Delta SkyMiles: a complete review of Delta’s rewards program

What is the Delta SkyMiles rewards program?

Picture of the tails of Delta airplanes

Delta SkyMiles rewards program provides you with elite Medallion benefits that will make you drool and wonder how you ever traveled with anything less. Photo by CompareBare

Delta SkyMiles is the rewards program offered by Delta Air Lines for frequent and loyal customers. It’s widely considered one of the top airlines rewards programs in the industry because of the elite status benefits and points earning potential. If you choose to go all-in with Delta, the SkyMiles program can offer tremendous value and save you a fair amount of money. Read on for more details and a full review on why you should join this rewards program.

Joining Delta SkyMiles

Screenshot of the Delta SkyMiles registration web page

After you create a free account on the Delta website you are ready to begin earning SkyMiles!

Joining the Delta SkyMiles program is pretty quick and easy. All you need to do is to go to the official website and follow the steps below:

  1. Visit www.delta.com
  2. Click the ‘Sign Up’ button located in the top right corner.
  3. Fill out all of your details on the form, including your full name and contact details. You’ll also need to create an account password.
  4. Read the terms and conditions and click the ‘Complete’ button. A confirmation e-mail will be sent to your email address.
  5. Your account is now created and you’re ready to start earning with Delta!

Destinations and Alliances

Picture of Delta and Virgin Atlantic overhead terminal sign

Delta has partnerships with many international airlines which means you can earn SkyMiles rewards points on both domestic Delta flights and international partner airlines. Photo by CompareBare

Delta is one of the largest airlines both in the United States and the rest of the world. It has service to 306 destinations in 52 countries on six continents. The fact that Delta flies to so many locations is pivotal. This is a huge perk, as the availability of flight destinations will give you a better chance of consistently meeting the annual miles and spend targets that are required to reach elite status in Delta SkyMiles. In addition, with Delta, it’s nice to know that most likely you will not have to search multiple airlines to find a flight to a huge metropolitan area or a small city with a tiny regional airport.
Delta is also one of the founding members of the SkyTeam global alliance, which has 20 airlines total, including big names like Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Virgin Atlantic, Korean Air, Aeromexico and many more. The alliance services 177 countries and over 1,000 destinations globally, which is a pretty massive network. When you fly with any airlines within the SkyTeam, you can earn Here are all the members of the SkyTeam alliance:

List of SkyTeam Airlines

  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolíneas Argentinas
  • AeroMexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia
  • TAROM
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Airlines

Delta also has a set of preferred partners within the SkyTeam (AeroMexico, Air France, China Eastern, GOL, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia), which offer elevated benefits like Complimentary Upgrades.

Finally, there are a few other airlines outside of the SkyTeam that Delta has special partnerships with including Hawaiian Airlines and WestJet, For the full list of Delta’s partnership details, click here. Remember to keep these partners in mind when you travel, particularity internationally!

Earning Delta Medallion Status

Picture of a plane flying over a city's tall buildings

Working towards meeting Delta SkyMiles Medallion requirements is next step towards receiving elite airline benefits. Photo by Florian Schneider on Unsplash

Delta offers five tiers within its rewards program, which they refer to as Medallion Status. The base tier, SkyMiles Member, is automatically granted to anyone who enrolls in the program and offers very basic benefits. The next four levels are considered Medallion levels: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. Reaching each level has a different set of requirements (see table below) and provides various types of benefits to Medallion Members (see section below). To earn Medallion Status, Delta requires that you hit a minimum number of miles flown OR flights flown, AND that you also meet a minimum spend requirement.

  • Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) are based on the number of miles you’ve flown and the fare class on Delta or partner airlines. MQMs are different than Delta miles. Miles, which are earned when you fly based on ticket price and SkyMiles Status, are used for Award Travel and other redemptions. Miles also never expire.
  • Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) is the number of flights you’ve flown on Delta or partner airlines.
  • Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) is the amount in money you’ve spent on Delta or partner airlines flights.

So in order to qualify for any Medallion Status level, you’ll need to hit a minimum number of MQMs or MQSs and a minimum MQDs. Here’s the breakdown of how to qualify for each tier:

SkyMiles Member Silver Gold Platinum Diamond
How to qualify Automatically given upon sign-up. 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs

+

$3,000 MQDs or MQD waiver

50,000 MQMs or 50 MQSs

+

$6,000 MQDs or MQD waiver

75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs

+

$9,000 MQDs or MQD waiver

125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs

+

$15,000 MQDs or MQD waiver 

For example:

This may be a little confusing and this is where many people give up on trying to earn status with Delta and also many other airline programs. If you want to earn Silver Medallion status with Delta you must:

  • Fly (25,000) miles or take (30) flights
  • AND also spend ($3,000)

MQD Waiver

Delta offers a pretty great way to get out of the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) requirement needed for Medallion Status. This is called the MQD waiver. In order to qualify for the waiver, you’ll need to own one of the Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards from American Express and spend a certain amount in a calendar year on the card. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Platinum, Gold, and Silver: to get the MQD waiver for Platinum, Gold or Silver Medallion Status, you’ll need to spend $25,000 or more during the calendar year with the Delta American Express card.
  • Diamond: to get the MQD waiver for Diamond Medallion Status, you’ll need to spend a whopping $250,000 or more on your Delta American Express card.

