18 Best Ways To Earn Lots of Delta SkyMiles

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In addition to being the third largest airline in the United States, Delta Air Lines operates its largest hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – the busiest airport in the world.

SkyMiles, the Delta Air Lines loyalty program, is a dollar-based program. Unlike mileage-based redemption programs where miles are earned based on distance or segments traveled, under this program bonus miles are earned based on the dollar amount spent.

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits provided with each Delta SkyMiles credit card, as well as specific strategies you can implement to maximize the number of miles you earn for each purchase (whether or not you use a Delta SkyMiles credit card).

Read on to discover all the ways to rack up Delta SkyMiles!

Enroll in Delta SkyMiles

You don’t need an affiliated credit card to begin earning SkyMiles; just sign up online for a Delta SkyMiles account.

There are actually 2 types of miles in the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program: bonus miles and Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs).

Bonus miles are earned by making purchases and can be redeemed for awards. As a member, you’ll begin earning 5 bonus miles for every $1 you spend on flights. (You will earn more if you use a Delta SkyMiles credit card.)

MQMs are based on distance traveled, and they help you achieve elite status (Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond) and extra benefits.

When you sign up for membership, you will be assigned a unique Delta SkyMiles account number that you’ll use to earn miles in the variety of ways we outline in this post.

Delta offers a concise chart to show you how to earn SkyMiles and MQMs for flights, depending on which fare class or status you are.

1. Delta Air Lines Credit Cards

American Express offers various personal and business Delta credit cards. Most of the cards offer miles for signing up. Because there are several options, you should choose the card that works best for your situation.

It’s important to evaluate your spending habits before making a decision. Click on the links below to see the current introductory bonuses and apply for the cards!

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express - The current welcome bonus is 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 on the card within the first 3 months (terms apply). Plus, with a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year (then $95), this is a solid Delta card. Click here for rates and fees of the Gold Delta.

Hot Tip:  This article is concerned with earning bonus frequent flyer miles, but some of these credit cards also offer benefits like complimentary or discounted access to Delta Sky Club.

2. Earn 2x Bonus SkyMiles on Delta Purchases

When you make a purchase with a Delta SkyMiles credit card, you receive 2x miles on Delta purchases. The best part is your purchases don’t have to be for flights in order to qualify!

For instance, pay for baggage fees with your Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, and you will still earn 2 miles per $1.

3. Everyday Purchases for 1x Bonus Frequent Flyer Miles

Every purchase you make outside of Delta will earn you 1x miles. That means it pays to use your card for as many purchases as possible!

Look for opportunities to use your Delta card in categories that don’t typically earn more than 1x miles. For example, use your card for medical expenses, gym memberships, random online purchases, and drugstores.

Built-In Miles Boosts kick in starting at $25,000 (Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express) and $30,000 (Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express).

You’ll earn 10,000-15,000 bonus miles and MQMs depending on the card–a great spending motivator!

4. Silver Medallion Status

The 4 elite status tiers in Delta SkyMiles (Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond) provide bonuses of 2x, 3x, 4x, and 6x respectively.

Once you reach 25,000 MQMs (or 30 Medallion Qualification Dollars), you achieve Silver Medallion Status.

From that point on, you will earn an additional 2x bonus miles for Delta purchases…on top of the 5x bonus miles as a SkyMiles member and 2x bonus miles for using your SkyMiles credit card. That’s a total of 9x bonus miles for purchases you make through Delta!

Silver members earn an additional 2x MQMs per $1!

Flexible Points Credit Cards (Recommended)

5. American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards

Delta Air Lines is an American Express Membership Rewards partner. This means that you can also rack up Delta miles by making purchases with American Express cards that earn Membership Rewards.

You won’t lose any value by transferring your points because it’s done at a 1:1 ratio. Go ahead and purchase flights for 3x miles (instead of 2x) with a card such as the American Express® Gold Card and transfer them over later.

In fact, you can earn points at U.S. gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, and other places between the American Express® Gold Card, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, and The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express.

Then, transfer these points to your Delta SkyMiles account to accrue more miles than you thought possible.

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

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. This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $1,500+ in value from the card every year.

Plus, get up to $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month and a $20 bonus in December) — and up to $200 in annual credit for airline incidental charges (e.g. baggage fees). For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x).

