Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest information.
One of the most popular frequent flyer programs is Delta SkyMiles, the loyalty program of Delta Air Lines. TPG currently values SkyMiles at 1.2 cents apiece, and you can redeem them for flights, upgrades, hotels and more.
After you earn enough SkyMiles, there are many ways to redeem them for your dream vacation. And, you’ll typically get the most value from your miles if you snag one of Delta’s frequent flash sales, which offer discounted award flights domestically and abroad.
Whether flying or using a Delta cobranded credit card, earning SkyMiles is easy. Plus, the program also lets you earn elite status on award tickets. Keep reading to find out more about the Delta SkyMiles program.
What is the Delta SkyMiles program?
Delta SkyMiles is the loyalty program of Delta Air Lines. Joining the program is free, and your miles never expire.
You can earn Delta SkyMiles through a variety of methods. Some popular ones include flying, spending on Delta’s credit cards, transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards, shopping through the Delta SkyMiles shopping portal, dining out through the SkyMiles Dining program and partaking in various other promotions offered by the airline.
Delta SkyMiles program partners
Delta is a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance, which includes over a dozen airlines worldwide. You can earn and redeem miles when you travel with a SkyTeam airline. SkyTeam serves 1,000 destinations and touches virtually every part of the globe, with flights landing on six continents.
The members are:
- Aerolinas Argentinas
- Aeromexico (the partnership with Delta will reportedly end in October 2024)
- Air Europa
- Air France
- China Airlines
- China Eastern Airlines
- Czech Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Garuda Indonesia
- ITA Airways
- Kenya Airways
- Korean Air
- Middle East Airlines
- Vietnam Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Delta has several other partnerships beyond SkyTeam members, giving you numerous options for earning miles even when you aren’t flying on Delta or a SkyTeam airline.
Non-alliance partners include:
- Cape Air
- China Southern Airlines
Just note that each partnership has specific restrictions and requirements.
Delta SkyMiles elite status
The program offers four elite status tiers for frequent Delta flyers: Silver Medallion, Gold Medallion, Platinum Medallion and Diamond Medallion.
Earning Delta Medallion status
As of Jan. 1, 2024, Delta only uses Medallion Qualification Dollars as criteria for qualification — and the requirement thresholds are increasing significantly for 2025 requirements. Remember, status is earned based on activity during the previous calendar year.
|MQDs for 2023 status
|MQDs for 2024 status
|MQDs for 2025 status
According to Delta’s website, “Beginning February 2024, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum, Platinum Business, Reserve and Reserve Business American Express Card members will receive an MQD Headstart of $2,500 MQDs per card type for the current Medallion Qualification Year.”
Additionally, Delta introduced an “MQD Boost” benefit, which allows cardmembers to earn additional MQDs when spending a certain amount on their Delta cards. Unfortunately, you’ll no longer have access to the MQD waiver on your Delta credit card, enacted on Jan. 1.
You can earn MQDs in the following ways:
- Delta and partner flights: Earn 1 MQD per dollar spent on a Delta-marketed flight operated by Delta or by a partner airline.
- Credit cards: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card members earn 1 MQD for every $10 spent. Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card members earn 1 MQD for every $20 spent. (Terms apply.)
- Delta Vacations: Earn 1 MQD per dollar spent on the entire vacation experience (in addition to what you earn for your flight) when booking directly with Delta Vacations. You will earn MQDs on parts of the package, including stays, cars, rides and activities.
Here are some key benefits of each of Delta’s status tiers.
SkyMiles Silver Medallion
The entry tier in Delta’s program is Silver Medallion status. As a Silver Medallion, you’ll receive:
- Complimentary first-class upgrades on domestic and short-haul international flights from 24 hours before departure
- Upgrades to Comfort+ within 24 hours of departure
- Priority boarding and check-in
- One complimentary checked bag
- 7 miles per dollar spent
SkyMiles Gold Medallion
Next up is Gold Medallion. Here’s what you’ll get as a Gold elite:
- Complimentary first-class upgrades on domestic and short-haul international flights from three days before departure
- Upgrades to Comfort+ within three days of departure
- Waived same-day confirmed changes
- Two complimentary checked bags (within the U.S. and Canada)
- 8 miles per dollar spent
SkyMiles Platinum Medallion
The third tier in the SkyMiles program is Platinum Medallion status. In addition to the previously mentioned Silver Medallion and Gold Medallion perks, you’ll get the following:
- Complimentary first-class upgrades on domestic flights and short-haul international flights from five days before departure
- Upgrades to Comfort+ at the time of booking
- Three complimentary checked bags (within the U.S. and Canada)
- Your pick of a Choice Benefit
- 9 miles per dollar spent
SkyMiles Diamond Medallion
Finally, the highest public elite tier in the SkyMiles program is Diamond Medallion. You’ll get everything detailed above, plus some even better perks:
- Additional Choice Benefit options
- Complimentary Clear Plus membership
- Higher upgrade priority
- 11 miles per dollar spent
Note that Delta does have an invitation-only tier of status: Delta 360. However, there are no published qualification criteria to earn it.