To be completely honest, the MQD waiver for Diamond is pretty much unattainable for the average person. Unless you use the Delta Amex for business or just have a ton of money to spend, that $250,000 is going to be almost impossible to hit in a calendar year. The MQD waiver for Diamond also used to be only $25,000 (prior to 2018), but it seems as if Delta was giving out more waivers for Diamond then they wanted to. As a result, they increased the spend threshold, making it far more difficult for the average person to earn the waiver. The good news is that the regular MQM threshold for Diamond Medallion Status remained the same at $15,000.

Re-earning Medallion Status every year

It’s important to note that MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs all expire at the end of each calendar year as Delta requires you to re-earn your status every year. This means you will have to consistently meet the qualifications to maintain Medallion Status every year. Below is an example of the account overview dashboard, which shows your current year status and the requirements for earning status for the next year.

Screenshot of Delta SkyMiles Medallion status dashboard

You can log into your Delta SkyMiles account and track your Medallion status progress

Roll-Over MQMs

The good news is that Delta does offer a great perk to Medallion Members. Each year, Delta will roll over the MQMs that you earn above your Medallion Tier to the next qualification year. This will give you a jump start on earning status again for the next year.

So for example, if you earn 60,000 MQMs in a calendar year and meet the $6,000 MQDs requirement, you’ll become a Gold Medallion member. Since the MQM requirement for Gold is 50,000, you have 10,000 extra MQMs above the required threshold, but not enough to hit the next level. Those extra 10,000 MQMs will roll-over to the next year, so you’ll start with 10,000 MQMs instead of 0. This perk is only available for Medallion Members who are Silver status or higher. So general SkyMiles members will not be able to roll over any MQMs. Delta also claims that it is the only airline to offer this roll-over perk.

Delta Status Matching

Picture of different airlines on an airport runway

Status matching allows you to carry over your rewards program status from your old airline to Delta. Photo by CompareBare

If you’re thinking about making the switch to Delta but already have status on another airline, you may be in luck. Delta offers the Status Match Challenge, in which they match whatever status you have with another airline with the equivalent Medallion Status for three months. You have the chance to extend your status match past three months if you successfully complete the challenge by flying a specified amount detailed in the Status Match Challenge.

Here’s the breakdown of what your status in another frequent flier program would match up within the SkyMiles program. In order to get the status match, you’ll have to submit proof to Delta that you currently have status with another airline. You can submit your status match request on Delta’s form here

How exactly can you extend the status match? You’ll need to earn the required amount of MQMs or MQSs and MQDs (shown below) during the 3-month complimentary period.

Silver Gold Platinum
How to extend your status match 6,250 MQMs or 8 MQSs

+

$750 MQDs or MQD Waiver

12,500 MQMs or 15 MQSs

+

$1,500 MQDs or MQD Waiver

18,750 MQMs or 25 MQSs

+

$2,250 MQDs or MQD Waiver

Benefits of Delta SkyMiles Medallion Status

Delta offers some amazing perks to Medallion Members. And just like all other rewards programs, the higher the level you are, the better the benefits are. CompareBare breaks out the benefits of Medallion Status into two areas: day-of-flight perks and other perks.

Day-of-flight perks

Picture of Delta airlines premium boarding lane at an airport gate

Premium and Sky Priority boarding perks are just a few of the benefits of Medallion status. Photo by CompareBare

Day-of-flight perks provide you with benefits while on a Delta flight and also at the airport before and after your flights. These perks are meant to make your flying experience more efficient and comfortable. These benefits can include:

  • Complimentary Delta One, First Class and Comfort+ upgrades: all Medallion Members get access to complimentary upgrades for flights. Upgrades can happen up to 5 days before the flight (for Diamond) to right before boarding.
  • Waived baggage fees: you’ll get to check-in at least one bag for free simply for being Medallion Member, saving you at least $25.
  • Priority check-in: if you have Gold Medallion status or above, you’ll get to use the Sky Priority lane for check-in at the Delta counter at the airport. This is clutch, especially if there is a long line to check-in your luggage.
  • Priority boarding: all Medallion Members get some level of priority boarding. Silver Medallion gets to board in Zone 1, Gold and Platinum in Sky and Diamond in Premium. 
  • And more (see table below)

