• MT Staff Writer
  • January 31, 2019

Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.”

Let’s face it! As much as we would like to be jet-setters, most of us don’t fly nearly as much as we would like to. If you are only earning frequent flyer miles when you actually take a flight, it might take years before you earn enough to redeem a free flight. With Delta, you can also earn SkyMiles (Delta’s frequent flyer point system) for spending with an American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card. The card has no fee for the first year and only costs $95 a year after that. This little gold piece of plastic changes the game when it comes to racking up SkyMiles.

How to earn Delta SkyMiles

Earning SkyMiles with your Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card is very simple. First, you enroll in the SkyMiles program on the Delta website, and you choose the option to connect your Gold card with your SkyMiles account. From that point, you will start receiving SkyMiles credit for all the purchases you make.

Cardholders earn two SkyMiles for every dollar spent with Delta and one SkyMiles for every dollar spent elsewhere. For example, you will earn 1,000 SkyMiles buying a $500 Delta ticket with your Gold card, but you will only earn 500 SkyMiles for paying your $500 car payment with your Gold card.

You can also earn bonus miles for reaching spending targets when your first open your account. In the first 90 days of owning the Gold Delta SkyMiles card, you will earn 30,000 bonus SkyMiles if you spend at least $1,000. During the same 90 day period, $50 will be wiped off your balance owed if you make at least one Delta purchase of any size.

Of course, the most traditional way to earn SkyMiles is to book flights with Delta. Delta awards SkyMiles based on the amount of money spent rather than the distance of the flight. For each dollar spent, SkyMiles members can earn from 5-11 SkyMiles depending on their program status level. There will be more about levels later.

SkyMiles members who also own a Gold Delta SkyMiles card have a unique opportunity to earn even more SkyMiles for flying. If you pay for Delta flights using your Gold card, you will earn SkyMiles based on how much you spend and your status level, but you will also be awarded an additional two SkyMiles per dollar spent for making a Delta purchase with your Gold card.

Delta has more than twenty partner airlines. If you book a flight with one of these airlines through Delta, you can earn SkyMiles for your flight. Each airline has an individual agreement that determines how many SkyMiles you earn for flying with them. Often, earning SkyMiles with partner airlines isn’t as simple as earning on a Delta flight. With many of the partner airlines, you earn miles based on a combination of factors such as the distance of the flight, the cost of the flight, and the class you fly in.

There are a few other ways to earn SkyMiles in every aspect of traveling. If you enroll your credit card in the Delta SkyMiles dining program, you will earn five SkyMiles for every dollar you spend at participating restaurants. If you use a Delta SkyMiles Gold card for this, you can earn an additional SkyMile for each dollar you spend.

Airbnb and many international hotel chains participate in the SkyMiles program. IHG, Marriott, and SPG hotels are just a few of the participating chains, and the amount of SkyMiles you earn depends on the hotel. Sometimes hotels earn SkyMiles based on the number of nights you stay and others earn based on the amount you spend. Regardless of the way the hotel awards SkyMiles, you will get an additional SkyMile per dollar spent for paying for your accommodations with your Gold card.

If you rent a car through Enterprise, Hertz, Dollar, Alamo, or Thrifty, you will earn a minimum of 500 SkyMiles. Hertz awards more SkyMiles to renters who have reached a higher SkyMiles status level. When you pay for the rental with your Gold card, you will also earn one SkyMile for every dollar you spend.

Delta has an online shopping portal called SkyMiles Shopping. On that portal, you can access products from national retailers. At the time of this article’s publishing, Home Depot, Samsung, Barney’s, H&R Block, and Nike were just a few of the shopping choices available. You earn a number of SkyMiles for every dollar you spend through the portal. Each retailer sets its own SkyMiles per dollar amount, and that number can change at any time. Of course, you earn one extra SkyMile per dollar when you pay with your Gold card.

How to redeem Delta SkyMiles

The most popular and most cost-efficient way to use your hard earned SkyMiles is to pay for or reduce the price of a flight with Delta. To do so, you go to the Delta website and find your flight just like you would book any other flight. When it is time to pay for your ticket, you simply display the price in SkyMiles, which will allow you to pay with your miles.

SkyMiles can be used to purchase any seat on any Delta flight at any time of year. The price in SkyMiles of each flight is individually determined on a seat by seat basis. That means you might pay more in SkyMiles for the last seat on a plane than another member paid in SkyMiles for the first seat on the same plane. A ticket that is more expensive will cost more in SkyMiles, so you’re going to need a lot of more SkyMiles to book a first class international flight than you would for an economy class domestic flight.

If you are collecting SkyMiles simply for the purpose of paying for a particular trip, you can find ballpark estimates of what other travelers paid for a flight to a specific destination online. Unique factors like the time of year, the cost of fuel, the time of the flight, and the class you’re flying in could make your particular flight less expensive or more expensive (in SkyMiles) than it was for other travelers. Remember that Delta does not make any statements as to how much SkyMiles are worth when using them to pay for a flight. Delta can raise or reduce the SkyMiles cost of any flight at any time for any reason. 

