12 ways to earn Delta SkyMiles
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MMS readers know there are plenty of reasons to love Delta:
- They don’t charge for changes and cancellations
- It’s easy to earn Delta miles
- They’ve got an award-winning mobile app that’s super easy to use
- They have an incredibly generous policy when it comes to accommodating those with disabilities and food allergies
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best travel credit cards with which to earn Delta SkyMiles miles – as well as some of the lesser-known methods that can launch you towards your next free flight!
Every time you pay for a flight on Delta, you’ll earn 5 miles for every dollar spent after you complete your flight. For example, a $100 flight would earn you 500 miles. You can earn up to 75,000 miles per ticket.
However, if you’ve got Delta elite status, you’ll get an added bonus. Here’s the total number of miles you’ll earn with each status level:
- Silver Medallion Members: 7 miles per dollar
- Gold Medallion Members: 8 miles per dollar
- Platinum Medallion Members: 9 miles per dollar
- Diamond Medallion Members: 11 miles per dollar
Flying with Delta partners
Even if you’re not flying Delta in particular, you can still earn Delta miles when flying on partner airlines. You may even earn more Delta miles by not flying with Delta!
Many partner flights are marketed as “Delta” flights, though they aren’t actually operated by Delta. If this is the case, prepare to earn the standard 5 miles per dollar spent on your tickets. However, other airlines award you with miles based on the actual distance you fly. Here are examples of some of the best Delta partners to earn miles. Note that there are some exceptions, and you’ll have to double check your fare code (you can do that here) to see how many miles you’ll earn:
Air France (international flights):
- First class – 300%
- Business class – 200%
- Premium Economy – 150%
- Economy – 100%
- Discounted Economy – 25-50%
- Business class – 200%
- Economy – 100%
- Discounted Economy – 25-50%
- Business class – 100-200%
- Economy – 100%
- Discounted Economy – 25-50%
The average Joe doesn’t purchase first and business class fares unless there is an absolute whopper of a sale – nor do we even purchase full-fare economy tickets. Most of us are either purchasing the Discounted Economy fares that accrue 25-50% of miles flown.
Let’s look at a quick example. A flight between Paris and Chicago on Air France is 4,153 miles each way. Let’s say you booked a Discounted Economy flight for $600 round-trip. By crediting your rewards to Delta:
- You’d earn 4,153 Delta miles (50% of the miles flown) by flying with Air France
- You’d earn 3,000 Delta miles (5 miles per dollar spent) by flying with Delta
As you can see, it’s more rewarding to fly with Air France – unless you’ve got Delta elite status, in which case the bonus miles you’ll earn will make flying Delta more worthwhile.
Earn with Delta co-branded credit cards
Delta has seven American Express co-branded credit cards: Four personal cards and three small business cards. You may earn a bonus from each card once per lifetime.
Seven bonuses is a lot! The offers fluctuate with some regularity, so if you wait to apply for them when their bonuses are sky-high, you could amass a ton of Delta miles!
Here are the current welcome offers for each card:
- Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months card membership. Plus, earn up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first three months of membership.
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first three months of membership.
- Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card: 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.
The small business offers are similar. Read our post on the best Delta credit cards for exhaustive detail about each of these cards. You’ll know which best suits your lifestyle by the end of that post, guaranteed.
Transfer Amex points to Delta
Amex Membership Rewards points are a flexible points currency that can be transferred to many valuable airline partners – including Delta. You can transfer Amex points at a 1:1 ratio, and the miles will instantly appear in your Delta account.
If you’re interested in accruing Delta points with everyday spending, the above Amex Delta credit cards are not the way to go. You’re better off swiping any of the best American Express cards instead and converting your rewards into Delta miles.
Our top recommendations are:
- American Express® Gold Card: Best for restaurant and U.S. supermarket purchases
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for flights
- American Express® Green Card: Best for general travel purchases
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Best business card perks
The information for the Amex Green 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.
Let’s look at an example. The Amex Gold Card comes with 60,000 Amex points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. That’s fantastic, but the ongoing earning rates is where the card leaves Delta credit cards in the dust:
- 4 points per dollar at restaurants
- 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
- 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
- Terms apply
The most a Delta credit card earns is 3 miles per dollar – and that’s for eligible Delta purchases. This card will earn 3 points per dollar when booking Directly with Delta, plus it earns 4x points on two other huge everyday spending categories! The card has a $250 annual fee (see rates & fees).
You can read our Amex Delta Gold review for more details about the card.
Transfer Marriott points to Delta
Another points currency you can convert to Delta miles is Marriott points – however, the conversion ratio looks a bit off-putting at 3:1. You’ll get one Delta mile for every three Marriott points you convert.
Before you convert, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- We estimate Marriott points value to be 0.8 cents on average
- We estimate Delta miles value to be 1.25 cents on average
That means you’ll have to convert 2.4 cents worth of Marriott points for 1.25 cents worth of Delta miles. EW.