Other perks

Picture of CLEAR lane at an airport security checkpoint

Clear allows travelers to bypass most of the TSA security checkpoint lines. Photo by CompareBare

Delta’s Medallion Members also get fantastic benefits without being at the airport or on a plane. These benefits can include:

  • Choice Benefits: Platinum and Diamond members get access to ‘Choice Benefits’, from which they get to choose one (for Platinum) or two (Diamond) perks from a pre-defined list. Some of these benefits include bonus miles, upgrade certificates, gifting medallion status to someone else and Delta Sky Club membership.
  • CLEAR membership: get either discounted pricing or complimentary membership to CLEAR.
  • Dedicated phone support: at all levels, you’ll get premium service with priority when calling a SkyMiles representative or a Delta Reservations specialist. This means shorter phone wait times and better quality of service.
  • And even more (see table below)

Delta SkyMiles member benefits

Here’s a full breakdown of the Delta SkyMiles benefits for Medallion Members by tier: 

Member Silver Gold Platinum Diamond
Roll-over MQMs
Access to Choice Benefits (see list below)     Can choose one Can choose three
Complimentary Delta One upgrades Day of departure Day of departure Day of departure Day of departure
Complimentary First Class upgrades 1 day prior to departure 3 days prior to departure  5 days prior to departure 5 days prior to departure (with Priority)
Complimentary Comfort+ upgrades 1 day prior to departure 3 days prior to departure  Shortly after ticketing Shortly after ticketing
Complimentary upgrades for a companion
Access to preferred seats
Priority wait list status
Waived baggage fees (within US & Canada) One 70lb bag Two 70lb bags Three 70lb bags Three 70lb bags
Waived baggage fees (outside US & Canada) – see details here  
Waived same-day confirmed fees  
Waived same-day stand-by fees  
Waived award redposit/reissue fees  
Priority check-in  
Priority boarding   Zone 1 Sky Priority Sky Priority Premum
Priority security line access        
Expedited baggage service    
CLEAR Membership   Exclusive $79 per year pricing Exclusive $79 per year pricing Exclusive $79 per year pricing Complimentary
Dedicated phone support   Priority High priority Higher priority VIP Line
SkyTeam status (see below for more details)   Elite Elite Plus Elite Plus Elite Plus
SkyTeam lounge access    
Hertz Miles per qualifying rental   1,000 1,000 1,250 1,250
Status in the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program     Five Star President’s Circle President’s Circle
$50 off Delta Vacations spend of $1,250-$2,499  
$100 off Delta Vacations spend of $2,500-$3,999  
$200 off Delta Vacations spend of $4,000-$5,999  
$300 off Delta Vacations spend of $6,000+  

Delta SkyMiles Choice Benefits for Platinum and Diamond Medallion

If you earn Diamond or Platinum Status, you’ll get to select from the list of Choice Benefits below. These benefits let you customize additional benefits based on your preferences. See Delta’s site for full details and terms and conditions.

Platinum Diamond
Number of Choice Benefits given  One Three
Upgrade certificates 4 regional 4 global or 8 regional or 2 global AND 4 regional
Global Entry application voucher One Two
Bonus miles 20,000 25,000
Gift Medallion Status Silver Gold
Gift card Either a $250 Delta Vacations gift card Or a $200 Tiffany & Co. gift card Either a $250 Delta Vacations gift card Or a $200 Tiffany & Co. gift card
Delta Sky Club Individual Membership N/A Yes – requires 1 Choice Benefit
Delta Sky Club Executive Membership N/A Yes – requires 2 Choice Benefits or 1 Choice Benefit if you already have an Individual Membership
Delta Sky Club guest pass (must already have access through a credit card) N/A Yes – you must already have complimentary Delta Sky Club access via an eligible credit card (like the Delta Reserve Credit Card Amex). You’ll receive unlimited access to the Delta Sky Club for up to two guests per visit when traveling with the eligible cardholder.

Medallion Status benefits with SkyTeam and international partners

When flying with an airline that is part of the SkyTeam, Medallion Members also get access to a great set of benefits. We’ve listed all these benefits below: 

Member Silver Gold Platinum Diamond
SkyTeam Status Elite Elite Plus Elite Plus Elite Plus
Priority check-in      
Baggage waiver  
Priority boarding  
Priority stand-by
Access to preferred seats
Guaranteed reservation
Lounge access
Priority security  
Priority bag drop  
Priority baggage handling  
Priority transfer desk  
Priority immigration  

On top of the benefits listed above, Delta has a set of preferred partners within the SkyTeam that offer Medallion Members even more benefits. These preferred partners are Aeromexico, Air France, GOL, KLM, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia. You can view the full list of benefits from preferred partners here.

