Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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Once you get a handle on the trends in award searches and where to find the best values, you can leverage the program to your advantage.
The unfortunate news is that Delta SkyMiles has been devalued significantly over the years, which means flight awards will be more expensive than you would expect. Nonetheless, there are still incredible ways to get outsized value, which we’ll discuss below.
Let’s first talk about how you can earn Delta SkyMiles!
Delta provides 3 primary ways to earn SkyMiles:
This card provides bonus SkyMiles on all purchases, along with a free bag, priority boarding, and discounted award flights.
Frequent Delta flyers will love the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card. The card offers great benefits that will help save you money, effectively mimics low-level elite status with Delta SkyMiles, and helps you earn miles even faster, all for a low annual fee. Let’s dive into the benefits to see if the Delta Gold card is a good fit for your needs.
Frequent Delta travelers will enjoy this card's bonus categories, benefits, and ability to reach higher levels of elite status.
The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card can be a great option for those seeking additional ways to obtain a higher level of status — or to maintain their current status — with the airline.
A key feature of this card is the ability to earn bonus Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) that are essential for earning Delta status. This could help you get closer to earning free flights and other valuable rewards.
Delta loyalists will love the fast track to Delta elite status, lounge access, baggage benefits, and upgrade priority with the Delta Reserve card.
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card is a stellar option for frequent travelers who always fly with Delta thanks to its lounge access, status boost, annual companion certificate, and many other great benefits.
Here is a full look at everything the Delta Reserve card can offer to you to help you decide whether the card deserves a place in your wallet.
The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.
This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!
The American Express® Gold Card is a game-changer.
With this card, you can earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and you’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x.
There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.
Our favorite way to earn Delta SkyMiles is by using any of the following American Express cards and transferring those points to Delta. You’ll typically accrue more points this way through large sign-up bonuses combined with generous everyday category bonuses than using a Delta card directly.
Delta does not publish an award chart, which can make it challenging to determine the value of the SkyMiles you want to redeem.
Even though there’s no award chart, the Delta search engine is useful. The ability to search for most SkyTeam and Delta partners and the 5-week flexible search function are reasons we recommend using Delta to search for SkyTeam availability.
Delta bases its pricing on the revenue cost of each flight, so the number of miles required may change when you are running your award search.
For even more ways to use your Delta SkyMiles, see our other “best use” redemption article for SkyMiles.
Delta transatlantic business-class flights from the U.S. to Europe can provide significant value, particularly when the equivalent cash price of those flights is high.
With 120,000 Delta SkyMiles, you can book a one-way business class flight on Delta. You could also book 3 one-way economy flights on Delta for 105,000 SkyMiles (35,000 miles each way).
Examples of transatlantic flights on Delta include:
Taxes and fees for one-way business class and economy flights will be $5.60.
Need help booking an award flight? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Delta One.
Another transatlantic flight to use your Delta SkyMiles on is Virgin Atlantic. The airline flies into multiple U.S. cities, giving you options when it comes to booking an award flight.
With 120,000 Delta SkyMiles, you can book a one-way Upper Class flight on Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic flies the following routes from the U.S. to London (LHR):
Taxes and fees for one-way Upper Class flights from the U.S. to the U.K. will be just $6!
Need help booking an award flight? Here’s our guide to booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.
If the first 2 transatlantic options didn’t catch your attention, here’s another to check out. Air France, like Virgin Atlantic, is another airline where you can use your Delta SkyMiles.
With 120,000 Delta SkyMiles, you can book a one-way business-class flight on Air France.
Air France flies the following routes from the U.S. to Paris (CDG):
Taxes and fees for one-way business class flights from the U.S. to Paris will be $6.
LATAM isn’t a member of any airline alliance, but it maintains a strong partnership with Delta.
In this case, LATAM offers nonstop service with a lie-flat business class seat between the U.S. and South America, offering a convenient and comfortable redemption option.
With 95,000 Delta SkyMiles, you can book a one-way business-class flight on LATAM. Here are a few superb routes you can book:
Taxes and fees for a one-way business class flight from the U.S. to South America will be about $21.
Need to earn more SkyMiles? Here are our best ways to earn lots of Delta SkyMiles.
When it comes to flying to the Middle East using Delta SkyMiles nonstop, you can basically only book 2 airlines:
Delta One flights to Tel Aviv are in very high demand, which means they’ll be hard to locate award space on and is incredibly expensive. Luckily, Saudia has exceptional award availability for a great mileage price, which could get you on a nonstop flight to the Middle East.
With 85,000 Delta SkyMiles, you can book a one-way business-class flight on Delta. You could also book a round-trip economy flight for 75,000 Delta SkyMiles.
Examples of flights on Saudia include:
Remember, you don’t need to end your trip in Saudi Arabia — you can visit Dubai, Oman, and Jordan for the same mileage price.
Taxes and fees for one-way business-class and round-trip economy flights from the U.S. to the Middle East on Saudia will be $277 and about $177, respectively.
Need more ways to redeem SkyMiles? Here are our best ways to redeem SkyMiles for maximum value.
One of the best airlines to fly on transpacific itineraries is with SkyTeam partner China Airlines. The airline is based in Taipei and has a few non-stop routes from the U.S.
