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For people who fly often, all those hours spent at 35,000 feet can sometimes feel like a chore. Luckily, frequent flyer programs provide a way to earn rewards for your time in the air. Many of today’s programs offer much more than just upgrades or tickets, expanding rewards to include such areas as hotels, rental cars, gift cards and merchandise.
If you log a lot of miles on Delta Airlines, you may be curious how Delta SkyMiles stacks up against other frequent flyer programs, including Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and Frontier’s Frequent Flyer Rewards. You can relax, because Bankrate has you covered. Let us walk you through how to get started, how to redeem points and other essential information about the Delta SkyMiles program.
Understanding the Delta SkyMiles points system
You’ll earn 5 miles for every $1 you spend on a Delta flight, so it’s a matter of how much you spend rather than how far you fly. You can also earn miles with some partner airlines, but the rate at which you earn miles will vary per flight.
Each earned mile has an estimated average value of 1.7 to 5.5 cents, but their usefulness depends on how you decide to redeem them. Redeeming your miles for a gift card may offer less value than using them for flight to an exotic island, so you’ll want to weigh your options.
Delta no longer publishes its official SkyMiles rewards chart, so you may want to check out the SkyMiles portal to understand how to best use your miles. Fortunately, Delta SkyMiles never expire and there are no blackout dates.
Earning more with SkyMiles
Of course, the fastest way to earn miles is by flying with Delta. However, the airline offers other ways that you can earn miles with your feet on the ground. They include:
With Delta SkyMiles Dining, you can earn miles at more than 10,000 bar and restaurant locations across the United States. As a baseline, you’ll earn 1 mile for every $2 you spend, but that rate can increase dramatically depending on your status.
By partnering with Lyft, Delta offers 1 mile per dollar spent on your rides and a $20 ride credit within the app for SkyMiles members.
Delta has a variety of other travel-related partners, including Airbnb, hotel chains such as Marriott, Westin and Sheraton, and rental car companies Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo and others. Typically, the miles don’t convert on a one-to-one basis, so be sure to do your homework. We recommend the SkyMiles site as a resource to understand how your miles are best used in each specific case.
You can also earn miles while shopping online through the SkyMiles portal.
Reaching new heights with Medallion Status
Delta SkyMiles rewards its most loyal members with increased status. As a member, you can achieve Medallion Status by earning Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and/or Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs):
- MQMs: Earned based on the number of miles you fly and the fare class of your tickets.
- MQSs: Earned based on the number of flights you take.
- MQDs: (U.S. members only) Earned based on how much money you spend on Delta and partnered flights.
By logging in to your SkyMiles account, you can see exactly how far along you are to becoming a Medallion member.
If you plan to use the program frequently, reaching Medallion Status is a major benefit. Whether you reach Silver, Gold, Platinum or Diamond status, your perks will increase at each tier.
There is a shortcut to Medallion Status: spend $25,000 or more in a year with a Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and bypass all other requirements to become a Silver, Gold or even Platinum member (depending on the total amount spent). Spend $250,000 and you’ll jet all the way up to Diamond status.
You’ll earn miles at a better rate at each level. For each dollar spent, Silver members will earn 7 miles, Gold will earn 8 miles, Platinum will earn 9 miles, and Diamond members all the way up to 11 miles.
However, that’s not the only bonus. Additional benefits come with each tier of Medallion Status:
- Silver: You’ll be eligible for unlimited complimentary upgrades, priority boarding, waived baggage fees and the ability to roll-over your MQMs.
- Gold: You’ll have all of the capabilities offered with Silver, with added access to the full Sky Priority suite of services and waived same-day change fees.
- Platinum: In addition to the benefits of Gold, you’ll have the ability to waive Award Ticket change fees and the freedom of a customizable Choice Benefit (including access to Delta Sky Lounges) with Delta.
- Diamond: With the top status of the SkyMiles program, you’ll receive all the benefits mentioned above, as well as upgrade priority, a complimentary CLEAR membership and a plus-one when you’re headed to a Delta Sky Lounge.
Earning more with SkyMiles credit cards
Achieving Medallion Status is enticing, and a Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express can help you get there faster.
When you shop with any of the four Delta SkyMiles cards, you’ll earn an additional 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases, plus 1 mile per dollar on most other purchases. With no cap on the miles you can earn, it’ll be no time before you’re relaxing in a Delta Sky Lounge, whether it’s the flagship JFK location, LAX or even in Honolulu.
Delta and American Express teamed up to offer four different credit cards to U.S. customers. You’ll earn bonus miles after you meet the minimum purchase requirements within the first three months, as well as 20% off Delta in-flight purchases. Much like Medallion Status tiers, you’ll be rewarded more handsomely as you upgrade cards.
Delta SkyMiles Cards
|Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express||10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases in the first 3 months of Card Membership.||
|Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express||Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a $50 Statement Credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months||
$0 the first year, then $95
|Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express||75,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you make $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months plus $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months||
|Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express||75,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months||
Redeeming your Delta SkyMiles points
If you’re looking to redeem your points for a flight with Delta, just select Miles instead of Money on the Book a Flight page of the Delta website. For options such as hotels, rental cars and more, log into your SkyMiles account and shop through your choices.
Sharing your points
Delta permits the sharing of SkyMiles between members as a gift, in increments of 2,000 miles, and up to 60,000 miles per transaction.
To send miles as a gift, you’ll pay $70 for each 2,000 miles transferred. You can also transfer your points rather than gift them, where you’ll pay just a penny per mile plus a $30 transaction fee. You’ll want to calculate before sharing your miles, especially because they can be redeemed for someone else’s flight — possibly the most cost-efficient option.
How Delta SkyMiles compares
At the base level, the Delta SkyMiles program falls behind programs offered by airlines like Southwest Airlines and JetBlue when it comes to perks and value.
The consensus is that travelers want transparency when it comes to how much their rewards are worth, and Delta SkyMiles hasn’t made that easy. The multi-faceted rewards structure can be confusing, but you can always contact SkyMiles Help to determine the best value when it’s time to redeem.
On the bright side, Delta SkyMiles’ flexibility and airline partnerships help give loyal customers a first-class experience. Delta flies direct to 325 destinations worldwide, but when factoring in their partner airlines, the number skyrockets to more than 1,000.
Delta SkyMiles is a great choice for flyers who like some variety in their destinations, need a flexible airline rewards program and prefer a more luxurious travel experience.
Getting started as a Delta SkyMiles member
To be a part of the program, click Sign Up on Delta’s home screen and enter your information to open your account. Once you’ve created your account, you’re ready for takeoff.