Update: The offer mentioned below is now expired. The latest offers can be found in our reviews for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express.
American Express just introduced a new points-based program for Delta Amex cardholders. The program is called “Fly Now, Earn Later” and essentially allows members to borrow miles in the short term and pay them off later through credit card spending.
The number of miles each cardholder is allowed to borrow depends on a number of factors, including spending patterns and card activity. All miles borrowed must be paid off within a 6-month period. At the end of the 6-month period, any miles that remain will be charged to the user’s account at 2.5 cents per mile.
A few other eligibility terms were also revealed yesterday. For instance, eligible Delta SkyMiles Credit Card accounts must be in good standing to access Fly Now, Earn Later. Additionally, the miles borrowed will take up to 72 hours to post to the user’s account.
It should be noted that any miles borrowed cannot be returned or transferred and are subject to the Delta SkyMiles program’s terms and conditions. Lastly, members may have only 1 Fly Now, Earn Later balance outstanding at any time.
Who Will Benefit?
These credit cards come with their own built-in perks, but adding the Fly Now, Earn Later program is certainly a plus for a number of Delta customers.
Those customers who know they’re flying on a specific date and see minimal award space could borrow extra miles to secure the spot and rest assured their redemption is on the books.
Similarly, for customers needing more than 1 award seat on a particular flight (maybe a family of 4), booking requires a great deal more points and more work to find multiple award seats. Borrowing the miles could help families book the flights right away so they don’t have to worry about it.
How to Earn and Pay Back Miles
In terms of “paying back miles” and earning miles retroactively, users simply spend on the applicable credit cards for which the program has been applied.
For the above credit cards, cardholders receive 2 miles per dollar on all Delta purchases. This includes flights and other purchases like in-flight services and baggage fees, though in-flight internet with Gogo is not considered a Delta purchase.
Cardholders also earn 1 mile per dollar on all other non-Delta purchases.
If a customer doesn’t earn all of the miles back through spending, they will be required to purchase the remaining miles at a price of 2.5 cents per mile. This is not cheap and not recommended.
However, it’s cheaper than buying miles directly through Delta, which at this time would require a minimum purchase of 2,000 miles at 3.5 cents per mile. A number of airlines have sales on buying miles that can cut pricing to as low as 1.7 cents per mile.
Even with mileage sales, it’s still not a great idea to spend money just for miles. Try to avoid this unless you are very close to the required mileage for an award, you have found award space, and you need the flight on a very specific date.
It may seem like common sense, but don’t borrow more miles than you know you can earn back in the 6-month period.
If you need more SkyMiles than American Express will let you borrow, or you’re nervous about the Fly Now, Earn Later option, see our post on 19 Best Ways to Earn Lots of Delta SkyMiles for some ideas.
Options for Using SkyMiles
For most points collectors, the main use of their coveted miles is for booking award flights. For SkyMiles members redeeming exclusively for flights with Delta, miles can be used to book these award flights in the continental U.S. from as low as 5,000-10,000 miles one-way on select routes.
The value of your SkyMiles will generally range from $0.005-$0.015 per point depending on which redemptions are available. To get the most bang for your buck, choose your redemptions wisely.
Delta also advertises using Skymiles in a number of other ways, such as reducing a portion of the cost for a ticket, shopping through their portal, purchasing a Delta Sky Club® Membership, or flying Delta Private Jets.
Additionally, Delta has announced that as of June 20, SkyMiles members will be able to use their miles for a number of other products including upgrades to some cabin classes, selecting preferred seats, ticket change fees, award ticket redeposit fees, same-day confirmed fees, and external ticket charges.
In order to take advantage of these new options, customers must contact Delta Reservations via phone at 1-800-323-2323.
These options are generally poor uses of SkyMiles. Stick to booking award tickets with flights on Delta or one of its SkyTeam partners if you want to get the most value out of your miles.
In terms of using SkyMiles for redemptions, cardholders aren’t strictly limited to Delta products. There are a number of great options for using SkyMiles to experience other products such as Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, Air France Business Class, Korean Air Business Class, and more!
For info on these options plus a few more, see this post on Delta redemption ideas.
Act Now If You’re on the Fence
If you’re thinking about getting one of these cards, it may be beneficial to make the move sooner rather than later. As it turns out, Amex is promoting their Delta partnership at the moment. Through July 7, 2017, 2 cards are offering increased sign-up bonuses.
With the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, cardholders earn 70,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $4,000 in the first 4 months. Plus, you can receive a $100 Delta statement credit after making at least 1 Delta purchase with the new card within 4 months. This card has a $195 annual fee.
With the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, cardholders earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 4 months. Plus, users receive a $50 Delta statement credit after making a Delta purchase with their new card within 4 months. This card has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, after which the annual fee is $95.