Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Loyalty Program Review

Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Loyalty Program Review

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Delta Summary Table

Branded and Partnered Credit Cards

There are several credit cards that can help you quickly collect Delta SkyMiles that can be redeemed for some amazing flights.

Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards

American Express provides co-branded Delta credit cards that earn SkyMiles directly.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card- use this card to get one free checked bag for you and up to 8 companions on your itinerary, which we see as a "must-have" if you fly Delta regularly. Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months (expires 10/28/2020). Card also now earns 2x miles at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and U.S. supermarkets in addition to 2x miles on Delta purchases. Earn 1x on all other purchases. Plus, $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Delta Gold card, click here.

American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards

Amex points can be transferred directly to Delta Air Lines at a ratio of 1:1. Earning Membership Rewards is probably the best way to earn lots of SkyMiles.

Recommended Personal Cards

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months, worth up to $600 towards travel. Terms Apply.

However — you may be eligible for a much higher offer by using the CardMatch Tool. Plus, there's no hard pull on your credit to check for personalized offers.

This is our #1 card for accessing 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass). We leverage ~$3,000+ in value from the card every year. For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, and 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x. Terms Apply). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months and up to $100 airline fee credit per calendar year, it's a strong choice. For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.

Recommended Business Cards

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

See how we get ~$5,525+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks, including access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide. For rates & fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month, such as Facebook or Google ads. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. After that, you earn 1x. Terms Apply. For rates & fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - This card is offering a welcome bonus of up to $300 back to boost your business. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. A super simple, no annual fee card that earns you 2x points on any business purchase, up to $50,000 annually. After that, then 1x. Terms Apply. That makes for an easy 100,000 points per year. For rates & fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

Marriott Credit Cards

You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to Delta at a transfer rate of 3:1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 Delta SkyMiles bonus.

Recommended Marriott Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary. Plus, earn 6X points per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, and 2X points per $1 on all other purchases.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card - Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 3X points per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, earn 2X on other travel purchases, then 1x on all other purchases. A solid card for Marriott loyalists looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 6x per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels plus 3x at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines. Annual fee is $450. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

Hotel Partner Credit Cards

Several hotel programs will let you transfer points to Delta. However, this is almost always a poor use of hotel points. Unless you are really in a bind, save your hotel points for hotel award stays at your destination.

Loyalty ProgramCredit Card Review
Hilton Honors Loyalty ProgramHilton Honors™ Card from American Express
Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express
Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty ProgramMarriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Card
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
World of Hyatt Loyalty ProgramWorld of Hyatt Credit Card

Delta Air Lines Overview

Delta’s mileage program is named SkyMiles. When it comes to earning SkyMiles, the program has shifted from a mileage-based to a revenue-based program. This means miles are now earned based on the amount spent on tickets rather than the distance traveled.

Big spenders and short distance flyers will likely see an increase in their mileage earning. But leisure and long-distance flyers may see their earnings drop, often dramatically.

Elite status is still earned by traditional miles and segments flown, but spending requirements have been added to the flying requirements.

Joining SkyMiles

Joining is free and you can sign up online.

Delta SkyMiles Enrollment Page
Image Credit: Delta

You’ll immediately become a General Member and begin earning miles on Delta flights and partner activity.

How to Sign in to Your SkyMiles Account

Log in on the delta.com homepage.

Delta SkyMiles Login
Image Credit: Delta

Viewing Your Account Activity

The Delta website has 2 useful pages to manage your account:

  • My SkyMiles shows all your account activity.
  • My Wallet shows your SkyMiles and Sky Club membership cards, and any certificates you may have such as elite upgrade certificates. You can also print trip receipts.

Points Expiration

Delta SkyMiles is the only U.S. airline loyalty program with no mileage expiration. With Delta, infrequent travelers need not worry about finding ways to avoid expiration.

Delta Mileage Program

SkyMiles Elite Status

Delta SkyMiles offers members 4 membership tiers:

  • Silver Medallion
  • Gold Medallion
  • Platinum Medallion
  • Diamond Medallion

Elite status requirements:

  • Silver Medallion – 25,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) or 30 Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) and $3,000 in Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs)
  • Gold Medallion – 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs and $6,000 MQDs
  • Platinum Medallion – 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs and $9,000 MQDs
  • Diamond Medallion – 125,000 MQMs or 140 segments and $15,000 MQDs

MQD requirements are waived if spending $25,000 per year on a Delta-branded American Express card.

You can also earn MQMs with credit card spending.