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $2,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Even though this card carries a hefty annual fee, we get ~$1,250+ in value per year by leveraging as many of the benefits/perks card.

Get access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide, $200 in airline fee credits for incidentals (e.g. baggage fees) and a lot more. Also, earn a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points (terms apply). For rates and 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. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. This means you'll max out at a (whopping) 600,000 points per year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates and fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express - This is a real simple card that earns you 2x points on business purchases up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). There's no annual fee. For rates and fees of The Blue Business Plus, click here.

6. 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™ Card - earn 75,000 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.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points (terms apply). A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

Delta Shopping & Dining

An easy way to earn miles is through airline shopping and dining programs. Check out how below:

7. SkyMiles Shopping Portal

There are plenty of partners you can shop with online to earn extra Delta miles!

Earn Delta SkyMiles while you shop hundreds of online stores with SkyMall Shopping. You get access to millions of products in one spot! Look for seasonal sales as well as coupon code discounts and free shipping deals.

The SkyMall Shopping site is easy to navigate. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Visit SkyMilesShopping.com
  2. Enter your SkyMiles membership number
  3. Click on an offer, product, or store
  4. Shop and earn Delta miles for your purchases

You don’t need to pay with your Delta SkyMiles credit card to make purchases through SkyMiles Shopping. If you do, however, you’ll earn 1 point per $1 on top of your bonus points for shopping the store!

8. Delta SkyMiles Dining Program

Sign up to the Delta SkyMiles Dining Program and you can earn bonus SkyMiles simply by using a linked credit card at a restaurant! Note the sign-up bonus may change periodically.

Earn miles for eating at restaurants when you sign up for the Delta SkyMiles Dining Program. It really is one of most passive ways to accumulate miles for an activity you’re probably already doing!

Link your card to SkyMiles Dining and you will earn 3-5 bonus miles whenever you dine at a participating restaurant. You don’t need to utilize your Delta credit cardbut if you do you’ll earn an additional 1x miles on that meal.

Special Ways to Earn SkyMiles

9. Shopping at Retailers

Some simple ways to earn frequent flyer program miles with Delta include purchasing cookies, flowers, and other gifts:

CompanyProduct/ServiceBonus Miles
Biscoff StoreBiscoff cookies and gifts1 mile/$1
FTDFlowers and gifts20 miles/$1
Vinesse Wine ClubsMembership enrollment5,000 miles

10. Paying Utility Bills

Check out this table of all the ways you can earn miles through your electric and gas services:

CompanyProduct/ServiceBonus Miles
Energy PlusMonthly electric and gas service (where available)5,000 miles after 2nd month

2 miles/$1 on supply portion of bill

Georgia Natural GasMonthly gas service2 miles/$1
Ohio Natural GasAfter 30 days continuous service2 miles/$1

Unfortunately, there are times when the miles offered aren’t as valuable as you would think once you consider all the terms. That’s why we always recommend researching an offer before signing up.

Figure out which deals make the most sense for your financial situation before you take an offer just to earn bonus points.

11. Refer a Friend to a Credit Card

Refer a friend who’s approved for a Delta credit card and receive 5,000 bonus miles. Do keep in mind that there is an annual cap of 55,000 SkyMiles through the program.

For more information, check out our guide to the American Express refer a friend program.

Earning Miles for Traveling

12. Book Delta Flights

Use any of the Delta SkyMiles credit cards and earn 2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases. Plus, SkyMiles members earn MQM miles and bonus miles toward future award travel when flying to nearly 330 destinations worldwide.

Miles are earned based on the price of each ticket for a Delta-marketed or Delta-ticketed flight (minus government-imposed taxes and fees). A round-trip flight and a one-way will both earn.

How do you know if a flight is Delta-marketed? It will have the letters “DL” in the flight number. Delta-ticketed flights begin with “006.”

You’ll also earn miles when you travel on flights marketed or operated by a Delta partner. Check out this link to find a table of all partner airlines offers.

Virgin Atlantic and Delta are located together at London-Heathrow’s Terminal 3.  In addition to earning SkyMiles, members can enjoy a host of benefits through the partnership.

Hot Tip: Did you know that you could earn Delta miles by flying one of their partner airlines? For more information, check out this in depth guide to help you know where to credit your airline miles.

