What Is a Medallion Qualification Dollar and How Do You Earn It? What Is a Medallion Qualification Dollar and How Do You Earn It?

What Is a Medallion Qualification Dollar and How Do You Earn It?

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To achieve elite status with Delta Air Lines, you must meet both a flight qualifier and a spend qualifier. The flight qualifier requires members to earn a specified number of either Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs). In comparison, the spend qualifier requires members to earn a certain number of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) in a calendar year.

Essentially, MQDs are a way for Delta to ensure that elite members have spent a minimum amount of money with the airline. Delta is not the only airline to have a spending requirement in addition to flying a certain number of miles or segments.

While MQMs and MQSs are important, in this post we focus on what Medallion Qualification Dollars are and how you can earn them.

Qualify for Delta Medallion Status

What Is a Medallion Qualification Dollar?

Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) are the total spend made by a Delta SkyMiles member on flights marketed by Delta Air Lines minus government taxes and fees in a calendar year. MQDs are also earned on partner flights not marketed by Delta Air Lines but credited to SkyMiles, with credit based on cabin class and actual miles flown. These flights are identified as having a Delta flight number, which begins with the two-letter code “DL.” Additionally, the MQD requirement is waived for all non-U.S.-based SkyMiles members.

What Counts as Medallion Qualification Dollars?

Per Delta, SkyMiles members earn MQDs on paid fares for Delta-marketed flights as follows:

Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) on retail tickets are calculated based on the money you spend on Delta-marketed flights (flight numbers that include the “DL” airline code) in Main Cabin or above. This includes only the base fare and any carrier-imposed surcharges. Government-imposed taxes and fees are not included in MQDs.

The MQDs for paid fares will be less than the ticket price. This is because there are always taxes and fees. You'll earn more MQDs, at least as a percentage of total ticket price, for domestic flights. This is due to the fact that taxes and fees are lower than those found on many international tickets.

This MQD earning rate may apply even if you don't actually fly with Delta. For example, Delta sells many Virgin Atlantic fares, as the London-based airline is a key partner. If you book a Virgin Atlantic flight on a Delta ticket (i.e., the ticket number begins with 006), you'll earn MQDs based on how much you spent, per the description above.

Delta treats exception fares differently. These are fares where the flight cost isn't disclosed to you. In addition, these can include consolidator and vacation package fares. In these cases, Delta awards you MQDs at the rate of 20% of redeemable miles earned.

Interestingly, Delta also awards MQDs on award tickets:

Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) on Award Travel tickets are calculated based on miles used on Delta-marketed flights (flight numbers that include the “DL” airline code) in Main Cabin or above. Government-imposed taxes and fees are not included in MQDs. 

This is a relatively new development. But, it does allow you to get some additional value out of your award miles if you redeem a lot in one year.

What doesn't count as a Medallion Qualification Dollar?

Some charges are explicitly excluded from earning MQDs:

Fees and optional products do not earn MQDs. That includes, but is not limited to, checked baggage fees, Delta Sky Club® memberships, Wi-Fi passes, in-flight food and beverage purchases, in-flight entertainment, unaccompanied minor fees, pet travel fees, mileage purchases, ticket change fees, Direct Ticketing Charge (DTC), same-day confirmed or standby fees, Administrative Service Charge (ASC), and External Reissue Charge (ERC).

The other “gotcha” is that Basic Economy fares never earn MQDs (or MQMs or MQSs) — even those sold as exception fares.

Earning MQDs on partner flights

Delta is a part of the SkyTeam Alliance and has a number of additional partners, as well. You can earn MQDs on some partner flights that are not booked as part of a Delta ticket by still crediting them to SkyMiles. However, these are credited very differently.

Rather than earning based on the ticket price, minus taxes and fees, MQDs for partner flights credit as a percentage of miles flown based on the fare class. Each partner has its own accrual chart. Again, this only applies to partner flights not ticketed through Delta. Here is a section of the Air France accruals chart.

Medallion Qualification Dollar earning rates on Air France Flights
SkyMiles earnings on Air France fare classes

Not all partner flights award the same amount of MQDs. Make sure you check the Delta partners page to see whether you should credit your flight to SkyMiles.

If you choose not to book partner flights through Delta, this can be advantageous. Let's run through a real-world example.

Example MQD earnings on a partner flight

Let's suppose I'm planning to fly to London and want to do so in Virgin Atlantic premium economy. My route is San Francisco (SFO) to London Heathrow (LHR) nonstop. I can book this ticket directly with Delta. It would earn $1,101 MQDs (on a total fare of $1,479).

However, if I book it with Virgin Atlantic directly, I'll receive MQDs according to the following chart.

Medallion Qualification Dollar earning rates on Virgin Atlantic Flights

Booked through Virgin Atlantic, I pay the same price of $1,479. Premium economy fare codes all earn 30% of flown miles as MQDs. Since the distance between SFO and LHR is approximately 5,367 miles, I'd earn approximately 3,220 MQDs for the flight. This is substantially more than if I'd booked the flight through Delta!

This shows that partner flights can be used to great advantage for qualifying for Medallion status.

