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MQD Boost and MQD Headstart: Get Medallion status with Delta credit cards

Delta credit cards offer two benefits that can help you earn Medallion status faster. MQD Headstart gives you Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) just for holding an eligible Delta credit card and MQD Boost awards MQDs for spending on your Delta cards.

These benefits make it possible to earn Delta Medallion status just through your Delta credit cards, or to use your credit cards to increased the level of your Medallion status. Here’s how these benefits work.

MQD Boost and MQD Headstart at a glance

MQD HeadstartMQD Boost
How you earn MQDsEarn MQDs based on how much you spend on a Delta credit card.Earn a fixed amount of MQDs for holding a Delta credit card.
Number of MQDs you earn1 MQD for every $20 you spend on a Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (compare Delta cards) or Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card (compare Delta cards)

1 MQD for every $10 you spend on a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (compare Delta cards) or Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card (compare Delta cards)
2,500 MQDs each Medallion qualification year, per eligible card you hold.
MQD Headstart and MQD Boost at a glance.

Which cards offer MQD Boost and MQD Headstart?

Here are the cards off the MQD Boost and MQD Headstart benefits:

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card card art Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card card art Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card card art Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card card art

What is MQD Boost vs. MQD Headstart?

Both MQD Boost and MQD Headstart can give you the Medallion® Qualification Dollars that you’ll need to earn Medallion status, but they do so in different ways.

MQD Headstart grants you $2,500 Medallion® Qualification Dollars just for having the card. That means, if you hold the card, you’ll earn MQDs even if you never spend a single dollar on your card.

MQD Boost awards Medallion Qualification Dollars for purchases you make on your card. The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (compare Delta cards) and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card (compare Delta cards) give you 1 MQD for every $20 in purchases on your card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (compare Delta cards) and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card (compare Delta cards) give you 1 MQD for every $10 in purchases on your card.

What are Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD’s)?

Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) are the “points” you need to collect in order to earn Medallion status with Delta Air Lines. Starting in 2024, Delta eliminated Medallion Qualifying Miles and now awards status solely on based on MQDs. This simplified earning Medallion status with Delta, but also shifted status away from flying with the airline and toward simply spending money on Delta tickets and using its credit cards.

You can earn Medallion Qualification Dollars in one of four ways:

  • Flights on Delta and its partners, based on the ticket price.
  • Delta credit cards, through the MQD Boost and MQD Headstart benefits.
  • Delta Vacations purchases.
  • Occasional promotions through Delta Stays. (Delta ran an MQD promotion twice in early 2024 where bookings through Delta Stays would also earn MQDs.)

Here’s how many MQDs you need to earn each level of Delta status in 2024:

  • Silver Medallion: $5,000 MQDs.
  • Gold Medallion: $10,000 MQDs.
  • Platinum Medallion: $15,000 MQDs.
  • Diamond Medallion: $28,000 MQDs.

How MQD Headstart works: Hold the card, get MQDs

When you hold one of Delta’s Platinum or Reserve credit cards, you’ll receive 2,500 Medallion Qualification dollars each Medallion Qualification Year just for holding the card. You don’t need to do anything other than be a cardmember to receive this benefits.

Here are the cards that offer MQD Headstart:

You get an MQD Headsart for every eligible card you hold

The interesting thing about the MQD Headstart is that you receive the benefit for each card you hold. Conceivably, if you held all four Delta credit cards that offer the benefit, you would receive 10,000 MQDs each year. That’s enough to make Gold Medallion status without ever flying on Delta or spending a dollar on a Delta credit card.

If you’re holding multiple Delta credit cards, you’re probably getting a large amount of value from the cards’ companion certificates, credits for Delta Stays, and rideshare credits. And getting an MQD Headstart on each card can be an added benefit to the card.

How MQD Boost works: Spend on the card, get MQDs.

If you spend money using your Platinum and Reserve Delta Air Lines credit cards, Delta’s MQD Boost benefit will award you Medallion Qualification Dollars based on the amount you spend on your card.

With the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (compare Delta cards) and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card (compare Delta cards), you’ll get 1 MQD for every $20 you spend on the card. With the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (compare Delta cards) and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card (compare Delta cards), you’ll receive 1 MQD for every $10 you spend on the card.

If you’re planning on spending your way to Medallion status, one of the Reserve cards is the obvious pick, since those cards earn more MQDs per dollar of spending. Not that you’ll get MQDs based on the amount spent rather than the points you earn on spending. Spending $1,000 on Delta flights will only get you 100 MQDs, even though you’ll earn 3x redeemable miles with Delta.

Consider the cost of spending your way to Delta status

While it might be tempting to use your Delta credit card for everything in order to earn as many MQDs as possible, you’re likely giving up a lot of reward value if you do this. The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (compare Delta cards) only earns 3x SkyMiles on Delta Air Lines purchases, and 1x miles on other purchases. The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card (compare Delta cards) gives you 1.5x SkyMiles in a few categories, but both of theses cards are relatively unattractive to use for spending if you’re considering the value of the rewards.

Assuming you have a 2% cash back card as an alternative, if you put $10,000 of non-Delta spending on either card in non-category purchases, you’re effectively paying $200 in rewards to get 10,000 Delta SkyMiles, plus 1,000 Medallion Qualification Dollars. You can do better if you use the card for Delta purchases or use the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (compare Delta cards) in its business-related categories (or for a lot of purchases), but be sure to consider what you’re giving up before spending your way to Delta status.

Frequently asked questions

How can I earn Delta status without flying?

You can earn Delta status without flying by holding at least two cards that offer an MQD Headstart. You’ll earn 5,000 MQDs, which will qualify you for Silver Medallion status. You could also spend your way to status using the MQD Headstart benefit on any variant of the Delta Platinum or Delta Reserve cards. Or you could employ a combination of these tactics to earn the MQDs you need for status.

About the author

  • Aaron Hurd

    Aaron Hurd is a credit card, travel rewards, and loyalty program expert. Over the past 15 years, he has authored over a thousand expert contributions published by leading outlets including WSJ, TIME, Newsweek, Forbes, NerdWallet, The Points Guy, Bankrate, CNET, and many others. He has also served in consulting roles for many of these same outlets, designing content strategy, hiring teams of teams of editors and contributors, developing thought-leadership pieces, and ghost-editing for senior editors. Aaron is well-known in the miles and points community and regularly presents about travel rewards at conferences like the Chicago Seminars and Minnebar. Aaron has enjoyed the game of optimizing credit card rewards since getting his first credit card shortly after he turned 18. He started learning about credit cards and travel rewards from the (now defunct) FatWallet Finance forums and FlyerTalk. He holds more than 40 open credit cards and has first-hand experience with almost every major credit card product.

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