In addition to being one of the largest airlines in the United States, Delta Air Lines operates its largest hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) — 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, you’ll learn which credit cards earn Delta SkyMiles, 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).
Table of contents
- Enroll in Delta SkyMiles
- Flexible Points Credit Cards (Recommended)
- Delta Shopping & Dining
- Special Ways to Earn Miles
- Earning Miles for Traveling
- Utilize Points.com to Transfer Points
- Use Lyft to Earn Miles
- Final Thoughts
Table of Contents
- Enroll in Delta SkyMiles
- Flexible Points Credit Cards (Recommended)
- Delta Shopping & Dining
- Special Ways to Earn Miles
- Earning Miles for Traveling
- 18. Utilize Points.com to Transfer Points
- 19. Use Lyft to Earn Miles
- Final Thoughts
Enroll in Delta SkyMiles
You don’t need an affiliated credit card to begin earning miles; just sign up online for a Delta SkyMiles account. There are actually two types of miles in the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program: miles and Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs).
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 a membership, you will be assigned a unique Delta SkyMiles account number that you’ll use to earn miles in a variety of ways.
1. Delta Air Lines Credit Cards
American Express offers various personal and business Delta credit cards. Most of the cards offer a welcome bonus once you meet a spending requirement. 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.
|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). $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Delta Gold card, click here.|
|Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card- Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months, Offer Expires 10/28/2020.|
Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta Flights and a lot of other benefits and perks, such as fee credit for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. The annual fee is $250. For rates and fees of the Delta Platinum card, click here.
Hot Tip: This article is focused on 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 Miles on Delta Purchases
When you make a purchase with a Delta SkyMiles credit card, you’ll 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 Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and you will still earn 2 miles per $1.
3. Everyday Purchases for 1x Bonus 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.
You’ll earn 10,000-15,000 bonus miles and MQMs depending on the card — a great spending motivator!
4. Earn Medallion Status
The 4 elite status tiers in Delta SkyMiles (Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond) earn miles at a rate of 7x, 8x, 9x, and 11x per $1 respectively.
Once you reach 25,000 MQMs (or 30 Medallion Qualification Segments), plus $3,000 Medallion Qualifying Dollars, you’ll achieve Silver Medallion Status.
From that point on, you will earn an additional 2x miles for Delta purchases… on top of the 5x miles you earn as a SkyMiles member and 2x miles for using your SkyMiles credit card. That’s a total of 9x miles for purchases you make through Delta!
Interested in how you can fast track your way to elite status with Delta? The chart below shows how many MQM’s you will earn based on your fare class purchased!
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, U.S. supermarkets, and other places between the Amex Gold Card, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, and The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card.
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, worth up to $600 towards travel.|
However — you may be eligible for a welcome bonus of up to 125,000 points using the CardMatch Tool.
This is our #1 card for accessing 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass). We leverage ~$3,000+ in benefits and perks from the card every year. Terms Apply. 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; and you'll have access to many benefits and perks.|
With a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 6 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 Amex Cards (Business)
|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.|
6. Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards
Recommended Marriott Cards
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 5 Free Nights after spending $5,000 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 over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, and 2X points per $1 on all other purchases. Annual Fee is $95.|
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card - Earn 30,000 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 100,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 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 Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, click here.|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - Earn 125,000 bonus points! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Offer Expires 1/13/2021. |
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.
Delta Shopping & Dining
An easy way to earn miles is through airline shopping and dining programs. Check out how below:
7. SkyMiles Shopping Portal
Earn Delta miles 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:
- Visit SkyMilesShopping.com
- Enter your SkyMiles membership number
- Click on an offer, product, or store
- Shop and earn Delta miles for your purchases
Hot Tip: 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 mile per $1 on top of your bonus miles for shopping at the store!
8. Delta SkyMiles Dining Program
Earn miles for eating at restaurants when you sign up for the Delta SkyMiles Dining Program. It really is one of the most passive ways to accumulate miles for an activity you’re probably already doing!
