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Guide to Delta SkyMiles

Last Updated, September 17, 2020

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If Delta is your preferred airline, you should belong to SkyMiles. This free loyalty program offers a collection of valuable perks to regular travelers and may even be worthwhile if you aren't a frequent flyer.

The Delta SkyMiles program offers the following benefits:

  • Multiple redemption opportunities including flights, merchandise and experiences. There are no blackout dates for flight redemptions.
  • Valuable perks for those who earn elite status.
  • Miles can be earned on flights with partnering airlines, and miles never expire so long as an account is open.

Still, there are some cons to Delta SkyMiles, including:

  • General membership doesn't provide many perks, and you'll need to earn elite status to make the most of the program.
  • Mile redemption for flights is dynamic, meaning that how many miles you need to book a flight can depend on when you fly and where you're going.
  • Program details can be complex and confusing.

These few cons aside, this is a free loyalty program, so there’s no harm in joining even if you rarely fly with Delta.  

WHAT ARE DELTA SKYMILES?

Delta SkyMiles is the name of the Delta Air Lines loyalty program. Like other frequent flyer programs, it awards miles based on how often you fly and how much you spend with the airline. Those miles can be redeemed in a number of ways that we'll discuss in a moment, but first, let's talk more about earning miles.

HOW TO EARN DELTA SKYMILES

There are two main ways to earn Delta SkyMiles:

  • Flights
  • Credit card purchases

The number of miles you earn for flights depends on your elite status. General members without elite status earn five miles per dollar spent. However, elite members can earn as much as 11 miles per dollar spent if they have Diamond Medallion status.

If you don't fly often, don't worry. You can still earn miles to redeem for free travel by using a Delta SkyMiles co-branded credit card. These cards offer one mile per dollar spent on most purchases plus additional miles in specific categories.

Here are some highlights of the Delta SkyMiles credit cards currently available:

DELTA SKYMILES CREDIT CARDS

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Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in the first three months after opening an account
  • Earn two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases
  • Earn two miles per dollar spent at restaurants
  • 20% in-flight savings
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months (offer expires 10/28/2020)
  • Earn two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases
  • Earn two miles per dollar spent at restaurants (including delivery and takeout) and at U.S. supermarkets
  • First checked bag is free on Delta flights
  • After you spend $10,000 in purchases in a calendar year, you will receive a $100 Delta Flight Credit to inspire your next travel
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99
  • Terms apply

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

  • First checked bag is free on Delta flights
  • Earn three miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases
  • Earn three miles per dollar spent directly at hotels
  • Earn two miles per dollar spent at restaurants (including delivery and takeout) and U.S. supermarkets
  • Up to a $100 statement credit available to cover a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application
  • Earn 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles after spending $25,000 on eligible purchases, up to two times per calendar year
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your card. (Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights - for itineraries with up to four flight segments - is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $250 annual fee
  • Terms apply

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months after opening an account
  • Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge when you book your Delta flight with your Reserve card
  • Complimentary access to Delta Sky Club lounges when flying Delta and two one-time guest passes provided each year
  • Earn three miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases
  • Access to complimentary upgrades
  • First checked bag is free on Delta flights
  • 20% in-flight savings
  • Up to a $100 statement credit available to cover a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application
  • Earn 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles after spending $30,000 on eligible purchases, up to four times per calendar year
  • Receive a Companion Certificate for a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+ or Domestic Main Cabin round-trip flight each year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $550 annual fee
  • Terms apply

Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card

  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months after opening an account (offer ends Oct. 28, 2020)
  • Earn a $100 Delta Flight Credit after spending $10,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Earn two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases
  • Earn two miles per dollar spent on U.S. shipping, advertising in select media and restaurants
  • First checked bag is free on Delta flights
  • Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding for cardholders
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99
  • Terms apply

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card

  • For a limited time, earn 70,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months after opening an account (offer ends Oct. 28, 2020)
  • Earn three miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases
  • Earn three miles per dollar spent directly at hotels
  • Earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, up to 50,000 miles per year
  • Up to a $100 statement credit available to cover a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application
  • Earn 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles after spending $25,000 on eligible purchases, up to two times per calendar year
  • Receive a Companion Certificate for a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip flight each year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $250 annual fee
  • Terms apply

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card

  • Earn 45,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months after opening the account
  • Complimentary access to Delta Sky Club lounges when flying Delta and two one-time guest passes provided each year
  • Earn 3 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases
  • Earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent after spending $150,000 in a calendar year
  • Access to complimentary upgrades
  • Up to a $100 statement credit available to cover a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application
  • Earn 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles after spending $30,000 on eligible purchases, up to four times per calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $550 annual fee
  • Terms apply

HOW MUCH ARE DELTA SKYMILES WORTH?

It depends on how you redeem your miles. However, travel websites typically calculate the value of Delta SkyMiles as 1.1 to 1.6 cents per mile when booking for travel, depending on your destination, ticket class, and travel dates.

DO DELTA SKYMILES EXPIRE?

No, Delta SkyMiles do not expire so long as an account is open. Be aware, though, that Delta reserves the right to close any account where fraudulent activity has been detected, the member is deceased or repeated attempts at communication are not returned.