SkyMiles Elite Benefits

Delta Medallion Benefit Breakdown
Image Credit: Delta


SkyMiles Silver Medallion:

  • Complimentary upgrades on paid flights (not award flights), up to 24 hours before departure if available
  • 1 free checked bag up to 70 pounds for Silver member and up to 8 traveling companions on the same reservation
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Virgin Atlantic flights: priority check-in, priority boardings, and 1 additional checked bag (in addition to standard Virgin Atlantic allowance)

SkyMiles Gold Medallion:

  • All Silver benefits, plus:
  • Complimentary upgrades available up to 72 hours before departure
  • Complimentary upgrades on award tickets
  • 2 free checked bags up to 70 pounds each
  • Free same-day changes and same-day standby
  • Award booking fee waived
  • SkyPriority check-in, security, and boarding on Delta and partners
  • SkyTeam ElitePlus status includes partner lounge access on international itineraries, even in economy
  • Hertz 5-Star status (register here)
  • Virgin Atlantic flights: premium economy check-in, Fast Track security, premium economy baggage handling

SkyMiles Platinum Medallion:

  • All Gold benefits, plus:
  • Complimentary upgrades available up to 5 days before departure
  • 3 free checked bags up to 70 pounds each
  • Award change and cancellation fees are waived
  • 1 annual Choice Benefit. Choose between:
    • 4 Regional Upgrade Certificates (RUC)*
    • 20,000 bonus SkyMiles
    • Ability to gift Silver status
    • $200 gift card
  • Hertz President’s Circle Status (register here)
  • Virgin Atlantic flights: Upper Class check-in, Upper Class security, Upper Class priority baggage handling, and lounges: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse or No.1 Lounges Heathrow Terminal 3, and the Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge (arrivals)

*Regional Upgrade Certificates can be used to jump to the top of the upgrade list on competitive flights such as New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco. They can be used for U.S. domestic flights and selected short-distance international flights.

SkyMiles Diamond Medallion:

  • All Platinum benefits, plus:
  • Free membership to CLEAR so you can breeze through security
  • 3 additional Choice Benefits from a better slate of options than Platinum:
    • 4 Global Upgrade Certificates (GUC)*
    • 25,000 bonus miles
    • Delta Sky Club membership (individual and executive)
    • Ability to gift Gold status, and more

*Global Upgrade Certificates can be used on any paid (non-award) Delta flight except Basic Economy, and limited partner flights.

Value of Delta SkyMiles Status

Delta SkyMiles status is competitive with American Airlines and United.

Silver Medallion has minimal benefits. Much of what is offered is similar to benefits extended to Delta credit cardholders.

Gold Medallion stands out for same-day change and same-day standby fee waivers, which are not a benefit of American and United at their comparative status levels. Gold Medallion members get SkyTeam ElitePlus status, and will receive a high level of treatment when flying partner airlines.

Platinum Medallion offers valuable award change and cancellation fee waivers. These are great for flexibility and for rebooking tickets if the mileage price decreases. United recently imposed fees on their Premier Platinum members if they do not change or cancel their award tickets far in advance.

Regional Upgrade Certificates are a popular Choice Benefit for Platinum Medallions that frequently fly domestic DeltaOne routes such as New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Without certificates, complimentary upgrades are not available on these routes branded as DeltaOne.

Diamond Medallion members receive a high level of service. When there are delays or cancellations, Diamonds are among the fastest to be re-accommodated on the best alternate flights. The Diamond Medallion hotline is staffed by experts who are quick to help.

Global Upgrade Certificates are a highlight of Choice Benefits for Diamond members. These can be used to upgrade to business on paid economy tickets, even on the longest international routes. Availability to use the certificates is generally good, especially when compared to United and American’s certificates (which are very difficult to use on international flights).

With continuing cuts to American Airlines Executive Platinum, many road warriors now rank Delta’s Diamond Medallion as the top airline elite status in the U.S.

How to Earn Delta Miles

From flying to using credit cards for your daily expenses, you’ll have tons of opportunities to earn SkyMiles.

Earn SkyMiles Through Flying

Delta SkyMiles members now earn miles by the dollar amount spent on their ticket (up to 75,000 miles maximum per ticket).

Earning base miles varies by status:

  • General – 5 miles per dollar
  • Silver Medallion – 7 miles per dollar
  • Gold Medallion – 8 miles per dollar
  • Platinum Medallion – 9 miles per dollar
  • Diamond Medallion – 11 miles per dollar

SkyMiles can be earned on any Delta flight, as well as flights with many SkyTeam partner airlines and other partners.