Medallion Qualification Dollar Requirements

To earn Delta Medallion status, you need to meet the following MQD requirement, plus either Miles or Segments flown:

  • Silver Medallion: 3,000 MQDs plus one of the following: 30,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or 30 Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs)
  • Gold Medallion: 8,000 MQDs plus one of the following: 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs
  • Platinum Medallion: 12,000 MQDs plus one of the following:  75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs
  • Diamond Medallion: 20,000 MQDs plus one of the following: 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs

Medallion Qualification Requirements

Delta increased its Medallion status requirements for 2023. Delta Diamond Medallion now requires a mind-boggling 20,000 MQDs. However, there is a way around the MQD requirement.

How Can You Avoid The Medallion Qualification Dollar Requirement

If you hold a Delta co-branded credit card from American Express, you are eligible for an MQD waiver. For Delta Silver, Gold, and Platinum Medallion, the MQD requirement is waived if you spend $25,000 on eligible purchases on your card within a calendar year. This waiver is a benefit of the following SkyMiles co-branded credit cards:

What's cool is that if you have any of the above cards, spending on the Delta Gold or Blue cards counts toward the MQD waiver as well:

Unfortunately, the MQD Waiver spending requirement for Diamond Medallion Status is $250,000. This is 10x what is required for the other status tiers.

(Effective 1/1/24, the Status Boost benefit and MQD benefit will no longer be available, and there will be a new way to earn toward Medallion Status with the Delta cards – Learn more.)

Delta Medallion Benefits

Medallion Status offers plenty of benefits to loyal Delta customers. Delta has recently overhauled its program and now offers its elites more Choice Benefits, including enhanced options for Diamond members. You even can enjoy elite status with Sixt car rental as a Gold member. If you want to enjoy the benefits of Delta Medallion status, make sure you have a good understanding of the requirements.

For example, you have to understand how to earn (or avoid) the Medallion Qualification Dollar requirement. The return on spend isn't great. However, having a Delta credit card can help immensely in the quest for Medallion status.

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  • No, you only get credit for the MQDs after you fly.

  • Hello! I am $10 MQD short of Silver Medallion. From the comments, it looks like I have to buy a ticket to make up for that $10. I did find a $91 round trip ticket ($60 MQD). My question is, do I actually have to take the flight for the MQD to count? I understand I wouldn’t get the Skymiles but would the spend still count?

  • I read all of the comments and none answered this very specific question:
    Let’s say I bought a flight and the MQD total is $500 for the entire trip. The flight departs on December 26th and returns on January 2nd. Is the MQD total split between the years? 50/50 in other words? So I would get $250 for this year and $250 for next year?

  • I read most everything posted here……I didn’t want you to have to answer this question if you already had. I can see several times where you have mentioned… “The current spending requirement is $25,000 in annual spend on the Delta card to avoid the MQD requirement for all status levels except Diamond (which is $250,000 in credit card spending.”

    My questions are these…

    What are qualified purchases for the spending requirement of $25,000.00/$250,000.00? Are we talking groceries, fuel, McDonalds….anything? Or is the 25,000 specific to Delta purchases?

    Additionally, I see in your post on 3/27/19, you talk about “In other words, if you pay with the Delta card that earns miles in your husband’s account, the MQD waiver will apply to his quest for elite status.”, so would it be reasonable then to get out from under my husband’s Am Ex and get my own where i am the primary, so that we are both earning MQD’s? Currently, he is he primary on our Am Ex and if i understand what you have posted here that means that any spent on the Am Ex goes towards his elite status and NOT mine. Correct?

    Sorry if these are redundant questions.

    Thanks for your time in advance, this website has been the most helpful I have seen.

    • Hey, great questions. First, any spending on the Delta cards—McDonalds included :)—will count towards the 25K EQD qualification waiver. When you earn the waiver, you’re exempt from Delta’s requirement that you spend a certain amount on Delta flights to earn status. In other words, using the co-brand card let’s you get around spending a certain amount on Delta flights specifically.

      The Delta cards earn MQMs (Medallion Qualifying Miles) at specific thresholds of spending. When you spend 25K on the Delta platinum card, you get 10K MQMs – this is independent of the MQD waiver (but for the Delta Platinum card, it happens that the threshold for both benefits is spending $25K).

      So, spend 25k on the Delta platinum, get 10K MQMs and a MQD waiver that you don’t need to spend x dollars on Delta flights. The benefit goes to the primary cardholder, so if you want to earn status yourself, you’ll want to get your own Delta Amex. Hope that helps. This post has more detail on everything.

  • I am purchasing 5 Delta tickets for my daughters family to come visit us. Will I get the MQDs for all five flights? Also, I am the second cardholder (my husband is the main cardholder, we have different card numbers). If I charge these flights on my card, will I get the MQDs or my husband?

    • Each Skymiles member earns MQDs and MQMs on their own flights, so the money you’re spending on other family members will count towards their own elite qualification. However, the MQM waiver (not having to worry about meeting the dollar threshold because of spending on a Delta co-brand card) will credit to the Skymiles account that is associated with the card used to buy the tickets.

