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Amex Delta Reserve Upgrade Offer

I had what I thought was a good plan on taking advantage of Delta on my way out the door. With their recent Skymiles changes there is no point chasing status again next year. Even with their rollback last night, it wasn't even to change this plan at all. To be fair, I had planned on this being my last year chasing Delta frequent flyer status anyway. With the end of the covid rollovers etc. it just wasn't worth the effort in my opinion. I had got my ducks in a row to do a little bit of shenanigans before throwing up deuces at the end of the year. That was until I got an Amex Delta Reserve upgrade offer yesterday that has my head spinning a bit. I'll go through what my plan was, what the Delta Reserve upgrade offer is and how that threw a potential wrench in my plans.

Update 11/11/23 – Part Failure & Why I Am Okay With That

I promised I would let everyone know how this all played out, and it appears to be a partial failure. When I grabbed the Delta Reserve upgrade the spending meter for the MQM boost reset on the Amex site to $30K. It didn't carry over my $25K plus of spending from the Platinum card like I had guessed it would. It did carry over $500ish dollars but I have no idea why. Maybe that is how much I had surpassed $25K in spending on the Platinum card? I am still not sure why that would carry over and not the rest of it.

I still did the $5K in spend just in case it would trigger it somehow on the back end. I needed to do $4,000 in spend for the upgrade offer anyway, so it was only an extra $1K in spend. The 40,000 miles have posted but I never got the MQM bump credit email.

I knew there was a risk of this all not working out quite as planned and I am okay with that. It appears I will most likely be stuck with Silver status, and will have the change to turn 20K or so MQMs into 10,000 Skymiles. Not such a bad consolation prize if you ask me. Having the credit card for the 15% discount when using those Skymiles makes it even a little bit better than that. It is a good reminder that you will win some and you will lose some. If you are winning more than you are losing then you are doing well!

Double Dipping The Delta Card's MQM Earning

This is more of a theory of mine versus me having first hand knowledge of it working. With the way other American Express family of cards have worked for me I think it will play out this way. I have enough confidence in it that I was willing to take a shot at least. My plan was to double dip the Delta MQM earning on the Delta Platinum and Delta Reserve card.

I recently completed the $25K in spend for the Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD) waiver on my Delta Platinum card. That also earned the Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) boost after spending $25,000. The Delta Reserve card works a bit differently from the Platinum card though. It earns the MQD waiver at $25K in spend, just like the Platinum, but it doesn't earn the MQM boost until after $30k in spend. The Reserve also gets a 15K MQM boost versus 10K with the Platinum card.

My working theory is if I upgraded my Delta Platinum card to the Delta Reserve the $25K in spend I already completed would roll over to the Reserve. That would mean I could spend $5K more and get a 15K MQM boost. That double dip would easily secure Gold for me, which it appears I will be just short of this year after all of my flights wrap up. With the new rules kicking in next year I could turn my rollover MQMs into Skymiles which gives a nice little spiff on the end of this plan.

Amex Delta Reserve Upgrade Offer
Taking Care Of The Annual Fee

Let me get this straight, I will get a higher level status, and bonus Skymiles, all for a few bucks? Sounds good to me! I say a few bucks because I had a plan for the annual fee too. My plan would be to upgrade from the Delta Platinum to the Delta Reserve and quickly complete the additional $5K in spend. I need to complete it by the end of the calendar year anyway.

If I accept the upgrade I would get billed a prorated annual fee for the Reserve card ($550 a year), but after getting the MQM bonus I would downgrade the card to the Delta Blue Skymiles card. I would do that because the Blue card has no annual fee. This would refund me most of the prorated annual fee plus whatever I had left on the Delta Platinum card's annual fee this cardmember year. If it took me the full 2 months to complete the spend that would be like $90 in cost. At that cost it was gamble I was willing to take on this plan working.