SkyMiles can be redeemed to upgrade your flight class. Many customers view this as a better option than blowing tens of thousands of SkyMiles on a single flight. SkyMiles can also be used to pay for membership to Delta Sky Clubs. Sky Clubs are exclusive airport lounges that offer perks like printers, free food, and quality Wi-Fi, but it is usually more cost effective to pay for them with dollars rather than spending an amount of SkyMiles that would usually be enough for a basic domestic flight.

SkyMiles can also be used to pay for many of the same products and services that you can buy to earn them. All of Delta’s car rental partners accept SkyMiles for payment. SkyMiles are an acceptable currency on the SkyMiles Shopping Portal. Many of Delta’s hotel partners also participate in temporary offers that allow guests to pay with SkyMiles. These hotel offers are often limited to certain times of the year and certain locations.

Delta has a few very unique ways to redeem SkyMiles. If you have way more SkyMiles than you can use, you can get rid of 2.5 million of them by redeeming Delta’s exclusive offer to rent a private jet with SkyMiles. SkyMiles can also be used to bid in auctions for exclusive experiences. Delta runs auctions for several weeks at a time, and all SkyMiles members are eligible to bid. The experiences change from time to time, but they often include backstage passes and other forms of exclusive access at concerts and other events. At the end of the bidding period, the member with the highest bid wins the experience.

If you have no use for your SkyMiles, you can give them to a worthy cause through the SkyWish program that allows individuals to donate their SkyMiles to charities.

Delta SkyMiles program status levels

The elite levels of the Delta SkyMiles program are referred to as Medallion statuses, and using a Delta credit card affects the way you earn and keep Medallion status. The four levels of Medallion membership are Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. In case you’re wondering, the Gold card has nothing to do with the Gold Medallion level.

Elite membership has its perks. Medallion members earn more miles per dollar spent on Delta flights. (Silver earns 7, Gold earns 8, Platinum earns 9, and Diamond earns 11.) All elite members can get their baggage fees waived and can get free upgrades to first class. Higher levels of Medallion membership have the luxury of getting their free upgraded to first class farther in advance than lower members.

You earn Medallion membership based on how much money you spend, how many miles you fly, and how many segments you fly. This is where being a Delta SkyMiles Gold cardholder changes things. Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) are dollars spent on Delta flights. The money you pay for taxes and other non-Delta fees associated with the cost of a flight does not count as MQDs. If you have a Delta SkyMiles Gold card and you spend $25,000 or more within a one year, you do not have to reach the MQD target to qualify for elite status. Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) are calculated based on the number of miles you fly multiplied by either 1.5 or 2 if you fly in an upgraded class. These are slightly different from SkyMiles, so any bonuses earned for being an elite member or using your Gold card do not count towards MQMs. Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) are the number of legs in your flight. For example, a non-stop flight from Atlanta to Seattle qualifies as one segment, but the same flight with a layover in Salt Lake City qualifies as two segments (Atlanta to Salt Lake City= 1 segment, Salt Lake City to Seattle= 1 segment.)

Each Medallion level has a requirement for earning a specific number of MQDs and either the target number of MQMs or MQSs within a single calendar year. Since cardholders who spend 25,000 or more are excused from meeting the MQD target, they can become elite members by only meeting the MQM or MQS goal for that level in a calendar year. Once you have reached a Medallion level, you remain at that level until the end of the next calendar year. For example, a member who reaches Diamond Medallion Status on January 21st of 2019 will remain a diamond member until December 31st of 2020. Sometime before December 31st of 2020, that member would need to meet the Diamond MQD, MQM, and MQS targets again within a calendar year to keep that elite status.

Airline Partners

Delta is a member of Sky Team, an international alliance of airlines. SkyMiles members can earn and redeem SkyMiles on any SkyTeam flight. Each partner airline has its own agreement for how you earn SkyMiles for their flights, and there is no guarantee that you’ll earn as many SkyMiles on a partner flight as you would on the same Delta flight. To book a partner flight with SkyMiles, you book just as you would any other flight on the Delta website. Choose the option to see flights from both Delta and partner airlines. Then, choose the additional option to display the price in SkyMiles.

There are twenty airlines in Sky Team, including AeroMexico, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, KLM, and Korean Air. Delta also has individual partnerships with West Jet, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, GOL, Great Lake Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Jet Airways. For the partnerships that are not part of Sky Team, be sure to check the Delta website for airline specific rules. Some airlines allow travelers to earn SkyMiles but not redeem them and vice versa.

Whether the partner airline is a member of SkyTeam or not, remember that Delta does not have any set conversion factor for the amount of SkyMiles necessary to take certain flight. Each airline also has its own rules. The same flight with one partner airline could be drastically more expensive in SkyMiles than it is with another partner airline.

Credit cards that earn Delta SkyMiles

The Gold Delta SkyMiles card from American Express is one of the best cards to use to earn SkyMiles. With the card, you earn two SkyMiles for every dollar you spend with Delta and one SkyMile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

The card also comes with great perks. Every time a cardholder flies with Delta, the first checked bag is free. Cardholders also get priority boarding on all Delta flights. With no foreign transaction fees, this is a perfect credit card to use while on an international vacation.

Learn More

Many of the listings that appear on this website are from companies which we receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products.

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the listings that appear on this website are from companies which we receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products.

Trending Now

Your compare list

Compare
REMOVE ALL
COMPARE
0