How to earn SkyMiles
There are several ways to earn Delta SkyMiles. The easiest ways are flying Delta-operated flights, traveling with a SkyTeam partner and opening a Delta cobranded credit card. You can also earn miles through everyday activities like shopping and dining.
Earn SkyMiles by flying
When you fly Delta on a Delta-issued ticket, you earn SkyMiles based on the base price of your ticket. Since Delta miles never expire, there’s no reason to avoid becoming a member.
Those with Delta Medallion elite status earn more miles on paid tickets.
- General member: 5 miles
- Silver Medallion: 7 miles
- Gold Medallion: 8 miles
- Platinum Medallion: 9 miles
- Diamond Medallion: 11 miles
In practice, this means that if you buy a one-way flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for $253 before taxes on delta.com, you will earn 1,265 SkyMiles as a general member. However, you’ll earn 2,783 miles if you’re a Diamond Medallion.
Earn SkyMiles through credit cards
There’s a Delta credit card for everyone — the loyalist, the business traveler and even the infrequent flyer. All of them — except the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card — offer the following perks:
- First checked bag free and priority boarding on Delta flights
- 20% discount on inflight purchases
- 15% off award redemptions for Delta flights
However, each one offers some additional perks for travelers.
Here’s a look at some of the best Delta SkyMiles credit cards from American Express. (Terms apply.)
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
|$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $150 (see rates and fees)
|Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months of account opening.
|A $200 Delta flight credit after you spend $10,000 in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year; a new $100 Delta Stays credit
|Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
|$350 (see rates and fees)
|Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months of account opening.
|An annual companion certificate each renewal for main cabin, round-trip travel; a statement credit to cover the membership fee for Global Entry (up to $100, every four years) or TSA PreCheck (up to $85, every 4.5 years); a new up to $120 Resy credit and up to a $120 ride-hailing credit; a new $150 Delta Stays credit; Hertz Five Star status; 2,500 bonus MQDs; 1 MQD for every $20 spent
|Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
|$650 (see rates and fees)
|Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months of account opening.
|Receive 15 visits per year to the Delta Sky Club (effective Feb. 1, 2025). To earn unlimited visits each year, starting Feb. 1, 2025, the total eligible purchases on the card must equal $75,000 or more between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2024, and each calendar year thereafter.
Access to the American Express Centurion Lounge when you book your Delta flight with the card; an annual companion certificate each year upon card renewal for round-trip travel in first class, Comfort+, Premium Select or the main cabin; complimentary upgrades for non-Medallions; a new up to $240 Resy credit and up to a $120 ride-hailing credit; a new $200 Delta Stays credit; Hertz President’s Circle status; 2,500 bonus MQDs; 1 MQD for every $10 spent
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card
|$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $150 (see rates and fees)
Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership.
|Earn double miles on shopping and advertising (up to $50,000 per year); a $200 Delta flight credit after you spend $10,000 in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year; a new $150 Delta Stays credit
|Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
|$350 (see rates and fees)
|Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $8,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.
|Earn 1.5 more miles (up to $100,000 on eligible purchases) on transit (including ride-hailing services and taxis) at U.S. shipping providers and on single purchases of $5,000 or more; an annual companion certificate each renewal year for Main Cabin, round-trip travel; a statement credit to cover the membership fee for Global Entry (up to $100, every four years) or TSA PreCheck (up to $85, every 4.5 years); a new up to $120 Resy credit and up to a $120 ride-hailing credit; a new $200 Delta Stays credit; 2,500 bonus MQDs each qualification year; 1 MQD for every $20 spent.
|Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
|$650 (see rates and fees)
Earn 110,000 bonus miles after spending $12,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.
|Receive 15 visits per year to the Delta Sky Club (effective Feb. 1, 2025). To earn unlimited visits each year starting Feb. 1, 2025, the total eligible purchases on the card must equal $75,000 or more between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2024, and each calendar year thereafter.
Earn 1.5 more miles on eligible transit, shipping and office supplies, plus all eligible purchases after you spend $150,000 per year on the card; access to the American Express Centurion Lounge when you book your Delta flight with the card; an annual companion certificate each year upon card renewal for round-trip travel in first class, Delta Comfort+ or Main Cabin; complimentary upgrades for non-Medallions; a new up to $240 Resy credit and up to a $120 ride-hailing credit; a new $250 Delta Stays credit; Hertz President’s Circle status; 2,500 bonus MQDs; 1 MQD for every $10 spent.