DELTA SKYMILES MEDALLION STATUS LEVELS AND MEDALLION BENEFITS

Delta SkyMiles elite status is conferred through the airline's Medallion program which has four tiers. To understand the Medallion program, you need to know the following terms:

  • Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) - These dollars equal your spending on Delta flights as well as flights on many partner airlines. The MQD requirement for Silver, Gold and Platinum status is waived if you spend $25,000 in eligible purchases during a calendar year on an eligible Delta SkyMiles American Express card. To waive the MQD requirement for Diamond status, you must spend $250,000 on an eligible American Express card within a calendar year.
  • Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) - MQMs are different than the regular miles you earn with SkyMiles. These are awarded based on the number of miles you fly and your fare class.
  • Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) - Segments are earned based on how many flights you take.

Your Medallion tier depends on how much you fly and spend each year. Here's a look at the benefits of each level.

Silver Medallion - Awarded after 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs plus $3,000 MQDs

  • Earn seven miles per dollar spent on Delta flights
  • Complimentary preferred seats
  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades to First Class and Delta Comfort+ beginning 24 hours prior to departure and domestic Delta One on the day of departure
  • First checked bag is free for you and up to eight travel companions when flying on Delta
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Phone line priority when calling to speak with a SkyMiles representative
  • SkyTeam Elite status when flying on partner airlines
  • 1,000 bonus miles with qualifying vehicle rental through Hertz

Gold Medallion - Awarded after 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs plus $6,000 MQDs

  • Earn eight miles per dollar spent on Delta flights
  • Complimentary preferred seats
  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades to First Class and Delta Comfort+ beginning 72 hours prior to departure and domestic Delta One on the day of departure
  • First checked bag is free for you and up to eight travel companions when flying on Delta
  • Sky Priority services at airport including priority check-in and boarding
  • Waived same-day confirmed and same-day standby fees
  • Phone line priority when calling to speak with a SkyMiles representative
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus status when flying on partner airlines
  • 1,000 bonus miles with qualifying vehicle rental through Hertz
  • Five Star Status in the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program

Platinum Medallion - Awarded after 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs plus $9,000 MQDs

  • Earn nine miles per dollar spent on Delta flights
  • Opportunity to select one of the following Choice Benefits:
    • Four regional upgrade certificates
    • Gift Silver Medallion status to a friend or family member
    • 20,000 bonus miles for yourself, someone else or a SkyWish charity
    • $200 Delta travel voucher
    • $200 Tiffany & Co. gift card
  • Complimentary preferred seats
  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades to First Class beginning 150 hours prior to departure, Comfort+ shortly after ticketing and domestic Delta One on the day of departure
  • First checked bag is free for you and up to eight travel companions when flying on Delta
  • Sky Priority services at airport including priority check-in and boarding
  • Waived same-day confirmed and same-day standby fees and well as waived award travel change fees
  • VIP phone line
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus status when flying on partner airlines
  • 1,250 bonus miles with qualifying vehicle rental through Hertz
  • President's Circle Status in the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program

Diamond Medallion - Awarded after 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs plus $15,000 MQDs

  • Earn 11 miles per dollar spent on Delta flights
  • Opportunity to select three Choice Benefits from the following options:
    • Delta Sky Club Membership options
    • Global and regional upgrade certificates
    • Gift Gold Medallion status to a friend or family member
    • 25,000 bonus miles for yourself, someone else or a SkyWish charity
    • $200 Delta travel voucher
    • $200 Tiffany & Co. gift card
  • Complimentary preferred seats
  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades to First Class beginning 150 hours prior to departure, Comfort+ shortly after ticketing and domestic Delta One on the day of departure
  • Complimentary CLEAR membership to quickly move through security
  • First checked bag is free for you and up to eight travel companions when flying on Delta
  • Sky Priority services at airport including priority check-in and the highest priority boarding
  • Waived same-day confirmed and same-day standby fees and well as waived award travel change fees
  • VIP phone line
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus status when flying on partner airlines
  • 1,250 bonus miles with qualifying vehicle rental through Hertz
  • President's Circle Status in the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program

HOW TO REDEEM DELTA SKYMILES

When you're ready to redeem your miles, SkyMiles gives you the following options:

  • Free flights: Use your miles to book flights directly through Delta. There are no blackout dates, but the number of miles needed for your flight will depend on factors such as the length of the flight and your travel dates.
  • Upgrades and flight amenities: Miles can be used to upgrade seats to a different class, pay for premium drinks or cover fees such as preferred seat or ticket change fees.
  • Vacations and experiences: Use your miles through Delta Vacations to book hotels or bid miles at SkyMiles Experiences for backstage passes and event tickets.
  • Merchandise: In the SkyMiles Marketplace, you can redeem your miles for Apple products, household items, jewelry and more. Redeeming miles for magazines is also an option.

As with most frequent flyer programs, you'll get the most value out of your miles redeeming for travel rather than merchandise. If you don't have enough miles to book the vacation of your dreams, using a combination of miles and cash may be an option for some redemptions.

Joining the SkyMiles program is free which means there is no reason for Delta travelers not to become members. Consider applying for one of the American Express cards listed above to quickly rack up the miles needed for your next getaway.

 

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card: See Rates and Fees; Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card: See Rates and Fees; Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card: See Rates and Fees; Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: See Rates and Fees; Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card: See Rates and Fees; Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: See Rates and Fees; Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: See Rates and Fees

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