Delta SkyMiles are often discounted because of their seemingly low value on many redemptions, but there are actually a bunch of great reward options possible!
Here is all the information you need about using SkyMiles with partner airlines, ways to earn miles through credit cards, and the best redemptions currently available to book award travel with the Delta SkyMiles frequent flyer program.
Table of contents
- Using Delta SkyMiles With Airline Partners
- Earning Delta SkyMiles With Partner Cards
- The 13 Best Ways To Use Your Delta SkyMiles
- Delta One-Way Awards Within the U.S. for as Low as 5,000 SkyMiles
- Virgin Atlantic to London in Upper Class for 120,000 SkyMiles Each Way
- Virgin Australia to the South Pacific Islands From 55,000 in Economy Each Way
- Book Air France Business Class for 120,000 SkyMiles Each Way
- Aerolineas Argentina and GOL to Patagonia for 100,000 SkyMiles in Business Class Each Way
- Aeromexico to Mexico City and Madrid From 82,500 SkyMiles in Economy Round-Trip
- Fly Asian Airlines in Business Class for 120,000 SkyMiles Each Way
- Fly From Japan to Australia or New Zealand in Business Class for 75,000 SkyMiles
- Add a Side Trip to Vietnam for 45,000 SkyMiles in Business Class
- Head to Guam for 80,000 SkyMiles in Business Class
- Fly Garuda Indonesia from Indonesia to Amsterdam for 95,000 SkyMiles in Business Class
- Access Extra Award Availability on Delta One Suites to Europe Far in Advance for 80,000 SkyMiles
- Fly From the U.S. to The Maldives in Business Class for 100,000 SkyMiles
- List of SkyTeam Alliance Delta Air Lines Partners
- Non-Alliance Delta Air Lines Partners
- Booking Delta Award Flights
- Final Thoughts
Table of Contents
- Using Delta SkyMiles With Airline Partners
- Earning Delta SkyMiles With Partner Cards
- The 13 Best Ways To Use Your Delta SkyMiles
- 1. Delta One-Way Awards Within the U.S. for as Low as 5,000 SkyMiles
- 2. Virgin Atlantic to London in Upper Class for 120,000 SkyMiles Each Way
- 3. Virgin Australia to the South Pacific Islands From 55,000 in Economy Each Way
- 4. Book Air France Business Class for 120,000 SkyMiles Each Way
- 5. Aerolineas Argentina and GOL to Patagonia for 100,000 SkyMiles in Business Class Each Way
- 6. Aeromexico to Mexico City and Madrid From 82,500 SkyMiles in Economy Round-Trip
- 7. Fly Asian Airlines in Business Class for 120,000 SkyMiles Each Way
- 8. Fly From Japan to Australia or New Zealand in Business Class for 75,000 SkyMiles
- 9. Add a Side Trip to Vietnam for 45,000 SkyMiles in Business Class
- 10. Head to Guam for 80,000 SkyMiles in Business Class
- 11. Fly Garuda Indonesia from Indonesia to Amsterdam for 95,000 SkyMiles in Business Class
- 12. Access Extra Award Availability on Delta One Suites to Europe Far in Advance for 80,000 SkyMiles
- 13. Fly From the U.S. to The Maldives in Business Class for 100,000 SkyMiles
- List of SkyTeam Alliance Delta Air Lines Partners
- Non-Alliance Delta Air Lines Partners
- Booking Delta Award Flights
- Final Thoughts
Using Delta SkyMiles With Airline Partners
Delta is part of the SkyTeam alliance and is partnered with a few other airlines that are unaffiliated with an alliance. Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia are particularly popular for awards through Delta’s partnership with them.
This alliance membership and partnership with other airlines open up even more opportunities for redemption to you.
You can search for SkyTeam award tickets and can easily redeem SkyMiles on flights with Delta Air Lines and partner carriers. Many airline partners (but not all) are available to search online. For some, you have to call Delta to confirm availability and book.
When you’re searching for availability, simply elect to view the price in miles to see how many SkyMiles it will cost to take the award flight.
Hot Tip: Look through all options because even when sorting by lowest price, cheaper options on partner airlines may be placed below Delta options, if, for instance, the partner flight miles are cheaper but taxes and charges are higher.
Earning Delta SkyMiles With Partner Cards
SkyMiles can be earned by signing up for various credit cards, including co-branded Delta credit cards offered by American Express.