Earning miles through Delta SkyMiles

Picture of airplane cabin passengers seated on a Delta flight

Earning SkyMiles can be done in a multitude of way including taking Delta flights. Photo by CompareBare

Earning miles is the focal point of the Delta SkyMiles program. When you spend money on flights with Delta and their partners, use the Delta American Express credit cards, shop with partners & more, you’ll earn miles that you can redeem for future Delta travel. Read on to see all the ways you can earn miles with Delta.

Delta flights

The first and primary way you can earn Delta miles is through flying with Delta. In order to get credit for flying with Delta, you’ll need to make sure your SkyMiles account number is linked to the flight reservation. The easiest way to do this is to book your flight when logged into your Delta SkyMiles account. One other important note is that miles can only be earned by the person who is flying, regardless of who purchased the flight.

Like most other airlines rewards program, Delta rewards more points to Medallion Members. A normal SkyMiles member who has not reached Medallion Status yet will earn 5 miles for every dollar spent on Delta flights. Delta will give up to 11 miles per dollar spent (if you reach Diamond), which is a huge perk. This makes it extremely important that you always are working towards the higher tiers in Delta SkyMiles. Here’s the breakdown of base points you can earn by each tier:

SkyMiles member Silver Medallion Gold Medallion Platinum Medallion Diamond Medallion
Miles earned on Delta flights 5 miles per $ 7 miles per $ 8 miles per $ 9 miles per $ 11 miles per $

Delta exception fares

Exception fares are basically Delta flight tickets that are purchased through a third party or part of a package. Delta, and most other airlines treat these fares differently than if you had booked directly on their website. Exception fares included popular online- travel agencies, like Expedia and Orbitz, and even their own Delta Vacations program. The main difference is that instead of earning based on ticket price, you earn miles based on distance flown and fare class paid.

You earn miles on exception fares based on a percentage of the distance flown on your flight. The percentage is determined by the fare class of your ticket. Use the following chart to see how many miles you’ll earn according to the exception fare rules. For example, if you are on a First Class ticket and fly a distance of 3,000 miles, you would earn 4,500 miles to your SkyMiles account balance.

Exception Fare Class Miles
Delta One, First Class, Delta Premium Select (J, C, D, Z, I, F, P, A, G) 150%
Full Fare Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+ (Y, B, M, W) 100%
Main Cabin and Discounted Main Cabin (H, Q, K, L) 75%
Deeply Discounted Main Cabin (U, T, X, V, E) 50%

More details on exception fares

If you’re trying to earn MQDs, you should know that exception fares only give you one-fifth of the value of the Delta miles you earn. So in the example above, if you earned 4,500 Delta miles with an exception fare, you would also earn 90 MQDs on that fare. MQMs and MQSs are earned the same way as normal. 

And if you’re a Medallion Member, you’ll earn even more miles than you normally would for an exception fare. You’ll earn a bonus percentage on top of the miles you initially earned based on distance and the fare class of your ticket.  That bonus percentage is based on the Medallion Level you’re currently at.

For example, if a Diamond Medallion Member flew a distance of 3,000 miles in “F” class and therefore earned 4,500 miles on that exception fare, they would receive an additional 120% Medallion mileage bonus on top of the 4,500 miles earned – an extra 5,400 miles. In this scenario, the Diamond Medallion Member would earn a total of 9,900 miles.

Medallion Status Miles
Diamond 120% of miles awarded
Platinum 80% of miles awarded
Gold 60% of miles awarded
Silver 40% of miles awarded

Delta partner flights

Picture of the wing of an airplane in mid flight

Earning SkyMiles with Delta partners is a great way to earn points. Photo by Emiel Molenaar on Unsplash

You can also earn points by flying with members of the SkyTeam alliance, such as Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Korean Air and more. Each airline has different rules about the number of points you can earn, but Delta has laid out all the rules and terms here.

Delta SkyMiles American Express credit cards

Delta has partnered with American Express to offer its own family of credit cards that provide some amazing benefits. Having a Delta SkyMiles American Express credit card can supercharge earning Delta miles. This is on top of the points you already earn through flying on Delta flights. The credit cards can help you earn an additional 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on anything else. And some of the credit cards even provide elite perks. These elite perks include complimentary Sky Club access, priority boarding, free checked bags and much more. Also, check out our popular tips article on how to maximize credit card rewards.

Delta Vacations and SkyMiles Cruises

Delta offers a vacation package service called Delta Vacations. These packages combine flight, hotel, and car rentals into a simple bundle that often features some sort of discount. When you book a vacation package through Delta Vacations, you can also earn 7,500 bonus miles per person. 

Delta also now offers SkyMiles Cruises, which is powered by Cruise Only. SkyMiles Cruises offers discounted tickets to popular cruise lines such as Norweigan, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. You can earn at least 1,500 miles on any booking through SkyMiles Cruises and even up to 30,000 miles when you book an upgraded room, like a balcony or suite. You can view all the current offers and promotions here.

