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The Complete Guide to Earning Delta SkyMiles

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The Complete Guide to Earning Delta SkyMiles image

There are plenty of ways to earn miles with airline partners on the ground through shopping, dining, staying in hotels, renting cars and taking advantage of a variety of promotions.

But there is one method that allows travelers to get a huge amount of miles in a short period of time. Getting a welcome bonus for a credit card can get you a nice head start on your next vacation using Delta SkyMiles. Then you can top off the balance by taking advantage of other type of offers.

Delta’s long-term financial partner American Express has several credit card products so first let’s go over the best ones to boost your Delta balance. Then we’ll look at some other ways to earn SkyMiles.

The historical intro bonus ranges below are based on public offers, although there have been more lucrative targeted offers for these cards as well.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
and Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card

This card usually offers a 30,000-mile intro bonus, but that is currently double with a promotion offering 60,000 miles for spending $3,000 in the first three months. There is a $50 promotional statement credit to sweeten the deal. The card comes with $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95. You can get both personal and business cards, as they are separate products.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card and Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express

Platinum Delta cards target status-hunters, as they offer bonus 10,000 MQM (Medallion Qualification Miles) and a chance to earn 20,000 MQMs more per year with spending. Platinum cards usually come with a slightly better bonus (currently –50,000) and a $100 promotional statement credit, but they don’t waive the $195 annual fee.

Both cards offer two points per dollar for Delta purchases and one point on everything else, a free checked bag for up to four people and other valuable benefits. With the business card, you also get American Express Open business benefits and accounting features.

In addition to Delta cobranded cards, American Express also issues several Membership Rewards cards. You can transfer Membership Rewards points to Delta miles at 1:1 ratio.

American Express Gold Card

In terms of regular earnings, the American Express Gold Card might be better than Delta co-branded cards. You will earn three points per dollar for flights on any airline, and two points at gas stations, supermarkets, and restaurants. In addition to the bonus and earning opportunities, there are other valuable benefits, such as a valuable airline fee credit for airline incidentals fees and premium roadside assistance like AAA.

American Express Business Gold Card

This card currently has a 500-point bonus after spending $1. It’s rewards structure allows you to earn 3X points on one category of your choice from the list below and 2x on the other four and 1x on every:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Advertising in select media
  • Gas station purchases
  • Shipping charges
  • Computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

The card also offers premium roadside assistance and business accounting features in addition to the American Express Open business benefits.

American Express also issues three Platinum cards available to public.

The Platinum Card from American Express

This is the top American Express card available, but it has a hefty annual fee. However, the $550 fee can be offset by terrific benefits. Aside from the 60,000-point bonus, you get Global Entry or TSA reimbursement, a valuable credit for airline incidentals, premium roadside assistance, complimentary access to hundreds of airport lounges, free access to Boingo Internet services worldwide, gold status in SPG and Hilton HHonors programs, and many other valuable benefits. On the earning side, it’s not impressive compared to the Gold card – you only get double points for travel expenses.

The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz

This card is almost identical to the regular Platinum card with a few distinctions.

  • Slightly higher $475 annual fee
  • A $1,000 certificate toward the future purchase or lease of a new Mercedes-Benz annually when you charge $5,000 on the card
  • Up to 2,000 excess miles waived at lease-end on leases through Mercedes-Benz Financial Services
  • $100 certificate toward Genuine Mercedes-Benz Accessories at the card renewal

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

This card has the same benefits as the personal The Business Platinum Card from American Express plus a couple of exclusive benefits.

  • 30% bonus for using points to book a flight on your selected airline
  • 10 free GoGo passes for inflight internet

Right now it has a 75,000-point bonus, but you have to spend $20,000 in months to get additional miles.

Be Cautious when Applying for Any American Express Cards

When applying for any American Express card, make sure you haven’t received the welcome bonus before, because you can’t get it a second time. That doesn’t usually apply to different products though, so the Platinum and the Platinum for Mercedes-Benz or the Delta Gold personal and business cards are all considered different cards.

Other Ways of Earning SkyMiles

Applying for credit cards with great intro bonuses is a great way to earn SkyMiles, but it’s finite. According to American Express rules, you can only earn one bonus from a particular credit card in a lifetime, so after you apply for Amex Delta and Membership Rewards credit cards, you won’t be able to earn these bonuses again. Luckily, there are other ways to earn SkyMiles.

Earn Miles With Delta Flights

As a member of the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program, you can earn bonus SkyMiles by flying Delta to any destination served by the airline and its partners. Last year Delta introduced a revenue component to its SkyMiles program, which means that higher-paying passengers earn more miles, so the more you pay for your tickets, the more bonus miles you get (premium economy, business, and first class tickets will earn more miles than discount economy).

In general, you will earn five miles for every dollar spent on airline tickets. However, you will earn more bonus miles if you have elite status. Silver status earns seven miles per dollar spent, Gold earns eight, Platinum nine, and Diamond 11.

Earning with Partner Airlines

When you credit Delta’s SkyTeam partners flights to SkyMiles, however, you are not earning miles according to the cost of the ticket. Major partners, such as Air France, still credit 100% of the miles flown for flights in economy and 200% for flights in business. For some SkyTeam partners, the amount you earn will vary.