American Express Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards
With the following cards, you can earn Delta SkyMiles without needing to transfer your miles to SkyMiles. They also include great welcome bonus offers to help you quickly earn your first Delta award ticket!
Recommended Delta Cards
|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. The card also earns 2x Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery), and at U.S. supermarkets, then 1x on all other eligible purchases.|
For a limited time, earn 70,000 Bonus Miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021. $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 - For a limited time, earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.|
This card earns 3x Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2x Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets, then 1x on all other eligible purchases. Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights and a lot of other benefits and perks, such as a fee credit for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. The annual fee is $250. Terms apply. For rates and fees of the Delta Platinum card, click here.
In addition to the Delta-specific cards, other American Express cards and other issuer cards will earn points that you can transfer to Delta.
American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards
Recommended American Express Cards (Personal)
|The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a new welcome bonus offer of |
This is our #1 card for accessing 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide, including Priority Pass (enrollment required). We leverage ~$4,900+ 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 - This card has a new welcome bonus of |
We love using this card as it earns 4X Membership Rewards Points at restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earns 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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. Terms apply and for rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points and transfer Marriott Bonvoy points 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 Bonvoy Cards
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card - For a limited time only, earn 125,000 Bonus Points and 1 Free Night Award (value up to 50,000 points) after you spend $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 up to 17x total Bovoy points per $1 when using your Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card at at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, and 2x Bonvoy points per $1 on all other purchases. Annual Fee is $95.|
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card - For a limited time only, earn 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn up to 14x total Bonvoy points per $1 when using your Marriott Bonvoy Bold card at over 7,000 participating in 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 Brilliant™ American Express® Card - For a limited time, earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus Free Night Award after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Resort fees may apply. Terms apply. Offer expires 11/3/2021.|
Earn 6x per $1 at hotels participants in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3x at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x on all other eligible purchases. Annual Fee is $450. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.
|Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - For a limited time, earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points & 2 bonus Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Each bonus Free Night Award has a redemption level up to 50K points. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/3/2021.|
This is 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.
The 13 Best Ways To Use Your Delta SkyMiles
Since Delta doesn’t publish an official award chart anymore, it can be tough to determine the lowest price available for a given flight you want to book.
Hot Tip: When you search for award availability, you should select the 5-week flexible award option to improve your chances of finding a low-level award.
From a 5-week search, drill down to specific dates to verify availability since the calendar is not perfect. Some days may not show the cheapest option on the calendar.
Even if you don’t have flexibility, finding the lowest price will at least tell you how much of a premium you’ll be paying to fly on your ideal date and might lead you to investigate booking with other airlines instead.
Delta has imposed much higher prices on most awards booked with 21 days of travel (known as close-in bookings). Delta has also raised the lowest award prices on partners compared to travel on Delta.
For the below redemptions, the SkyMiles amount mentioned is generally accepted as the lowest level mileage price that Delta currently charges. If you randomly search on any given day, you may see significantly higher prices. However, the SkyMiles price for Delta partners will be pretty consistent.
When you search on specific dates, make sure to sort by Price from the drop-down menu since that’s not the default sort option.
1. Delta One-Way Awards Within the U.S. for as Low as 5,000 SkyMiles
While Delta says on its frequent flyer page that one-way flights in the U.S., Alaska, and Canada start at 10,000 SkyMiles, it is actually possible to find flights as low as 5,000 SkyMiles one-way on select routes like San Francisco (SFO) to Seattle (SEA).
Sometimes, these are announced as limited-time flash sales; other times, they pop up when cash ticket prices are cheap.
These low-cost flights can be a great deal, especially last minute when Delta flight prices tend to be higher. However, if you’re searching a month out on this route, you will probably see one-way prices around $89, making the redemption mediocre.
When considering transferring your American Express Membership Rewards points to Delta, there is something else you need to think about: American Express charges a fee to transfer Membership Rewards to any U.S.-based program, including Delta SkyMiles.
The fee is quite small: only 0.06 cents per point up to a maximum of $99. If Delta has award availability on a flight you want, this fee shouldn’t be enough to stop you from transferring your SkyMiles and booking the ticket, but it’s something to be aware of nonetheless.
