Forum Buzz: Elite Status Offers for Delta/US Airways Club Memberships

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Delta offers 1,500 MQM for one year Sky Club membership

According to this thread on FlyerTalk, Delta is offering elite qualifying miles for buying a Sky Club lounge membership. To take advantage, you must purchase a one or three year membership by December 31st.

You can choose between two additional free months on a one-year membership or 1,500 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs). MQMs are what Delta uses to calculate elite status. Most other airlines refer to these miles as elite qualification miles, or EQM.

What are the benefits of having a Sky Club membership?

Airline clubs in general can be a haven for frequent flyers. They typically offer snacks throughout the day as well as complimentary beer, wine, and mixed drinks. Delta Sky Clubs also provide complimentary wi-fi which is typically faster (and more secure) than internet access in the main terminal.

What’s the best perk of having Sky Club access?

Without a doubt, membership can pay for itself when you are stuck at an airport in bad weather or your flight experiences delays or cancellations. While most people rush the ticket counter and inundate the gate agents, you have the ability to get personalized assistance from the agents inside Sky Clubs instead. Lines are usually shorter, and they might be able to reroute you on options you didn’t consider.

How much does a Sky Club membership cost?

The pricing chart for annual memberships is below. The higher elite status with Delta, the less you pay for membership. If this is your first time purchasing a membership, you will also be charged a $50 initiation fee.

Those with no status on Delta would pay $500 ($450 + $50 initiation fee) for a one year membership.

Keep in mind that Diamond Medallions, Delta’s most frequent flyers, receive complimentary Sky Club access as part of their benefits package.

Where are Delta’s Sky Clubs located?

The complete list of Delta Sky Clubs can be found here.

How much do you value the 1,500 MQM being offered as part of the promotion?

It’s tougher to say with Delta than with other airlines. As Scott wrote in his post, How Much is the American Airlines Double Miles Promo Worth?, you should value your 1st through 24,999th elite qualifying mile on most airlines at 0. They won’t help you attain any elite status. The 25,000th MQM is worth what you value Silver status at. (The complete list of Delta’s elite benefits can be found here.)

But Delta is unique among carriers in that if you attain elite status, any elite qualifying miles above your status (but below the next level of status) are rolled over into the next year. For example, if you earned 28,000 MQM this year, you would be a Delta Silver Medallion. You would also start next year with 3,000 MQM to help you requalify, a very useful benefit! Rollover MQM has helped me maintain elite status with Delta since I became Platinum in 2009.

Rollover means that these 1,500 MQM will eventually get “used” for a status, so I’d value them at 6% of the value of Delta Silver Status since they get you 6% of the way there.

Delta AMEX Reserve card access to the SkyClub

Delta and American Express release the Delta Reserve card, which gives 10k MQMs on first purchase and SkyClub access. The big drawback is the $450 annual fee.

Is the annual membership or AMEX Reserve card the best way to gain access to Delta Sky Clubs?

Only if the MQM you receive from membership signup or the Reserve card help you reach the next level of elite status! I highly suggest you apply for the American Express Platinum card if airline club access matters to you. The card comes with Delta, American, US Airways, and Priority Pass Select lounge access. The annual fee for the Mercedes-Benz version is $475. That’s $25 more than the “regular” Platinum card, but it comes with a much better sign up bonus.

The current sign up bonus for the Mercedes-Benz Platinum-50,000 Membership after $1K in spending-worth $1,020 ranks third on our list of Best Credit Card Offers by Absolute Value. For more information on how we value credit card sign up bonuses, see Scott’s post, The Two Ways to Value  Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses.

Note that to gain access to Delta or American lounges, you must be flying those airlines the same day. A conventional Sky Club membership would allow you Delta lounge access regardless of the airline that you fly.

Are there other ways to earn MQM besides flying, Sky Club membership, or the Reserve card?

Hertz is offering 250 MQM for every three day rental.  Details of that offer can be found here. The offer expires on November 30th.

Hilton hotels is offering 250 MQM for two night stays at participating hotels. Registration is required and details can be found here. Eligible stays must be completed by December 15th. The FlyerTalk blog also writes up the promotion here.

Delta also just announced they are offereing Skymiles members the ability to outright purchase MQM. They ran the same promotion at the end of last year.

Prices are very steep (between 9.9-15.8 cents per MQM), and you must purchase in increments of 2,500 MQM up to the 10K maximum.

This is far from a good deal on paper, but if you knew you weren’t going to requalify for status and didn’t have time for a mileage run, it’s at least a last minute option. To see the promo details, check out the screen shot below or visit the site directly to buy MQM.

 

US Airways offers 5,000 PQM for Club membership

According to this thread on FlyerTalk, US Airways is offering 5,000 Preferred Qualifying Miles (or PQM, their version of elite qualifying miles) for club memberships purchased through November 18th. The typical $50 initiation fee is also waived.

Membership costs can be found here and club locations can be found here. Note that US Airways membership permits access to United Clubs as well.

5,000 PQM is certainly a more generous offer than the 1,500 MQM promoted by Delta, but it’s still not a good deal. $450 is better spent on the American Express Platinum card which also provides Delta and American lounge access.

If you are trying to boost your PQM to gain elite status, note that US Airways is the only domestic carrier that sells elite status outright. You can “buy up” to any elite level even if you have no status with the airline to begin with. Unlike Delta, this isn’t a limited time promotion. They offer this throughout the year.

Pricing options and details can be found here.

If you want to really exploit both deals, you could sign up for the American Express Platinum card which comes with a $200 annual airline fee reimbursement. Select US Airways as your preferred airline and then buy membership online. You would then have access to American, Delta, US Airways, and United clubs for $725 ($475 Platinum annual fee + $450 US Airways membership – $200 Platinum reimbursement). Paying for each individual membership separately would cost double!

For more reading on the Platinum card’s airline reimbursement fee, check out my post, Master Thread of Which Airline Gift Cards American Express Reimburses.

Recap

It’s the end of the year, and both Delta and US Airways are trying to lock in new club memberships by offering EQMs. For most, applying for an American Express Platinum is simply the better value proposition for lounge access. If the EQM you receive would bump you to the next elite tier, it could make sense depending on how you value your new perks.

Even then, there are other creative ways to boost your EQM balance besides buying a club membership. Think twice before jumping in on these lounge offers.


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