Key takeaways

  • Delta SkyMiles offers frequent Delta flyers the chance to earn miles that can be redeemed for free or discounted flights, flight upgrades, baggage fees and more.
  • One of the easiest ways to earn SkyMiles is by using a co-branded Delta credit card.
  • Although co-branded Delta cards come with more airline specific perks, a handful of flexible rewards cards can be used to earn points that can be transferred directly to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio.
  • We estimate Delta SkyMiles to be worth about 1.2 cents per point, although the exact value may vary based on how you redeem the miles.

Delta is one of the largest airlines in the United States, operating several thousand flights each day across the country. Delta SkyMiles is the airline’s frequent flyer program, which gives loyal customers a chance to earn rewards that can be redeemed for free or discounted flights, upgraded seating and more. Although Delta recently announced a major update to their SkyMiles program, Delta SkyMiles can be among the most valuable domestic airline miles available.

It’s free to join the Delta SkyMiles program, and you can earn miles in a number of ways — including flying with Delta, making purchases with Delta SkyMiles partners and more. One of the easiest ways to earn miles is by using a credit card. In addition to earning Delta SkyMiles on purchases, co-branded Delta Airlines cards come with generous welcome offers and Delta-specific perks you won’t find anywhere else. That said, other general-purpose travel rewards cards may offer more flexibility and also let you transfer your points directly to Delta’s loyalty program.

Here’s what to know about the Delta SkyMiles program, getting the most value out of your miles and choosing the best Delta card for you.

Delta SkyMiles’ value

Although Delta recently made major changes to the way loyalty members can earn and retain their elite status, not a lot has changed surrounding the accrual and redemption of the actual miles. Delta SkyMiles are worth around 1.2 cents each according to Bankrate’s latest points and miles valuations. Southwest Rapid Rewards, JetBlue TrueBlue and Frontier Miles are the only domestic airline membership programs with higher valuations.

The value of your Delta SkyMiles vary based on how you redeem them. Use your miles to cover the cost of a flight (not including the fees and taxes), to cover part of a flight for a discount or for seat and class upgrades. You can also use them toward vacation packages through Delta Vacations, baggage fees, culinary experiences and more. However, you’ll likely get the strongest value for your miles when used toward discounted or free flights. These options also give you the chance to weigh flights against one another to determine the best value possible.

Calculating the value of SkyMiles

Like most airlines, Delta uses a dynamic pricing model, so prices can fluctuate based on a number of factors including travel date, destination and fare class. To make sure you’re getting the best value, you’ll have to calculate the value of your SkyMiles at the time of booking.

To do this, divide the cost of your airfare by the number of required miles. Your SkyMiles value equals the airfare cost in dollars (without fees) divided by the number of miles required.

For example, if a flight from Boston to Miami costs $99 or 7,500 SkyMiles, your SkyMiles are worth 1.3 cents ($99 / 7,500 = $0.013 or 1.3 cents).

How to choose the best card for Delta Airlines

The best travel card for Delta Airlines will be an American Express travel rewards card or a co-branded Delta Airlines card. Choosing the right one comes down to whether you prefer the flexibility of a general travel rewards card or the airline-specific perks offered with Delta airline credit cards.

General travel rewards cards

The best rewards cards for Delta SkyMiles are offered by American Express. This is because you can earn valuable American Express Membership Rewards points, which can be transferred to over a dozen airline and hotel partners — including Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 rate.

Transferring your points to miles is one of the best ways to use Amex points. Not only do you get greater flexibility when booking travel, you also get the chance to redeem your Amex rewards for a greater value than you might get from Delta SkyMiles. With the right high-value transfer partner, we estimate Amex points are worth around 2.0 cents on average — one of the highest redemption values available.

Here’s a look at the three best American Express travel rewards cards.

American Express® Green Card

The American Express® Green Card* is a solid, all-around travel rewards card that earns 3X Membership Reward points for travel, transit and restaurant purchases made worldwide while earning 1X Membership Reward points for all other purchases. It also comes with a few additional travel perks and protections that can help to offset its $150 annual fee.

This will be a great choice if you want to earn boosted points for flights you purchase through airlines or Amex Travel — whether they’re with Delta or not. Or, if you dine out regularly, you’ll want this card to earn 3X Membership Rewards points for every dollar you spend at restaurants across the globe.

If you spend $4,167 annually between both of these categories, you’ll earn 12,501 Membership Rewards points that are transferable to Delta SkyMiles. From there, you can redeem your miles for flights. At an average value of about 1.2 cents per mile, your 12,501 miles are worth $150 in travel — enough to offset the card’s annual fee.

American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card is a heavy-hitter for food and dining purchases, offering 4X Membership Rewards points on restaurant, Uber Eats and at U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1X points). It also awards 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, and 1X on all other purchases.