2. Virgin Atlantic to London in Upper Class for 120,000 SkyMiles Each Way
Many people rave about Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class (its business class) experience, especially on the ground at London Heathrow. For flights across the Atlantic Ocean, you can really get the full experience of its lie-flat seats and great food.
There are a few different programs that will grant you access to book award travel on Virgin Atlantic. One of the best redemptions available is to use Delta SkyMiles.
Tickets from the U.S. to London are available on both Delta and Virgin Atlantic, but you generally won’t find low-level availability for Delta’s own flights and should look to fly on Virgin Atlantic.
When you do your search on delta.com, look for VS in the corner of the box displaying the flight details. The VS indicates it’s a flight on Virgin Atlantic.
Your lowest fare from any major U.S. city to London one-way in economy class is 35,000 SkyMiles or 120,000 SkyMiles in Upper Class. That’s a round-trip flight in economy for as low as 70,000 SkyMiles, even from the West Coast!
You can connect onward to anywhere else in Europe, provided there’s availability with either Virgin Atlantic or another Delta partner. Virgin Atlantic flies nonstop from Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO), and a handful of other U.S. cities. Get the greatest value out of the Upper Class experience by flying from the West Coast, since your flight time will be 10.5 hours instead of 7 from the East Coast. The number of SkyMiles you’ll need to redeem your ticket is the same regardless of flight time.
It’s even better to fly Virgin Atlantic back to the U.S. from Europe because you’ll have access to the wonderful Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse during your stay at London Heathrow. You’ll only want to book Europe to the U.S. as part of a round-trip flight starting in the U.S. because Delta sneakily adds a huge cash surcharge for awards originating in Europe.
The new Upper Class product can be found on:
- London (LHR) – New York (JFK)
- London (LHR) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Hot Tip: Consider signing up for Global Entry before making your journey to enjoy quickly passing through customs when you come back to the U.S. You can get the $100 fee reimbursed with numerous cards, including the Amex Platinum card.
3. Virgin Australia to the South Pacific Islands From 55,000 in Economy Each Way
Ticket prices to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific are high as a general rule. On the low end of the spectrum, you’ll pay at least $6,000 in business class or $900 in economy class per ticket. Considering the relatively high flight prices, Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific are great places to visit using SkyMiles if you can find availability.
You can fly from the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand on Delta’s partner, Virgin Australia. If you want to fly to the South Pacific Islands of Fiji, Rarotonga, Tonga, or others, it may be easier to call Delta Reservations at 800-221-1212 to have them look for award space.
It’s great that Delta charges the same price to fly to these South Pacific Islands as Australia and New Zealand! Paid fares to the islands are generally more than those to Australia and New Zealand, so booking to the South Pacific Islands is a fantastic way to push the value of your SkyMiles even further.
Most routes from the U.S. will fly through Australia on the way to the smaller islands, but unfortunately, Delta does not permit a stopover.
Virgin Australia tickets from the U.S. to Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania/South Pacific Islands one-way in economy class are 55,000 SkyMiles, while business class is 115,000 SkyMiles. We generally would not recommend spending 115,000 Delta SkyMiles to fly business class, as other airlines offer much more economical awards to Australia and the South Pacific.
If you want to fly Virgin Australia in business class, flights within Australia and the South Pacific are much more reasonable at 40,000 SkyMiles each way. Fees run around $200, but this is still an excellent redemption value!
You can search for Virgin Australia award availability on Delta’s website. For more complicated itineraries, especially around the South Pacific, you may need to book through Delta Reservations at 800-221-1212.
Hot Tip: Don’t pay extra foreign transaction fees during your international trip. Take and use credit cards with no foreign transaction fees, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
4. Book Air France Business Class for 120,000 SkyMiles Each Way
Air France business class space is released to Air France Flying Blue members 359 days ahead of time, and the same space is generally released to Delta SkyMiles members 331 days before the departure date. Still, if you have Delta SkyMiles, you can certainly use them on Air France business class flights.
Even if Paris isn’t your final destination, you can connect onward to most other areas of Europe and beyond.
Flights from the U.S. to Europe in economy can be booked for as low as 35,000 SkyMiles one-way, while one-way in business class will cost 120,000 SkyMiles.
5. Aerolineas Argentina and GOL to Patagonia for 100,000 SkyMiles in Business Class Each Way
In 2012, Aerolineas Argentina joined the SkyTeam alliance and GOL joined Delta as a non-alliance partner. There are limited flights directly from the U.S. (only New York (JFK) or Miami (MIA)), but the options within South America are numerous. Since LATAM is one of the only other airlines dominating the region, SkyMiles are very valuable for flights within South America on Aerolineas Argentinas and GOL.
