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Airline Loyalty Rewards

Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Loyalty Program Review

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Branded and Partnered Credit Cards

There are several credit cards that can help you quickly collect Delta SkyMiles that can be redeemed for some amazing flights.

Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards

American Express provides co-branded Delta credit cards that earn SkyMiles directly.

American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards

Amex points can be transferred directly to Delta Air Lines at a ratio of 1:1. Earning Membership Rewards is probably the best way to earn lots of SkyMiles.

Recommended Personal Cards

Recommended Business Cards

Marriott Credit Cards

You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to Delta at a transfer rate of 3:1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 Delta SkyMiles bonus.

Recommended Marriott Cards

Hotel Partner Credit Cards

Several hotel programs will let you transfer points to Delta. However, this is almost always a poor use of hotel points. Unless you are really in a bind, save your hotel points for hotel award stays at your destination.

Loyalty ProgramCredit Card Review
Hilton Honors Loyalty ProgramHilton Honors™ Card from American Express
Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express
Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty ProgramMarriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Card
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
World of Hyatt Loyalty ProgramWorld of Hyatt Credit Card

Delta Air Lines Overview

Delta’s mileage program is named SkyMiles. When it comes to earning SkyMiles, the program has shifted from a mileage-based to a revenue-based program. This means miles are now earned based on the amount spent on tickets rather than the distance traveled.

Big spenders and short distance flyers will likely see an increase in their mileage earning. But leisure and long-distance flyers may see their earnings drop, often dramatically.

Elite status is still earned by traditional miles and segments flown, but spending requirements have been added to the flying requirements.

Joining SkyMiles

Joining is free and you can sign up online.

Image Credit: Delta

You’ll immediately become a General Member and begin earning miles on Delta flights and partner activity.

How to Sign in to Your SkyMiles Account

Log in on the homepage.

Image Credit: Delta

Viewing Your Account Activity

The Delta website has 2 useful pages to manage your account:

  • My SkyMiles shows all your account activity.
  • My Wallet shows your SkyMiles and Sky Club membership cards, and any certificates you may have such as elite upgrade certificates. You can also print trip receipts.

Points Expiration

Delta SkyMiles is the only U.S. airline loyalty program with no mileage expiration. With Delta, infrequent travelers need not worry about finding ways to avoid expiration.

Delta Mileage Program

SkyMiles Elite Status

Delta SkyMiles offers members 4 membership tiers:

  • Silver Medallion
  • Gold Medallion
  • Platinum Medallion
  • Diamond Medallion

Elite status requirements:

  • Silver Medallion – 25,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) or 30 Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) and $3,000 in Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs)
  • Gold Medallion – 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs and $6,000 MQDs
  • Platinum Medallion – 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs and $9,000 MQDs
  • Diamond Medallion – 125,000 MQMs or 140 segments and $15,000 MQDs

MQD requirements are waived if spending $25,000 per year on a Delta-branded American Express card.

You can also earn MQMs with credit card spending.

SkyMiles Elite Benefits

Image Credit: Delta

SkyMiles Silver Medallion:

  • Complimentary upgrades on paid flights (not award flights), up to 24 hours before departure if available
  • 1 free checked bag up to 70 pounds for Silver member and up to 8 traveling companions on the same reservation
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Virgin Atlantic flights: priority check-in, priority boardings, and 1 additional checked bag (in addition to standard Virgin Atlantic allowance)

SkyMiles Gold Medallion:

  • All Silver benefits, plus:
  • Complimentary upgrades available up to 72 hours before departure
  • Complimentary upgrades on award tickets
  • 2 free checked bags up to 70 pounds each
  • Free same-day changes and same-day standby
  • Award booking fee waived
  • SkyPriority check-in, security, and boarding on Delta and partners
  • SkyTeam ElitePlus status includes partner lounge access on international itineraries, even in economy
  • Hertz 5-Star status (register here)
  • Virgin Atlantic flights: premium economy check-in, Fast Track security, premium economy baggage handling

SkyMiles Platinum Medallion:

  • All Gold benefits, plus:
  • Complimentary upgrades available up to 5 days before departure
  • 3 free checked bags up to 70 pounds each
  • 1 annual Choice Benefit. Choose between:
    • 4 Regional Upgrade Certificates (RUC)*
    • 20,000 bonus SkyMiles
    • Ability to gift Silver status
    • $200 gift card
  • Hertz President’s Circle Status (register here)
  • Virgin Atlantic flights: Upper Class check-in, Upper Class security, Upper Class priority baggage handling, and lounges: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse or No.1 Lounges Heathrow Terminal 3, and the Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge (arrivals)

*Regional Upgrade Certificates can be used to jump to the top of the upgrade list on competitive flights such as New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco. They can be used for U.S. domestic flights and selected short-distance international flights.