With 120,000 Delta SkyMiles, you can book a one-way business-class flight on China Airlines. Or, you could book a round-trip economy flight for 70,000 Delta SkyMiles.
Examples of transpacific flights on China Airlines include:
Taxes and fees for one-way business class and round-trip economy flights from the U.S. to Asia will be $5.60 and about $46, respectively.
Need another business class option in Taipei? Here are our best ways to book EVA Air business class.
In South America, you have a couple of non-stop flights on SkyTeam partner Aerolíneas Argentinas. With Delta SkyMiles, you can book a round-trip economy flight on Aerolíneas Argentinas.
The only 2 flights that you can book are from Miami (MIA) or New York (JFK) to Buenos Aires (EZE).
Taxes and fees for a round-trip economy flight from the U.S. to South America will be about $98.
Hot Tip: If you’re in South America and have SkyMiles to use, consider intra-South American flights on Delta partners Aerolíneas Argentinas, GOL, and LATAM.
SkyTeam partner Korean Air can provide value if you want to fly from Asia to Australia. With 75,000 Delta SkyMiles, you can book a one-way business-class flight on Korean Air. You could also book a round-trip economy flight for 80,000 SkyMiles.
Korean Air flies from Seoul (ICN) to Sydney (SYD), Brisbane (BNE), and Auckland (AKL).
Taxes and fees for one-way business class and round-trip economy flights will be about $70 and $162, respectively.
Need help booking an award flight? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Korean Air business class.
A third transpacific flight to check out is with SkyTeam partner China Eastern. The airline flies from a handful of U.S. cities to Shanghai, giving you a few award flight options.
With 120,000 Delta SkyMiles, you can book a one-way business flight from the U.S. to Asia. You could also book a round-trip economy flight for 100,000 SkyMiles (50,000 miles one-way).
China Eastern flies the following routes from the U.S. to Shanghai (PVG):
Taxes and fees for one-way business class and round-trip economy flights from the U.S. to Shanghai will be about $258 and $36 to $451, respectively.
Hot Tip: SkyTeam has a significant presence in Asia with many airlines based there including China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air, Vietnam Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines.
Since India is a faraway destination, there are often a lot of different ways you can fly between the U.S. and India on a variety of airlines.
In the case of Delta and its partners, you can redeem 120,000 Delta SkyMiles on a one-way business class flight aboard partner airlines like Virgin Atlantic, KLM, and more.
If you booked a round-trip economy flight, you’d spend 90,000 Delta SkyMiles.
Taxes and fees for a one-way business class flight and a round-trip economy flight ultimately vary depending on the airline, but will ultimately be about $24 to $50 and $100 to $150, respectively.
For complex itineraries to South Asia, you may not see all the available options by searching online; you can also call Delta at 800-221-1212 to look for award space.
Need more ways to fly to India? Check out our best ways to fly to India with points and miles.
A fourth transpacific flight option for Delta SkyMiles is with Korean Air. The airline flies into numerous U.S. cities and 2 Canadian cities, opening up a ton of award options.
With 120,000 Delta SkyMiles, you can book a one-way business-class flight on Korean Air. You could also book a round-trip economy flight for 100,000 SkyMiles.
Korean Air flies the following routes from the U.S. to Seoul (ICN):
Taxes and fees for one-way business class and round-trip economy flights will be about $26 and $88 respectively.
Have Korean Air miles? Check our best ways to redeem Korean Air SkyPass miles.
|Aeroflot (temporarily suspended)||ITA Airways|
|Aerolineas Argentinas||Kenya Airways|
|Air Europa||Korean Air|
|Air France||Middle East Airlines|
|Delta Air Lines||Saudia Airlines|
|China Eastern||Vietnam Airlines|
|Czech Airlines||Virgin Atlantic|
|Garuda Indonesia||Xiamen Airlines|
|Great Lakes Airlines||Virgin Australia|
Delta’s revenue-based program makes it challenging to determine the value you’re receiving with your SkyMiles. It’s important that you spend time using the Delta search engine to understand the value of your miles.
Delta SkyMiles can provide value if you know where to look. With a number of Delta flights and SkyTeam partner flights to Asia, that’s likely the area of the world where you’ll find the most value for your SkyMiles.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.
The Delta frequent flyer program calls its airline miles SkyMiles. The points you earn from flying on Delta or a Delta partner or from credit card spend and the points you redeem for award flights are called SkyMiles.
Delta provides 3 ways to earn SkyMiles from credit cards. Delta co-branded American Express credit cards earn Delta Air Lines SkyMiles while American Express Membership Rewards points and Marriott Bonvoy points can be transferred to Delta.
MQMs are Medallion Qualifying Miles. MQMs are used to earn elite status within the Delta program. Delta has Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond elite status levels.
Currently, there are no fees for canceling a reservation booked with Delta SkyMiles and getting a refund of your miles, as well as any taxes and fees paid.
Delta SkyMiles do not expire.
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Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Michael took his first international trip in 2013 with friends to the Bahamas. Although he didn’t travel much in his younger years, on that trip, he caught the travel bug and has been hooked ever since.
Michael first caught wind of the points and miles game in 2014 while at a bar in Washington, DC where the conversation amongst friends was quickly derailed because of an alert on a friend’s phone about a mistake fare. That’s where the love affair with points and miles began.
UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.