Patagonia is a very popular destination, especially for those inclined to spend time in the great outdoors. You can fly to El Calafate (FTE) in economy for 35,000 SkyMiles one-way or 100,000 SkyMiles in business class.
This flight has a layover in Buenos Aires (EZE), so if you don’t want to go all the way to Patagonia, you can fly to Buenos Aires for the same number of SkyMiles.
6. Aeromexico to Mexico City and Madrid From 82,500 SkyMiles in Economy Round-Trip
Delta’s partnership with AeroMexico is one of the few that has been relatively unaffected by several recent devaluations in Delta SkyMiles.
You can fly to Mexico or (if you’re really feeling adventurous) do a multi-city tour to Mexico and then to Europe. Mexico City (MEX) has great award availability on flights to London (LHR), Paris (CDG), and Madrid (MAD).
When the option is available, choose to view the 5-week flexible dates calendar in your search. This will help you find the lowest SkyMiles award ticket prices.
You’ll need to book your flight to Mexico, then to Europe, and finally back to the U.S. through Delta’s advanced multi-city search option. Multi-city will only let you search specific dates, and you may end up on a different airline than AeroMexico on your way back from Europe to the U.S. (e.g., Delta, Aeroflot, etc.)
If you were to put together a multi-city itinerary like this, you would pay:
- New York (JFK) – Mexico City (MEX) one-way in economy class for 20,000 SkyMiles or in business class for 35,000 SkyMiles
- New York (JFK) – Mexico City (MEX) – Madrid (MAD) – New York (JFK) in economy class for 90,000 SkyMiles or in business class for 170,000 SkyMiles
Hot Tip: When putting together a multi-city itinerary with Delta, it makes sense to search both the entire itinerary as a multi-city search and each segment individually. In some cases, the price may be better booking one-way versus the other.
7. Fly Asian Airlines in Business Class for 120,000 SkyMiles Each Way
China Airlines is consistently praised for its business class product. China Airlines is generally thought to offer one of the best airline experiences.
When using your Delta SkyMiles, you have the ability to book China Airlines (based in Taipei), China Eastern or Shanghai Airlines (based in Shanghai), and Xiamen Airlines (based in Xiamen) one-way in business class for only 120,000 SkyMiles or economy class for only 50,000 SkyMiles.
All of these airlines can be searched on delta.com for award availability. However, results for China Eastern frequently display award availability that isn’t there (it will have an error if you try to purchase), and connecting itineraries often incorrectly price each segment additively rather than as a single one-way.
Calling Delta won’t help with availability, though sometimes the agents can fix incorrect pricing. Using another SkyTeam program like Air France/KLM Flying Blue or Korean Air SKYPASS is a backup to booking these airlines.
With China Airlines and Xiamen Airlines, you usually won’t encounter these pricing and ticketing problems.
8. Fly From Japan to Australia or New Zealand in Business Class for 75,000 SkyMiles
If you want to tack on an extra destination to your trip, flying from Japan to Australia or New Zealand with Korean Air in business class is a great way to experience a taste of luxury for fewer SkyMiles.
Overall, you’ll end up with about 13 hours of flight time, plus a layover in Korean Air’s Seoul-Incheon hub with a great lounge to visit. It is possible to work in a longer layover and have time to head out into Seoul for a day of sightseeing as well.
9. Add a Side Trip to Vietnam for 45,000 SkyMiles in Business Class
Vietnam Airlines is part of SkyTeam, which means you have the option to redeem your Delta SkyMiles for flights to and within Vietnam.
You can add on a trip to Vietnam, one of this year’s hottest destinations, from Japan for only 17,500 SkyMiles in economy or 45,000 SkyMiles in business class on Vietnam Airlines.
10. Head to Guam for 80,000 SkyMiles in Business Class
Availability might not be the easiest to find, but if you can get it, you surely won’t regret using your Delta SkyMiles to get to Guam, one of the most unique Pacific Islands.
You’ll save a boatload of money by redeeming SkyMiles for your flights — economy class redemptions from the U.S. start at 35,000 SkyMiles and business class redemptions start at 80,000 SkyMiles.