Certain airline partner flights still earn based on distance instead of price. You can consult the SkyMiles airline partner page to figure this out, but you will need the airline booking fare code of your ticket (which is not provided by all airlines and websites). You might need to call the airline directly to find out the booking fare code.

List of SkyTeam Alliance Airline Partners

Delta SkyTeam Partners
AeroflotGaruda Indonesia
Aerolineas ArgentinasKenya Airways
AeromexicoKLM
Air EuropaKorean Air
Air FranceMiddle East Airlines
AlitaliaSaudia Airlines
China AirlinesTarom
China EasternVietnam Airlines
China SouthernXiamen Airlines
Czech Airlines

List of Non-Alliance Delta Partners

Delta Other Partners
GOLVirgin Atlantic
Great Lakes AirlinesVirgin Australia
HawaiianWestJet

Earning SkyMiles With Credit Cards

With several co-branded Delta credit cards, it’s easy to earn SkyMiles directly. Most purchases will earn 1X points per dollar, but purchases with Delta will earn 2X points.

You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points and Marriott Bonvoy points to Delta SkyMiles. Cards that earn Membership Rewards often have multiple bonus categories to help you earn points faster while Marriott Bonvoy points provide a transfer bonus of 5,000 SkyMiles when you transfer a block of 60,000 points.

How to Redeem Delta Miles

When it comes to redeeming miles, Delta wants customers to pay whatever price the Delta website quotes. They even went so far as to remove their award chart so that customers have no firm reference to what an award “should” cost.

As a general rule, though, Delta sticks pretty close to their old award chart, which is included here for reference.

Note that some award prices have increased or decreased since this chart was last published. Delta typically does not announce changes in advance, sometimes only announcing that certain prices are immediately in effect for any travel from a specific date. Delta also regularly runs award sales of as little as 5,000 miles per flight for domestic flights.

Delta Award Chart
Delta award chart from 2015. Image Credit: travelisfree.com

Booking Online

The Delta website has many award ticket booking and pricing errors. Not all partners are shown online, and sometimes the site shows “phantom availability” for partner airlines (awards that are not really available for booking).

Do careful research on awards and always search segment by segment. For partner awards, you can compare to results shown on the Air France website since they have many partners in common.

Many Delta awards require a phone call to book. Ask for a telephone booking fee waiver if it is not possible to book your trip online.

Bottom Line: With Delta not publishing award prices and many website pricing errors, do careful research to know what an award “should” cost before you book. 

See our article on How to Redeem Delta SkyMiles for details on the many award options to maximize your SkyMiles value.

Frequently asked questions

What is Delta SkyMiles? Why join Delta SkyMiles?

SkyMiles is the Delta Air Lines frequent flyer loyalty program. By joining this free program, you can earn benefits while traveling with Delta Air Lines, depending on your level of status within the program.

When you travel, you will earn miles which can be redeemed for award flights and more once you’ve earned enough.

What are the benefits of Delta SkyMiles? What are the levels of membership?

The benefits include bonus miles earned, priority boarding, free checked bags, security line status, complimentary upgrades, and more. When you earn enough miles, you get to redeem them for travel or other purchases.

The levels of elite status membership are Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. To earn these levels, you must reach a certain number of miles/segments and meet a certain spending threshold each year.

What are Choice Benefits for SkyMiles members?

Delta has a unique gift-giving scheme when you achieve your elite Medallion statuses, dubbed Choice Benefits.

When SkyMiles members first achieve Platinum status, they are allowed to choose a gift from a list of choices, including upgrade certificates, and more.

Achieving Diamond status yields 2 gifts, and the gift options differ between the statuses too.

For example, for Platinum, the upgrade certificate gift includes 4 regional flight upgrades, while for Diamond it is 4 global or 8 regional flight upgrades. You get an extra gift just for being Diamond as well.

One gift exclusive to Diamond status is upgrading an individual Delta Sky Club Membership to an executive membership.

Which airlines accept Delta SkyMiles? Who are Delta SkyMiles partners?

Delta is a member of the SkyTeam alliance. This includes airlines like Aeroflot, Air France, Czech Airlines, and KLM. Other Delta Partners include Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia.

What is the Delta SkyMiles login?

You can sign in to your SkyMiles account here.

Where can I sign up for Delta SkyMiles?

What can Delta SkyMiles be used for? How many Delta SkyMiles are needed for a free flight?

Delta SkyMiles can be used for free flights on Delta or any of their partner airlines. They can also be used for hotels and other partners.

You can transfer points from partnered programs to Delta SkyMiles as well. There is no longer a 250,000-mile transfer limit.

