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How to Use Delta SkyMiles to Book Flights or Travel

11 minute read 25 June 2024
Delta plane in the air above mountains
Written by: Jimmy Yoon

Unlocking the full potential of the Delta SkyMiles frequent flyer program requires strategic planning and savvy booking techniques. But don’t worry — we’ve got you covered!

In this guide, we’ll talk about the best ways to book Delta Air Lines flights using points, whether that’s with SkyMiles or via partner airlines. We’ll also reveal tips for finding Delta award flights to popular destinations and how to use Delta SkyMiles for partner flights. Read on to discover the best ways to use Delta SkyMiles for travel.

About the Delta SkyMiles program

Delta SkyMiles is a loyalty program offered by Delta Air Lines, designed to reward frequent travelers with benefits and perks. Members earn SkyMiles by flying with Delta, as well as by making purchases with co-branded credit cards and through participating partners.

SkyMiles can be redeemed for flights, upgrades, and other travel-related expenses, offering flexibility and value to program participants. Members can also achieve elite status within the SkyMiles program by meeting certain flight and spending thresholds, unlocking even more benefits, like priority boarding, complimentary upgrades, and access to airport lounges.

Best way to book Delta flights with points

Through Delta and the SkyMiles program

Booking a Delta flight using your Delta SkyMiles is a simple process that begins with navigating to Delta’s website. You’ll need to put in your trip information and check the “Shop with Miles” box.

Once you’ve hit the “Search” button, you’ll be presented with a list of available flights and their cost, including options for all fare cabins.

From there, you’ll be able to select a flight that suits your needs and proceed through the checkout process.

Through a SkyTeam partner loyalty program

Redeeming Delta SkyMiles for Delta award flights can be really expensive. If you’re looking to fly Delta One business class, for example, you could be charged more than 200,000 miles for a flight.

Partners such as the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club will charge you far less for this same flight:

However, Delta has multiple partners, so be aware that transfer bonuses can sometimes drop the cost significantly. This is where point.me’s award-seat search engine comes in.

As you can see, booking this flight with Flying Blue would normally cost more than booking with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. But thanks to a transfer bonus — which point.me tracks — you’d actually end up saving thousands of miles on your flight by redeeming Flying Blue miles instead of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points.

When there isn’t a transfer bonus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is going to be your best bet.

Earning Delta SkyMiles

If you need to increase the number of Delta SkyMiles in your account, there are multiple ways to do so.

Flights

When you fly with Delta or its partners, you’ll earn Delta SkyMiles. While the amount depends on how you book your flight, your elite status with Delta, and who you’re flying with, you can always expect to accrue miles, no matter where you’re going.

Credit cards

Delta has several co-branded credit cards, all of which earn Delta SkyMiles on purchases and a bonus on miles earned on Delta purchases:

  • Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

Each of these cards offers different benefits and charges a different annual fee, so you’ll want to carefully consider the card that suits your needs before applying.

Transfer partners

Delta has one transfer partner: American Express Membership Rewards. American Express Membership Rewards transfer to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio, which means one Amex point becomes one Delta SkyMile.

There are plenty of Amex cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards, including:

  • The Platinum American Express Card
  • American Express Gold Card
  • American Express Green Card

Shopping

If you’re into online shopping, using the Delta SkyMiles shopping portal is another way to earn miles. You’ll simply need to log into your account and click through a participating merchant. Once your purchase is confirmed, your rewards will be deposited directly into your SkyMiles account

Dining

SkyMiles dining is another way to accrue miles. You’ll need to sign up for an account and link your credit card. Then, whenever you use your card to pay at participating restaurants, the miles will automatically be deposited into your SkyMiles account.

Other purchases

Delta has several lucrative partnerships that allow you to earn miles on everyday spending:

  • Airbnb: earn 1 mile per $1 spent
  • Lyft: earn 1 mile per $1 spent and 2 miles on rides to the airport
  • Starbucks: earn 1 mile per $1 spent

Finding Delta award seats for travel to Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean

Delta will nearly always have award seats available on flights, mostly because it charges huge amounts of points for an award. Finding saver-level award space is more difficult — it’s reasonably priced and can also be booked by partners, such as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Again, this is where point.me shows off its strength. Because Delta’s website doesn’t let you know if the award flights you’re trying to book are at the saver level, you won’t know if they can be booked with partner airlines or if they’re priced appropriately.

In this example, we have nonstop Delta flights heading from Atlanta (ATL) to Cancun (CUN) in domestic Delta One business class (aka first class).

point.me shows multiple ways this can be booked, including directly through Delta’s website. However, thanks again to that transfer bonus, we can see that Flying Blue miles are the cheapest way to book.

When you search award flights on point.me, we also let you know exactly which flexible point currencies transfer to Flying Blue, including Citi ThankYou points, American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Brex points.

