Delta SkyMiles is the loyalty program of Delta Air Lines, one of the US “big 3 airlines” and one of the world’s largest airlines in terms of revenue and fleet size.
Not only do Delta SkyMiles provide some great value when redeeming for Delta flights, but they could also be used to redeem award seats with SkyTeam alliance members and other partner airlines.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about Delta SkyMiles, including how to optimize your earning and redeeming within the program.
Earning Delta SkyMiles
You can earn Delta SkyMiles through a number of ways. However, the fastest ways for you to do so are by signing up for American Express co-branded credit cards in the US, and transferring from American Express Membership Rewards in both Canada and the US.
American Express Co-Branded Credit Cards
In the US, American Express is the exclusive issuer of Delta SkyMiles co-branded credit cards. All cards directly earn SkyMiles with spending, and most of them feature flight benefits, such as Delta Sky Club access and free checked bags.
Four personal cards and three business cards comprise Amex’s Delta SkyMiles offering:
- Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card
You can easily earn SkyMiles through the cards’ welcome bonuses. Naturally, you can receive the highest welcome bonuses by signing up for the top-tier cards in the lineup, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card.
Anecdotally, it’s possible to receive a higher welcome bonus offer by opening the online application link through your browser’s incognito mode.
Transferring from American Express Membership Rewards
If you’re an American Express cardholder from Canada or the US, you can transfer your Membership Rewards (MR) points to Delta SkyMiles.
Membership Rewards points from Amex cards in Canada can be transferred at the rate of 1,000 MR points = 750 SkyMiles, while Membership Rewards points from Amex cards in the US can be transferred at the rate of 1,000 MR points = 1,000 SkyMiles.
In Canada, Amex Membership Rewards points are the only credit card currency transferable to Delta SkyMiles.
70,000 MR points
120,000 MR points
75,000 MR points
Up to 77,000 MR points
100,000 MR points
30,000 MR points
Other Transfer Partners
Marriott Bonvoy points could also be converted to Delta SkyMiles at a rate of 3 Bonvoy points = 1 Delta SkyMile.
It’s an unfavourable exchange rate, so you should only convert your Marriott Bonvoy points to Delta SkyMiles when you need a top-up for a planned redemption. Otherwise, you should save your Bonvoy points for aspirational hotel and resort stays.
Aside from Marriott Bonvoy, Delta SkyMiles can also be earned by converting from the following rewards programs:
- Accor Live Limitless: 4,000 points = 2,000 SkyMiles
- Diners Club (US): 10,750 points = 10,000 SkyMiles
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards: must call in for transfer rate
- Hilton Honors: 10,000 points = 1,000 SkyMiles
- IHG One Rewards: 10,000 points = 2,000 SkyMiles
- Radisson Rewards: 10 points = 1 SkyMile
Flying with Delta
Since Delta SkyMiles is a revenue-based program, the number of miles you’ll earn flying with Delta depends on how much you spend on your fare and your membership tier.
Per $1 (USD) you spend on your ticket’s base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges, you’ll earn:
- General Member: 5 SkyMiles per dollar
- Silver Medallion: 7 SkyMiles per dollar
- Gold Medallion: 8 SkyMiles per dollar
- Platinum Medallion: 9 SkyMiles per dollar
- Diamond Medallion: 11 SkyMiles per dollar
Note that you won’t earn any SkyMiles on government taxes and fees, as well as award tickets.
While you’ll still earn SkyMiles when you book Delta flights through third parties, your ticket might be priced as “exception fares”. In those cases, the number of SkyMiles you’ll earn will be based on the distance flown, rather than on the amount you spend.
Flying with Partner Airlines
You could also earn SkyMiles through flights operated by Delta’s SkyTeam alliance partners and other partner airlines. The number of SkyMiles you’ll earn varies by airline.