13. Book Delta Vacations

Take a Delta Vacation (including flight and hotel reservations) and earn up to 7,500 miles toward award travel. All you have to do is provide your SkyMiles number during the booking process.

The number of miles you can earn varies depending on the package, but you get extra miles for including a qualified car rental, choosing a Preferred Pick hotel, and using your Delta SkyMiles credit card from American Express.

Enjoy luxury travel? Earn 1 mile per $1 spent with SkyMiles Villas. Call 1-866-6230 to plan a trip.

If you’re looking for a full vacation package, try a Delta Vacation! You’ll get everything in a single package and earn extra miles for doing so.

14. Book With Hotel Partners

Stay with one of the many Delta SkyMiles hotel partners and earn extra miles for each night.

Find a list of hotel partners here, or check out the table below to discover all of the possibilities:

Accor HotelsUp to 12.5 miles/euroLangham Hospitality GroupUp to 1,500Okura Hotels & ResortsUp to 500
Carlson Rezidor HotelsUp to 500Maritim HotelsUp to 1,000Prince Hotels & ResortsUp to 500
Hilton Hotels1 mile/$1Marriott HotelsUp to 2 miles/$1Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts500
Hotel JAL City250Millennium Hotels and Resorts500Taj Hotels, Resorts, & PalacesUp to 1,000
Intercontinental Hotel GroupUp to 2 miles/$1New Otani Hotels500World Hotels500
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts500Nikko Hotels International500

Note that some of these hotels have their own credit cards as well. The following table shows which loyalty programs are applicable and which cards we have reviewed in each program:

15. Book With AirBnB

Recently, Delta formed a partnership with lodging giant AirBnB which allows you to earn 1x miles for all dollars spent with the company. You can also earn miles for becoming a host and renting rooms out! At the time of writing, this was up to 25,000 bonus miles.

To check out current details, visit deltaairbnb.com.

16. Book With Car Rental, Limo, & Shuttle Partners

You can also earn SkyMiles for car rentals and other transportation services. The table below shows participating companies and the bonus miles offered.

Rental CompanyMilesRental CompanyMilesRental CompanyMiles
Alamo500 per rentalEuropcar60 per dayNational500 per rental
CarmelUp to 2 miles/$1ExecuCar150 each waySixt500 per rental
Enterprise500 per rentalHertz500 per rentalSuperShuttle50 each way

17. Book Cruises Through Partners

Book cruises through Delta partners and you can earn extra miles for your vacation.

Delta partners with CruisesOnly to offer bonus SkyMiles on popular destinations like Europe, Alaska, and the Caribbean. Sail with one of the big cruise lines and earn miles based on the number of nights in your package:

# of NightsMiles

SkyMiles members enjoy big discounts and access to exclusive offers. One recent deal offered triple miles (up to 30,000!) on select bookings.

Check out the latest itineraries at skymilescruises.com!

18. Utilize Points.com to Transfer Points

Add your Delta SkyMiles account to Points.com. This program allows you to exchange and transfer points and miles between over 100 loyalty programs.

Unfortunately, the transfer rates are a little steep. However, if you have unused miles that you can’t redeem for travel, it can be a decent option.

Every so often you can find a Points.com promotion that pays off. In this case, you may be able to exchange points from another loyalty program for Delta SkyMiles without paying a hefty fee.

You can sign up to Points.com in order to earn and trade your point currencies, which could be a way to earn some more Delta miles!

19. Use Lyft to earn SkyMiles

Lyft Delta Partnership
You can earn Delta SkyMiles with Lyft! Image courtesy of blog.lyft.com

You’re also eligible earn SkyMiles by linking your Lyft account and taking rides!

You will earn according to the following scheme:

  • 1 mile per $1 spent on every U.S. ride
  • 2 miles per $1 spent on airport rides

If you’re a frequent rideshare user and value SkyMiles, this is another way to boost your SkyMiles balance!

Hot Tip: If you’re a seasoned Lyft rider don’t miss our article on the Lyft Rewards Program: 8 Perks & Benefits for Lyft Passengers!

Final Thoughts

It really is incredible how many ways there are to earn Delta SkyMiles!

In addition to the welcome bonuses offered with the Delta credit cards, remember you have numerous shopping, dining, travel, and other special ways to earn tons of miles.

