can confirm on to an earlier or later flight, so long as it is on the same day. The way this works is pretty simple — if the same fare class is available on the new flight, the Diamond can move to it an no additional charge. The only caveats are that you can’t switch airports (i.e. you can’t switch from LGA to JFK) and you can’t move from a connecting flight to a nonstop flight, which traditionally comes at a premium.

Bottom Line: When you do a same-day confirmed change, you’re confirming onto the new flight and will have a seat in your name — it is not to be confused with standby, where you don’t have a confirmed seat.

Waived Same-Day Standby Fees ($300 Value)

Standby is available for Diamonds, free of charge, allowing them to go on an earlier or later same-day flight if they can’t otherwise confirm onto the flight. If you want to move to a particular flight and your specific fare class is not available, standby lets you list onto the flight; if a seat should become available, you can receive it at the gate.

Bottom Line: Diamond Medallions get the huge benefit of being at the top of the waitlist, meaning they’ll get an available seat for standby free of charge before any Platinums, Golds or Silvers.

Dedicated Phone Line ($250 Value)

When you need to speak with a human, you want to do it quickly — chances are, there’s an issue with your reservation, a flight cancellation, or severe weather approaching. As a Diamond, you get first priority in speaking with a Medallion agent. Your calls are answered before other elite tiers, allowing you to get your ticketing problems sorted quickly.

A “hidden” benefit of the Delta Diamond line is that sometimes these agents may be willing to bend rules, waive fees, or do other favors. While this isn’t written down or policy, many Diamond members report receiving above and beyond customer service from these agents.

Hot Tip: Diamond Medallions should call 800-323-2323 for their elite service desk.

Priority Waitlist ($150 Value)

In cases where a Diamond Medallion can’t purchase a specific fare, they can waitlist so that if a seat should open up, they can book it. Diamonds get priority over all other elite levels when utilizing waitlists.

Delta Boarding Gates
Delta Diamonds receive priority on all airport waitlists, putting them at the top of the list for a seat. Photo Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky via Shutterstock

SkyTeam Elite Plus ($500 Value)

SkyTeam Plus is the highest alliance-wide status that SkyTeam has, similar to Star Alliance Gold or Oneworld Emerald. 

Among the benefits you’ll receive are:

  • Priority baggage handling, where your bag will be among the first bags to be delivered off of the plane
    • SkyTeam Elite Plus bags are tagged with a priority tag when you check them in, allowing handlers to know to deliver your bags first
  • Lounge access to any lounge worldwide of any SkyTeam carrier
    • For example, Aeroflot’s lounges in Moscow, Aeromexico’s lounges in Mexico, and any SkyTeam lounge or Delta SkyClub in the U.S., so long as you’re on a qualifying international ticket
  • Free baggage on all SkyTeam airlines — save on baggage fees no matter where you travel

Hot Tip: Lounge access is one of the most valuable benefits of SkyTeam Elite Plus status, as lounge access can refresh you before or after a flight. Unfortunately, SkyTeam Elite Plus lounge benefits aren’t valid on flights solely within the U.S., so if you want access there, you’ll need a SkyClub membership.

Hertz President’s Circle Status ($200 Value)

If you’re a heavy flyer, you’re probably someone who also rents rental cars a lot. Thanks to Delta’s partnership with Hertz, Diamond and Platinum members will receive complimentary President’s Club status, allowing you to earn more Hertz points and free upgrades.

President’s Circle
Qualification20 rentals or $4,000
UpgradesGuaranteed
Earning Points$1 = 1.5 points
Ultimate ChoiceWidest selection
Free CLEAR Airport Trial4 months
Reward RedemptionsAdditional exclusive benefits and rewards
Transfer Points to Select Traveler Partners
Dedicated Hertz Rewards Line
Free Additional Driver

Delta Vacations Savings (Value Depends on How Much You Purchase)

No matter which Medallion elite level you hold, you can get minor savings on Delta Vacations.

  • $50 savings on vacations of $1,250-$2,499
  • $100 savings on vacations of $2,500-$3,999
  • $150 savings on vacations of $4,000-$6,999
  • $300 savings on vacations of $7,000 or more

When you purchase a Delta Vacations package of a certain amount or higher, you’ll get a specific discount. This is the same discount across all elite levels.

Luggage Tags ($10 Value)

delta baggage luggage tag bragtag
Showing off your luggage tags is one of the cool benefits of Diamond Medallion! Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

If you’re a Delta Diamond, and you’ve worked that hard for status and spent more than $15,000, you’ve got to show it off. Like all Medallion tiers, you’ll receive a complimentary luggage tag to strut your stuff in the terminal.

Reclaim My Status ($400 Value)

This benefit is available to all Medallion tiers and is 1 way the SkyMiles program is great for busy travelers. Life happens — and even the busiest of travelers can have interruptions. It could be a job change, surgery, the birth of a child, or perhaps a severe financial situation. Whatever the case, Delta allows you to get that status back with a fairly simple process.

After you feel like you can fly again, once you finish your life event, you can reclaim your status by contacting Delta and providing proof of the interruption that caused you not to fly Delta. Assuming it gets approved, you’ll be granted a temporary status that you must then complete a challenge to keep it through the remainder of the year.

For Diamonds, that means you must either fly 31,250 MQMs or 35 MQSs AND $3,750 MQDs (or an MQD waiver) within 3 months. If you finish this challenge, you’ll be granted Diamond Medallion through the following year, allowing you to get back on track to earning Delta status for years to come.

Final Thoughts

When you add up all the benefits together, accounting for maximization of each benefit, you’re looking at approximately $7,189 worth of value each year — a decent return if you plan on spending the $15,000 annually for status.

A flyer who doesn’t use many benefits can expect around a $5,000 valuation each year, while a flyer who over-utilizes benefits can expect north of $10,000 of valuation each year.

Delta Diamond is at the top of the elite tiers and definitely comes with some serious perks, including global upgrades, free same-day changes, a chance for free SkyClub access, and more. It’s certainly a status to consider if you live in a Delta hub and are loyal to the SkyTeam alliance!


Frequently asked questions

What is Diamond status on Delta?

Diamond status is Delta’s highest status in the SkyMiles frequent flyer Medallion program. Diamond requires $15,000 spent every year, in addition to 125,000 miles flown or 140 segments.

Benefits include:

  • A choice of “Choice Benefits” to include global upgrades, regional upgrades, club access and more
  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades
  • Complimentary same-day changes and same-day standby
  • Complimentary CLEAR membership
  • Discounts on Delta Vacations
  • Free checked bags and priority bag handling
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus status
  • Free award changes and redeposits

What is Delta Diamond status worth?

According to our valuations at Upgraded Points, Delta Diamond status can be worth approximately $7,000 normally, with infrequent users getting about $5,000 in benefits and over-achieving flyers getting over $10,000 worth of benefits.

What is the highest Delta status?

The highest published Delta Medallion tier is Diamond, however, Delta does have an unpublished Delta 360 program that provides additional benefits alongside the Delta Medallion perks.

James Larounis

About James Larounis

Jamie first got his hook on miles and points during a high school choir trip to Europe, where he flew in Lufthansa First Class (thanks to his dad’s then US Airways miles) because economy was sold out.

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