November 2, 2011
A few days ago I took a look at my family’s Delta MQM balance for the year. MQMs are Delta’s “Medallion Qualifying Miles” (most non-Delta people refer to these as EQMs: Elite Qualifying Miles). In order to get elite status on Delta, you need 25K MQMs to reach Silver status; 50K MQMs to reach Gold, 75K to reach Platinum, and 125K to reach Diamond. Bonus miles awarded for things like hotel stays and credit card purchases don’t count as MQMs, so for the most part you have to actually fly that many miles each year to get and retain status. There are exceptions: some Delta credit cards award MQMs when you achieve very high spend levels on the cards; also Delta occasionally runs promotions that let you gather up MQMs through other means such as hotel stays, point transfers, or charitable giving. Currently the only offer like that is through Hilton in which it is possible to earn 250 MQMs for each two night stay.
Anyway, back to the family: I found that I have already earned enough MQMs to keep my Gold status for another year (but I’m a long way from Platinum). My wife and son, though, were each about 4000 MQMs from the next level. With 4K more MQMs, my wife can make gold status for the first time, and my son can retain his Silver status for another year. We already had one flight planned that will earn about 1200 MQMs each, but that isn’t nearly enough.
For hard core travel hackers, a mileage run is a flight taken for the sole purpose of earning elite qualifying miles. I’ve never done this, but might consider it someday. There is no way, though, that I can convince my wife and son to hop on a plane for no purpose other than to fly and fly back. Fortunately, we have friends in Seattle and have been meaning to visit them. So, for the dual purpose of seeing great friends and achieving elite status, we booked our flights for a weekend in Seattle.
Is it worth it? Maybe not if the sole purpose was to earn miles. However, we really do want to visit our friends. We couldn’t use Delta miles to go there because then we wouldn’t have earned miles for the flight. Instead, I dug out my US Bank FlexPerks card that has been gathering dust for a while. The one great thing about the FlexPerks card is that it has pretty good redemption value for flights. With FlexPerks points, you can purchase any ticket up to $400 in value for only 20,000 points. So, each point is worth up to 2 cents each if tickets cost close to $400, plus you earn miles for the flight just as you would if you purchased the flight yourself. The awesome thing, for this trip, is that the tickets priced out at $390 each! Talk about wringing out the most value you can from points!