SkyMiles Diamond Medallion:

  • All Platinum benefits, plus:
  • Free membership to CLEAR so you can breeze through security
  • 3 additional Choice Benefits from a better slate of options than Platinum:
    • 4 Global Upgrade Certificates (GUC)*
    • 25,000 bonus miles
    • Delta Sky Club membership (individual and executive)
    • Ability to gift Gold status, and more

*Global Upgrade Certificates can be used on any paid (non-award) Delta flight except Basic Economy, and limited partner flights.

Value of Delta SkyMiles Status

Delta SkyMiles status is competitive with American Airlines and United.

Silver Medallion has minimal benefits. Much of what is offered is similar to benefits extended to Delta credit cardholders.

Gold Medallion stands out for same-day change and same-day standby fee waivers, which are not a benefit of American and United at their comparative status levels. Gold Medallion members get SkyTeam ElitePlus status, and will receive a high level of treatment when flying partner airlines.

Regional Upgrade Certificates are a popular Choice Benefit for Platinum Medallions that frequently fly domestic DeltaOne routes such as New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Without certificates, complimentary upgrades are not available on these routes branded as DeltaOne.

Diamond Medallion members receive a high level of service. When there are delays or cancellations, Diamonds are among the fastest to be re-accommodated on the best alternate flights. The Diamond Medallion hotline is staffed by experts who are quick to help.

Global Upgrade Certificates are a highlight of Choice Benefits for Diamond members. These can be used to upgrade to business on paid economy tickets, even on the longest international routes. Availability to use the certificates is generally good, especially when compared to United and American’s certificates (which are very difficult to use on international flights).

With continuing cuts to American Airlines Executive Platinum, many road warriors now rank Delta’s Diamond Medallion as the top airline elite status in the U.S.

How to Earn Delta Miles

From flying to using credit cards for your daily expenses, you’ll have tons of opportunities to earn SkyMiles.

Earn SkyMiles Through Flying

Delta SkyMiles members now earn miles by the dollar amount spent on their ticket (up to 75,000 miles maximum per ticket).

Earning base miles varies by status:

  • General – 5 miles per dollar
  • Silver Medallion – 7 miles per dollar
  • Gold Medallion – 8 miles per dollar
  • Platinum Medallion – 9 miles per dollar
  • Diamond Medallion – 11 miles per dollar

SkyMiles can be earned on any Delta flight, as well as flights with many SkyTeam partner airlines and other partners.

Certain airline partner flights still earn based on distance instead of price. You can consult the SkyMiles airline partner page to figure this out, but you will need the airline booking fare code of your ticket (which is not provided by all airlines and websites). You might need to call the airline directly to find out the booking fare code.

List of SkyTeam Alliance Airline Partners

Aeroflot (temporarily suspended)ITA Airways
Aerolineas ArgentinasKenya Airways
Air EuropaKorean Air
Air FranceMiddle East Airlines
Delta Air LinesSaudia Airlines
China AirlinesTarom
China EasternVietnam Airlines
Czech AirlinesVirgin Atlantic
Garuda IndonesiaXiamen Airlines

List of Non-Alliance Delta Partners

Delta Other Partners
China SouthernVirgin Australia
Virgin Atlantic

Earning SkyMiles With Credit Cards

With several co-branded Delta credit cards, it’s easy to earn SkyMiles directly. Most purchases will earn 1X points per dollar, but purchases with Delta will earn 2X points.

Delta is also an American Express transfer partner and a Marriott transfer partner. Cards that earn Membership Rewards often have multiple bonus categories to help you earn points faster while Marriott Bonvoy points provide a transfer bonus of 5,000 SkyMiles when you transfer a block of 60,000 points.

How to Redeem Delta Miles

When it comes to redeeming miles, Delta wants customers to pay whatever price the Delta website quotes. They even went so far as to remove their award chart so that customers have no firm reference to what an award “should” cost.

As a general rule, though, Delta sticks pretty close to their old award chart, which is included here for reference.

Note that some award prices have increased or decreased since this chart was last published. Delta typically does not announce changes in advance, sometimes only announcing that certain prices are immediately in effect for any travel from a specific date. Delta also regularly runs award sales of as little as 5,000 miles per flight for domestic flights.

Delta award chart from 2015. Image Credit:

Booking Online

The Delta website has many award ticket booking and pricing errors. Not all partners are shown online, and sometimes the site shows “phantom availability” for partner airlines (awards that are not really available for booking).

Do careful research on awards and always search segment by segment. For partner awards, you can compare to results shown on the Air France website since they have many partners in common.

Many Delta awards require a phone call to book. Ask for a telephone booking fee waiver if it is not possible to book your trip online.

As of 2021, award tickets for travel in the U.S. can also be canceled or changed at any time prior to departure.

Bottom Line: With Delta not publishing award prices and many website pricing errors, do careful research to know what an award “should” cost before you book. 