I could downgrade the card quickly after upgrading because I didn't get any bonus points when requesting the upgrade. That means I don't need to keep it open for 12 months since there was nothing to claw back. Until there was…

My Amex Delta Reserve Upgrade Offer Details

This was a perfect plan that I had planned on kicking off last week. I reached out via chat to perform the upgrade but the rep was unable to do it. They said unless there was an offer in my account I would need to call in to do it. I found this a little strange but the rep said it wasn't an option in their system. They did put a note on my account that I was looking to upgrade so when I called in things would move along quickly. This is potentially an interesting development.

Life got in the way last week with my insane Choice Hotels football trip and I never made the call. Then yesterday, about 5 days after my chat, an Amex Delta Reserve upgrade offer hit my email inbox. Did the chat, and the rep adding a note that I wanted to upgrade, make this offer populate? Something similar to how leaving an item in your shopping cart online will sometimes cause a discount email to come your way? Maybe.

Upgrade Offer Details

Here are the actual terms of the offer:

  • Earn 40,000 Delta Skymiles after spending $4,000 on your card within 6 months of upgrading the card.
  • The $550 annual fee is NOT waived
  • Offer expires 11/16/23
  • I would need to keep the card open for 12 months from upgrade or risk losing the bonus miles

For a more in depth write up about this specific offer and who it may be good for, check out my write up from yesterday.

Amex Delta Reserve Upgrade Offer

Why This Throws A Wrench In My Plans

At first glance, this seems great! I need to spend $5,000 to potentially hit the MQM bonus anyway, and now I'll get 40,000 Skymiles for my effort. That seems like a win, win if I have ever seen one. Not so fast! By taking this upgrade offer I would need to lock myself into the Delta Reserve for another year. That includes swallowing the entire $550 annual fee, not just the $90 for two months.

I value 40,000 Delta Skymiles in the $450 – $500 range, which falls just shy of the cost of the annual fee. The card comes up a little short on meaningful perks too. The most valuable one is lounge access, and luckily that would still be good for next year with the proposed changes. The bad thing is I will have a Business Platinum card for a big chunk of that timeframe, so this card isn't really needed. The other perks are a boost to your upgrade status on flights and the 15% award booking discount. I never really noticed a difference on upgrades when holding the card, but the 15% off award flights has been useful and changes the math a bit.

Flawed Math

Initially, I was going to skip this upgrade offer because of the fee being more than the value. That was flawed math though. I say that because I am going to pay around $90 in annual fees no matter which route I go. That would make the cost of this option actually $460, or right in line with the value in miles I get back. That makes things more interesting.

Then, if you throw in the fact that I would get the 15% award booking discount for another year we need to make another adjustment. With my plan above I would lose access to this perk when downgrading to the Delta Blue card. If I took this offer I would get another 12 months of it, and that essentially adds 15% in value to the Amex Delta Reserve upgrade offer. That is because the miles would be worth 15% more while I held the card. Which is like getting a bonus of 6,000 miles on ToP of the 40,000 from this offer.

I realize I could get access to the 15% award discount with a cheaper Gold card, at $95 a year. I am not including that into my calculations though since this is an all or nothing decision. Either I would have it with the Reserve or not have it with the Delta Blue card, at least when deciding between these two options.

Amex Delta Reserve Upgrade Offer: ToP Thoughts

I am still kicking this Amex Delta Reserve upgrade offer around. I don't really like breakeven value opportunities, which is pretty much what the full upgrade offer is. If I took it I would be essentially buying Delta Skymiles at cost. If the card had some credits that could discount the fee this would be a much easier decision. Look at me asking for more coupons, see what American Express has done to us?!

The decision would be a little more cut and dry if I didn't have lounge access covered with other cards too. I would get free(ish) lounge access the second half of 2024 which has some value as a Delta hub captive. The real turning point, for me at least, is having another year of the 15% award discount. That essentially adds an additional 6,000 miles to this offer which makes it a positive value deal, even if just slightly. If you include the 20K miles I have in my account already too, that is an additional 3,000 miles.

I'll probably kick around this Delta Reserve upgrade offer a few more days and then decide. I am leaning towards taking it at this point though. Let me know which way you would go over in the ToP Facebook Group.


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