Airbnb

Airbnb and Delta have partnered to allow you to earn Delta miles either when you stay or host with Airbnb. If you’re a new Airbnb guest and have never used the service before, you can get 1 Delta mile per each dollar spent on Airbnb plus bonus miles and a $25 coupon toward your first Airbnb booking. If you’re an existing Airbnb customer, you can also earn 1 Delta mile per each dollar spent on Airbnb. Finally, if you become an Airbnb host, you can earn up to 25,000 Delta miles! View the full partnership site here for more details.

Hotels

Delta has partnered with several hotel chains to offer SkyMiles members additional ways to earn more points. Please note that in most of the cases below, you can’t earn Delta miles in addition to the hotel rewards programs offered by any of the hotel chains below. It’s usually a one or the other type deal, meaning you can’t ‘double-dip’ and earn both airline miles and hotel points.

Booking via Delta.com/Hotels:

Delta.com now offers a way to book hotels. SkyMiles Members can earn a minimum of 1 mile for every dollar spent on the base hotel rate for every completed stay booked via delta.com/hotels. To earn miles, you must include your number at the time of booking.

SPG

SkyMiles Members with SPG status can earn 2 miles for each dollar spent at SPG Hotels and Resort. SkyMiles Members with Gold and Platinum SPG elite status can earn 3 miles for each dollar spent. To get the mileage credit, you’ll need to sign up at SPG’s special site and select Delta as your preferred airlines.

Marriott

Earn 2 miles per every dollar spent at JW Marriott, Autograph Collection Hotels, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Delta Hotels by Marriott, Marriott Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton, EDITION and Gaylord Hotels. Earn 1 mile per every dollar spent at Courtyard by Marriott, AC Hotels by Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Springhill Suites by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, TownePlace Suites by Marriott, Marriott Executive Apartments, Moxy Hotels and Protea Hotels by Marriott. To get the mileage credit, you’ll need to change your Earn Preferences in your Marriott account and select Delta SkyMiles as your program of choice.

IHG

Earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on eligible charges at Crowne Plaza, InterCotinental, Hotel Indigo and Even Hotels. You can also earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on eligible charges at Holiday Inn, Holiday in Express, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites. You must add your SkyMiles account to your IHG Rewards profile in order to earn Delta miles instead of IHG Rewards points.

Radisson Rewards

You can earn 500 miles per eligible stay at Radisson Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED and Park Plaza. You can earn 250 miles per eligible stay at Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inn & Suites by Radisson. To earn miles, you must either present your Delta SkyMiles number at check-in or select Delta SkyMiles as your earning preference in your Radisson Rewards profile.

Hyatt

Earn 500 miles per eligible stay at any Hyatt Hotel or Resort. To earn miles, provide your SkyMiles number at check-in.

Accor Hotels

You can earn 12.5 miles per every 10€ spent at Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel, Mercure and Thalassa Sea & Spa. Earn 6.25 miles for every 10€ spent at ibis and ibis Styles. Earn 5 miles for every 10€ spent at Adagio and earn 2.5 miles for every 10€ spent at Adagio Access. To receive miles, you must select the Delta SkyMiles program as your automatic conversion earning preference in their Le Club AccorHotels.

Langham Hospitality Group

Earn up to 500 miles a night (max of 1500 per stay) when you stay at any Langham Hotels and Resorts, Langham Place Hotels & Resorts or CORDIS Hotels. Earn up to 250 miles per night (max of 750 per stay) when you stay at Eaton Hotels or the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto. To receive your miles, simply present your SkyMiles membership card upon check-in.

Millennium Hotels & Resorts

Get up to 500 miles per qualifying stay at Millennium Hotels and 250 miles per stay at Copthorne Hotels. To earn miles, provide your SkyMiles number at check-in.

Shangri-la Hotels & Resorts

With each eligible stay at Shangri-La Hotels and resorts, you can earn 500 miles. To get the miles, make sure to present your SkyMiles card upon check-in. It’s also possible to transfer your Shangri-La Golden Circle points to miles at a rate of 1 point to 1 Delta mile.

Worldhotels

Earn 500 miles when you stay at Worldhotels. To receive miles, be sure to provide your SkyMiles number at check-in.

