Delta SkyMiles Review: How They Work, What You Get, & If It’s Worth It for You

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Delta SkyMiles Review:  How They Work, What You Get, & If It’s Worth It for You

Harlan VaughnDelta SkyMiles Review:  How They Work, What You Get, & If It’s Worth It for YouMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Delta is the 2nd-largest airline in the US, and arguably has the best operations.  So you might wonder if it’s worth putting your airline loyalty toward Delta, or using their SkyMiles frequent flyer program.

Delta miles are easy to earn, and easier to redeem for award travel on 30+ airlines.  But the program has its quirks.

I’ll show you the basics of earning and using your Delta miles (they’re easy to earn from the AMEX Delta credit cards like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American ExpressPlatinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, or Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express) or by transferring American Express Membership Rewards points).  And if it’s worth it for you to focus on Delta miles as a travel strategy.

Here’s our Delta SkyMiles review.

Delta Miles Can Be Incredibly Useful, Especially If There’s a Hub Near You. Here’s Our Delta SkyMiles Review, so You Can Decide If It’s Worth Using

Let’s take a look!

Delta SkyMiles Review:  Everything to Know

Delta SkyMiles is Delta’s loyalty program.  Here, you’ll collect your miles and accumulate elite status credit.  And when you’re ready to use your miles, you can redeem them toward award travel, not only on Delta, but with 30+ other airlines, too!

Sign-Up for a Delta SkyMiles Account

If you don’t already have one, it’s easy (and free) to create a Delta account.

First Things First, Get Yourself a Delta SkyMiles Account

When you’re done, you’ll have a SkyMiles number to use when you fly Delta, or any of their airline partners, so you can earn mileage credit and start the path to elite status.

Your SkyMiles Number Is the Key to Earning Delta Miles When You Fly on Delta and Their Partners

To find your number, simply click your name in the top right corner, and a box will appear with your information.

Earn Delta Miles

There are many ways to earn Delta miles.

1.   Fly Delta Airlines

Of course, you’ll earn Delta miles any time you take a Delta flight and add your SkyMiles number.  The number of miles you’ll earn is tied to the cash price of the ticket, not including taxes & government fees.  So you’ll only earn miles on the base fare and any fees imposed by the airline.

As You Earn Higher Elite Status Levels With Delta, You’ll Earn More Miles per $1 on the Base Fare. You’ll Start With 5X Miles as a Base Member and Go up From There

And depending on your elite status level, you’ll earn:

  • 5 miles per $1 – Basic member
  • 7 miles per $1 – Silver Medallion member
  • 8 miles per $1 – Gold Medallion member
  • 9 miles per $1 – Platinum Medallion member
  • 11 miles per $1 – Diamond Medallion member

2.   Use Delta Credit Cards

You’ll earn Delta miles when you open and use any of Delta’s credit cards, including:

3.   Fly Delta’s partners

When you use your Delta number on partner airlines, you’ll earn Delta miles.  How many you’ll earn varies by airline, fare type, and cabin of travel.

Delta’s SkyTeam partners are:

  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Czech Airlines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia Airlines
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Airlines
Delta Has 19 SkyTeam Partners, as Well as Non-Alliance Partners. You Can Earn Delta Miles When You Fly These Airlines, Too!

And they have partnerships with:

  • Air Europa
  • GOL
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia
  • WestJet

You can check here how many miles you’ll earn when you fly on a Delta partner.

4.   SkyMiles Shopping and Dining

When you start your shopping through the Delta SkyMiles portal or dine with participating restaurants after linking a credit or debit card, you’ll earn even more Delta miles.  These are a bonus on top of any other miles you already earn!

Delta Has Their Own Shopping and Dining Rewards Programs That Let You Earn Bonus Miles

Even better, they sometimes run promotions.  So it’s worth checking if you can earn bonus miles if they have a deal going on.

5.   Spending With SkyMiles Partners

Delta has partnerships with lots of merchants and travel providers all over the world.  And when you spend with them, you can opt to earn Delta miles.  Some of the partners include:

  • Airbnb
  • FTD
  • Hertz
  • Lyft
  • National Car Rental
  • SkyMiles Cruises
  • Vinesse Wines
Delta Has Dozens of Other Partners That Let You Earn Delta Miles

Check here for more information and to explore the full list!

6.   Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points

Delta is one of the AMEX transfer partners.  Certain cards let you transfer your AMEX Membership Rewards points instantly to Delta at a 1:1 ratio, including:

Card Sign-Up Bonus & Minimum Spending Requirements
The Platinum Card® from American Express

60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Up to 75,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points

50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account, plus earn an extra 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending an additional $10,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American ExpressNo welcome bonus
American Express® Gold Card35,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
American Express® Business Gold Card
35,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express5,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after your first purchase on the card. Terms Apply.
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
Card Image Not Available
15,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American ExpressCard Image Not Available
10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
The information for the AMEX EveryDay Preferred Credit Card and AMEX EveryDay Credit Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

This is an easy way to top-up your account if you’re close to an award!

Keep in mind, you’ll pay an excise fee of 0.06 cents per point (with maximum fee of $99) when you transfer your AMEX Membership Rewards points to a US-based airline, including Delta.

How to Use Delta SkyMiles

Now for the fun part – using your miles!

