What a year for Delta flyers (and that really is an understatement). In years past, when speaking at frequent flyer events and defending Delta SkyMiles online, I could always point out that those who scoffed at the value of a SkyMile to be low just did not know or care to know how to extract value from their SkyMiles. That is an argument that is much harder to make right now especially with the end of stopovers on awards and no more mixed awards. That is not to say there is ZERO value from SkyMiles and I will have a post later today on how to extract maximum value if you are going to keep flying Delta.
But my post title really says it all as well as my opening photo and the one just above. I have, in the past, always valued my SkyMiles at 1.5-ish cents each. When you could do an international stopover on an award even higher towards 2-ish cents each. On a positive note, thanks to both coach and 1st class Delta PWM tickets (pay with miles) now earning MQMs the theoretical bottom floor value is 1 cent each, but that is ONLY for those who care about MQMs and PWM tickets. For redemption, in May, I held a contest and two readers showed the absolute maximum worst case possible Delta round trip award ticket could cost you a mind blowing 750,000 SkyMiles or 1.5 Million for two people flying. As you can see now, 820,000 SkyMiles is possible and other blogs have shown even higher awards after the latest round of SkyMiles devaluations that were announced. Understand this:
1 Million point SkyMiles award tickets will soon be found!
Yep, I have no doubt at all that in short order a reader will send me an award that costs us 1 Million SkyMiles for just one person round trip. There really are no words to describe how INSANE that is. When United basically doubled the number of points it takes to fly Lufthansa 1st class with United points I burned all my UA points down to zero . The thought of spending the better part of ½ Million points for my wife and I to fly from the US to Sweden to visit family was double what I could spend with SkyMiles at a LEVEL 1 business class award. Sure, Lufthansa 1st class (and the 1st class terminal in FRA) is an amazing experience and simply does not compare to Delta – but it is not twice as good as Delta business class. If I have to spend 2 Million SkyMiles for us to fly Delta business class vs. just spending ½ a Million on Lufthansa 1st class, then the over inflated prices look like a flat out bargain in comparison.
Now this is clearly taking it to the extreme and I realize that, but with all things Delta what was once looked at as crazy and extreme is now possible (see my point?)!
We saw last month AMEX offered a very good promotion with their Delta CO-branded credit cards. To me, as one who cares about elite status, the higher MQM offer with their Delta Platinum cards was the best offer on the table as I no longer actively collect SkyMiles and am working as hard as I can to burn through my current Delta award points balance.
So what can be done? SkyMiles needs a “Greek style” bailout. They need help as they are living in a Greek dream world. The value of the SkyMiles “currency” that is the absolute bottom floor value is no longer 1 cent each. Delta has proven it can not be trusted anymore when it comes to loyalty and SkyMiles. It is thus up to AMEX to save us from Delta and provide a “bailout” if you will. Here is what I hope AMEX will do with their card program over the rest of this year and into 2016. Do keep in mind this is all just MY personal hopes as I have no information on what AMEX is going to do or not do.
First what needs to stay with the cards, that is, the key bits that make the card(s) worth holding onto still for me personally.
$25,000 dollar MQD spend waiver. This is, to me, a deal breaker if it goes away or changes dramatically. Since SkyMiles are worth so much less now one of the LAST great reasons to spend money on Delta CO-branded credit cards is for the yearly MQD waiver for elite status.
Bonus MQMs. For both the Delta Reserve card and the Platinum card(s) we can earn bonus MQMs with spending. Again, just as with the first point, if the ability to earn MQMs is cut or changed then there is NO reason for me to spend a penny on these cards. In fact I have already reached $60,000 in spend on my Delta Reserve card and I will not spend one cent more on that card until 1JAN16 as there is no point since I have maxed out the MQM earnings potential for the year.
More Delta upgrades. I am always shocked how many Delta Diamonds do not have a Delta Reserve card for this perk alone. While no one outside Delta CORP can point to the exact number of upgrades that were “won” by those holding the card over those without it, I can tell you from my experience it does help me. Plus, AMEX clearly displays this as a perk, with credit card wording VERY closely scrutinized, if this were not a real perk they would not display it so prominently. Anyway, if this perk were cut I would likely downgrade my Reserve card to a Platinum that day.
So those, to me, are the current real value perks for the cards. If I were a Silver Medallion you can add the extra bag free as a major reason to hold at least a Delta Gold or Platinum card. But what would I like to see due to all the devaluations of SkyMiles as a “bailout” to get some value back to SkyMiles? Here is my wish list I would like to see:
2x SkyMiles for each dollar spent. Regardless of what you are buying I would like to earn 2x SkyMiles to motivate me to spend again on my Delta AMEX card. Since a SkyMile is potential now (and will be going forward I think) worth less that 1 cent each AMEX needs to give me at least 2 SkyMiles for each dollar I spend on the card to make up for this reduction in value.
3x SkyMiles for each dollar on tickets. This just needs to happen ASAP. AMEX already offers 3x points on their PRG card for tickets purchased on airline web sites and on top of that an AMEX Membership Rewards point is worth WAY MORE than a SkyMile.
Higher SkyMiles bonus for spend. Right now you get bonus MQMs plus bonus SkyMiles for reaching spend levels on the Platinum and Reserve Delta cards. I would like to see those bonus amounts at least double to keep up with all the SkyMiles devaluations. The MQMs are worth so much, to me, as is, but SkyMiles bonus needs to improve. Also, the GOLD card should have bonus spend levels added as a perk of the card. After all, we are talking ideas to encourage spend on the card(s).
BOGOF year one. I use my BOGOF (buy one get one free + tax) certificate each year. I either use it myself or buy tickets for family or friends. I get one each year I pay my card fee. Due to all the cuts in value from SkyMiles it would be good if AMEX considered including it year one instead of as it is now that you get it when your year two fee hits. I would love to see this upgrade happen to the Delta Platinum and Reserve cards.
These are my personal suggestions to AMEX to improve their Delta CO-branded cards. These are the perks they should please not cut and the other ideas to help breathe life back into the cards with Delta destroying SkyMiles value practically day by day and making the program one of the worst frequent flyer values.
Do I think any of these ideas will happen? Maybe. But I am also afraid they will cut perks that should not be cut. After all Delta cut the perk of allowing a guest into the Skyclubs and AMEX could do nothing about it. I live in real fear of more cuts before improvements.
What do you think of my suggestions for a SkyMiles bailout? Are these good ideas? What else would you like to see happen? – René
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