See our article on How to Redeem Delta SkyMiles for details on the many award options to maximize your SkyMiles value.

The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 
The information regarding The World of Hyatt Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Brian Graham

Brian’s first ever airplane ride was in a private turbo-prop jet. He was merely an intern boy trying to make a good impression, but it turns out the plane made an impression on him.

It wasn’t until Brian relocated to Dallas, TX, and moved in with an American Airlines employee that he truly discovered how incredible travel could be.


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Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.


Ann Eagleton

June 14, 2018

Hi, I live near Manchester (UK) and have over 100,000 sky miles.
I wish to use these miles for flights from uk but never have enough for a flight to US. Are there any deals to use these miles within Europe?

I would appreciate any suggestions as to how these miles could be used.
Thank you.
Ann Eagleton

Michael McHugh

June 15, 2018

Hi Ann

With SkyMiles, you can fly on any SkyTeam or Delta codeshare partner. I checked a few routes and found the following flights from Manchester that you can book with SkyMiles on the Delta website:
– Manchester to Paris on Air France = 15k one-way economy
– Manchester to Amsterdam on KLM = 15k one-way economy
– Manchester to Mumbai on Jet Airways = 35k one-way economy
– Manchester to Atlanta on Virgin Atlantic = 30k one-way economy
– Manchester to Jeddah on Saudia = 25k one-way economy

Dr. Nadeem

April 08, 2019

Hello, I am planning to visit Detroit with my wife for a business meeting. I was wondering whether the SkyMiles can be transferred to my wife when I am booking her ticket the next time when I come over. Considering I am booking for both of us from my account and I already have a sufficient balance.

Christine Krzyszton

April 08, 2019

Hello Dr. Nadeem. While it is possible to transfer SkyMiles between accounts, there is a charge for doing so. Delta charges 1 cent per mile plus a $30 transaction fee. I am not sure why you want to transfer the SkyMiles to your wife’s account. If you can elaborate further, I would be happy to try and help.

Dr. Nadeem

April 09, 2019

Thank you for your reply Christine. My work pays for a lot of my business trips and I have a lot of accumulated miles, so I want to know if I can use those to book her ticket from my account and if the miles earned from that flight will be added to my account to be used later? Sorry about my lack of knowledge. This is the first time I would be redeeming the miles earned and am confused on how to go about it. Kindly guide me regarding this.

Christine Krzyszton

April 09, 2019

Thanks for clarifying, Dr. Nadeem. I will try to assist. You can book your wife’s ticket using the SkyMiles from your account, no problem. You can log in to your online SkyMiles account to book the ticket or call Delta. Neither she (nor you) will earn miles on those award flights because they are purchased with miles. Also, she should have her own SkyMiles account so when you purchase a ticket (paid ticket not award ticket), she can earn miles. You will not earn miles when she flies on a paid ticket as only the person who flies earns the miles. That is the reason to open a SkyMiles account for her. Also, she will need to have a SkyMiles account so that if you are both on the same reservation, she will be eligible for upgrades too, providing you have elite status.

Terry Parsley

July 23, 2019

What happens to my miles when I die. Can my wife use them?

Stephen Au

July 23, 2019

Hi Terry,

The official policy is that Delta miles will be forfeited upon death. Thanks for reading.

Tony Kawanari

July 30, 2019

I would like to send the letter to Delta SkyMiles.
Is this address correct? It’s Dept.654, P.O.Box20532, Atlanta GA 30320.

Christine Krzyszton

July 30, 2019

Hi Tony. That address should work, as well as this one. Delta Air Lines, Inc. Customer Care at P.O. Box 20980, Department 980, Atlanta, GA 30320-2980. You can also send a message regarding SkyMiles online: Online comments/complaints are answered if you check the box requesting an answer.

Kendall Adkin

August 27, 2019

I have flown multiple times on Delta this year, am I able to have those miles added to my delta sky miles account I just opened?

Jarrod West

August 27, 2019

Hi Kendall,

Yes, you can retroactively have those miles credited as long as the flights were within the last 9 months. To do so, simply log into your SkyMiles account, click “View My SkyMiles”, and then click “Request Mileage Credit”. Then enter your ticket number and submit your request for mileage credit!

Thanks for reading!

Kendall Adkin

August 27, 2019

How do I retrieve my old ticket numbers?

Jarrod West

August 27, 2019

Hi Kendall,

The easiest way would be to check your flight confirmation emails in your email inbox. If you no longer have access to those, you can fill out this Delta form:


February 17, 2020

I am traveling to the Philippines and using the Amex gold SkyMiles card, do I get a 3rd bag free?

Jarrod West

February 18, 2020

Hi Apolinario,

Yes – with your Gold Delta SkyMiles card you can check a 3rd bag for free.

Thanks for reading!

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