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Best Ways to Redeem Your Delta SkyMiles

Best Ways to Redeem Your Delta SkyMiles

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This article was last updated May 13, 2019, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

The information related to the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, the Delta Reserve® for Business Credit Card from American Express, and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.  Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

Those new to Delta Air Lines’ SkyMiles® loyalty program or who don’t spend much time earning and redeeming miles in the program may want to take a look at what it offers. The SkyMiles program is pretty robust, giving you myriad ways to redeem your miles, including via Delta’s membership in the SkyTeam airline alliance of 18 global carriers.

Delta SkyMiles was named a Best Travel Rewards Program for 2018-2019 by U.S. News & World Report, coming in at No. 2 for the second year in a row. SkyMiles was lauded for benefits including miles never expiring, no blackout dates for award tickets on Delta flights and redeeming miles for travel to more than 1,000 cities on Delta and its partners.

There are plenty of ways to get the most out of the SkyMiles you earn on Delta. This cheat sheet shows you how to book award travel, what fees you’ll pay, where to look for flights, where to get extra miles when you need them and other ways to redeem them.

In this article 

Which credit cards earn SkyMiles?

Delta Air Lines has partnered with American Express to offer seven credit cards:

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.

  • Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants. Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.

  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

Highlights
  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants.
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

More Info

Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants. Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

Delta Reserve® for Business Credit Card from American Express

Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta, and 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

  • 70,000 bonus miles after you make $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta*

  • Priority Boarding and 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*

Highlights
  • Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. 
  • Plus, get a 0% introductory APR for 6 months on purchases. After the introductory 6 months period the APR for purchases will be variable at 17.99%-26.99% based on your credit worthiness and other factors at account opening, and this APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. 
  • Additionally, earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. 
  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases. 
  • Find room for your carry-on and settle into your seat sooner with Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding. 
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you spend overseas. 
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. 
  • Terms and limitations apply
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

More Info

Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you make $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you use your new Card to make $2,000 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.

  • 2X Miles on Delta Purchases*

  • Check your 1st bag free on every Delta flight*

Highlights
  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you use your new Card to make $2,000 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

See additional details for Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

More Info

Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you use your new Card to make $2,000 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 and 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you make $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

  • 80,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. *

  • Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta

  • Priority Boarding & 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*

Highlights
  • Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. 
  • Plus, get a 0% introductory APR for 6 months on purchases. After the introductory 6 months period, the APR for purchases will be variable at 17.99%-26.99% based on your credit worthiness and other factors at account opening. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. 
  • Limited Time Offer Expires: 07/02/2019 Earn 15,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 15,000 bonus miles after you reach $30,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in the calendar year. 
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases. 
  • Find room for your carry-on and settle into your seat sooner with Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding. 
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you spend overseas. 
  • Terms and limitations apply
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

More Info

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Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases. Miles don't expire.

Airlines you can book with miles

Delta has improved its website for award bookings, allowing you to search and book flights on nearly every SkyMiles partner at Delta.com. Just choose ‘Show Price In Miles’ when searching for flights there.

Here’s a full list of the airlines you can book:

  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Aeromexico
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • GOL
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Mandarin Airlines
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia Airlines
  • Shanghai Airlines
  • Tarom Airlines
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia
  • WestJet
  • Xiamen Airlines

You must contact Delta reservations at 800-221-1212 to book award travel on Air Europa, Air Tahiti Nui, Czech Airlines and Kenya Airways. SkyMiles members living in Asia can redeem miles on Thai AirAsia, Jetstar and Skymark.

Tip: Call Delta reservations and ask the agent to check for more flight options.

How much do awards cost?

Delta no longer publishes award price charts, so the SkyMiles you redeem for awards can change at any time. Below are some examples of award travel in different regions, based on a round-trip economy flight between Oct. 10-17, 2019 (at press time) to destinations within the U.S. and cities in the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Japan:

New York City to San Francisco

Below are some of your flight options in all classes:

Baltimore to Montego Bay, Jamaica

Below are some of your flight options in all classes:

Below are some of your flight options in all classes:

Minneapolis to Rio de Janeiro

Below are some of your flight options:

Atlanta to Paris

Below are some of your flight options:

Detroit to Tokyo

Below are some of your flight options:

Delta can raise and lower miles needed for award travel based on demand, so if you see a flight that works, book it sooner rather than later.

Tip: If your plans are flexible, Delta offers excellent deals on reward travel via DeltaSkyMilesLife.com. Check out real-life travel experiences and book your next reward flight with SkyMiles. Current economy class deals at press time include New York to Zurich, 37,000 miles; Boston to Paris, 38,000 miles; and Minneapolis to London, 54,000 miles.

Use miles and cash to book flights

Delta’s Miles + Cash option allows you to pay for award tickets using a combination of points and cash, which can come in handy if you don’t have enough miles to redeem for a flight. For example, you could redeem an award ticket for 35,000 miles or choose a Miles + Cash award ticket for 25,000 miles plus $159.