The following are Delta’s partner airlines:
- Aerolineas Argentinas
- Air Europa
- Air France
- China Airlines
- China Eastern
- Czech Airlines
- Garuda Indonesia
- ITA Airways
- Kenya Airways
- Korean Air
- Middle East Airlines (MEA)
- Vietnam Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Cape Air
- China Southern Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- LATAM Airlines
Shopping and Dining
Delta has lesser-known programs that allow members to earn SkyMiles through shopping and dining.
Similar to cash back sites like Rakuten, the SkyMiles Shopping portal allows you to earn miles at over 1,000 online stores. The number of SkyMiles you’ll earn depends on the store.
Meanwhile, the SkyMiles Dining portal interestingly lets you earn up to $5 SkyMiles per dollar spent on partner restaurants, depending on your Medallion Status.
To earn SkyMiles on dining, search restaurants through the portal, then dine and pay with one of the credit and debit cards linked to your Delta account. You’ll be credited with SkyMiles automatically.
Note that SkyMiles Shopping and SkyMiles Dining are applicable only to establishments based in the US.
Other Ways to Earn Delta SkyMiles
While SkyMiles can primarily be earned through credit cards and flying, there are other ways for you to pad your SkyMiles balance.
First, you can earn SkyMiles through Delta’s partnership with Starbucks and Lyft. By linking your account to your US-based Starbucks Rewards account and your Lyft account, you’ll earn 1 SkyMile per dollar spent with both.
Delta also has a tie-in with entertainment company Ticketmaster. When you purchase tickets through the dedicated Delta-Ticketmaster portal, you’ll get 1 SkyMile per dollar spent on events in the US and Canada.
As you book your accommodations and other travel needs, you’ll have several opportunities to earn SkyMiles. For one, Delta has allows you to book hotels, cars, and packages through its Delta Vacations agency.
Meanwhile, should you choose to book with your favourite hotel chain and take advantage of your elite benefits, you can earn SkyMiles through eligible stays at the following chains:
- Marriott International
If you prefer booking accommodations through Airbnb, you can earn 1 SkyMile per dollar spent through the Delta-Airbnb portal.
Finally, for car rentals, Delta has partnerships with most major companies. You can earn SkyMiles with Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, Enterprise, National, Turn, Europcar, Carmel, and Sixt.
Redeeming Delta SkyMiles
Delta offers plenty of options for redeeming SkyMiles. However, you’ll get the best value by spending your SkyMiles on award flights.
Through 4,000 departures daily, Delta serves a network spanning 275 destinations in 50 countries. Indeed, you’re spoilt for choice when redeeming your SkyMiles.
However, Delta uses a dynamic pricing model for award flight redemptions. This means that the number of SkyMiles required for a flight fluctuates based on factors like demand, route, and season, among others.
On the upside, you’ll pay lower taxes and fees. With Delta’s pricing model for award flights, carrier-imposed surcharges are already baked into the miles required for redemption.
To search award flights, you can simply search at delta.com, or with the Delta app. You don’t need to log-in with a Delta SkyMiles account to look at award flight prices, but you’ll need to select “Shop with Miles”.
To aid you in your search, you can utilize the “Price Calendar” tool to see award flight pricing five weeks at a time. This way, you can easily find the cheapest fare should you be flexible with your travel dates.
Frankly, Delta’s dynamic pricing causes award prices to vary greatly. For example, a one-way flight from New York to Los Angeles can fluctuate between 7,500–51,000 SkyMiles.
Redemptions within a 21-day window from departure, known as “close-in bookings”, are also much costlier. With those in mind, it would surely help if you’re flexible with your travel dates and if you book in advance.
Note that if you hold one of the American Express Delta co-branded credit cards, with the exception of the American Express Delta SkyMiles Blue card, you can redeem Delta-operated flights for 15% fewer SkyMiles. The benefit, called “TakeOff 15”, can be especially helpful with redeeming long-haul flights.
With Delta SkyMiles, you’ll also have access to award seats on flights operated by SkyTeam members and other partners.