Booking Delta award travel to Europe, Asia, and Australia

Like finding flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Hawaii, finding reasonably priced award availability to Europe, Asia, and Australia can also be tough on Delta.

That said, being flexible with your departure dates and your departure cities is the best way to score award flights. This is especially true for Delta award flights or Delta One business class seats.

Here’s an example of a Delta One business class flight from Seattle (SEA) to Tokyo (HND), found via point.me:

You’ll note that Chase’s transfer bonus to Flying Blue drops the cost from 95,000 points to just 76,000 points. You can also see that Delta charges 495,000 SkyMiles for that same flight. That’s why transfer partners are so important.

Redeem Delta miles on partner flights

Aside from low-cost Delta flights, one of the best ways to redeem your Delta SkyMiles is on partner flights. We’re not just talking about Virgin Atlantic here either. As a member of SkyTeam, Delta has access to 17 other SkyTeam partners. It also has a few non-alliance partners as well.

Ultimately, you’ll get the most value from your SkyMiles with a cheap business class flight that never touches US soil. You can snag some great deals that way. Here’s an example of a flight from London (LHR) to Ho Chi Minh (SGN) in Vietnam Airlines’ business class:

You can see that Delta is not only the cheapest airline in terms of cost in points, it also charges hundreds of dollars less in taxes and fees.

SkyTeam partners

  • Aeroflot (temporarily suspended)
  • ITA Airways
  • Aeromexico
  • KLM
  • Air Europa
  • Korean Air
  • Air France
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia Airlines
  • China Airlines
  • Tarom
  • China Eastern
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Xiamen Airlines

Other airline partners

  • LATAM
  • WestJet

Other ways to redeem Delta SkyMiles

Redeeming your SkyMiles for flights isn’t the only way to use your rewards, though it’s certainly the best way to maximize them. Other options include:

  • Hotels
  • Seat upgrades
  • Premium drinks
  • Ticketing fees
  • Donations
  • SkyMiles experiences
  • Magazines
  • Checked luggage

Tips for finding Delta award seats

If you want to fly Delta using your SkyMiles, you’ll want to be flexible with your timing. Delta uses a dynamic award-pricing system with rates that change frequently, so moving your travel dates over by just a day or two can make a big difference.

Unlike most airlines, Delta also sells basic economy award tickets. These tickets have very few benefits (no changes, upgrades, or advance seat selection, and your luggage allowance will be limited) but can be substantially cheaper than standard economy. If you’re looking for the absolute best bang for your buck, consider booking one of these seats and grabbing a co-branded Delta credit card. These cards include benefits, such as free checked luggage and priority boarding, both of which still apply on a basic economy ticket.

Another way to get good value on your Delta Air Lines flight is by choosing a flight with a stop versus nonstop. Again, because Delta ties the amount you’ll pay in points to the amount you’ll pay in cash, you’ll often find cheaper flights when they have a connection.

How point.me saves you miles on your Delta flights

Delta’s SkyMiles system has such a variable pricing structure that knowing when you’re getting the best rate is almost impossible, so those looking to fly Delta or use their miles for Delta flights have to be flexible.

Luckily for travelers short on time and/or patience, point.me is here to do the research for you. Whether you’re using your SkyMiles account to book a Virgin Atlantic flight or putting those Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points toward Delta flights, point.me lets you know how best to use your rewards.

Frequently asked questions about using Delta SkyMiles to book flights

What are Delta’s airline partners? 

Delta is a member of SkyTeam, with 17 available partners. It also maintains separate partnerships with WestJet and LATAM.

What are Delta’s transfer partners? 

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards to Delta.

What are Delta’s status levels? 

Delta has four levels of elite status: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond

How do I earn points with Delta SkyMiles?

There are many ways to increase your Delta SkyMiles balance, including credit cards, flights, shopping, dining, and more.

How do I redeem points with Delta SkyMiles? 

Redeeming your rewards is easy. To book with Delta, simply navigate to the official site and click “Shop With Miles.”

How much are Delta SkyMiles worth? 

The value of your Delta SkyMile is going to depend on how you use it. To get the best value from your miles, book flights with partner airlines.

How many Delta points do I need for a free flight?

Delta award flights are tied to cash prices of tickets, so the cheaper the ticket, the cheaper the award. These can be as low as 5,000 miles one-way.

Do Delta SkyMiles expire?

No, Delta SkyMiles do not expire.

How do I transfer or gift my Delta SkyMiles?

You can transfer or gift your Delta SkyMiles online, though it costs money to do so. It’s better just to use your miles to book an award in someone else’s name.

Can I book a flight for someone else with my Delta points?

Yes, you can book for someone else with your points during the booking process.

Read more about airline loyalty programs and how to use points

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