There’s a good chance you’ll end up flying Korean Air to Guam, and their business class will ensure that you hit the ground running!
11. Fly Garuda Indonesia from Indonesia to Amsterdam for 95,000 SkyMiles in Business Class
Garuda Indonesia’s long-haul footprint is shrinking. Known for its exceptional first class product, this airline also has a business class product worth trying.
For 95,000 SkyMiles plus minimal taxes and fees, you can fly on its only ultra-long-haul route from Jakarta (CGK) to Amsterdam (AMS).
You’ll pay around $30 in taxes and fees, which will definitely keep your out-of-pocket costs low. With generous business class award availability, you’ll be all set to try one of the world’s most underrated business class products in no time. This specific route is operated by a 777-300ER, and it is one of the only ones that has a 2-class cabin: business and economy.
Garuda Indonesia’s business class seats are arranged in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, which is similar to that of Asiana Airlines.
The exact route we’re referring to runs almost 14 hours each way:
- Jakarta (CGK) – Amsterdam (AMS)
12. Access Extra Award Availability on Delta One Suites to Europe Far in Advance for 80,000 SkyMiles
On a recent search, we saw something astonishing: Delta One Suites availability for 5+ passengers far in advance to Europe. Delta has a number of nonstop routes to Europe with Delta One Suites, but to find flights with loads of award availability fit for family travel in one of the hottest business class products on some of the most lucrative airline routes is unheard of.
If your travel dates are flexible, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to take your entire family to Europe on Delta One Suites for 80,000 SkyMiles per person. Here are some routes to focus your search on:
- Atlanta (ATL) – Paris (CDG)
- Detroit (DTW) – Amsterdam (AMS)
13. Fly From the U.S. to The Maldives in Business Class for 100,000 SkyMiles
Another amazing use of SkyMiles is to fly to the Maldives in business class on a number of transpacific or transatlantic routes. For upwards of 20 to 24 hours in business class seats, it’s a hugely worthwhile redemption to consider — you just need to be creative about finding routes to the Maldives!
Check out some great example redemptions:
- Chicago (ORD) – Rome (FCO) – Malé (MLE) on Alitalia business class
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Paris (CDG) – Malé (MLE) on Air France business class
- Miami (MIA) – Moscow (SVO) – Malé (MLE) on Aeroflot business class
- New York (JFK) – Milan (MXP) – Malé (MLE) on Delta One and Alitalia business class
- San Francisco (SFO) – Shanghai (PVG) – Malé (MLE) on China Eastern business class
- Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Riyadh (RUH) – Malé (MLE) on Saudia business class
List of SkyTeam Alliance Delta Air Lines Partners
Delta frequent flyer partners include SkyTeam and non-alliance partners. SkyTeam partners include:
|Aerolineas Argentinas||Kenya Airways|
|Air Europa||Korean Air|
|Air France||Middle East Airlines|
|China Eastern||Vietnam Airlines|
|Czech Airlines||Xiamen Airlines|
Non-Alliance Delta Air Lines Partners
Non-alliance partners are some other great Delta partner airlines that aren’t a part of other alliances.
|China Southern Airlines||Virgin Atlantic|
|Hawaiian Airlines||Virgin Australia|
Using Your Delta SkyMiles: The Delta Award Chart
Delta currently has a revenue-based award program, but it still has a somewhat zone-based award program for flight redemptions.
The Delta award chart was removed at the beginning of 2015, so it is sometimes a challenge to determine which destinations are in what zone as well as the prices to various zones.
Though overall Delta still has a zone-based program, some flight options don’t quite fit this mold, which makes it very difficult to make sure you are getting a good deal for your flights.
As a general rule, Delta sticks pretty close to its old award chart for flights on Delta. For partner airline flights, the prices have increased across the board. Some regions such as Southeast Asia have seen big increases on all business class awards.
Booking Delta Award Flights
If you’re interested in how to actually make award travel redemptions with Delta Air Lines, we have a few articles to explain the process:
- How To Book Delta First Class
- Best Ways To Book Delta One (Business Class) Using Points [Step-by-Step]
This article outlines the best ways to redeem your Delta SkyMiles for flights once you’ve earned enough of them. When you use your Delta SkyMiles and compare the pricing offered to the lowest cash price available, you can be confident that your SkyMiles can get you great value.
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 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 Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, click here.