Like Delta-operated flights, there’s no published award chart for redeeming SkyMiles with partner airlines, so you’re also at the mercy of dynamic pricing. For example, a one-way business class award from New York to London may cost 260,000 SkyMiles for both a Delta-operated flight and a Virgin Atlantic-operated flight.
An Air France premium economy seat from New York to Paris may cost 105,000 SkyMiles.
Thus, you should check the price of your desired partner flights with other SkyTeam partners first, if you have credit card points that you may transfer elsewhere. For instance, you could check transatlantic redemptions with Air France/KLM Flying Blue, which holds Promo Rewards monthly.
You can also use Delta SkyMiles to upgrade your Delta flights paid in cash, and you may even upgrade some partner airline flights to the next cabin tier.
For Delta-operated flights, you may upgrade during the booking process or after you’ve already booked. You’ll see an option for a SkyMiles upgrade whilst booking, but should you choose to upgrade after booking, there should be an option for you to do so when you manage your flight.
You can use SkyMiles to upgrade all the way up to Delta One, which is Delta’s flagship business class. Delta claims that SkyMiles upgrades are available for nearly all its flights.
Meanwhile, to upgrade your seat with a partner airline, you’ll have to go through phone reservations. The following partner airlines participate in Delta’s upgrade program:
- Aeromexico: applicable for fare classes Y, B, M, H, Q, K, L, U of T for travel between the US and Mexico
- Air France: one-class upgrade when the paid fare class is Y, B, or M; only between US cities and Paris
- KLM: one-class upgrade when the paid fare class is Y, B, or M
- Virgin Atlantic: applicable for economy fare classes Y, B, M, H, Q, or K, and premium economy fare classes P, A, or G
Other Ways to Redeem Delta SkyMiles
Other than redeeming SkyMiles for flights and upgrades, there are a number of other ways to spend your SkyMiles.
As an elite Medallion Member, you can use your SkyMiles to purchase an annual Delta Sky Club membership, which will gain you entry into more than 50 locations.
The executive membership costs 149,500 SkyMiles for one year of unlimited club access for you and up to two guests. The individual membership, on the other hand, costs 69,500 SkyMiles for one year, but you’ll have to pay an additional fee per guest.
Keep in mind though that the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card come with Delta Sky Club access should you wish to use your SkyMiles elsewhere.
Delta also offers SkyMiles Experiences, which lets you buy or bid on a number of experiences using your SkyMiles.
For example, you can bid on a “Legendary Pathways” Voyage on Oceania Cruises, or a New York Yankees baseball game experience.
With many experiences to choose from, ranging from entertainment to travel, it’s possible that you can score a great deal. However, always make sure to compare the cash value of the experience before redeeming your Delta SkyMiles.
Lastly, SkyMiles can be used towards Delta Vacation packages and other travel products, such as hotels and car rentals. You can redeem your SkyMiles this way at a rate of 1 SkyMile = 1 cent.
Delta SkyMiles Tips & Tricks
With Delta’s dynamic pricing, you might be hard-pressed to find low-priced redemptions. However, the good thing is that Delta has come up with SkyMiles Deals, which features redemption discounts on specific routes and dates.
On the promotion’s landing page, you can simply enter your desired origin or destination to filter the deals available.
For example, you can fly round-trip from Los Angeles to New York for 24,000 SkyMiles, or round-trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for only 11,000 SkyMiles.
Keep in mind that if you have one of the eligible American Express Delta SkyMiles cards, you’ll receive a further 15% discount on the required SkyMiles.
Another feature that could help you with your SkyMiles redemption is Delta’s calendar view, which allows you to easily browse all the cheapest award flight options. You can use the calendar to view your options up to five weeks at a time.
Delta SkyMiles Sweet Spots
By far, the best use of Delta SkyMiles nowadays is finding a sale through SkyMiles Deals. Through the program, you may find round-trip tickets that are cheaper than a one-way flight.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
For 98,000 SkyMiles, you can redeem a round-trip ticket from Boston to Amsterdam in premium economy or Delta Comfort+. The same redemption may cost 192,000 SkyMiles if not redeemed through SkyMiles Deals.
