How to Reach SkyTeam Elite Status Using Credit Cards

How to Reach SkyTeam Elite Status Using Credit Cards

Did you know you can get elite status on an alliance? Well you can. Here’s how to achieve it on SkyTeam. There are 20 member airlines that make up SkyTeam Alliance: Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, AeroMéxico, AirEuropa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines, and XIAMENAIR.

Benefits of SkyTeam Tier Status

SkyTeam has only two levels: SkyTeam Elite and SkyTeam Elite Plus. SkyTeam Elite has only a few benefits, but one of them is quite tangible – the Extra baggage allowance:

  • Priority check-in
  • Priority seating
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority airport standby
  • Extra baggage allowance: 22 lbs or one extra piece

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See your SkyTeam privileges

While an extra baggage allowance is a nice benefit, the real value comes with attaining the Elite Plus level. SkyTeam Elite Plus includes all the benefits of SkyTeam Elite plus the following perks:Guaranteed reservations on sold-out flights:

  • SkyPriority recognition
  • Priority at transfer desks
  • Priority at immigration and security lanes
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Access to over 600 airport SkyTeam lounges worldwide for member and a guest
  • Extra baggage allowance: 44 pounds or one extra piece

Earning SkyTeam Elite Status With Delta

  • Delta Silver status gets you SkyTeam Elite
  • Delta Gold, Platinum and Diamond get you SkyTeam Elite Plus

To reach Silver, you will need 25,000 MQMs (Medallion Qualification Miles) or 30 MQSs (Medallion Qualification Segments ) and $3,000 MQDs (Medallion Qualification Dollars). To reach Gold, you will need 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs and $6,000 MQDs. Reaching Gold will get you the highest SkyTeam Elite Plus level.

Credit Cards Can Help

Delta is the only U.S. airline that makes it extremely easy to reach the top alliance status with credit card spending alone.

Granted, going down that route requires paying a few high annual fees and channeling a lot of spending through cards. But if you regularly fly on SkyTeam airlines regularly, it may well be worth it.

Four Credit Cards That Can Get You to the Top SkyTeam Status

There are four American Express Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards that offer MQMs for meeting spending requirements:

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Share your MQMs rewards with another person

One of the unique features of Delta-co-branded credit cards is that you can combine MQMs earned from any combination of these cards. Not just that, but you can even gift MQMs to another person or have them gifted to you. And Delta also has a feature called Rollover MQMs in case you’ve earned more MQMs than you need in a single year. The MQMs accrued beyond what you need for the qualification in any given year will roll over to the next qualification year.

Each Platinum card (personal and business) gives you 5,000 MQMs sign-up bonus, 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000, and an additional 10,000 MQMs after spending another $25,000 in a calendar year.  You will also get a sign-up bonus (varies) and 20,000 redeemable SkyMiles if you spend the whole $50,000 in a calendar year among other perks.

Each card carries a $195 price tag, but it currently offers a $100 statement credit in the first year to offset the cost.

Each Delta Reserve card (personal and business) gives you 10,000 MQMs sign-up bonus, 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000, and an additional 15,000 MQMs after spending another $30,000 in a calendar year. You will also get free Delta SkyClub access, a 10,000 redeemable SkyMiles sign-up bonus, and 20,000 redeemable SkyMiles if you spend the whole $60,000 in a calendar year. Each of these cards has a $450 annual fee.

Two Approaches to Qualify for SkyTeam Elite Plus Without Flying

As a reminder, you need to earn 50,000 MQMs to achieve Gold and the corresponding SkyTeam Elite Plus. The MQD requirement will become a non-issue because Delta will waive it if you spend $25,000 or more across all your American Express Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards. To earn 50,000 MQMs you will need to spend much more.

While it’s unlikely that you will need to earn the whole 50,000 miles (because your flights on Delta or its SkyTeam partners will also contribute), but if you had to do this without ever stepping foot on a plane there are two paths to reach this goal.

Use Two Platinum Delta SkyMiles Cards to Save Money

If you get both personal and business Platinum Delta SkyMiles cards (you can apply for a business card even if you don’t have an official business), you will receive the following twice:

  • 5,000 MQMs after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • 10,000 MQMs after spending another $25,000 in a calendar year
  • 10,000 MQMs more after spending another $25,000 in a calendar year

So, if you spend $51,000 on each card (or $102,000 total), you will get 50,000 MQMs and reach the Delta Gold/Skyteam Elite Plus status.

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Receive thousands of qualifying miles for elite status with this Delta card

This is the most economical way to earn status, because you will also get a $100 statement credit, which will reduce your annual fee to $95 per card.

Use the Platinum Delta SkyMiles and Delta Reserve Cards for Less Spend

If a Platinum Delta SkyMiles card lets you earn 25,000 MQMs after spending $51,000 in the first year, the Delta Reserve card lets you earn 40,000 MQMs.

Let’s recap. You get 10,000 MQMs after the first purchase, 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000, and an additional 15,000 MQMs after spending another $30,000 in a calendar year. However, you don’t need to spend all $60,000 on Delta Reserve. You will get 25,000 MQMs after spending $30,000.

Add the 25,000 MQMs you earn after spending $51,000 on the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card, and that’s enough to reach the Delta Gold/Skyteam Elite Plus status.

Cost/Benefits Comparison

With two Platinum Delta SkyMiles cards, you must spend $102,000 to reach Skyteam Elite Plus. You will only spend $190 in the annual fees and you will get more bonus redeemable SkyMiles. Follow this approach if you don’t have a problem putting $102,000 on your credit card.

With the Platinum Delta SkyMiles and Delta Reserve cards, you must spend $81,000 ($21,000 less) to reach SkyTeam Elite Plus and you get free access to SkyClubs. However, your annual fee for the first year will be $545, and you will earn less in bonus redeemable SkyMiles. Use this approach if you are struggling to put enough spend on a credit card and/or if you value free SkyClub access.

Please remember that the math will change after the first year, since there won’t be any statement credits or sign-up bonuses. On the other hand, the MQM rollover feature ensures that whatever “extra” MQMs you earn in the preceding year won’t go to waste. So if you can spend more, do it to ensure you get the status beyond the first year.