What are Delta SkyMiles worth?

SkyMiles have been valued anywhere from $0.005 to $0.015 per point. This always depends on what types of redemptions are available.

When do Delta SkyMiles expire?

Delta’s policy is that SkyMiles never expire. They can terminate your account, however, for fraudulent or other unfavorable activities.

Is there a Delta Air Lines SkyMiles credit card?

Yes, there are multiple Delta American Express cards: the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express.

Or, you can use other partnered cards like the American Express® Gold Card, since Delta is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards.

Where is my Delta SkyMiles number?

You can find your number by signing into your account and navigating to your account page. If you don’t have that, you can search your inbox for a marketing email, or use the “forgot my password” tool to reset your password and get into your account.

If neither of those work, you can always call customer service to retrieve your account number.

What are the Delta baggage fees?

Delta charges $25-$100 per bag depending on whether it’s overweight. Learn how you can get free checked bags when you fly with Delta.

Brian Graham

About Brian Graham

Brian's first ever airplane ride was in a private turbo-prop jet. He was merely an intern boy trying to make a good impression, but it turns out the plane made an impression on him. It wasn't until Brian relocated to Dallas, TX, and moved in with an American Airlines employee that he truly discovered how incredible travel could be.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

16 comments

  1. Ann Eagleton June 14, 2018

    Hi, I live near Manchester (UK) and have over 100,000 sky miles.
    I wish to use these miles for flights from uk but never have enough for a flight to US. Are there any deals to use these miles within Europe?

    I would appreciate any suggestions as to how these miles could be used.
    Thank you.
    Ann Eagleton

    Reply

    • Hi Ann

      With SkyMiles, you can fly on any SkyTeam or Delta codeshare partner. I checked a few routes and found the following flights from Manchester that you can book with SkyMiles on the Delta website:
      – Manchester to Paris on Air France = 15k one-way economy
      – Manchester to Amsterdam on KLM = 15k one-way economy
      – Manchester to Mumbai on Jet Airways = 35k one-way economy
      – Manchester to Atlanta on Virgin Atlantic = 30k one-way economy
      – Manchester to Jeddah on Saudia = 25k one-way economy

      Reply

  2. Dr. Nadeem April 8, 2019

    Hello, I am planning to visit Detroit with my wife for a business meeting. I was wondering whether the SkyMiles can be transferred to my wife when I am booking her ticket the next time when I come over. Considering I am booking for both of us from my account and I already have a sufficient balance.

    Reply

    • Hello Dr. Nadeem. While it is possible to transfer SkyMiles between accounts, there is a charge for doing so. Delta charges 1 cent per mile plus a $30 transaction fee. I am not sure why you want to transfer the SkyMiles to your wife’s account. If you can elaborate further, I would be happy to try and help.

      Reply

  3. Dr. Nadeem April 9, 2019

    Thank you for your reply Christine. My work pays for a lot of my business trips and I have a lot of accumulated miles, so I want to know if I can use those to book her ticket from my account and if the miles earned from that flight will be added to my account to be used later? Sorry about my lack of knowledge. This is the first time I would be redeeming the miles earned and am confused on how to go about it. Kindly guide me regarding this.

    Reply

    • Thanks for clarifying, Dr. Nadeem. I will try to assist. You can book your wife’s ticket using the SkyMiles from your account, no problem. You can log in to your online SkyMiles account to book the ticket or call Delta. Neither she (nor you) will earn miles on those award flights because they are purchased with miles. Also, she should have her own SkyMiles account so when you purchase a ticket (paid ticket not award ticket), she can earn miles. You will not earn miles when she flies on a paid ticket as only the person who flies earns the miles. That is the reason to open a SkyMiles account for her. Also, she will need to have a SkyMiles account so that if you are both on the same reservation, she will be eligible for upgrades too, providing you have elite status.

      Reply

  4. Terry Parsley July 23, 2019

    What happens to my miles when I die. Can my wife use them?

    Reply

  5. Tony Kawanari July 30, 2019

    I would like to send the letter to Delta SkyMiles.
    Is this address correct? It’s Dept.654, P.O.Box20532, Atlanta GA 30320.

    Reply

  6. Kendall Adkin August 27, 2019

    I have flown multiple times on Delta this year, am I able to have those miles added to my delta sky miles account I just opened?

    Reply

  7. APOLINARIO E CEDRON February 17, 2020

    I am traveling to the Philippines and using the Amex gold SkyMiles card, do I get a 3rd bag free?

    Reply

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

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