Car Rental Companies

Delta has partnered with some of the top car rental companies to offer additional ways to earn Delta miles.  Here’s the breakdown by company:

  • Hertz: When you book using the Delta discount number (165385), you’ll earn a pre-defined number of miles per rental. General SkyMiles Members get 500 miles, Silver and Gold Medallions get 1,000 miles and Platinum and Diamond Medallion get 1,250 miles.
  • Alamo: Earn 500 Delta miles with each qualifying rental (only valid in the US and Canada). You must select Delta SkyMiles as your program of choice to earn miles with.
  • Enterprise: Earn 500 Delta miles with each qualifying rental (only valid in the US and Canada). You must select Delta SkyMiles as your program of choice to earn miles with. This means you will not be able to earn Enterprise Plus points for your completed car rentals (you can’t double-dip).
  • National: Earn 500 Delta miles with each qualifying rental (only valid in the US and Canada). You must select Delta SkyMiles as your program of choice to earn miles with. This means you will not be able to earn National Emerald Club points for your completed car rentals (you can’t double-dip).
  • Europcar: If you’re renting in Europe, Delta has partnered with Europcar to offer you 60 miles per day per qualifying rental, plus offers a 10% discount.

Lyft

Lyft and Delta have teamed up to reward you every time you use the ride-share service in the US. You’ll earn at least 1 mile per dollar you spend on every Lyft ride. Plus, Delta and Lyft have a special short-term promotion! They are currently offering 2 miles per dollar spent on Lyft rides to and from an airport in the US. In order for this to work, you’ll need to link your SkyMiles and Lyft accounts so you can start earning miles.

Other Car Partners

  • ExecuCar: if you need to rent a private luxury Sedan, Delta has an offer with ExecuCar where if you book online, you’ll earn 50 miles per direction you travel. Miles are awarded when you book your airport ride online at ExecuCar.com.  Make sure you add your Delta SkyMiles number to your account in order to get mileage credit. 
  • Carmel: When you reserve online with Carmel, you can earn 100 bonus miles plus 2 miles per dollar when you spend over $100 and 1 mile per dollar when you spend less than $100. To get credit for any rides, you’ll need to link you Carmel account and your Delta SkyMiles account, which you can do here.
  • Sixt: You can earn 500 miles per car rental and 1,000 miles per chauffeur service booked through Sixt. To book and get credit, use this link.
  • SuperShuttle: Enjoy up to 50 miles per direction when you book online with SuperShuttle. Make sure to add your Delta SkyMiles number to your account in order to get mileage credit.

SkyMiles Shopping

If you love online shopping, SkyMiles Shopping might be a great way for you to earn additional Delta miles. This Delta service allows to shop at hundreds of online retailers and offers thousands of products to choose from.  When you purchase something on the SkyMiles Shopping website, you can earn various amounts of miles for that purchase. There are some top brands on here including Nike, Samsung, Sephora and way more. Sign up and start earning to today on the SkyMiles Shopping website.

SkyMiles Dining

Picture of a close up view of a fancy pizze with a person's hands using a knife and fork to cut

Taking advantage of dining programs is a fantastic way to earn SkyMiles and eat food at the same time! Photo by Thomas Schweighofer on Unsplash

Delta has its own dining program, which will reward you for dining at restaurants, bars, and clubs within the Delta network. You can earn up to 5 miles per dollar spent at participating restaurants, which is a great value-add.

Other Retailers

Delta has partnered with other companies to offer additional ways to earn points just through shopping. Some of these other retailers include Gilt, Biscoff, FTD, Vinesse Wines and even your local gas company like Georgia Natural Gas or Illinois Energy. See the full list and offer details here.

Special promotions

Delta SkyMiles also provides other opportunities to earn even more points. They will typically offer limited-time special promotions either on booking their own flights or through purchases with partners. You should check out their special offers page to see what’s currently available for you to take advantage of!

Converting partner points into Delta miles

If you have points saved up in other rewards programs, such as credit card rewards or hotel rewards, Delta has partnered up with several programs to allow you to convert your points in those program into Delta miles. These partners include:

  • American Express
  • Diners Club International
  • Banco de Chile
  • JCB
  • Le Club Accor Hotels
  • Radisson Rewards
  • Hilton Honors
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • SPG
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Hertz
  • Points.com
  • Flyertea (China)

Visit Delta’s page on converting partner points into miles to learn more about the process.

Purchasing Delta miles

Another great way to increase your Delta SkyMiles balance is to purchase miles. These do not count towards your MQMs and only add to your miles balance that you can use to redeem for future travel with Delta. People often purchase miles to help meet a minimum mile redemption threshold that they otherwise may not be able to meet in the immediate future.

For example, if you are only 2,000 miles away from being able to redeem for a flight on Delta, it may make sense to purchase the points to close the gap and meet the mile redemption threshold. It is important to always understand the cash value of the miles you are purchasing. You should take into consideration the cost that you are actually paying to purchase the miles. This is key to ensure you are receiving the proper expected value in the transaction.

Delta will allow you to buy miles in increments of 2,000. You can buy a maximum of 60,000 miles. They charge you a $0.035 rate per mile to purchase. To purchase extra miles, visit Delta’s page for buying miles here.

