How much is Delta Silver status worth?

Delta Silver status offers free upgrade to Comfort+ 24 hours before departure

Silver status is Delta’s lowest elite tier.  To get Silver status, you need to fly 25,000 miles in a calendar year or fly 30 separate segments.  More accurately, you need to earn 25,000 MQMs (Medallion Qualifying Miles) or 30 MQSs.  MQMs can be earned from flying or from a few other sources such as MQM rollovers from the previous year, Delta Platinum or Delta Reserve credit card spend, etc.  But earning 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs is not enough on its own.  There’s also the MQD (Medallion Qualifying Dollar) requirement.  You need to spend $3,000 on Delta flights or earn a MQD waiver by spending $25,000 on Delta credit cards.

Is Silver status worth all that spend and effort?  One way to decide is to estimate how much Silver status is worth.  I’ll give it a try…

Delta Silver Status Benefits Described

Let’s look at the Silver status benefits that are most worthwhile:

  • Free Upgrades to First Class: Silver elites may be upgraded up to 24 hours prior to departure. More often you’ll be on the list for an upgrade at the gate.  Unfortunately, you’ll be listed below Gold, Platinum, or Diamond elites, so upgrades are extremely rare on most flights.Free upgrades to First Class apply to flights within the continental US, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Bermuda, Central America, and between Hawaii and LAS, LAX, SEA, SFO, or SLC.
  • Free Upgrades to Comfort+: Comfort+ offers the same sized seats as regular economy, but with extra legroom. It also offers free beer, wine & cocktails, free crappy headphones, and better snacks on longer flights.  Free upgrades to Comfort+ apply to all flights within the U.S. 50 and Canada, and all flights within Latin America/Caribbean and Asia Pacific markets, including China and Hong Kong.  Note that upgrades to Comfort+ are processed 24 hours before departure for Silver elites.  Higher level elites get upgraded sooner, so there may not be any Comfort+ seats available by the time they get around to you.
  • Complementary Preferred Seats: Some economy seats (such as exit row seats which have more legroom) are designated as preferred seats.  Delta usually charges customers to select these seats, but elite Medallion customers can select them for free.
  • Rollover MQMs: If you earn more than 25,000 MQMs in a calendar year, but you do not qualify for the next level of status, then all MQMs above 25,000 will roll over into the next year to help you achieve status then.  I highly value this feature because you won’t lose the extra MQMs you’ve earned above Silver status.  If you fall short of earning Silver status, though, MQMs do not roll-over and they’re all lost.
  • Waived bag fees: Silver Medallions and up to 8 companions on the same reservation may check 1 additional bag for free.  For example, a Delta Gold SkyMiles credit card holder gets 1 free checked bag as a credit card perk, so if this cardholder has Silver status, they can check 2 bags for free.
  • 2X more miles earned:  Non-elite SkyMiles members earn 5 miles per dollar for flights. Silver elite members earn 7 miles per dollar.

Delta Silver Status Benefits Valued

Next I’ll assign a somewhat arbitrary value to each benefit with the assumption that you’ll continue to fly Delta enough to earn Silver status in the future.  To be clear, the value of these benefits is completely subjective.  Use your own judgment to decide how much each feature is worth to you.

  • Free Upgrades to First Class: $75
    Rationale: While Silver status first class upgrades aren’t common, they’re great when they come through.
  • Free Upgrades to Comfort+: $50
    Rationale: For some, the free alcoholic drinks in Comfort+ can be valuable.  If you’re not a drinker, it’s probably worth less than $50.
  • Complementary Preferred Seats: $25
    Rationale: I punted on this and simply estimated half the Comfort+ value.
  • Rollover MQMs: $0
    Rationale: Even though I highly value this feature, it doesn’t in itself offer extra perks while you have Silver status.  Instead, it makes it easier to earn status in the future.
  • Waived bag fees: $50
    Rationale: This is the hardest one to estimate. If you already have a Delta Gold, Platinum, or Reserve credit card, then you already get a free checked bag.  How much is a 2nd bag worth?  Probably not much to most frequent flyers.  But the value isn’t zero.  Having Silver status means that you could optionally drop the Delta credit card and still get free checked bags.  That’s worth something. On the other hand, this feature could be quite valuable for those who don’t have a Delta credit card.  You could save a lot of money, especially when traveling with a group (everyone on the itinerary with you, up to 8 guests, gets a free bag).  But it would be wrong to value it more than the $95 annual fee on the Delta Gold credit card since that’s an alternative way to get the same benefit.  So I picked half of $95 and rounded up.
  • 2X more miles earned: $60
    Rationale: If you spend $3,000 per year on Delta flights (the amount required for Silver status MQDs), then this benefit is worth an extra 6,000 SkyMiles.  With the Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs) of Delta miles at 1.4 cents each, this brings the value of those extra SkyMiles to $84.  I prefer to give more conservative estimates, though, so let’s peg each mile at a penny and call it a $60 benefit.