Hot Tip: Link your card to SkyMiles Dining and you will earn 3-5 miles per $1 whenever you dine at a participating restaurant. You don’t need to utilize your Delta credit card, but if you do you’ll earn an additional 1x miles on that meal.
Special Ways to Earn Miles
9. Shopping at Retailers
Some simple ways to earn frequent flyer program miles with Delta include purchasing cookies, flowers, and other gifts:
|Biscoff Store||Biscoff cookies and gifts||1 mile/$1|
|FTD||Flowers and gifts||20 miles/$1|
|Vinesse Wine Clubs||Membership enrollment||1,500 miles|
10. Paying Utility Bills
Check out this table of all the ways you can earn miles through your electric and gas services:
|Energy Plus||Monthly electric and gas service (where available)||5,000 miles after 2nd month|
2 miles/$1 on supply portion of bill
|Georgia Natural Gas||Monthly gas service||Sign up and earn 2,500 miles|
|Ohio Natural Gas||After 30 days of continuous service||3 miles/$1|
Unfortunately, there are times when the miles offered aren’t as valuable as you would think once you consider all the terms. It’s always advisable to research 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 gets approved for a Delta credit card and receive 5,000 miles. Do keep in mind that there is an annual cap of 55,000 miles 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 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.
Virgin Atlantic and Delta are located together at London-Heathrow’s Terminal 3. In addition to earning miles, members can enjoy a host of benefits through the partnership.
Hot Tip: Did you know that you could earn Delta miles by flying on 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 qualified car rentals, 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.
14. Book With Hotel Partners
Stay with one of the many Delta SkyMiles hotel partners and earn extra miles for each night.
|Accor Live Limitless Hotels||Up to 12.5 miles/€||Langham Hospitality Group||Up to 1,500||Radisson Rewards||Earn Delta miles for stays instead of Radisson points|
|Hyatt Hotels & Resorts||500||Marriott Hotels||Up to 2 miles/$1||Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts||500|
|Intercontinental Hotel Group||Up to 2 miles/$1||Millennium Hotels and Resorts||500||World Hotels||500|
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:
|CREDIT CARD||CARD INFO|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card|
|Hilton Honors American Express Card|
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card|
|World of Hyatt Credit Card|
15. Book With Airbnb
Recently, Delta formed a partnership with the lodging giant, Airbnb, that allows you to earn 1x miles for all dollars spent with the company.
You can also earn up to 25,000 miles (at the time of writing) for becoming a host and renting rooms out! Earn 2,500 bonus miles after reaching your first $250 in host earnings, earn an additional 7,500 additional bonus miles after reaching $1,000 in host earnings, and earn another 15,000 bonus miles after reaching $2,500 in host earnings.
To check out current details, visit deltaairbnb.com.
16. Book With Car Rental, Limo, and Shuttle Partners
You can also earn miles for car rentals and other transportation services. The table below shows the participating companies and the miles offered.
|Rental Company||Miles||Rental Company||Miles||Rental Company||Miles|
|Alamo||500 per rental||Europcar||60 per day||Sixt||500 per rental|
|Carmel||Up to 2 miles/$1||ExecuCar||150 each way||SuperShuttle||50 each way|
|Dollar||500 per rental||Hertz||500 per rental||Thrifty||500 per rental|
|Enterprise||500 per rental||National||500 per rental|
Hot Tip: Make sure you’re covered without paying extra! See our guide on the best credit cards for car rental insurance coverage.
17. Book Cruises Through Partners
Delta partners with CruisesOnly to offer bonus miles 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 Nights||Miles|
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!
Hot Tip: Interested in booking that exciting adventure but not sure what to pack? Check out our ultimate packing list for cruises!
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 miles without paying a hefty fee.
19. Use Lyft to Earn Miles
You’re also eligible to earn miles 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 miles, 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 perks and benefits for Lyft passengers!
It really is incredible how many ways there are to earn miles with Delta SkyMiles!
In addition to the welcome bonuses offered with the Delta credit cards, remember that 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!