      The current spending requirement is $25,000 in annual spend on the Delta card to avoid the MQD requirement for all status levels except Diamond (which is $250,000 in credit card spending). In other words, if you pay with the Delta card that earns miles in your husband’s account, the MQD waiver will apply to his quest for elite status. https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/skymiles/medallion-program/how-to-qualify.html

  • I buy tix for my family when we travel together. Do I get the MQDs since they are purchased on my CC?

  • Howie,
    2 Million Miles with Delta(but still struggling to “get it” with MQD$. I’ve hit miles for the year, no problem. But I am $43 dollar short of the 15k Spend on MQD’s to achieve Diamond. So is there anything besides booking and flying a flight before the end of the year that can get me there?


  • What is the situation regarding travel when Delta rebooks you on to another (non-partner) airline because of cancellation of their flight. In this instance it was an 8500 mile flight with about 1100 MQD’s so was no insignificant.

  • I am not sure I saw in postings.

    Does MQDs rollover like MQMs?


  • When do you get credit for the MQD spent? For instance, if I book a trip now for February of next year, will it still count towards this year’s MQD? I have met my MQM for the year, but about $1k away from MQDs. Thanks.

  • Kelly M Hagan says:

    After reviewing all the flights I am scheduled to take this year, and I am short 100 MQD ($100). If I pay for Delta Comfort or in-flight wifi, will those dollars be MQDs? Thanks!

    • MQDs are based on your FARE. You’ll need to upgrade / change your ticket if you want to earn MQDs. You should contact Delta directly about your specific ticket and see if you can upgrade it to a comfort+ or first class fare to earn the additional MQDs. They can calculate it for you on the phone. Purchasing Wi-Fi will not count towards MQD.

  • If buying a ticket directly from Delta, do you get 1 MQD per $1 spent on the actual ticket fare ( less taxes and fees)? Is it always a 1:1 ratio? Or, are MQD’s amounts affected by ticket class or level ( ie Basic Class vs Main Cabin vs First class, etc…).
    Thanks in advance for your response.

  • Thanks for this. Do all ticket charges purchased for me count toward my MQDs? For example, if my client books a ticket for me, but the ticket is in my name, do I get the credit in my MQDs, or do they? Thanks very much!

  • Does purchases for Delta travel packages (other than the actually air portion, i.e. the hotel etc portion) qualify for MQD?

  • Thanks, Howie. At one time I thought I had been given the option of linking my Marriott points to an airline. That was a long time ago, though, and it may have been a link to miles….not dollars. It looks like I’ll be $550 away from Gold status at the end of 2017, and I’m trying to figure out how to get there! I’m not sure I’ll be able to fit in one more trip this calendar year. Bummer. So close. It’s this new dollar requirement that gets me. Segments and miles I way exceed.

  • I am wondering if money spent in 2017 for travel in 2018 applies to the MQD requirement for 2017 or 18?

  • Is there a way I can see the detail for my current year’s total MQDs?

  • So MQDs are earned at the time ticket is booked or the time the flight is flown please? Thanks

  • “Additionally, the MQD requirement is waived for all non-U.S.-based SkyMiles members.”

    So if I am a Delta SkyMiles member living overseas, can I have this requirement waived? Could you provide info on how to go about doing that? Thanks!

  • I just hope MQD (or EQD in general) does not spread to anymore airlines.
    Calculating and tracking EQD is such a pain in the neck, I can’t believe how much time I ended up wasting with calculating/tracking EQD.

  • Also, if you have a status with Delta there’re some crossbenefits when you stay in SPG properties as they’ve got a partnership but I can’t remember what they are actually

  • So is it correct that you cannot earn MQDs when booking through third-party sites like Kayak, Expedia, etc.?

    • No, that is incorrect. There are some fares that are ineligible for MQD earning, such as Priceline or Hotwire fares where you don’t know which airline you’re buying through prior to purchase, but otherwise, you can expect to earn MQDs

  • I had never even heard of this before this post! Thanks for sharing

  • Miguel Jauregui says:

    Great post. I was under the impression that MQDs were accrued only if the flight was purchased directly off the Delta website, not going through a 3rd party like Expedia to find the flight. Can you clarify that it doesn’t make a difference where ever the flight is purchased, as long as the flight number has the “DL”, it’ll still qualify for MQDs? Thanks!

    • Miguel, there are a few circumstances where tickets issued will not earn MQDs, such as those purchases through hotwire or priceline when the airline is not disclosed prior to purchase. However, most all other purchases will count. You’ll need to read through the terms on the page for your specific circumstance, but tickets purchased through Expedia are eligible for MQDs. You may only receive a fraction of MQDs.

  • Really hope they re-offer a co-branded Delta SkyMiles credit card in Canada.

  • Interesting post! Thank you.

  • You have to love SkyPesos.

  • So, as I understand Delta Connection flights and other partner airline flights qualify as long as the flight has a DL number, even if it also has other airlines’ numbers?

  • Simple and straightforward explanation of a MQD. Good post.