Delta SkyMiles Review Summary
The Delta SkyMiles program is the 3rd best frequent flyer program for 2021, according to WalletHub’s review. Some of the biggest strengths of the SkyMiles program are miles worth an average of 1.37 cents apiece that never expire, a wide array of credit card choices, and a large number of airline partners.
Below, you can learn everything you really need to know about the Delta SkyMiles program, from how to earn and redeem miles to what benefits the rewards program provides. You can also see how SkyMiles compares to other popular frequent flyer programs.
Delta SkyMiles Review Scorecard
#8 for Earning Policies
#6 for Rewards Value
#6 for Redemption Policies
#3 for Destination Coverage
#1 for Other Features
|Delta Miles Needed for a Free Flight:||Min: 6,500 |
|Average Delta Miles Value:||1 mile= 1.37 cents |
1,000 miles= $13.7
|SkyMiles Airline Partners:||25, including: |
Aeromexico, Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
Earning Policies: How to Earn Delta Miles
Category Rating: 9/15
SkyMiles members earn miles on purchases made through Delta and its partners. Below, you can see exactly which types of transactions accrue miles as well as how many you’ll receive.
- 5 - 11 miles per $1 spent: Delta flights
- 1 - 3 miles per $1 spent: Purchases on a Delta credit card
- 0.5 - 3 miles per $1 spent: Flights with partner airlines like Aeromexico, Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin Atlantic
- 1 - 2 miles per $1 spent: Stays at hotel partners like Marriott, IHG, Radisson, Accor, Hyatt, Langham, Shangri-la, and WorldHotels. Depending on the hotel, you’ll get 1-2 miles per $1 spent or 500 - 1,000 miles per stay.
- 1 mile per $1 spent: Stays with Airbnb worldwide
- 5 miles per $1 spent: Dining at thousands of participating restaurants in the U.S.
- 500 - 1,250 miles per rental: Car rentals with partners like Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, Enterprise and National
- 1,500 - 30,000 miles per cruise: Cruises with the SkyMiles Cruises program
- Up to 7,500 miles: Special Delta vacation packages
In addition, you may be able to find special deals on Delta flights on the airline’s website, which could allow you to earn more miles on a booking or spend fewer miles when redeeming.
Other Key Things to Know About Earning Delta Miles
Earning limitations: You can earn up to 75,000 Delta miles per ticket.
Retroactive flight credit for members: SkyMiles members can get credited for miles from any Delta flight taken in the past 9 months if their frequent flyer number was not on the reservation (as long as they were a member at the time).
Retroactive flight credit for non-members: New SkyMiles members can get miles for Delta flights taken up to 9 months before they became a member.
Rewards Value: How Much Are Delta Miles Worth?
Category Rating: 7/20
Delta miles are worth 1.37 cents each, on average, according to WalletHub’s research. That means you need about 18,000 SkyMiles to get a free flight, based on the average domestic fare of $245.
Below, you can check out how many SkyMiles you’ll need for some popular round-trip routes, on average.
- New York to Los Angeles: 18,854 miles (or $258.30)
- Los Angeles to Washington DC: 29,993 miles (or $410.90)
- Los Angeles to London: 102,237 miles (or $1,400.65)
Redemption Policies: How to Redeem Delta Miles
Category Rating: 14/20
|Redemption Method||More Info|
|Flights||Get flights with Delta and its partners.|
|Upgrade to Delta One, First Class, Delta Premium Select or Delta Comfort+.|
|Redeem miles for a gift card usable for Delta flights.|
|Book SkyMiles vacation packages.|
|Get subscriptions to magazines like Better Homes & Gardens, Food & Wine, People, Entertainment Weekly and more.|
|Pay for alcoholic beverages at Delta Sky Club lounges.|
Other Delta charges
|Use miles to pay for things like ticket change fees, award ticket redeposit fees, or same-day confirmed fees.|
|Give miles to charities like the American Red Cross, Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Habitat for Humanity.|
More Key Things to Know About Redeeming Delta Miles
- There are no booking blackout dates.
- You can book a flight with miles up to 331 days before departure.
- There is no short-notice booking fee.
- Delta does not allow layovers/stopovers on reward flights.
- There is no award-ticket redeposit/cancellation fee.
Other Features of the SkyMiles Program
Category Rating: 13/20
The Delta SkyMiles rewards program is free to join, but you won’t get any benefits from it other than earning miles until you qualify for one of its status levels.
- Medallion Qualifying Miles - MQMs (awarded based on distance flown and booking class)
- Medallion Qualifying Segments - MQSs (awarded based on the number of flights taken)
- Medallion Qualifying Dollars - MQDs (awarded based on the amount spent)
The more flights you take with Delta, and the more money you spend with a Delta credit card, the higher your status level will go. The higher your SkyMiles status level is, the more benefits you will receive on Delta flights and the more you will save when you fly.
