Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Loyalty Program Review

Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Loyalty Program

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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.

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. Terms Apply.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card in your first 3 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. Terms apply.
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
  • SPECIAL OFFER: Earn 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Also, earn 5 miles per dollar on eligible purchases with your new Card during the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to 35,000 bonus miles. Special offer expires 7/31/18.
  • Annual Fee: $195. Terms Apply.


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

CREDIT CARDBENEFITS & INFO
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x).
  • Earn 20% extra points when you make 20 or more purchases with your Card in a billing period.
  • 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.74%-25.74%.
  • 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months on balance transfers requested within 60 days of account opening, then a variable APR of 14.74%-25.74%. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • $100 Airline fee credit. Terms apply.
  • 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and at US supermarkets. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $195
The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • Access more than 1,100 airport lounges across 120 countries and counting, including the amazing Centurion® lounges.
  • Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $550

Recommended Business Cards

CREDIT CARDBENEFITS & INFO
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership
  • Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories.
  • Earn 2x points on the remaining 4 categories
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175. Terms Apply.
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express

The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 2X points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99%. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
  • LIMITED TIME OFFER: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 & an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 8/8/18.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Access more than 1,100 airport lounges across 120 countries and counting, including the amazing Centurion® lounges.
  • Up to $200 a calendar year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $450

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards

While earning SkyMiles directly might seem like the best way to go, we’d actually suggest considering SPG Starpoints. Every chunk of 20,000 points you transfer to Delta earns you a bonus 5,000 SkyMiles.

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn up to $100 statement credit after you make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Earn an additional $100 statement credit after making a purchase at a participating hotel during your first 6 months. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn up to $200 statement credit after you make $1,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Up to 5x Starpoints® on eligible purchases.
  • Free Boingo Wi-Fi & Free Wi-Fi at SPG participating hotels. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

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
 Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Card
Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card
Marriott Rewards Loyalty ProgramChase Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
World of Hyatt Loyalty ProgramChase 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

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

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.

There are 4 Delta-branded American Express credit cards that earn MQMs for your card spending each year. This can be card spending anywhere, not just on Delta.

Credit CardEarning MQMs
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express10,000/20,000 MQMs for $25,000/$50,000 spend per year
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express10,000/20,000 MQMs for $25,000/$50,000 spend per year
Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express15,000/30,000 MQMs for $30,000/$60,000 spend per year, PLUS you can gift them to another SkyMiles member
Delta Reserve® for Business Credit Card from American Express15,000/30,000 MQMs for $30,000/$60,000 spend per year, PLUS you can gift them to another SkyMiles member

Hot Tip: If you have all 4 cards and spend a total $220,000 to meet each card’s requirements, you’ll earn 100,000 MQMs per year.

SkyMiles Elite Benefits

Delta Medallion Benefit Breakdown


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

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)

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)*
    • Global Entry application voucher
    • 20,000 bonus SkyMiles
    • Ability to gift Silver status
    • $200 gift card
  • Hertz President’s Circle Status (register here)
  • SPG hotel benefits such as room upgrades, free in-room internet, and 4 pm late checkout (register for Crossover Rewards here)

*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
  • 2 additional Choice Benefits from a better slate of options than Platinum:
    • 4 Global Upgrade Certificates (GUC)*
    • 25,000 bonus miles
    • Ability to gift Gold status, and more
  • Delta Sky Club Membership is being transitioned from a free benefit; it will now be one of 3 Choice Benefit selections in 2018

*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 card holders.

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 SPG Starpoints to Delta SkyMiles. Cards that earn Membership Rewards often have multiple bonus categories to help you earn points faster while SPG Starpoints provide a transfer bonus of 5,000 SkyMiles when you transfer a block of 20,000 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 courtesy of 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.

FAQ

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, Global Entry application vouchers, 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 Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, 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.

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Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

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2 comments

  1. Ann Eagleton · June 14, 2018 · Reply

    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

    • Michael McHugh · June 15, 2018 · 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

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