Using Up All My Delta SkyMiles and Transferring in More!

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Since the Delta Amex Cards upped their sign-up bonuses temporarily through July 5th, I have gotten a few inquires as to how we actually use our SkyMiles and whether the cards are really worth getting. That offer is now expired. Now, there was absolutely a period of time a few years ago that I didn’t really pay attention to Delta miles or their co-branded cards. There were better offers for my needs, SkyMiles were commonly referred to as ‘SkyPesos’, and other frequent flyer programs were largely preferable to what Delta was offering. Now, the reality was I made an error in not earning at least some SkyMiles even back then, but things have changed in the last 5 years to the point that I find myself turning to SkyMiles more and more.

In fact, for the first time in my memory, I actually just transferred Amex Membership Reward points to Delta SkyMiles yesterday to book awards as Delta offered by far the best option out of every single airline and program.

Transferring Membership Reward points to Delta


Why we Need More SkyMiles:

Now back to the hows and whys for our ‘desperate’ grab at more SkyMiles… My husband is currently working in different cities away from home several weeks a month, and to help break up the monotony of him being away, and to have a little fun, my older daughter and I plan to join him for a few days this summer on one of his trips to New York City. However, travel expenses are already very high in our household as we are on the hook for all of his travel costs, so the last thing we needed was more money spent on flights for our little visit.

To keep budgets in check, we needed to use miles for this trip, but while the outbound flight was a pretty reasonable cost for a United non-stop ringing in at about $150, or 10,000 Ultimate Reward points one-way via the Sapphire Reserve, flights back home were 2x – 3x that cost for reasonably timed non-stops.

I could have used 12,500 United miles if we wanted to get up at the crack of dawn to come home, but that really wasn’t ideal. The decently timed flights on our dates were 25,000 United miles each one-way. I could have used about eleventy million American miles if we wanted to fly home with a connection. That didn’t sound fun. Spirit flights were at a bad time. JetBlue flys into the wrong airport. So does Southwest. Our only other real option was Delta who actually operates several daily non-stops between Houston and LaGuardia with very good flight times.

As you can see above, during the late summer weeks Delta has “saver awards” (though they no longer call them that since they don’t have an award chart) available more days than not at just 12,500 miles each way from New York to Houston. Not only that, but on many of these dates you actually have your pick of several different flight times as shown below. For just 12,500 SkyMiles miles each my daughter and I were able to get a great mid-day flight home to Houston. The deal was so comparatively good to other paid or award options that my husband is actually also flying home via Delta miles a few days later.

I laughed a bit transferring my Membership Reward points to Delta mostly because I’ve never done that before, but that act absolutely solidified for me that we again need more SkyMiles. This marks the third or fourth time this year we have turned to Delta for our paid and award flights to or from Houston, which I think is great. Even though we don’t live at a Delta hub, their non-stops to Salt Lake City, LaGuardia, Atlanta, and more seem to be meeting our needs nicely on occasion, and I see no reason why that will change in the near term.

As an aside, I could have ‘borrowed’ 5,000 of the Delta SkyMiles I needed from my Delta co-branded card that I have at the moment, but if I didn’t earn those back via spending on the card in the next six months I would have to pay for them at 2.5 cents each, so I didn’t go that route this time.

I’d love to hear how Delta SkyMiles are fitting into your miles and points strategy right now.

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Good finds for you, but I’ve rarely seen one way domestic for under 30K for anything I wanted. I’ve got about 33K and I just want to use them up and be done with it.

  2. I’m not seeing the borrow option on my account even though I have the Delta Platinum card too. Is there is place on the Amex website to check if I’m eligible to borrow and how many miles. The new Amex site is very glitchy and annoying to navigate! Thanks

    • Totally agree re: new Amex site. It was under the benefits section in my account. Let me know if you see it there!

  3. Yes and yes to your questions. I’ve used sky miles for flights twice so far and also booked a cash flight. Same as you, the prices were better and much better flight times. I’m going to try and get one of the Delta biz cards because I’ve had both of the personal ones. I just picked up the Citi Hilton before it disappeared but the 4 month spending timeframe makes it easier to stretch out the spending.

  4. They do work out great depending where you are going. Used them to Jackson Hole last winter and was a pretty good deal. They can also be great for International flights if you book early.

    • Love Jackson Hole! I had intended to use my SkyMiles for Australia or Europe, but life got a little more practical it seems. Ha!

  5. Delta has been the best choice for my family of 4 flying domestically on awards. We consistently see lower 1 way and r/t pricing than the others. They are also easy to earn.

    UA has been ok, haven’t been able to use my AA points since they never have 4 saver seats available.

  6. I have had great luck booking in Evangelista for my sister and her 2 kids from San Diego to Boston. All 3 round trip tickets for less that 100k miles is a real deal!

  7. Where do I find out about MQMs? I put over 50K on my card last year, so got a second bonus, each came with 10k MQMs, have know idea what they do for me.

  8. I currently have the gold SkyMiles AmEx. Is it really worth it to get the platinum card? I live in Seattle and switch between using our AmEx and Alaska Visa to earn miles. Alaska is our preferred airline for domestic flights, but Delta has had the best international (Europe) flights for us so far. The fee for the platinum card seems so high, but if we’re eligible for the platinum deal it seems like we’d get much close to our next international trip (family of 3 – we flew to Paris using SkyMiles with a lap baby and Rome using Alaska miles on Delta before they ended their relationship for all 3 of us). Would switching to the platinum card be better?

  9. I’ve gotten nothing but value out of SkyMiles. You have to be diligent but we’ve used them for various domestic flights plus Delta One to Europe multiple times and Korean Biz from NZ, all at the lowest saver rate. Often those award flights are from our tiny airport (PIH) that only has 2 flights a day to SLC. Too bad we’ve already had all of the DL cards, personal and business. I would love to pick up more SkyMiles.

  10. I booked a family trip in August with delta and just got approved for the Platinum Delta card today. Can I still get the first checked baggage for free? Thanks

    • Should be fine as long as your SkyMiles number is on the rez and attached to the card. Congrats on the approval!

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