Below, you can see exactly what you’ll need to do to achieve and maintain each SkyMiles status level, along with the perks that come with it.
|Skymiles Levels||How to Qualify||Miles Bonus||Other Notable Perks|
|Basic member||Join the program for free||None||Earn Delta miles|
|Silver Medallion||25,000 MQMs OR 30 MQSs|
$3,000 MQDs or MQD waiver
|40%||Complimentary upgrades beginning 24 hours before departure|
Priority wait list status
Waived baggage fees
Priority check-in and boarding
Priority level dedicated phone line
Get status back for 3 months for free if you lost it or moved to a lower tier due to a major life event
Elite SkyTeam status on International flights
Reduced price for CLEAR membership: $109 per year (gets you through airport security faster)
|Gold Medallion||50,000 MQMs OR 50 MQSs|
$6,000 MQDs or MQD waiver
|60%||Silver Medallion benefits|
Complimentary upgrades beginning 72 hours before departure
Waived same-day confirmed fees
Waived same-day stand-by fees
Priority security line access
Expedited baggage service
SkyTeam Lounge Access
Five Star Status in the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Program
|Platinum Medallion||75,000 MQMs OR 100 MQSs|
$9,000 MQDs or MQD waiver
|80%||Gold Medallion benefits|
1 Choice Benefit
Complimentary upgrades beginning up to 120 hours before departure
Elite Plus SkyTeam status on international flights
Priority baggage handling
President's Circle Status in the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Program
|Diamond Medallion||125,000 MQMs OR 40 MQSs|
$15,000 MQDs or MQD waiver
|120%||Platinum Medallion benefits|
3 Choice Benefits
VIP level dedicated phone line
Complimentary CLEAR membership (gets you through airport security faster)
Members must satisfy a given status level’s qualifying requirements between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 to reach or maintain that status level and enjoy its benefits. Your SkyMiles status lasts for the rest of the calendar year plus January of the next year.
Other Key Features
- Delta miles never expire.
- You can transfer miles between accounts, for a fee of $30 plus $0.01 per mile.
- Buying miles costs more than they’re worth, as there’s a 155% markup, on average.
Destination Coverage: Where Can Delta Miles Take You?
Category Rating: 16/25
Delta flies to 215 U.S. destinations and 75 international destinations. In addition, Delta has 19 partner airlines from the SkyTeam Alliance and 6 non-alliance partners, which collectively visit 219 U.S. destinations and 989 international destinations.
You can’t directly transfer miles from the loyalty programs of these partners to SkyMiles or vice versa. For example, you can’t turn Delta miles into Aeromexico miles. However, you can earn Delta miles by taking flights with 24 of the Delta partners, as well as redeem Delta miles for flights on 23 of them.
Summary: Delta SkyMiles Scores by Review Category
Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards
This content is not provided or commissioned by any issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of an issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by an issuer. Some offers are from WalletHub partners.
Applying for a Delta SkyMiles credit card is worth considering if you have good credit or better and fly with Delta several times each year. There isn’t just one Delta SkyMiles credit card, though. You can get a sense of what each brings to the table below.
Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Offers Compared:
|SkyMiles Credit Card||Annual Fee||Initial Bonus|
|Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card||$0||10,000 miles|
|Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card||$0 intro 1st yr, $99 after||70,000 miles|
|Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card||$550||80,000 miles|
|Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card||$250||90,000 miles|
|Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card||$250||90,000 miles|
|Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card||$550||80,000 miles|
For more information, check out our complete review of the latest Delta SkyMiles credit card offers.
8 Tips for SkyMiles Members
- The best way to redeem Delta miles is for Delta flights. Miles are worth 1.37 cents apiece that way.
- Pool or transfer miles if it makes sense. SkyMiles allows members to pool their miles together for easier redemption, but there is a fee of $30 plus $0.01 per mile.
- Avoid buying Delta miles, if possible. Delta miles cost more to purchase than they are worth when redeemed, on average. However, it could be worth buying a small number if it puts you over the top for a free flight.
- Take advantage of status perks. One of the biggest reasons why airline rewards programs are worth joining is that their status levels tend to provide a wealth of benefits, such as bonus miles, free checked bags and complimentary upgrades. Make sure you take advantage of everything Delta SkyMiles offers.
- Consider applying for a SkyMiles credit card. The best SkyMiles credit card could save the average person more than $1,500 over the first two years of use, according to WalletHub’s calculations.
- Try the Island Approach with your credit cards. SkyMiles credit cards offer competitive earnings on Delta flights, but different credit cards may provide better terms on other types of transactions. Using a collection of cards for specialized purposes can enable you to get the best deal on everything you buy.
- Make sure to read Delta reviews & SkyMiles FAQs. Learning from experts and fellow travelers will help you pick up some helpful tips as well as avoid tricks and pitfalls.
- Compare your flight options if you’re not wedded to Delta SkyMiles. Delta is not the only airline with a rewarding loyalty program. You can see how SkyMiles compares to a couple of popular alternatives below. You can also check out WalletHub’s rankings of the Best Frequent Flyer Programs to learn more.
SkyMiles vs. AAdvantage vs. MileagePlus
|Average Mile Value||1.37 cents||1.29 cents||1.58 cents|
|Average Daily U.S. Departures||1,569||1,583||783|
|Mile expiration||Never||After 18 months of inactivity||Never|
|Credit Card to Consider||Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card||American Airlines AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red Credit Card||United Explorer Credit Card|
SkyMiles Review Methodology
Overall program rankings are based on the same methodology as WalletHub’s annual study on the Best Frequent Flyer Programs. Editor’s ratings reflect the sum of each rewards program’s scores across the study’s 6 major categories – airline coverage, partner coverage, rewards value, earning policies, redemption policies and other features – adjusted to a 5-point scale, to create a representative distribution of ratings.
WalletHub calculated Delta SkyMiles mile values by comparing flight rates between U.S. cities and popular travel destinations – both domestic and international – to the number of miles needed to book a flight. We applied the process to round-trip flights from Friday to Monday for each destination’s high and shoulder tourist seasons.