Get started on implementing the strategies we discussed, and before you know it you will have seemingly endless miles at your disposal! These will be useful when you are looking to redeem an award for a vacation!

Featured Image: Courtesy of Shutterstock.com


What are SkyMiles?

The Delta Air Lines loyalty program is SkyMiles. Members earn miles and a variety of benefits for traveling with Delta depending on their level of status. Miles can be redeemed for awards flights.

What are the benefits of enrolling in Delta SkyMiles?

Members receive benefits such as bonus miles, free checked bags, priority boarding, and more depending on membership status. Once enough miles accrue, you can redeem them for travel or other options.

What are the Delta SkyMiles membership tiers?

Delta SkyMiles has 4 membership tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. You must earn a certain number of miles/segments and meet a specific dollar threshold each year to advance to the next level.

Where can I sign up for Delta SkyMiles?

Enroll in SkyMiles on the Delta SkyMiles website.

Where can I sign in to my Delta SkyMiles account?

The Delta SkyMiles login is here.

How much are Delta SkyMiles worth?

Your SkyMiles will range in value from $0.005-$0.015 per point, depending on which redemptions are available.

Which credit cards earn SkyMiles?

There are 3 branded personal Delta SkyMiles credit cards:

  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
  • Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Each of these card also has a business version:

  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Delta Reserve® for Business Credit Card from American Express

You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points earned from other American Express credit cards:

Does Delta SkyMiles have airline partners?

As a member of the SkyTeam Airline Alliance, Delta partners with airlines such as Aeroflot, Air France, Czech Airlines, and KLM. Other Delta partners include Hawaiian Airlines (how to earn HawaiianMiles), Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, and Alaska Airlines.

How many Delta SkyMiles are needed for a free flight?

You can redeem Delta SkyMiles for free flights on Delta or any of their partner airlines. You can also transfer points to and from SkyMiles partners, including hotels. Free flights start at 25,000 miles.

When do Delta SkyMiles expire?

Delta SkyMiles do not expire. However, your account can be terminated for fraudulent or other unfavorable activities.

Jennifer Koebele

About Jennifer Koebele

Jennifer ("Jen") is a self-proclaimed travel geek. Her favorite spot to relax is the beautiful resort town of Interlaken, Switzerland, which she first visited as a toddler. The Alpine city of Annecy, France is a close second. There's nothing Jen loves more than discovering (and writing about) how to find a good bargain.

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  1. Your article is wrong, you don’t receive choice benefits until you make platinum or diamond.

  2. You didn’t answer the question I had when I clicked on the piece: what is the bonus MQM boost one gets (toward Medallion status) for C+, B, or F flights? I know there is a boost, but cannot find what it is. (Also, shouldn’t you mention, to be fair, that it makes much more sense to buy DL tix on the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card, since you get 3 miles/$, instead of 2, and they transfer to many airlines, including DL?)

    • Michael McHugh · June 2, 2018 · Reply

      Hi mbh

      F and J fares are eligible for a 100% MQM bonus. P, A, G, C, D, I, Z, Y, and B fares are eligible for a 50% MQM bonus. I would call Delta re: C+ as this upgraded seat fare does not show a % MQM bonus on the DL website.

      Re: buying DL tickets with a DL vs. Amex card, if you’re not trying to hit a min. spend on a DL card, it likely makes more sense to book a ticket with the Amex Gold to earn 3x MRs. The MR to DL transfer ratio is currently 1:1, which means you’ll earn DL points at a higher rate (3x) vs. a lower rate (2x).

  3. Kellie Nielson · July 6, 2018 · Reply

    My question is how can I earn dollars toward status on Delta. I have more than enough MQMs to qualify for Diamond. But, I always have trouble coming up with the MQDs to qualify for Gold. What suggestions do you have for that?

    • Christine Krzyszton · July 6, 2018 · Reply

      Earning MQDs to qualify for Medallion Elite status with Delta is challenging if you’re not doing a lot of paid business travel annually. You can, however, earn MQDs quickly by traveling on premium fares with Delta’s partner airlines. For example, if you purchased a business class fare on Aeromexico and credit the miles flown to the Delta Sky Miles program, you would receive 40% of the miles flown towards your MQDs. A 9000-mile flight in business class on Aeromexico would earn $3600 MQDs. A business class flight on China Eastern to Asia is another example where you may fly 18000 miles and at 40% of miles flown, you would earn $7200 MQDs, more than enough for Gold status. You can access partner airline charts on Delta.com ( https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/skymiles/how-to-earn-miles/airline-partners.html) to learn more about how the amounts are calculated.

