Delta SkyMiles is not my preferred mileage currency, but one of the things I love about SkyMiles is that they have a higher “floor” value for miles than American and United.
This means you may be able to “cash out” SkyMiles for the cost of a ticket at a cheaper rate than AAdvantage and MileagePlus.
All of this is thanks to Delta’s “Pay with Miles” feature, with which you can redeem miles for the cost of a Delta purchase at the cost of one cent each. In this post I wanted to see how that works.
Delta Amex cards with special bonuses
We’ll talk more about Delta Pay With Miles below. The basic idea, however, is that if you have a co-branded Delta Amex card, you can redeem your SkyMiles for a dime for a Delta ticket. This is useful in connection with the currently increased bonuses on Delta Amex cards, which are valid for applications through April 28, 2021.
These offers include the following:
- The Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card offers a bonus of 70,000 SkyMiles after spending $ 2,000 in the first three months
- The Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card offers a bonus of 70,000 SkyMiles Plus one $ 50 bank statement balance after spending $ 2,000 in the first three months
- The Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express card offers a bonus of 90,000 SkyMiles after spending $ 3,000 in the first three months
- The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card offers a bonus of 90,000 SkyMiles Plus one $ 100 bank statement balance after spending $ 3,000 in the first three months
- The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card offers a bonus of 80,000 SkyMiles plus 20,000 medallion qualification miles after spending $ 5,000 in the first three months
- The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card offers a bonus of 80,000 SkyMiles plus 20,000 medallion qualification miles Plus one $ 200 statement balance after spending $ 5,000 in the first three months
As you can see, these bonuses offer 70,000 to 90,000 SkyMiles, enough to travel with Delta worth at least $ 700 to $ 900. And that doesn’t even include the bank statement balances or elite miles on some cards.
How much are Delta Miles worth?
Personally, I value Delta SkyMiles at just over a cent each. I’m conservative about how miles are valued simply because you’re sticking to a currency that can be easily devalued (and in the case of SkyMiles, in fact, it is devalued a lot, especially with international affiliate awards).
I always hope there are good deals on redeeming in international business class, either traveling with Delta or traveling with a partner airline. However, this is not always possible these days.
777 Business Class from China Airlines
For many people, it’s much more practical to redeem for domestic travel only anyway. This is one of the areas where Delta SkyMiles can be a great program. I know a lot of people get frustrated by miles, so I don’t think it’s worth earning miles with some airlines, be it flying or credit cards.
Delta Pay With Miles
The good news is that unlike some other point currencies, SkyMiles has a legitimate minimum value as SkyMiles can be redeemed as cash for the cost of a ticket.
If you have a Delta co-branded credit card, this is what you can do Redeem SkyMiles for one penny for the cost of a ticket in increments of 5,000 miles.
In other words, if a ticket is $ 200, you can choose to:
- Pay $ 150 plus 5,000 miles
- Pay $ 100 plus 10,000 miles
- Pay $ 50 plus 15,000 miles
- Pay 20,000 miles
Best of all, these are still considered “paid” tickets for all practical purposes. Let’s look at some details about how this program works.
Who is Eligible for Delta Pay With Miles?
The Pay With Miles benefit is only available to those with Delta co-branded credit cards. This includes all seven co-branded cards, including the blue, gold, platinum, and reserve business and personal cards (the blue only has a personal version).
If you have Elite status in and of yourself with Delta, you will not have access to this program.
You should use Pay With Miles on a Delta One ticket
Do you earn MQMs / MQSs on Delta Pay With Miles Tickets?
Yes, you can earn Delta Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQS) for tickets booked through Pay With Miles.
This is one of the reasons the program is particularly popular with elite members. The tickets that you redeem your miles for can still help you qualify for elite status.
Do you earn MQDs on Delta Pay With Miles Tickets?
Delta Pay With Miles tickets can earn Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs), but only for the portion of the ticket that you are paying for in cash and not the portion of the ticket that will be used in miles.