For the transcontinental San Francisco to New York route, you can redeem a round-trip Delta Comfort+ ticket for 40,500 SkyMiles with SkyMiles Deals. A typical Delta Comfort+ redemption for the popular route may cost up to 55,000 SkyMiles.
Despite Delta’s dynamic pricing, there are also sweet spots to be found with partner airline redemptions.
For example, you can fly from Miami to Buenos Aires in economy with LATAM Airlines for as low as 32,500 SkyMiles. When flown non-stop, the route covers 4,400 miles and takes 9 hours, so it’s good value.
Going to the Caribbean, you can fly Air France’s fifth-freedom route from Miami to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe in economy for 37,000 SkyMiles, or in business class for 75,000 SkyMiles.
If you are flying to or within Canada, SkyMiles can be redeemed for great value on WestJet flights, and there’s a lot of availability for most routes in economy.
For example, a one-way economy flight on the popular Toronto-Vancouver route only costs 12,500 SkyMiles. You could also fly direct from Vancouver to Honolulu with WestJet for only 22,500 SkyMiles.
Delta SkyMiles Status
Arguably the best feature of Delta SkyMiles program is its Medallion Status, which is among the most valuable airline elite statuses to hold.
There are four levels of Medallion Status: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. General members, who are below Silver, are not considered Medallion members.
To qualify for the next Medallion Status tier, you’ll have to earn a combination of:
- Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) – earned based on distance flown and your fare class on Delta and its partners, excluding Basic Economy
- Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) – earned based on the number of flight segments you take on Delta and its partners, excluding Basic Economy
- Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) – your fare spent on Delta-marketed flights in Main Cabin or above (for US-based members only)
The MQD requirement may be waived if you hold a qualifying Delta SkyMiles American Express card and meet spending thresholds.
The following chart illustrates what you need to advance to the next Medallion Status tier:
There are many advantages to being a Medallion member. For one, you are treated to a host of benefits, including:
- SkyTeam status (Elite for Silver; Elite Plus for Gold and up)
- Rollover Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs)
- Complimentary preferred seats
- Priority wait list
- Fee waivers
- Priority airport services
- Dedicated phone line
- Hertz car rental benefits
- Instacart benefits
- Savings on Delta Vacations
- Drink vouchers
- Bag tags
More valuably, Medallion Members may receive unlimited complimentary upgrades based on the following criteria:
Lastly, if you reach Platinum or Diamond Medallion status, you’re also entitled to select one or three choice benefits, respectively.
The following benefits may be chosen:
- Delta Sky Club Individual or Executive Membership
- Delta Sky Club guest pass
- Upgrade certificates
- Bonus miles
- Gift Medallion Status
- Sustainable aviation fuel contribution
- Delta travel voucher
- Delta Vacations experience
- Miles Qualification Dollars (MQD) boost
- Statement credit on Delta SkyClub American Express card
- Starbucks Rewards stars
Delta SkyMiles can easily be earned by signing up for one of the several American Express co-branded Delta cards, transferring points from partner programs, and flying with Delta and its partner airlines.
With Delta’s flights to 275 destinations in 50 countries, your SkyMiles redemption possibilities are endless. However, remember that Delta imposes dynamic pricing on all SkyMiles redemptions, including flights on its partners.
Hence, the best way to redeem your SkyMiles is by booking through SkyMiles Deals, which offers discounts on specific routes and dates. You can also take advantage of sweet spots with its partners, especially low-priced flights on WestJet and LATAM Airlines.
If you fly with Delta often, you should consider gunning for Medallion Status, which is one of the most valuable airline elite statuses to hold. The program confers many benefits, including complimentary upgrades and SkyTeam status. Choice benefits are available to Platinum and Diamond Medallion members, as well.