Those with the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express or the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express can use Pay with Miles to book award flights. Under the program, cardmembers use their SkyMiles to lower the price of their airfare. For example, you can redeem 10,000 miles to cut $100 off the price of a ticket. You must have at least 5,000 miles in your account to use Pay with Miles.

What are award change and booking fees?

  • Award ticket redeposit/reissue: $150; waived for Platinum and Diamond Medallion SkyMiles members
  • Change date: $150
  • Change origin/destination cities: $150
  • Cancel and redeposit miles: $150. You must cancel at least 72 hours before your departure time or else you’ll lose the miles and the ticket can’t be changed.

Can I upgrade with SkyMiles?

Yes, you can, although seats are limited. You also won’t know how many miles you’ll need until you book your reward travel.

If you’ve already purchased a flight, you can use SkyMiles to upgrade at delta.com or through the Fly Delta app for Delta One®, Delta Premium Select, first class, Delta Comfort+®, preferred or exit row seats. Here’s how:

  1. Find your reservation in My Trips on delta.com or the Fly Delta app
  2. If an upgrade is available, you will see an option to ‘Select Seats’ for money or miles
  3. Pick an available seat in the seat map and complete your purchase

If you aren’t able to upgrade your seat using miles on delta.com, Delta reservations may be able to help. Call a SkyMiles agent, share your trip information and ask to book a mileage upgrade award. The agent will offer prices and availability. If your reservation is eligible and there are enough miles in your account, the agent can confirm your upgrade.

Tip: Travelers can book different cabins on the outbound and return flights of the same round-trip ticket. So you can choose Delta Comfort+ one way and Delta One on a return.

Is there an upgrade waitlist?

If a mileage upgrade award isn’t available at the time of request, a traveler holding a confirmed Main Cabin or Delta Comfort+ reservation can be put on the upgrade waitlist in advance. Those on the waitlist will be accommodated according to Delta’s priority rules for Medallion members: Diamond, Platinum, Gold, then Silver.

Upgrades may be confirmed on Delta or Delta Connection up to three hours before departure, if available. Note that mileage upgrade awards do not carry over to the airport standby list, so if seats are available in a premium cabin, you’ll have to pay cash for it.

Can I make changes to award travel?

Changes to origin, destination, routing, date and time are allowed if the number of miles needed for the new itinerary doesn’t change. If the miles change, you will be charged a $150 fee.

Changes to outbound and return award travel must be made 72 hours before departure of the outbound flight. Award tickets booked within 72 hours of departure are nonrefundable and cannot be redeposited or changed.

How to transfer hotel points to airline miles

You can convert hotel points into SkyMiles miles any time with no charge for the conversion. Every hotel program has a different conversion rate, and to make it easier to understand, here are the conversion rates:

  • Marriott Bonvoy™: 3 points for 1 SkyMile
  • Hilton Honors: 10,000 points for 1,000 SkyMiles
  • IHG® Reward Club: 10,000 points for 2,000 SkyMiles
  • Radisson Rewards: 10,000 points for 1,000 SkyMiles
  • World of Hyatt: 1,250 points to 500 SkyMiles

Tip: Unless you need more miles to redeem an award flight, transferring hotel points to airline miles isn’t a great option. You’re better off using hotel points for free rooms and upgrades.

How do I transfer Delta SkyMiles to someone else?

Delta charges $10 for every 1,000 miles transferred to another SkyMiles member, plus a $30 processing fee. You can transfer a minimum of 1,000 and a maximum of 30,000 miles per transaction. The maximum number of miles you can deposit into a SkyMiles account per year is 300,000; the maximum you can transfer from a SkyMiles account is 150,000 per year. You must fill out Transfer Miles Recipient Information by entering the SkyMiles number and name of the individual who will receive the miles.

Read Credit Cards with Airline Mile Transfer Features.

It’s not a terrible deal, but you’re better off booking an award for someone else using your miles since you can do it for free. There’s also the option of transferring your American Express Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to 18 airline partners, including Delta.

How else can you redeem SkyMiles?

Delta gives you plenty of options to spend your miles. Improve your ground and in-flight experience by redeeming them for a Delta SkyClub airport lounge membership, premium drinks in the lounge or on upgrades into the airline’s premium cabins. You can also choose to book a getaway with a Delta Vacations package.

There’s also the option to bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as premium seats at sports events, VIP packages at concerts and exclusive dining events with celebrity chefs, all at SkyMiles Experiences®. Or, you can use your miles to buy Delta gift cards or merchandise at the SkyMiles Marketplace. Alternatively, miles can be donated to your favorite charity.

Do SkyMiles expire?

Delta miles never expire.

The bottom line

Delta SkyMiles was the first among the legacy carriers to eliminate published award charts in order to use its own algorithms to determine the miles needed between city-pairs. That means the airline has more flexibility to raise or lower award redemptions based on demand.

However, that can mean bad news for those who want to redeem miles for flights to popular destinations at peak times, since it will probably cost you more miles. But with advanced planning, combined with some research and some flexibility, you should be able to redeem flights and upgrades with your miles. Delta SkyMiles also gives you the option of using a combination of miles and points for reward travel.


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