Earn SkyMiles through partners
Another way to earn miles is by flying Delta’s partner airlines, but how you earn those miles depends entirely on how you booked the ticket. For example, when you book partner airline tickets — like KLM — on d, you’ll earn miles the same way as a regular Delta flight, even if another airline operates the flight.
Meanwhile, if you book a partner flight on the carrier’s website (for example, Air France) and add your Delta SkyMiles number, you’ll earn miles based on a percentage of the distance flown. However, the exact amount of SkyMiles you’ll receive varies based on the partner, booking class and whether you have elite status. Additionally, Delta slashed partner earning rates when it announced elite status changes in Sept. 2023.
Earn SkyMiles through shopping portals
One of the easiest ways to earn Delta miles is through its online shopping portal. You can earn miles for purchases you ordinarily make with thousands of merchants online.
If you don’t already have an account, you must register using your SkyMiles number so the bonus miles will be credited to your frequent flyer account. Then, you can use the search box to find your favorite stores or a product. You can also compare prices and mileage rates. Remember to look for stores offering bonus miles (more on that later), featured deals and special bonus offers.
After selecting your merchant, click on the store, product or offer, and you’ll be taken to the store’s website to shop and check out. The store will alert the portal when you’ve made a purchase, and the miles you earned will be added to your SkyMiles account. You’ll receive an email to confirm when your miles have been posted, typically within three to five days. However, depending on the store, the miles can take up to 15 days to post to SkyMiles Shopping.
Almost every major airline has a shopping portal, so use a shopping portal aggregator to ensure you get the best deal when you shop online.
Transfer Amex points to Delta
Finally, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points directly to Delta at a 1:1 ratio. We don’t usually recommend this because we value Membership Rewards points higher than SkyMiles. Currently, we value SkyMiles at 1.2 cents apiece — 0.8 cents per point lower than Amex’s valuation. It’s often difficult to get a higher value from Delta, thanks to dynamic pricing. You’ll also have to pay an excise tax offset fee when transferring Amex points to Delta (and other domestic frequent flyer programs).
How to redeem SkyMiles
Delta removed published award charts in 2015, becoming the first major U.S. airline to shift to dynamic pricing for award tickets. As a result, you will need to search on d (or in the Fly Delta app) to determine how many SkyMiles you need for an award ticket. Delta’s site is pretty easy to navigate, and you can see how many miles you need for a redemption through a handy calendar feature.
Generally, we’ve found the best redemptions on domestic flights. Paired with a Delta cobranded credit card (which offers a 15% discount on Delta-operated award tickets), you can sometimes book short-haul flights for under 4,000 SkyMiles one-way. That said, prices will vary by day, route and cabin class.
Note that Delta award tickets are fully refundable (excluding basic economy fares), so if your plans change, you can redeposit the miles (and get a refund of the taxes and fees). This also allows you to rebook an award ticket when the mileage price drops, securing a partial refund of the difference in miles.
Additionally, you can use your miles to book partner tickets on most of Delta’s SkyTeam and non-alliance partners. Unfortunately, these have now largely been aligned with prices on Delta’s own flights, minimizing the opportunity to get maximum value from your SkyMiles, especially in premium cabins.
With Delta using full dynamic pricing across its route network, there aren’t many sweet spots to maximize the value of your SkyMiles. Nevertheless, there are a few good options out there.
Delta flash sales
Delta frequently runs SkyMiles flash sales to short- and long-haul U.S. destinations and cities in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. We’ve seen some terrific deals for Main Cabin, Comfort+ and first class. Past deals include round-trip flights to Europe for just 33,000 miles and round-trip flights for New Yorkers for as little as 5,000 SkyMiles.
Of course, these cheap tickets aren’t always published. Delta often prices short- and mid-haul award tickets for well under what other airlines would charge for similar flights. You’ll often find the best deals when booking in advance and traveling on off-peak dates.
Delta and LATAM economy flights to South America
Regardless of the class of service, cash flights to South America are rarely cheap, especially to Brazil. Delta SkyMiles members can book LATAM award tickets at reasonable prices, and it’s one of the better ways to use miles.
When you search for flights to South America, you might find reasonable award rates. For example, 66,000 SkyMiles can generally get you a round-trip itinerary from JFK to Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU), and many of these flights are nonstop.
With its operational performance, numerous flight options and many ways to qualify for status, some say Delta is the best domestic airline. In fact, the carrier has taken the top spot in TPG’s own analysis of the best airlines in the U.S. for the last five years. Despite its lack of award charts and unannounced program devaluations, there’s still plenty to like about the Delta SkyMiles program.
However, this may not be the case for some travelers over the next year or two, as massive changes now impact how you earn Medallion status and how you access the Delta Sky Club.
Nevertheless, if you’re a frequent Delta flyer (or even a more casual customer), a mix of flying, shopping portals and credit cards can increase your SkyMiles balance for your next redemption.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Card, click here.