      You could also spend $25,000 on an eligible Delta credit card to waive any MQD requirement for Elite status up to Platinum status.
      Thanks so much for the question.

  4. Frances stepp · August 3, 2018 · Reply

    Do I receive points when I pay and travel with my grandson? It doesn’t allow me to put in my flyer number for him.

    • Michael McHugh · August 15, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Frances

      The person who is flying will be the one who receives the airline miles. If you pay for both flights, you both will receive miles for the flights flown. I would create a frequent flyer account for your grandson if you want to earn airline miles for his flight.

  5. Can you explain rewards of a US Bank VISA flex perks card and using those versus Delta Rewards? It started out as NWA rewards. I am wondering if it is worth keeping this card or getting something else. Thanks.

    • Bftiz – a great time to look at US Bank FlexPerks because a lot changed in 2018. Now points are worth 1.5 cents/point on airfare, either booking through their rewards portal or through their Real Time Rewards after you have used the card to purchase a ticket. An advantage of booking through their rewards portal is every ticket gets a $25 airline allowance. Instead of booking a round-trip, book two one-ways and get $25 each way. You have to make the purchase such as for baggage on the day of travel and call in to US Bank to request the allowance – it does not process automatically. This is great for economy tickets, and, since they are cash tickets, you earn miles for the flight. If you are looking for business class tickets, you’ll want to focus on cards like the American Express Delta cards that earn SkyMiles and you may get better value on those premium cabin awards.

  6. Hi, thanks for the great article.

    I would like to share that you can also link your Lyft account to your delta membership, so that you can also earn 1 mile/1$ & 2 mile/$1 on airport rides too.

    • Stephen Au · January 3, 2019 · Reply

      Hey Chang,

      Great point! I actually use Lyft myself a lot, and it definitely helps your Delta SkyMiles balance quite a bit!

      Thanks for reading and helping us with your feedback!

  7. I was wondering if Delta gift card purchases still qualify for miles on my Delta Amex card? I’m trying to burn thru the 3k needed for the bonus miles.

    • Katie Seemann · February 6, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Eli,
      According to their website, gift cards are not eligible for bonus miles on the Delta Amex cards. However, sometimes the system could read a gift card purchase from delta.com as an eligible purchase, so it might be worth testing out by purchasing a gift card in a small amount to see if you earn bonus points.

  8. Hi,
    When booking through the Hilton website, when I activate the Skymiles, will I still get the points and credit for the stay with Hilton or does it qualify as third party and kick me off their honors program? Trying to figure out if I can double dip or if it is one or the other only. Thanks!

    • Stephen Au · February 13, 2019 · Reply

      Hey Joe,

      You can double dip in this situation. Be sure to verify that this is the case with Hilton before committing! Thanks for reading.

  9. Jillian · March 4, 2019 · Reply

    Hello! I am wondering if monthly payments like gas, electricity, phone bill, and internet would count as eligible purchases towards the $3,000 spend needed to receive bonus points on the platinum card. Also, do Paypal purchases count as eligible purchases for the bonus miles? Thank you!

    • Hey Jillian – all of those purchases would count towards the minimum spend required to earn your bonus points. With PayPal, just make sure you’re paying with your Platinum Card vs pulling funds from your bank or another card. It’s easily done!

  10. Meagan DuBose · March 8, 2019 · Reply

    Let’s say I find a great deal on another airline. If I use my Delta AMEX to purchase this, would I receive points for the dollar amount spent?
    I realize it wouldn’t be the 2X points but possibly the 1X per dollar?


    • Christine Krzyszton · March 8, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Meagan. Yes, every purchase you make on your Delta Amex earns at least 1 mile per dollar spent. So, you would earn 1 mile per dollar for any other flight purchases other than Delta, which earns 2 miles per dollar. If you frequently purchase flights other than Delta, you may want to consider a card that earns more on travel. Here are some examples: https://upgradedpoints.com/best-travel-rewards-credit-cards/

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