Late October I hit Platinum Medallion status with Delta for the first time — that status will allow me to enjoy the benefits of Platinum elites until at least February 2019 (that’s if I don’t re-qualify this year). I travel weekly for work and am able to choose to be loyal to Delta. There are obvious pros and cons to each US airline, but Delta far and away blows out the competition in terms of their customer service. I won’t go too far into the details on this post, but I think it is important to reiterate.
Based on my loyalty I was able to hit Platinum Medallion status, Delta’s penultimate status. There aren’t a ton of added benefits when you jump from Gold to Platinum, but one that is especially appealing to me is the selection of a Choice Benefit. Delta allows Platinum Elite members to select one Choice Benefit, while Diamond Medallions are able to select three! I am going to select one of the 5 benefits listed below by January 31, 2019:
- 4 Regional Upgrade Certificates
- Global Entry Application Voucher
- 20,000 Bonus Miles
- $200 Travel Voucher/Tiffany’s Gift Card
- Gift Silver Medallion
Breaking Down my Decision
I already have Global Entry from my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, so that one is out of consideration immediately. If you are in the situation of choosing a Choice Benefit I’d consider one of the many other cards that offer a Global Entry voucher before choosing it here. I believe you can get a lot more value on another benefit, and unfortunately for me, it isn’t too hard to get TSA Pre-Check these days.
The other benefit I was able to knock off immediately was Gifting Silver Medallion status. First off, there is no one I know that would be able to get any real value from this benefit. Secondly, I don’t think this status offers that much value anyways. This may come across a bit selfish, but in the world of points and miles it is all about focusing on overall value.
The last three benefits are all ones that I am considering.
I think that most people don’t even consider the 4 Regional Upgrade Certificates as one of their benefits, but I differ in this area. While you do already get pretty high upgrade priority as a Platinum Elite, what intrigues me is that as of 4/1/18 you are able to use these on domestic Delta One routes. Previously, complimentary upgrades and upgrade certificates were not eligible up to Delta One, just Delta Comfort. With that change, and Delta offering this product on 4 different transcontinental routes (JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO, DCA-LAX, or BOS-SFO) I am intrigued about the possibility of getting to test out the service. The two biggest problems here are 1) I am not so sure that I’d even clear to Delta One if I used these upgrades, and 2) there isn’t any real value here — rather just an opportunity to try a superior product. I don’t think I will be traveling on any of these routes any time soon, so I will most likely not make this selection, though it is intriguing to consider the option.
Finally, the last two are the most serious contenders, and they really come down to simple numbers. $200 travel voucher or 20,000 bonus miles. Unfortunately, the bonus miles are not elite qualifying miles, which would make the choice a pretty obvious one. Beyond that, I value Skymiles around 1.3 cents/miles (h/t One Mile at a Time), which makes those 20,000 miles worth around $260! With those numbers, the 20,000 miles is worth ~$60 more than the $200 voucher. Looks like the pretty obvious choice here, right? Well….
There is one more thing I’m considering when weighing the overall value of this selection. While 20,000 miles would obviously be more value up front, I am also considering the value once I am in possession of the points or voucher. Specifically, I am talking about the miles I could earn after buying a $200 flight. Would a $200 flight provide enough value in terms of elite qualifying miles, dollars or segments? In short, no. At least not $60 worth of value. Based on the Platinum Medallion bonus, you’d receive 1,800 points on a $200 flight (9 miles per dollar spent). At the above valuation those points are worth ~$23. It does provide elite qualifying activity, but I still believe the 20,000 miles provides far and away the best value.
To consider what Choice Benefit is best, it really comes down to preference. If you don’t like paying a lot in credit card fees (which provide Global Entry) and you really hate taking your shoes off at security, maybe the Global Entry voucher is best for you. If money isn’t a huge option and you just want to fly in First Class (or even better–Delta One), then the Regional Upgrade Certificates may be best for you. But if you are looking for the most value selection, I am going to most likely go with the 20,000 bonus miles.