Bottom Line

Delta Silver Status is worth $260.  Keep in mind that this is a completely subjective total.

Pick your own value

Some will get much more than $260 value from Delta Silver status and others will get much less.  If you have a Delta credit card and plan to keep it, you might not value waived bag fees at all.  Conversely, if you like to have a few alcoholic drinks on each flight, you may value Comfort+ upgrades far more than $50 per year.  To determine how much Silver status is worth to you I recommend evaluating each of my above estimates and deciding for yourself how much you value each perk.

Next up…

I plan to look at the value of Delta Gold status relative to Silver status.  That is, how much more valuable is Gold status than Silver status?  Then I’ll do the same with Platinum status compared to Gold, and Diamond compared to Platinum.  Stay tuned.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Comfort+ isn’t just about free drinks – it’s also about getting enough legroom and extra recline that you can get meaningfully comfortable, especially on red-eye and long haul international flights. Preferred seating will get you exit rows on long haul international, which is a huge benefit when you don’t have C+ access.

  2. I think you’ve underestimated the value of preferred seats. On most DL planes this includes the exit row which can make it incredibly valuable.

  3. I have AA gold status (equivalent to DL silver). While i rarely get first class upgrades, I almost always get main cabin extra seats 24 hours before departure. At 6’2″, I place a huge value on this benefit. I have been considering switching to delta. How often are comfort plus seats available to silver elites?

  4. I have DL silver status and I am based in Atlanta.
    I had four round trips(8 segments) travel this year(From ATL to Cancun,Chicago,Houston,Austin). 5 of the 8 segments had been upgraded to First Class, 1 of 8 segments had been upgraded to comfort+. My experience is if I don’t travel during peak business travel day/hour, the upgrade list has less than 5 persons even though all seats had been sold out(or close to).

  5. Agree with the Duke787. Complimentary preferred seats are THE benefit of Silver. I think of it this way….Diamond and Platinum get the first class, Gold get the Comfort+, and Silvers get the Preferred and exit rows. And as someone that flies out of Atlanta during mostly peak times, I have rarely had any trouble securing one of those seats (With all due respect to Ace, who appears to get very lucky or flys at some serious non peak times). Sure First Class and even Comfort+ would be nice – but as a silver it rarely happens. But it is nice to know I won’t have to sit in the back of the plane or can grab an exit seat.

    At a modest $20 value per segment x 30 segments, I place this value at $600 minimum.

  6. value= $0…unless you live near atl or your company flies DL a lot…I used to live in ATL and moved to DFW 5 years ago…I have only used DL 3 times to fly to MYR (from the one gate they have at Dallas Love Field)..I could get lie down seats to Hawaii, but I would have to fly from TX to ATL and then from ATL to Hawaii…so just say no to skypesos, the overpriced Amex cards, overpriced awards, limited upgrade potential and all the other things DL does wrong for it’s customers

  7. I think you are wayyy off.

    1 upgrade to delta comfort or 1 preferred seat can be upwards of 100 dollars on a longer flight. Assuming you are a silver you are probably flying at least 4-5 times a year, i think just the comfort upgrades are worth it. That is for me being 6’4″.

  8. I agree with many commenters. I would put the value at first class upgrades at $0 bc those are never happening . But preferred seats and comfort+ is very different vs. A middle seat in the back.

  9. Just my two cents but when I was silver a few years ago, I quantified each benefit received and came up with a value of $850 for the year. Only two upgrades, but they were to/from STT which was quite nice. For me, most of the value came from exit row seats which I pegged at $25 or $50 depending on the length of the flight.

  10. Great comments everyone. As I said in the post, the values I posted are completely subjective and I think everyone should come up with their own valuations. One thing to keep in mind (which I didn’t post, but should have): I like to think of this as how much I’d be willing to pay for this feature rather than how much a specific use of the feature benefited me.

    For example, how much would you pay for the slim chance to get upgraded to 1st for a year? How much would you pay for a year of free premium seat selections? etc. Here’s an example: Suppose you magically knew that you would order $100 in drinks over the next year of flying (after the 20% Delta Amex rebate, of course). Then, how much would you pay for the chance of getting $100 in drinks for free (thanks to upgrades to Comfort+ or First Class)? You shouldn’t pay $100 because then you’re not getting a deal. You should pay something less: maybe $50.

    So, overall, if you were given the chance to buy Silver status for a year (and wouldn’t otherwise get that status), how much would you pay?

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