These boosted rates are generous enough to help offset the card’s $250 annual fee with modest spending, but the card’s additional perks — including up to a $100 hotel experience credit, up to $120 annually in Uber Cash ($10 per month, automatically) and up to $120 annually in dining credits (as up to $10 per month in statement credits) — sweeten the pot. Like with the American Express Green Card and the Platinum Card, every Membership Rewards point you earn is transferable to Delta SkyMiles.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

If you’re looking for a premium travel card loaded with top-of-the-line features, The Platinum Card® from American Express is a top contender.

Along with its approximately $1,709 value from perks alone, this card rewards cardholders with 5X Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent on directly booked airfare and all flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 per calendar year). It also rewards 2X points for prepaid car rentals through Amex Travel and 1X on all other purchases.

A major downside to the card is its $695 annual fee. Plus, it’s not the best option if you’re looking to quickly earn bonus rewards in everyday spending categories like groceries, dining or gas. If you value flexibility but luxury perks aren’t your priority, you may prefer the Amex Green or Gold cards.

Airline branded cards

A Delta-branded airline card typically comes with lower annual fees compared to Amex travel cards and offers Delta-specific perks you won’t find with general travel rewards cards.

Although these are all American Express cards, instead of earning Membership Rewards points, they earn Delta SkyMiles. On top of the exclusive perks, this can be convenient for cardholders who value simplicity and don’t want the hassle of transferring their Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles. Here’s a look at Delta’s four co-branded airline cards for consumers.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card is a no-annual-fee introductory card. It offers 2X miles per dollar at restaurants around the world, on takeout and delivery within the U.S. and for all Delta purchases. It also offers 1X miles for all other purchases.

Since it’s a starter card, it’s light on additional perks. However, cardholders will enjoy a nice welcome offer and 20-percent in-flight purchase discount, applied as a statement credit, which includes purchases like food, beverages and audio headsets.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card falls in the middle of the Delta cards offered by Amex and comes with a $150 annual fee (waived the first year). Like the SkyMiles Blue card, it offers 2X miles on restaurant, take out and delivery in the U.S. and Delta purchases but also includes 2X miles at U.S. supermarkets. This can make it an ideal choice for home shoppers and foodies who want to support their travel spending with points earned from everyday purchases.

In addition to the benefits on the SkyMiles Blue card, you’ll also receive a $200 annual Delta flight credit after spending $10,000 in a calendar year, Main Cabin 1 priority boarding and your first checked bag free on all Delta flights.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card earns 3X miles for Delta purchases (including flights and Delta Vacations) and hotels. You’ll also earn 2X miles at restaurants around the world, takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets while earning 1X miles on all other purchases. For a $350 annual fee, this card is in the same tier as the Amex Gold when it comes to cost, but the rewards rates fall a little short by comparison.

Along with all of the benefits available on the Gold and Blue SkyMiles cards, this card comes with additional perks that help offset its cost. These include a domestic companion ticket every year upon card renewal and up-to $100 in application fee credits for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck — once every 4 years for Global Entry or 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck, with enrollment required.

The SkyMiles Platinum card can also help you earn Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) to boost your status faster. Beginning February 01, 2024, Platinum cardmember receive an “MQD headstart” of $2,500 MQDs per card type. As of January 01, 2024, Platinum cardmembers earn 1 MQD per $20 in eligible purchases on the card.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card comes with a high $650 annual fee and doesn’t offer much in the way of rewards. You’ll earn only 3X miles on Delta purchases and 1X miles on general purchases.

However, that may not matter to frequent travelers looking for a list of luxury benefits that will make flying and time spent in an airport a much more cushy experience. This card includes some elite status perks, such as complimentary lounge access to Delta Sky Clubs and an annual companion certificate each year when you renew your card. Beginning February 01, 2025, Miles Reserve cardmembers enjoy Delta Sky Club access for 15 days per Medallion Year.

Along with all of the benefits available on other SkyMiles cards, Reserve cardholders can also take advantage of the new MQD Headstart and MQD Boost benefits. Like with the SkyMiles Platinum card, Reserve cardholders will enjoy a $2,500 “MQD headstart” bonus beginning on February 01, 2024. As of January 01, 2024, Reserve cardmembers can earn $1 MQD for every $10 in eligible purchases they make with the card.

Is a Delta SkyMiles card worth it?

If you like to fly with Delta Airlines and take several trips per year, a Delta-branded credit card can be a great choice. Compared to general-purpose travel cards, Delta SkyMiles cards carry a lower annual fee and offer Delta-specific perks not found with any other card. But if you’re not especially loyal to Delta and want to strategize ways to maximize your miles, a regular American Express travel rewards card might be the better choice.

*Issuer-required disclosure statements
Information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by Bankrate. Card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.