Do you earn redeemable miles for Delta Pay With Miles tickets?
Delta Pay With Miles tickets can be earned for redeemable miles. However, you will only earn these miles based on the part of the ticket for which you paid cash.
As a reminder, SkyMiles members earn the following number of redeemable miles:
- Non-elite members earn 5x miles
- Silver medallion members earn 7x miles
- Gold medallion members earn 8 miles
- Platinum medallion members earn 9x miles
- Diamond Medallion members earn 11x miles
Can you upgrade Delta Pay With Miles Tickets?
Delta Pay With Miles tickets are no different from any other cash upgrade ticket. If you are a Medallion member who would otherwise be eligible for free upgrades, you are also eligible for a Pay With Miles ticket.
The exception is if you are using Pay With Miles to offset the cost of a basic economy ticket as these tickets cannot be upgraded.
Delta Pay With Miles tickets can be updated in the same way as paid tickets
Is there a limit to the number of tickets that you can purchase with Miles Tickets?
No, as long as you have enough SkyMiles, you can use the option for as many tickets as you want.
How do I book a Delta Pay With Miles ticket?
The process is really simple. First, you will need to log into your eligible SkyMiles account on delta.com (this applies to the account linked to your credit card).
Then just search for flights as usual. “Pay with Miles Eligible” will be displayed under the eligible itineraries.
Once you have selected the flight and fare you want, switch to the trip overview page. If you scroll down you can choose how many miles to redeem to offset the cost of the ticket.
Once you’ve selected the miles you want to redeem, you’ll even see how many redeemable miles, MQMs and MQDs you will earn.
For example, if you want to redeem 50,000 miles for the above first class ticket, you pay just $ 26.20. Then you would collect MQMs for the ticket as usual, but not earn MQDs or redeemable miles, as the entire ticket costs (minus part of the taxes and fees) are covered by miles.
Is Delta Pay With Miles Good Business?
People have very different attitudes towards this program. I know some Delta Loyalists who always redeem their miles this way, while personally I wouldn’t redeem my miles that way.
Why Some People Love Delta Pay With Miles
In many cases, it appears to be Delta’s most loyal customers who like Pay With Miles.
One of the big challenges that many frequent flyers face is that they earn tons of miles but don’t really want to spend them as they are on the hamster wheel with elite status and want to earn elite miles for their trip (as well as being able to Deltas credit cards also help you achieve elite status, this program is a great solution for these people.
Likewise, this is a useful program for casual flyers who don’t want to deal with the complexities of frequent flyer programs.
There is something to be said that there is a minimum value for miles because I can see a lot of people redeeming American and United miles for well under a cent worth per point.
Why I don’t think Delta Pay With Miles is good business
Personally, I like to try to redeem miles for international first and business class tickets where I can get oversized value.
If you get a full penny per SkyMile when you redeem with Pay With Miles, I’d say that’s pretty solid value, but that doesn’t take into account the miles you forego with Pay With Miles. For example, let’s say you redeem 10,000 miles to save $ 100 on a ticket. If you fail to pay that $ 100 in cash, you will forego:
In other words, you’re sacrificing 1,000-1,600 points by not spending that $ 100 on flights.
Ultimately, you have to subtract this from what you otherwise get, and as a result, I would say that with this method you get closer to 0.8-0.9 cents worth per mile.
That being said, partner withdrawals are nowhere near as good as they used to be. There are definitely still ways to get more than a penny per mile value, but SkyMiles takes some effort.
Many people choose not to earn SkyMiles because they think affiliate redemptions are hard to come by and expensive. While this is largely true, there is something to be said that there is a minimum value for SkyMiles.
In the context of these Delta Credit Card Welcome Bonuses, it means that with these offers (and potentially many more) you can get trips with Delta worth anywhere from $ 700 to $ 900.
For those with SkyMiles, do you use your miles for Pay With Miles or do you prefer to use them?