Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
When you have an American Express Delta card you can book Delta flights with miles WITHOUT having to search for award tickets by using Pay With Miles. It’s simple!
You’ll get a rate of 1 cent per mile. But you can potentially get much more Big Travel by redeeming your miles for award flights, especially in Business and First Class. It takes more effort but it can be worth it!
I’ll help you decide which method makes more sense for the kind of travel you’d like to do.
Because this is a great time to think about Delta miles seeing as the sign-up bonuses on the American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles personal and small business cards, and American Express Platinum personal and small business cards are increased until July 6, 2016.
Let’s look at a few examples!
About the Increased AMEX Delta Sign-Up Bonuses
Link: Gold Delta SkyMiles Card From American Express (Personal)
When you complete the minimum spending requirements, you’ll earn 50,000 Delta miles from the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express personal and small business cards and 60,000 Delta miles from the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express personal and small business cards.
Plus you’ll earn statement credits when you make a Delta purchase in the first 3 months of opening your account.
The sign-up bonuses are worth $500 (50,000 miles X 1 cent per mile) or $600 (60,000 miles x 1 cent per mile) in Delta airfare when you redeem them using Pay With Miles.
But award flights are often worth much more. Here’s why.
Pay With Miles Versus Round-Trip Coach Award Flight
A round-trip coach flight from Houston to London in December costs ~$1,110. But if you redeem 60,000 Delta miles through Pay With Miles, you can reduce the cost of this paid ticket to ~$510 ($1,100 paid ticket – $600 discount from Pay With Miles).
That’s because 60,000 Delta miles at 1 cent per mile = $600 savings. And you won’t have to fuss with finding award seats.
However, if you’re flexible and find available seats, you’ll do better redeeming your 60,000 Delta miles for an award ticket!
For example, I found award seats for 60,000 Delta miles on the exact same itinerary described above. You’ll also pay ~$194 in taxes, fees, and charges.
Now let’s see how they compare!
Pay With Miles
Using 60,000 Delta miles via Pay With Miles, you’d save a straight $600:
~$1,110 (Original Cost) – ~$510 (New Cost) = $600 savings
Using 60,000 Delta miles for an award flight would save you ~$916.
~$1,110 (Original Cost) – ~$194 (New Cost) = ~$916 savings!
So you’d save an additional ~$316 by redeeming your 60,000 Delta miles for an award flights instead of Pay With Miles.
Pay With Miles Versus One-Way Business Class Award Flight
Redeeming your miles for expensive Business Class award flights is an even better way to make the most of your sign-up bonus!
For 62,500 miles (plus ~$6 in taxes and fees), I found a one-way Business Cass award seat on the same Houston to London flight. If you paid cash, the ticket would cost ~$6,597!
In this example, you’re getting over 10 cents per mile and saving almost $6,600 (~$6,597 cost of ticket / 62,500 miles).
That’s more than 10 times the value you’d receive from using Pay With Miles (62,500 miles X 1 cent per mile = $625).
Keep in mind, this is a one-way ticket. But you could use more Delta miles (or miles from a different airline) to get back home. Or buy a cheap paid flight!
Of course in our hobby we’re NOT the type of folks who’d ever pay ~$6,597 for a Business Class seat. That said, we ARE the type of folks who would enjoy a Big Travel experience that’s worth much more than we’d ever pay out of pocket!
Use “Pay With Miles” or Find an Award Flight?
If your travel dates are flexible and you don’t mind searching for open award seats, you can definitely have a wonderful flying experience using miles. For example, you can fly in Business Class. Or you can save a lot of money on the paid price of a coach ticket.
Pay With Miles
But if you’d rather keep it very simple or your vacation is restricted to a few certain dates, you might prefer the Pay With Miles option.
Delta’s Pay With Miles is a quick and easy way to redeem your Delta miles, especially if you don’t like the added hassle of finding award flights.
You’ll get a rate of 1 cent per mile towards paid tickets, and you must redeem in 5,000 mile ($50) increments. It can be a good deal if you’re booking a cheap paid ticket.
However, redeeming your miles for expensive Business and First Class award seats can be a more lucrative way to use Delta miles, because they’ll be worth far more than 1 cent per mile!
If you want more Delta miles, there are limited-time increased sign-up bonuses on the American Express Gold and Platinum cards through July 6, 2016.