How to get amazing value with Delta SkyMiles redemptions

Learn how to get amazing value with Delta Skymiles.

Is it possible to get amazing value with Delta Skymiles?

I’ve seen Delta Skymiles referred to as “Sky Pesos” and other phrases lately, indicating low value for the frequent flyer currency.

“I was wrong about getting value with Delta Skymiles, and in the best way.”

So when it was time to redeem bonus miles I received from the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card from American Express, I didn’t think I would get much more than what I considered to be their usual value.

But I was wrong, and in the best way. Here’s what I learned.

The South

The Southern U.S. (the South) is peppered with a handful of large cities with millions of people who depart and arrive from busy airports. But largely rural areas make up the rest of these states.

Regional airports serve these populations and are the closest departure point for those flying. But this convenience can be quickly diminished by the cash prices of plane tickets.

However, insert frequent flyer miles into this equation and the results change dramatically.

3 Examples

In Texas, many wildflowers begin their peak bloom around the beginning of April. These example itineraries below show round trips to see the colorful flowers from three regional airports in three different states.

Using Delta’s website, I created an itinerary for a long weekend trip to San Antonio. For these examples I would be departing on a Friday and returning on Monday.

North Florida

Delta flight search from TLH to SAT
The itinerary I set between Tallahassee, FL and San Antonio, TX.

Departing from the regional airport in Tallahassee, FL, the cash airfares were some of the highest in my search.

Delta flight cost grid in cash

But when searching the exact same itinerary with Delta Skymiles, I was amazed at the value of what was offered.

Delta flight cost grid in miles

On this itinerary alone, flights nearly across the board are available for just 20,000 SkyMiles. Compared to the cash equivalent of these same flights, a flyer paying with miles could achieve a value of 2.3 cents per mile when flying on the target dates.

So what’s the usual value? Gary Leff, who writes for View From The Wing, and an expert in points and miles currencies, values Delta SkyMiles at an average of 1.2 cents each.

On the highest end of these dates, the $860 flight translates to 25,000 SkyMiles, returning a value of 3.44 cents per mile!

South Georgia

Delta flight search from ABY to SAT
The itinerary I set between Albany, GA and San Antonio, TX.

I searched for the same itinerary to San Antonio departing from Albany, GA. The cash fares were a little lower in this set.

Delta flight cost grid in cash

However, the SkyMiles values were still above average.

Delta flight cost grid in miles

There were plenty of 20,000-mile fares across the board from ABY to SAT, with a value of 1.86 cents per mile when flying on the target dates.

South Alabama

Delta flight search from DHN to SAT
The itinerary I set between Dothan, AL and San Antonio.

Searching for fares on the same itinerary from Dothan, AL produced the highest cash fares I saw in this comparison. Some reached near $1,200!

Delta flight cost grid in cash

But even in this case, the value with Delta Skymiles was a steal.

Delta flight cost grid in miles

With plenty of availability for 20,000-mile fares from DHN to SAT, a value of 2.8 cents per mile could be achieved when flying on the target dates, more than doubling the average. Wow!

Value with Delta Skymiles: A subjective topic

It’s important to note that the valuation of miles is ultimately up to the person flying. The average values that I choose to adhere to may not be your exact choice.

Earning Skymiles with credit cards

One of the easiest ways to earn Delta SkyMiles is to use one of their co-branded credit cards to make purchases.

Delta offers four different cards for consumers and another three for small businesses issued by American Express.

  • Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express: This is Delta’s entry-level credit card. It currently offers new applicants 5,000 bonus miles after their first purchase, delivers 2 miles per dollar Delta purchases and 20% savings on in-flight purchases. The card carries a $55 annual fee.
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express: This card currently offers new applicants 30,000 bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening, and a $50 statement credit. The card carries a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express: This card currently offers new applicants 5,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) and 35,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening, along with a $100 statement credit. The card also allows cardmembers to earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs when they spend $25,000 or more in a calendar year. This card carries a $195 annual fee.
  • Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express: This top-level card currently offers new applicants 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles after their first purchase, as well as the ability to earn an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs when they spend $30,000 in a calendar year. The card also gives cardmembers Sky Club membership and upgrade priority over other Medallion members within the same class. This card carries a $450 annual fee.

For small business owners, American Express offers business versions of the Gold, Platinum, and Reserve cards with almost identical terms and benefits.

I still believe there are plenty of ways to get solid value with Delta SkyMiles.

What do you think about the value of SkyMiles? Share you experience in the comments.

Featured image courtesy of Delta.

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