Redeeming Delta Miles

Screenshot of Delta web page for redeeming SkyMiles for flight purchases

SkyMiles can be redeemed for things such as free airfare just make sure to select to see fares in Miles when you search for flights.

The main way to redeem Delta miles is to use them to purchase a flight ticket on Delta or one of their partner airlines. However, there are a ton of different ways you can use your Delta miles. We go over all of these below. 

Booking award travel with Delta and partners

You can use miles to purchase flight tickets directly on Delta’s website (www.Delta.com). Look for the ‘Show Price In’ section when you’re doing a search for flights and select “miles”. When the search results come back, you’ll be shown the lowest price options for the dates you select.

Most of Delta’s partners allow you to book award travel with miles directly on Delta’s website. However, for Air Europa, Air Tahiti Nui, Czech Airlines and Kenya Airlines, you’ll need to contact the Delta phone reservations line to book award travel.

Using miles to book Delta Vacations

SkyMiles Members can apply their miles toward the cost of a Delta Vacations package. With the Miles to Go program, you can redeem miles when booking flights, hotel stays, rental cars and activities as part of your vacation package. You can enter your SkyMiles number on the Delta Vacations site and choose miles as your payment type when checking out.

Book Delta Private Jets with miles

Picture of the rear of a jet airplane

Delta’s Private Jet program is another exciting way you can redeem SkyMiles once you accrue a substantial amount. Photo by CompareBare

Delta offers customers the ability to book private jets through them. You can redeem your miles for a credit with Delta Private Jets (also known as a Jet Card). However, the price to cash in your miles for this is pretty steep. Redemptions start at 2.5 million miles in exchange for a $25,000 Jet Card. In order to do this, you’ll need to call (866) 632-1107 to learn more.

Use the Miles + Cash when you don’t have enough miles

If you don’t have enough miles to cover the entire value of the flight, you can select the option to pay for the flight in miles and cash. This basically means you’ll split the cost of the flight into actual money and your miles. However, the split is not an even 50/50. You can find the option to pay with Miles + Cash when doing a search for a flight on Detla.com. When the search results come back, there is an option that says ‘Show price in’. Make sure to select ‘Miles + Cash’ to see exactly what a flight will cost you when using this option.

Pay with Miles for Delta SkyMiles credit card holders

Another great reason to own a Delta SkyMiles American Express card is that cardholders exclusively get access to a great feature called Pay with Miles. This benefit allows you to take dollars off of a Delta ticket. This is especially useful when you don’t have enough miles to cover the full amount of the ticket. You can do this by booking directly on Delta.com. When selecting your flights, make sure it’s marked as ‘Pay with Miles eligible’. Once you finish choosing your flights and you’re on the check-out page, you’ll see the option to pay with miles from a drop-down menu. 5,000 miles gives you $50 off the ticket price. You must redeem in 5,000-mile increments.

Use your miles for seat upgrades

Picture of the Delta One premium seating on a Delta airplane

Delta One is a premium cabin experience for Delta travelers. Photo by CompareBare

You can use your Delta miles to upgrade your seat to Delta One, First Class, Business Class or Delta Comfort+ on a flight both before your booking is complete and after you’ve purchased your ticket. 

To upgrade your seat on a flight you have not completed your booking for, you’ll need to log-in to Delta.com, search for a flight and select a Main Cabin ticket. If your reservation is eligible, you’ll see the option to Upgrade with Miles in your Trip Summary before you complete your purchase.

If you’ve already booked your flight ticket and wish to upgrade your seat, you’ll need to contact a Delta support representative to process an upgrade. Not all reservations are eligible and the upgrades depend on whether there are enough seats available to accommodate your request. Either way, the Delta representative will let you know and can process your upgrade.

Use Miles for Delta Sky Club Access

Picture of Delta SkyClub at Seatac airport

Delta SkyClub is a fantastic benefit providing free drinks, snacks, and modern decor. Photo by CompareBare

If you often find yourself waiting for flight connections, airport lounges are a great place to spend your time at the airport. The Delta Sky Club is Delta’s luxury lounge for frequent fliers who are members. You can now use your miles to purchase a year-long membership to the Delta Sky Club at the following rates:

  • Executive Membership for an annual fee of 70,000 miles
    • Unlimited access to Delta Sky Club locations around the world for you and up to two guests per visit
  • Individual Membership for an annual fee of 47,000 miles
    • Unlimited access to Delta Sky Club locations around the globe; you can bring up to two paid guests at the rate of $29.00 or 2,500 miles per guest per visit
  • Single Visit Passes for a one-time fee of 5,000 miles
    • Available for purchase in-club at the check-in desk only, based on availability and club capacity

You can also use your miles to pay for premium drinks in the Sky Club.