Of course, you may very well get much more value for your Delta miles (my husband still talks about the time when he once got a value of 20+ cents per mile for a business class flight to Brazil). Just do the math first.
One helpful trick is to transfer Marriott points to Delta in increments of 60,000. When you do this, you’ll magically receive an extra 5,000 Delta miles. In other words, instead of getting 20,000 Delta miles for 60,000 Marriott points, you’ll end up with 25,000 Delta miles.
The best Marriott credit cards are:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card: Best mid-tier Marriott credit card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Best Marriott card for benefits and perks
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Best Marriott card for small businesses
All of these cards come with 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. However, there are some wonky application rules you need to know about if you’ve had a Marriott card in the past. Read the intro to this post for those details.
Earn by shopping online
The Delta SkyMiles Shopping portal is a good way to earn bonus miles for online purchases you would have made anyway. It works just like any regular shopping portal – head to SkyMiles Shopping, locate the store you plan to shop with, and Delta will redirect you to the official merchant website. Go about your business as usual, and after you checkout, you’ll get bonus Delta miles for your purchases!
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of shopping portals, we have a fantastic guide on everything you need to know about shopping portals.
Earn with the SkyMiles dining program
If you eat out with any regularity (or actually, even if you don’t), you should be enrolled in the Delta SkyMiles Dining program. It’s free to join, and you’ll even get a modest welcome bonus for eating out in your first 30 days as a member.
To participate, just link a credit card (it doesn’t need to be a Delta credit card), then pay with that card at participating local restaurants to earn Southwest points. The points you earn are in addition to any credit card rewards you’ll earn. For example, if you link your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and swipe it at a participating restaurant, you’ll earn Delta miles from SkyMiles Dining and Chase points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred!
So long as you don’t live in the boondocks, there should be plenty of participating restaurants nearby.
Earn with Lyft
Delta partners with Lyft to give you:
- 1 Delta mile per dollar spent on Lyft rides within the U.S.
- 2 Delta miles per dollar spent on Lyft airport rides (for a limited time)
This won’t make you rich with Delta miles unless you’re spending an irresponsible amount of money with Lyft – but any way to earn a few extra Delta miles is welcome! You can link your Delta loyalty number with Lyft here.
Earn with Airbnb
Similar to Delta’s partnership with Lyft, you’ll earn a fixed amount of Delta miles for renting via Airbnb after you link your accounts. You’ll get 1 Delta mile per dollar spent – with no minimum spend.
Earn with hotels
Delta Hotels is an online travel agency of sorts that offers 1 Delta mile per dollar spent on hotel accommodation – though it drops promotions fairly regularly that allow you to earn more bonus miles.
Just about every U.S. airline has some variant of a proprietary hotel booking site to help you boost your mileage balance. However, it’s important to realize that because this is a third-party hotel booking, any elite status you have will almost certainly not be recognized by the hotel. You also won’t earn hotel points or elite night credits for your stay. These things are infinitely more valuable than an extra Delta mile per dollar.
Because of this, we recommend staying away from sites like these. Better to at least book direct with Delta partners and then elect to earn Delta miles for your stay. Hyatt, for example, offers 500 Delta miles per stay. And IHG earns up to 2 miles per dollar (depending on the hotel).
Note: I’ve used a site called Rocketmiles a few times in the past instead of booking directly with the hotel simply because they occasionally offer so many bonus miles that it’s impossible to refuse – up to 10,000 miles per night!! Read our post on how to decide when to use Rocketmiles instead of booking directly with the hotel.
Earn with rental car partners
If you’ve got an upcoming car rental, you can earn Delta miles with the following rental agencies:
All these companies will award you 500 miles per qualifying rental. It’s not based on the amount of money you spend. In other words, the shorter the rental, the more miles you’ll earn per dollar. If you’ve got a five-day rental around San Francisco, you could feasibly earn 2,500 Delta miles for that trip – if you’re willing to return the car and pick it up every day!
Note: Hertz elite status members can earn more miles based on their status level – up to 1,250 per rental.
As a last resort, you can buy Delta miles if you’re just a few thousand short of a desired award flight.
We do not recommend speculatively buying miles for flights you aren’t sure you’ll take. That’s because Delta usually sells their miles for 3.5 cents each – and it can be challenging to find a flight that gives you a value per miles higher than that.
Always be sure to do the math and find out if the value you’re getting for your purchase is more than the value you’re paying! I suggest taking a long look at our post on the best ways to use Delta miles.
There are scads of ways to earn Delta miles – but only a few truly effective ways to springboard your rewards balance towards your next adventure:
- Earn welcome bonuses from Amex Delta cards
- Transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Delta
- Fly on Delta or its partner airlines
- Book hotels via Rocketmiles
Let us know if you have a trick to earning Delta miles quickly and efficiently! And subscribe to our newsletter for more posts like this delivered to your inbox once per day.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
Featured photo by Martin Helgemeir / Shutterstock.
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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! :)