It quickly became apparent to me that trying to do one post with everything that you need to know about Delta is too much at once, so I’m going to split it up a bit. Since earning and redeeming miles are what most people are interested in, we’ll start there. Please note: I’m not going to cover every single method of earning points that exists, since I would probably break the interweb. But this primer should be a good start and get you 80% of what you need with 20% of the effort.
Earning Miles Via Flying
With 2014 almost over, I’m going to start with earning miles in 2015. The current process is simply based on how many miles you fly, with some adjustments for your elite status and your fare class. Easy-peasy.
- How much you paid for your ticket.
- What you elite status, if you have it, is.
I have pasted the factors below and you can calculate your miles here. Note that this chart calculates only redeemable miles, not miles toward elite status.
In other words, let’s say that you pay $500 for a round-trip flight from New York to LA.
Under the “old” plan, you would earn about 5,000 miles, since one way across the country is about 2,500 miles. Under the new system, however, if you have no elite status, you would only earn 2,500 miles (5 miles/$1 X $500). Break even, in fact, doesn’t even come until you get to Diamond, where you would earn 11 miles per dollar, or 5,500 miles. But that also ignores the fact that you would have gotten a 125% Diamond bonus under the 2014 system! In fact, to actually break even, you need a ticket that costs over $1,000, and that’s just the base fare. Obviously, the higher your fare, the better your results under the new system. Keep in mind that your mileage is only based on the fare and Delta charges. The taxes and government fees that you pay do not earn miles.
Flying on a Delta partner? Look at this chart to determine what you will earn.
I’m not going to be able to list every partner, but here are a few of the best:
Earning Delta Miles with Hotels
Hotels are the most obvious partners to earn miles, given that you will likely be staying at one while traveling. Delta has partnerships with almost every major hotel brand, as seen here,
- Starwood is the closest partner to Delta. If you choose to earn Delta miles at a Starwood property, you’ll earn from 2-4 miles per dollar spent, depending on your elite status with Starwood. (You earn an equivalent amount of miles to what you would have gotten in SPG points.). Note that 20,000 SPG points can be exchanged for 25,000 miles, so you may be better off collecting SPG points and then converting them, if it’s miles you’re after.
- Delta and Starwood also have a Crossover Rewards program. If you have Medallion status with Delta, you’ll earn one mile per dollar spent at Starwood properties, regardless of whether you get Starwood points or miles.
- Hilton Hotels offers “double dipping” to its members where you can earn hotel points and miles. In addition to your Hilton points, you can get one mile per dollar spent (or additional Hilton points)
- At most other hotels, however, you would have to give up your hotel points in order to earn miles and, in dollar terms, those hotel points are probably worth more than the miles you will earn. Still, Delta’s crossover rewards program is as good as it gets in combining elite status from multiple programs.
Earning Delta Miles with Shopping
- Shopping through Delta’s online mall can be a very effective way to earn miles. For instance, Saks Fifth Avenue is currently offering four miles per dollar spent. Spend $500, earn 2,000 miles. Pretty simple. And nothing extra is coming out of your pocket if you are already shopping at Saks. Saks (or any of the other 800 merchants that Delta partners with) pays Delta a commission for referring you, and Delta pays you in miles. I’ve seen offers as high as 100 miles per dollar spent, meaning that you are buying miles at a penny apiece in addition to getting the merchandise.
- Be sure you are signed into the shopping site so Delta knows where to send the miles!
- If you get hungry while shopping, you can also earn five miles per dollar spent at participating restaurants in SkyMiles Dining. There’s a 2,500 mile bonus for your first dine.
Earning Delta Miles with Credit Cards
A number of credit cards have ways to earn Delta miles, with constantly changing offers. Here are a few.
- Delta has its own co-branded credit card with American Express. The current offer for the Delta Gold Card is 30,000 miles with a $95 annual fee.
- Delta is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest. You receive 1 mile for each Starwood Preferred Guest point. If you transfer
- Delta is also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, which you can get through numerous American Express credit cards.
One Delta earnings “opportunity” that I hate is the Mileage Booster that it offers you while buying a ticket. Pay an exorbitant amount and get a few extra miles on your flight. Sorry, this one isn’t worth the cash.
Next up: Redeeming miles with Delta and its partners
Michael from FrequentFlyerMiles101.com now writes for The Miles Professor. His own site is a site for novice or intermediate mileage junkies that tends to focus on current mileage deals and sorting through the hotel and airline programs in plain English.