Pay for other Delta products, services and fees with your miles

Delta also offers SkyMiles Members the ability to use miles to pay for the following:

  • Selecting Preferred Seats (waived for all Medallion Members)
  • Ticket change fees
  • Award Ticket redeposit fees (waived for Diamond and Platinum Medallion Members)
  • Same-Day Confirmed fees (waived for Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion Members)
  • External ticket charge (applies to all tickets issued in the US or Canada by someone other than Delta)

To use your miles for any of the above options, you’ll need to contact Delta support at 800-323-2323.

Use your miles in the SkyMiles Marketplace

The SkyMiles Marketplace is an online store that you can purchase goods like gift cards, electronics, luggage and more. If you’d like to purchase a Delta Gift Card with miles, you can do so in the SkyMiles Marketplace as well. The SkyMiles Marketplace is only available for Medallion Members and select Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Members.

Redeem miles for magazine subscriptions

If you’re a big fan of reading magazines, you can swap your Delta miles for a magazine subscription. There are 50+ options to choose from that range from Cosmopolitan to Sports Illustrated. Check out the SkyMiles magazine website for more details.

Use your miles to bid on Delta SkyMiles Experiences

You can use your points to bid on awesome experiences brought to you by Delta SkyMiles Experiences. Some of these experiences include backstage passes at a concert or tickets to your favorite professional sports game. If you don’t win, you won’t be charged anything for placing a bid. You can also use the buy-it-now feature which allows you to immediately purchase select SkyMiles Experiences events rather than waiting for the auction process to play out.

Gift, transfer or donate your miles

Delta allows you to gift, transfer or even donate your miles. For gifting and transferring miles, you just need to enter the recipient’s name, email and SkyMiles number and for a small fee, you can give someone Delta miles that they can use for future travel. You can donate your miles through SkyWish to charitable organizations from all around the world. 

Calculating the earning potential of Delta miles

It’s important to note that in general, miles or points from most travel-related rewards programs have an actual cash redemption value. Reward mile cash values typically range between $0.05 cents to $2.5 cents per mile. This depends on the method in which miles are redeemed (i.e. redeemed for travel, gift cards, experiences). In terms of Delta, Medallion status provides enhanced value and bonus miles for each dollar of spending. It’s easy to see why Medallion status tiers can make a huge difference in terms of the actual cash value you receive from your flights in the form of miles.

The more miles you earn, the higher the cash value of your miles, meaning that you will be able to redeem miles for better options in terms of class of seating, exotic travel destinations, higher gift card amounts, frequent trips, and more. The examples below demonstrate how to calculate the earning potential of Delta miles, and also highlights the earning difference between Medallion status tiers. Below is the table that was used in the ‘Delta Flights’ section above to highlight the SkyMile earning differences between Medallion status tiers.

SkyMiles member Silver Medallion Gold Medallion Platinum Medallion Diamond Medallion
Miles earned on Delta flights 5 miles per $ 7 miles per $ 8 miles per $ 9 miles per $ 11 miles per $

Example 1

You book a flight directly through Delta and spend $1,000 total. You are also currently at the Silver Medallion status tier level.

  • $1,000 x 7 = 7,000 SkyMiles
  • For this example, we will value 1 SkyMile at $0.012 cents
  • We will use the following formula:
    • SkyMiles received from flight purchase x 0.012 = Total cash value of SkyMiles
  • 7,000 x 0.012 = $84
  • So 7,000 SkyMiles is worth $84 in cash when redeeming for things such as travel

Example 2

You book a flight directly through Delta and spend $1,000 total. You are also currently at the Diamond Medallion status tier level.

  • $1,000 x 11 = 11,000 SkyMiles
  • For this example, we will value 1 SkyMile at $0.012 cents
  • We will use the following formula:
    • SkyMiles received from flight x 0.012 = Total cash value of SkyMiles
  • 11,000 x 0.012 = $132
  • So 11,000 SkyMiles is worth $132 in cash when redeeming for things such as travel

That is a $48 cash value difference between the two tiers and demonstrates the power of having a higher status (like Platinum Medallion or Diamond Medallion).

Overall summary of Delta SkyMiles

Overall, Delta SkyMiles is a full-blown rewards program that provides amazing benefits to loyal members and frequent fliers. Delta is an international brand that flies all over the world. It’s also a part of the Sky Team alliance, which further expands the reach of where they fly. The four Medallion Status tiers provide great perks to members that range from free checked bags, priority boarding and check-in, seat upgrades and much more. Delta offers a TON of ways for you to earn miles outside of flying, such as taking Lyft, staying with Airbnb and using your Delta SkyMiles American Express card. They also provide a number of ways to redeem your miles. This rewards program is robust and offers many valuable benefits to those who take advantage of all the opportunities.

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