Delta SkyMiles review: How they work, what you get and whether they’ll work for you

Delta is the second-largest airline in the U.S. Odds are, your free travel aspirations can be enhanced with the Delta SkyMiles frequent flyer program. Delta miles are easy to earn and even easier to redeem for travel on more than 30 airlines — but the program has its quirks.

I’ll show you the basics of earning and using your Delta miles. And be sure to check out the increased Delta credit card bonuses (offers end April 1, 2020), which include (terms apply):

Here’s our Delta SkyMiles review.

Delta SkyMiles can be incredibly useful, especially if the airline has a hub near you. (Photo by Pshevlotskyy Oleksandr/Shutterstock)

Delta SkyMiles review: Everything to know

Delta SkyMiles is Delta’s loyalty program. When you’ve collected enough miles in your SkyMiles account, you can redeem them toward award travel, not only on Delta but with over 30 other partner airlines.

Sign-up for a Delta SkyMiles account

If you don’t already have one, it’s easy (and free) to create a Delta 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 on the path to elite status.

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 SkyMiles, including flying Delta or one of its SkyTeam Partners, using a cobranded Delta credit card, spending with SkyMiles partners (like Airbnb and Hertz), shopping, dining and more.

For example, when you fly one of Delta’s partners like Aeromexico, Air France or Hawaiian Airlines, you can credit your flight to your Delta account. How many miles you’ll earn varies by airline, fare type, and cabin of travel.

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

Also, don’t forget that Delta is an Amex transfer partner. Certain cards let you transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points instantly to Delta at a 1:1 ratio, including:

Card Welcome bonus & minimum spending requirements
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express Earn up to 75,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points: 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases made on the card within the first 3 months of account opening.
Terms Apply.
American Express®️ Green Card Earn 30,000 Amex Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express No welcome bonus
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.
American Express® Gold Card 35,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Terms Apply.
American Express® Business Gold Card Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express 15,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express 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 Express 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 U.S.-based airline, including Delta.

Here’s our in-depth guide for how to earn Delta miles.

How to use Delta SkyMiles

Now for the fun part. There are a variety of options when it comes to using your miles. For example, you can book award flights on Delta and its partner airlines. Or you can use Delta Pay With Miles to book flights with no blackout dates or use your miles for an upgrade.

With Delta Pay With Miles, for example, 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. Because these are paid (not award) tickets, you’ll earn Delta miles when you take the flight.

Also, don’t forget about Delta’s frequent SkyMiles deals. This is one of the best ways to use Delta miles because you can get amazing value from your miles, paying fewer than normal.

Here’s our guide to using Delta miles.

Use your hard-earned Delta miles to visit someplace magical, like gorgeous French Polynesia. (Photo by lkpro/Shutterstock)

What about Delta miles expiration?

Do Delta miles expire? Fantastically (and uniquely), they don’t. Delta has one of the few loyalty programs that doesn’t have expiration dates.

How many miles do you need to travel?

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

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

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.

It’s easy to check award prices on the Delta website without even having to log in. Just type in your destination and dates. Then, under “Advanced Search,” select “Miles” and then the red arrow to see award prices for your route

I recommend searching first for award prices for routes you want to fly 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’re not sure if Delta flies from your airport, you can check the list of departures on your airport’s website. If you can connect in one of Delta’s hub cities, you can get to nearly anywhere in the world.

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 of Delta miles, you can decide if it’s worth your time to focus on them for your travel goals.

Many of us on the Million Mile Secrets 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.

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 set up a Delta account and there are plenty of valuable ways to use Delta miles. The best use is for award travel on Delta or its long list of airline partners.

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets email newsletter.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Gold, click here
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum, click here
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business Card, click here
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business Card, click here

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