Delta Platinum Choice Benefit Selection
Late last year I had decided to jump on the Delta status hamster wheel for a bit. Delta did make it so dang easy with all of the rollovers and including award flights in their calculations. The real push, for me at least, was that I could basically double dip the status in back to back years. I would need to spend $25K – $30K on my Delta Platinum or Delta Reserve card to make it work but I felt like it was worth it. I recently completed the required spend on my Delta Platinum card (I downgraded from the Reserve earlier this year) and reached Delta Platinum status for the second year in a row. That meant it was time to make my Delta Platinum choice benefit selection. I am going back and forth on it a bit and figured I would spill some digital ink on the subject in case others out there are in the same boat.
Delta Platinum Choice Benefit Options
Delta made news last week with a program “refresh”. They made it more difficult to earn their upper tier status levels by increasing the required MQDs (Medallion Qualification Dollars) quite a bit. They rolled out some new Choice Benefit options too but those won’t play a role here. I’ll go over them briefly later though, looking ahead to next year’s decision.
Delta Platinum Status Benefit Options 2022
Here are the current benefit options I can choose from:
- 4 regional upgrade certificates
- 20,000 bonus Delta Skymiles
- $200 Delta travel voucher
- Gift Silver status
Gifting Silver status is like gifting air, it won’t mean much, so that is a hard pass for me. The $200 Delta travel voucher isn’t very tempting either since I value Delta Skymiles slightly over 1 penny a piece and they never expire. Because of that I am not going to give up value AND flexibility with the voucher. When the voucher goes up to $250 in 2023 that could be more of a debate for people.
That leaves me stuck deciding between 20,000 Skymiles or 4 regional upgrade certificates.
Argument For The 20,000 Skymiles
Last year I selected the 20,000 miles and was planning on doing it again this year. I looked at it like earning almost an extra point per dollar on my $25,000 in spend to get the MQD waiver. Since a lot of my spending was done in the grocery category that was like earning 2.8 Skymiles per dollar, almost on par with the Citi Premier card’s 3X earning in the same category. It made me feel a bit better about putting all of that spend on the card.
It was also a part of the reason I downgraded from the Reserve to the Platinum card, better earning categories and lower MQM bonus spend requirements ($25K vs $30K). Although I should point out you get less MQMs for the lower spend amount, but I prefer hitting $25K and knocking out the MQM bonus and the MQD waiver all at once. It lines up too perfectly.
That was the plan but I started to have a wandering eye towards the regional upgrades, well sort of.
Argument For The Regional Upgrades
The regional upgrades can get you, and anyone in your group, from economy into first class. This may seem useless because you should hopefully get that with your status anyway, but I like them for two potential reasons.
First, at the time of booking the flight will say if it is eligible. You then need to call in to apply it. That should hopefully get you upgraded right away. Even if it doesn’t you get put at the front of the upgrade line. If you still don’t clear an upgrade on the day of the flight you get it back. The key is to hopefully find flights where it works right away.
Secondly, I like that you can use them on multiple people. I have a family of 4 so I could use them for all of us on a one way flight. My status will only get me and another person on my booking upgraded. And with it being two people that will mean Comfort+ a majority of the time for people with Platinum status, not first class.
This only makes sense, in my opinion at least, if you have a longer flight planned. One of the trip ideas we are kicking around for 2023 is driving the California coast. I was looking at some flights and they were showing upgrade certificate availability for 4 people and were priced okay for economy. That would be an ideal use, an almost 5 hour flight.
The Deciding Factor
I still have a little bit to decide and it will probably hinge on that California trip. If we decide to take it I’ll likely select the regional upgrade certificates as my Delta Platinum Choice Benefit selection since it would be a great use and I would burn them right away. The last thing I want, similar to with free night certificates, is to be stuck towards the end of the year furiously searching for a way to burn them.
If we decide to forgo the California trip for a flight to Europe instead (the other option we are debating) then I would go for the miles. I doubt we would have any other plans for a longer flight being worthy of the upgrades in 2023. At least not for all 4 of us, which makes it easier to use them and move on.
What About In 2023?
Next year there are a few changes to the Delta Platinum choice benefit options:
- $200 statement credit for Platinum or Reserve cardholders
- Two gifts of Silver status
- $400 Delta Vacations Experience (flight and hotel)
- A $500 MQD “head start” for the next Medallion year
- $250 (up from $200) Delta Travel Credit Voucher
- A $250 sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) contribution to help in our collective goal toward decarbonizing aviation
- Bonus miles or regional upgrade certificates like in 2022
The decision gets a little murkier in 2023 for sure. The biggest number is the $400 Delta vacations experience but I don’t normally find great deals there. The $250 Delta travel credit voucher is more valuable than 20,000 miles, at least to me, but it has an expiration date to it. Knowing that I fly Delta enough to use it fairly easily that would probably be my choice going forward. Although, I think the regional upgrade certificates still offer the most potential upside. The problem is they also have the biggest pain in the butt factor too.
Delta Platinum Choice Benefit Selection: Final Thoughts
Hopefully this helps anyone grappling with the same decision. If I was a solo or duo flyer I would take the 20,000 Delta Skymiles and never look back. But, if you fly with more than one other person those upgrade certificates can come in handy for longer flights. My decision will hinge on what we decide to do for trips next year. If we keep California on the books, and the flights show as upgradable at booking, I’ll probably go with the regional certs. If we pivot another way then I’ll take the 20,000 Delta Skymiles.
What do you pick for your Delta Choice Benefit selection? Let me know down in the comments!
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The most annoying change at Delta is that they added their new Deluxe comfort class seating, primarily on international flights, reducing the number of Comfort+ seats. But these cool new seats are not eligible for upgrades. So the main value of medallion, being able to upgrade, is now much harder to obtain. They should make these seats upgradeable at boarding for platinum and diamond members.
Regarding the Delta Choice Benefit selection, I chose regional upgrades but they are hardly ever available, even when I book and request them months ahead! A frustrating waste!
Wow, I’m a newbie trying to learn from you guys! Great info thanks a bunch!
I turn my 4 regional upgrades into around $5K.
I work 2 conferences every year in Vegas and I get reimbursed for 1st class flights. I know my dates a year in advance so I book coach well in advance w/miles (28k RT last time) and make sure I select flights with regional upgrades available.
I call in immediately after booking and upgrade.
Send client posted price 2 weeks before trip ($2460 RT last time). Times 2 trips per year using all 4 of my perks.
That is one way to maximize right there 🙂
With the delta recent SkyMiles deval, I’d go for the $200 Delta credit.
I usually choose the upgrade certificates. I had 8 regionals to use this year and it was a yoooge pain. However, I was able to use them for a few NY-LAX flights. I’m now torn with whether or not to go for Diamond for 2023. I won’t able to in 2024, but I’ll be sooo close this year. Sigh…lol.
When to jump off the status hamster wheel is usually the toughest question haha