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Test your Delta knowledge: Here are seven features of Delta’s SkyMiles program that you might not know

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Test your Delta knowledge: Here are seven features of Delta’s SkyMiles program that you might not know

Jason StaufferTest your Delta knowledge: Here are seven features of Delta’s SkyMiles program that you might not knowMillion Mile Secrets Team

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There is more than one way to use the Delta SkyMiles program to get to your next dream destination and right now is a great time to earn Delta SkyMiles because there are a few increased Delta credit card offers. Through Oct. 30th 2019, you can earn an increased bonus on these cards:

  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express – 60,000 miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening and up to $50 in statement credits for Delta purchases made directly with Delta within the same time frame. Terms apply.
You can use Delta miles to book partner flights with airlines like Air France, which could make your next Paris adventure closer than you think. (Photo by Catarina Belova/Shutterstock)

Tips and Tricks for Using Delta Miles 2019

1. There’s no award chart 

Link: How to Redeem Delta Miles

In 2015, Delta stopped publishing an award chart. So you can no longer see how much an award flight between regions is supposed to cost.

Now, you can only see the number of miles required when you search for a specific route and date. The only way to come up with a reference point for the lowest available price is to search for flights on a lot of different days.

This is very inconvenient and makes it difficult to plan ahead – or even know if you’re getting a good deal.  But once you have some practice using the Delta award search, it’s not too hard to figure out the minimum prices for low-level tickets.

2. Flights with partner airlines have different prices than Delta flights

Once Delta ditched its award chart the price of the cheapest one-way business-class award flights to Europe rose to 105,000 miles. Or at least that’s the way it looked for a while, but there’s no way of knowing for sure. In the past Delta has increased award prices, only to lower them, and then, later on, to increase them again.

Right now, I was able to find one-way business-class flights to Europe starting at 80,000 and there are Delta partner airline business-class award flights to Europe are costing less than Delta’s own flights.

 

The standard one-way partner business-class award seems to be 75,000 miles, which is only 5,000 miles less than the cheapest Delta award in the same class. But because the price of Delta awards is dynamic you can sometimes save tons of miles by booking with a partner.

3. Award tickets might get more expensive close to departure – or disappear completely

Delta doesn’t charge you a fee to book last-minute tickets. But watch out, because sometimes they charge more miles to book tickets during that time.

Additionally, there are some partner airlines that disappear from the Delta website within 72 hours of departure, even if there are still available award seats. So it’s still a good idea to book Delta awards as far in advance as you can.

4. You can Pay With Miles (no blackout dates!) if you have certain Amex Delta cards

Here’s another great reason to consider the limited-time increased bonuses on the Amex Delta cards that end on August 15, 2019.

If you have the Gold Delta card, Platinum Delta card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta Business cardGold Delta Business card or Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card, you can use your miles to book paid (not award) tickets using the Delta Pay With Miles features.

Only Delta and Delta Connection flights are eligible (not partner flights). You can redeem Delta miles at a rate of 1 cent each, in increments of 5,000 miles.

Plus, you can use miles to pay for all or part of your ticket. And because these are paid tickets, you’ll earn miles and elite qualifying dollars for the flight.

This isn’t always a great deal. You can usually get better value from your Delta miles by redeeming for award flights instead of using Pay With Miles. But it can make sense if your dates are not flexible, if regular cash airfares are low, or if you just don’t want to struggle with searching for award flights.

5. Pay attention to Delta’s regular Award sales

The Delta SkyMiles deals come around at least once a week and they can be one of the best ways to use your miles.

In the past, they have had round-trip deals like:

  • 128,000 miles in Business Class to Europe
  • 70,000 miles in Premium Economy to Asia
  • 10,000 miles for domestic flights
  • 22,000 miles to Europe
  • 30,000 miles to Hong Kong
  • 50,000 miles to Australia
  • 12,000 miles to the Caribbean

These sales usually last a week, but sometimes they’ll only be for a day or two, and the best deals can get snapped up quickly. Also, Delta sales almost always extend to routes that aren’t listed on the official sale page. So check out this guide on how to find hidden Delta award sales.

6. Look for cheap awards on short flights

Even though Delta doesn’t publish an award chart anymore, you can usually expect to spend at least 12,500 miles for a one-way flight in the continental US. And often times it will be a lot more.

But not all domestic flights are the same. Even when there isn’t an official sale, you can sometimes find award tickets for short flights for as little as 5,000 to 6,000 Delta miles one-way. Recently I was able to book round-trip tickets from Chicago to Austin for only 11,000 Delta miles per person, which was much cheaper than other options.

7. Remember to look for hidden award flights on Delta’s partners

Some of the best deals with Delta miles are on partner airlines like China Airlines, Air Europa, and Jet Airways. But you won’t always find them using the Delta search engine. So make sure to use these tricks to find hidden award flights, then call Delta to book your ticket over the phone.

Other ways to earn Delta miles 

You can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards to Delta at a 1:1 ratio. But keep in mind you’ll have to pay a small excise fee to transfer points because Delta is a US airline.

You can also transfer Marriott points at a 3:1 ratio to Delta, plus you’ll get a bonus of 5,000 Delta miles for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer.

And the best part? Delta miles never expire, so you don’t have to worry if you can’t find the award flights you want right away.

Bottom line

It’s a great time to earn Delta credit card welcome bonuses because these offers are increased until Oct. 30th 2019:

Delta’s made a lot of changes to their frequent flyer program in the past few years. So knowing the best ways to redeem Delta miles (and a few clever tricks) will help you get the most from your rewards.

Keep an eye out for cheap short-haul award flights, flash sales, and inexpensive airfare you can offset by using Pay With Miles. And remember to consider little-known Delta partner flights that don’t always show up in award searches.

To learn more about Delta, check out these guides:

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I did a pay with miles. My activity shows no mileage credit. I have the delta Reserve card. Was there a way I needed to do this I order to get credit?

I would avoid Delta at all costs, I just had a flight booked in Delta Comfort+ that some agent by MISTAKE cancelled. When I got the notifications my flight was cancelled and called now the cabin is fully booked, and they’re saying my only options are to change my plans and take an earlier flight or else fly downgraded with an inconsequential voucher. Talk about terrible customer service, to inconvenience a passenger after they make a mistake.

Yikes sorry to hear that TK! I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Delta, so I’m hoping yours was just an exception.

But still, I agree if they accidentally cancelled it they should have tried harder to make you whole!

“award flights on partner airlines became significantly more expensive”: a notable exception are flights to/from Africa on e.g. KLM and Air France. There isn’t much DL availability given their limited flights to/from Africa but there are exceptional values, especially for difficult one-ways like going into Johannesburg and out of Nairobi or Dar Es Salaam. That said always check what these flights would cost to make sure you’re getting a good value for your miles!