1.   Award Flights on Delta and Partner Airlines

The best and most common way to redeem your Delta miles is for award travel.  In addition to Delta and all of the partners listed above, you can also use Delta miles to fly on:

  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Mandarin Airlines
  • Shanghai Airlines
Use Your Hard-Earned Delta Miles to Visit Somewhere Magical, Like Gorgeous French Polynesia, or Nearly Anywhere Else in the World! You Can Redeem Your Miles on 30+ Airlines!

That gives you 30+ airlines to travel all over the world.

Note you can book most partner awards directly on the Delta website.  But you must call to book award flights on:

  • Air Europa
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Czech Airlines
  • Kenya Airways

2.   Pay With Miles for NO Blackout Dates

Super Easy:  Save Hundreds Off Flights With Delta Pay With Miles (No Blackout Dates!)

You can use your miles at a rate of 1 cent each to book paid flights on the Delta website when you have a Delta Gold, Platinum, or Reserve Credit Card from American Express.

Only Delta and Delta Connection flights are eligible (NOT partner flights).  And you can redeem 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 (NOT award) tickets, you’ll earn Delta miles when you take the flight.

Here’s our guide to Delta Pay With Miles.

3.   Use Miles to Upgrade Your Seat

When you have paid or award travel on Delta, you can use Delta miles to upgrade to a higher class of travel.

Use Delta Miles to Access Better Seats Through Upgrades

Upgrades aren’t always available, and there’s no set value for how much your miles are worth when using them to upgrade.

That said, if an upgrade is available, you can find the option by selecting your itinerary on the Delta website.  From what I can gather, each Delta mile is worth slightly over 1 cent toward upgrades.

4.   Shop With Miles, or Use Toward Other Delta Services

There are plenty of other ways to redeem your miles, although the value you’ll get is less than stellar – usually 1 cent each or less.  For that reason alone, we don’t recommend these.

But, you can use your Delta miles to:

  • Shop in the SkyMiles Marketplace
  • Pay for award ticketing, mileage redeposits, and other Delta fees
  • Get a Sky Club membership
  • Pay for drinks
  • Get magazine subscriptions
Delta Gives You Several Ways to Use Your Miles, Like a Sky Club Membership, but It’s Usually a Raw Deal

For example, an individual Sky Club membership is $545 per year, or you can pay 54,500 Delta miles, which gets you a rate of 1 cent each.  Considering that’s enough miles for 2 round-trip domestic coach flights, you could potentially get much more value using your miles for travel.

5.   Special Flash Sales and Promotions

Delta has frequent award sales and promotions.  To stay up to date, check our updated Delta SkyMiles deals page.

In the past, we’ve seen:

  • Sales domestically as low as 10,000 Delta miles each way
  • Flights to Europe for only 32,000 Delta miles round-trip
  • Promotions to visit China and Japan
  • And many more – flash sales are updated every Thursday

This is one of the best uses of Delta miles, because you can get amazing value from your miles and pay fewer than normal!

What About Delta Miles Expiration?

Do Delta miles expire?  No!  Delta has one of the few loyalty programs that doesn’t impose expiration policies.

How Many Miles Do You Need to Travel?

Delta doesn’t maintain or advertise an award chart.  Instead, how many miles you’ll need is variable, and based on route, demand, and cash price of the ticket.

We often see domestic coach award travel for 25,000 Delta miles round-trip, and as low as 22,500 miles each way in coach to Europe.

Delta’s Pricing Is Hard to Predict, but If You’re Flexible, You Can Get Deals Like 46,000 Delta Miles Round-Trip to Europe

Luckily, it’s easy to check award prices on the Delta website, without even having to log-in.

Just Click “Miles” and You’re Good to Go!

Type in your destination and dates, as you’d normally search.  Then, under “Advanced Search,” select “Miles” and then the red arrow, to see award prices for your route.

I recommend searching award prices for routes you normally take, or are interested in, to get an idea of how many you’ll need for award travel.

Who Should Collect Delta SkyMiles?

Delta has hubs at:

  • Atlanta
  • Detroit
  • Los Angeles
  • Minneapolis-St Paul
  • New York-LGA
  • New York-JFK
  • Salt Lake City
  • Seattle
If You Live Near a Delta Hub, or Delta Serves Your Airport, You Might Want to Look Into Collecting Delta Miles

And Delta serves additional cities on a seasonal or reduced schedule.  If you’re not sure if Delta flies from your airport, you can check the list of departures on your airport’s website.  Check the routes they fly.  Because if you can connect in one of the hub cities, you can get to nearly anywhere in the world.

And again, it’s worth running a few test searches to see how much typical awards are from your city.  If you see routes you like at good prices, it might be worth it to build a balance of Delta miles.

Bottom Line

Now that you know the basics about Delta miles, you can decide if it’s worth your time to focus on them for your travel goals.  In future posts, I’ll cover the value of Delta miles, including high-value redemption options, and an overview of Delta elite status.

Many of us on the MMS team use Delta miles, especially when there’s a promotion or flash sale.  Delta miles never expire, so you can let them sit for as long as you need without worry they’ll disappear.

Keep in mind, Delta doesn’t maintain an award chart.  So it’s best to check a few routes to make sure their prices are acceptable to you.  It’s free to join, and there are plenty of ways to redeem Delta miles.  The best use is for award travel on Delta or its long list of airline partners.

You can earn lots of Delta miles from these cards:

Let us know if you have any questions about Delta SkyMiles!

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Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a $50 Statement Credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta.
  • Earn one mile for every eligible dollar you spend on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights - that's a savings of up to $240 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

More Info

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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