Delta Is the Only Airline That Gets This Right

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Delta Is the Only Airline That Gets This Right

Scott LiebermanDelta Is the Only Airline That Gets This RightMillion Mile Secrets Team

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.

Delta Airlines gets a lot of criticism.  But this is something important they get absolutely right…

Nearly every major airline will steal your miles away from you unless you add to your balance (or in some cases use the miles) during a certain time period.  Oh, but some graciously allow you to buy them back!  Were they sitting in a storage facility costing the airlines money?  It’s a disgusting money grab from customers like us.

Delta Airlines doesn’t pull this nonsense.  Sure, they pull other nonsense.  But at least Delta miles never expire.  So the Delta miles you earn with the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express are safe.  Plus you get free checked bags with the card.

Because most airline miles expire, this is another reason I put more faith in Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards like

Delta Miles Don’t Expire — Most Other Airlines Have Awful Policies That Put an Expiration Date on Your Miles. These Are Miles Not Milk!

Chase Ultimate Rewards points don’t expire either as long as your card is open.  That’s fair because you can always take your points with you by getting cash back or transferring to an airline program before you close the card.

You earn the sign-up bonus on those cards once you meet the minimum spending requirement.  And you can use the points to pay for flights on nearly any airline, including Delta.

Delta Miles Don’t Expire, Here Are Other Airline Mile Policies

Cheers to Delta for being better than other airline programs in this regard.  I mean, Spirit Airlines will wipe out your account balance if you go just 3 months without earning miles!

I want to make a little plug for JetBlue.  They’re the only major airline to match the Delta policy of not stealing miles.  I didn’t put them in the headline because for whatever reason Million Mile Secrets readers don’t seem too interested in them.  But I think that will change.  I love JetBlue because they have the best coach seat and experience in my opinion.  And their domestic Business Class is easily the best.

JetBlue is a relatively new transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  So you can transform points from Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Sapphire Reserve®, and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card into JetBlue points.  This usually isn’t the “most valuable” use of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  But it really depends on the kind of travel YOU want.  

Do NOT let the airlines take your miles from you.  Be sure to keep your accounts active.  Look at these airline mileage expiration policies:

• Air Canada: 12 months without activity
• Alaska Airlines: 24 months without activity
• American Airlines: 18 months without activity (you can earn miles with the no annual fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card to keep your account active)
• British Airways: 36 months without activity  (you can earn miles with the British Airways Visa Signature® Card to keep your account active)
• Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 36 months after earning
• Delta Miles: Never Expire
• Hawaiian Airlines: 18 months without activity
• JetBlue: Never expire
• Singapore Airlines: 36 months after earning
• Southwest Airlines: 24 months without earning (transfer in 1,000 Chase points from cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardInk Business Preferred Credit Card to reset the clock.  Or use a Southwest card like Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.) 
• United Airlines: 18 months without activity (use a card like United Explorer Card to keep miles active)

Use Delta Airlines Miles for Free Flights

Delta Airlines don’t expire.  But there is something annoying — they don’t have an official award chart.  So you’ll have to look up your particular flight to see how many Delta miles they’re charging.  Here’s a suggestion for getting a good deal with Delta miles…

Delta Flash Award Sales

Delta regularly has flash sales offering discounts on award tickets with miles.  A few examples we’ve seen in the past:

  • Round-trip to New York City for just 11,000 Delta miles
  • Round-trip to Seattle or Portland for only 10,000 Delta miles
  • Round-trip to Asia discounted at 60,000 miles.  Or fly Premium Economy for 80,000 Delta miles.

Get our free newsletter to be alerted to the next Delta flash sale:

Delta Pay With Miles — No Blackout Dates

To get a great value with Delta miles, you’ll want to wait for award seats to open up.  But if you need to travel on certain dates — this is how to do it.

You must have an American Express Delta credit card to do this.

Using the Delta Pay With Miles feature, your Delta miles are worth 1 cent each to partially or completely pay for your ticket.


The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express has a welcome bonus of 30,000 Delta miles after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.  And you’ll earn a $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase within the same timeframe.

So the 30,000 Delta miles would be worth $300 off your flight with no blackout dates when you use Delta Pay with Miles.

This Delta card has no annual fee in year one (then $95 thereafter) (See Rates & Fees) — so it’s no risk to try it out to see how you like it.  What’s great about this card is the primary cardholder and up to 8 others traveling on the same reservation each get 1 free checked bag.  So if you travel as a family or as baseball team, you’ll save a lot of money.

For rates and fees of the Gold Delta SkyMiles Card, please click here.


If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 36,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 60,000 Bonus Miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in 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 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent 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! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

It’s great that Delta Skymiles never expire. The rest of the airlines should follow suit. One thing that JetBlue gets right in addition to their TrueBlue miles never expiring is FAMILY POOLING! If you’re not a solo traveler then there are so many benefits. All airlines should offer this customer friendly perk!!

You’re so right about miles that never expire!

A few years ago, before I jumped into the miles and points hobby, I let ~$150 of cash back rewards expire on one of my PenFed credit cards. I still lose sleep over that to this day!

delta miles are great and I am happy that they never expire. that’s contrary to JAL (maybe ANA too?) where miles expire after 3 years. its not like the other airlines where as long as you are earning or using you get to keep your balance, its once you earn the miles you have to use them or they disappear. so infuriating!


Agreed, K.M.!

Delta 1st checked bag free, does it apply only to domestic flights?

Nowhere in the fine print says anything about domestic or international.


You get the first checked bag for free. So if you were already going to get a free checked bag (like for an international flight to particular country) then you do NOT get a SECOND bag for free. One and done.

Keep in mind though that according to their fee list, Delta DOES charge $30 when you fly from the US to international destinations like the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, Bermuda, and more. So you’d get your first bag free to those places and back.

Hope that clears it up, Gabriel!

great explanation.

I fly to Mexico 3 or 4 times a year.

thanks a lot.