There is now a special SkyMiles offer that is valid until July 15, 2017. This offer is exclusive to new Los Angeles SkyMiles members, and various terms and conditions apply, but you can earn a total bonus of 25,000 miles on round-trip flights completed within the first six months of enrollment.

Earn Miles With Delta’s Non-Airline Partners

Bonus miles can be earned with numerous SkyMiles Delta partners. They include cruises and vacation companies, restaurants and various stores, car rental companies and hotels. There are thousands of participating restaurants and hundreds of shops to choose from. You can find a list of participating stores and companies on Delta’s website and earn bonuses toward your future flights even while you stay home. Delta SkyMiles never expire, so you can keep earning bonuses in various ways without fear of losing them.

Earn SkyMiles with cruises and vacation companies, restaurants, car rentals, hotels and more
Find a full list of partners on Delta’s website

Transfer Hotel Points to SkyMiles

Le Club AccorHotels with its 3,400 hotels in 92 countries around the world has a partnership with Delta Airlines, and it lets you transfer up to 250,000 rewards points per year to your SkyMiles account. You can receive 2,000 miles for every 4,000 points. Other hotel programs that transfer to Delta are:

  • Hilton HHonors – 1,000 miles per 10,000 transferred points
  • Carlson – one mile per 10 transferred points
  • Hyatt Gold Passport – one mile per 2.5 transferred points
  • IHG Rewards Club – 2,000 miles per 10,000 transferred points
  • Marriot Rewards:
    • 2,000 miles per 10,000 points
    • 5,000 miles per 20,000 points
    • 10,000 miles per 30,000 points
    • 25,000 miles per 70,000 points
    • 50,000 miles per 140,000 points
  • Starwood Preferred Guest – one mile per one transferred point, plus 5,000 miles for every 20,000 points transferred

SkyMiles Dining Program

SkyMiles Dining is a program that lets you earn points while eating at participating restaurants. If you like to dine out, using SkyMiles Dining is just another earning strategy fits your lifestyle. All you have to do is go to the website and register your debit or credit card, and then use this registered card when you visit any of about 11,000 participating bars, restaurants, and clubs. Every dollar spent will give you up to five miles – and tax and tips are counted toward your bonus as well.

The SkyMiles Shopping Portal

Earning SkyMiles while shopping online is easy, and the choices are abundant because there are hundreds of participating stores. Just like earning miles with flights, there is no need to use a Delta credit card to receive these bonuses.

Miles are earned when you make your purchases through the SkyMilesShopping portal by logging in, choosing your desired products, and paying with your regular credit or debit card. The number of miles per dollar depends on the store, but generally can be somewhere between one and six miles, while some stores offer up to 10 miles or more per dollar. You can explore a whole list of shops on the Delta SkyMiles Shopping Mall website to see which offers are more beneficial to you.

FTD (Flowers)

With FTD, the flower company, you can get 20 miles per dollar when you order flowers and other gifts. It offers a variety of bouquets, gift baskets, and tasty holiday and celebration treats to choose from, with same day delivery. However, make sure to compare its prices with the local flower shops to make sure you’re not paying more than you have to.

Earn SkyMiles with FTD flowers
Earn SkyMiles with FTD flowers

Vinesse Wine Club

Vinesse Wine Club allows its customers to earn SkyMiles while enjoying a variety of wines. As a SkyMiles loyalty program member, you can receive 1,500 miles with your first wine order from their website. It doesn’t end there though. Every subsequent shipment earns five miles per dollar spent. With this company, your first order’s shipping will cost only one cent, and you can get six different limited-production wines at the price of $6.99 per bottle.


With Delta, you can earn bonus miles even while paying your utility bills. Delta partners with several utility companies throughout the United States. One of them, Energy Plus, offers 5,000 miles after two months of using their service. While it states that there are no hidden fees, your monthly utility bills may be a little higher, but you also earn two miles for each dollar spent. If you feel that your spend with Energy Plus exceeds what you’re willing to pay for your utilities, you can cancel the service and keep the miles anyway.

Other utility companies you can use to earn SkyMiles include Grand Rapids Energy, Nicor Advanced Energy, Ohio Natural Gas, and Georgia Natural Gas. Each of them offers two miles for every dollar you spend on eligible gas charges, and they also have 5,000 miles welcome bonuses. These companies and deals are not available in all states.


Suntrust Bank offers SkyMiles personal and business debit cards that can earn bonuses on everyday purchases. You get 5,000 reward miles upon completing your first purchase within 90 days of opening the account. From then on, the earning rate equals one mile per dollar spent. You can earn double miles by choosing to use a SkyMiles Debit or Business Debit card to purchase Delta tickets and various in-flight products, or any product where Delta is a merchant.

The SkyMiles World Debit Card can earn up to 4,000 miles every 30 days, and the SkyMiles Business Card earned cap is 2,000 per 30 days. These cards come with a $75 and $120 annual fee respectively. Bonus miles will be posted to your SkyMiles account in 8 to 12 weeks.

These are just some of the ways to earn Delta SkyMiles. But there are others as well. Check our our Earn section to see more promotions. There are many ways to earn miles without flying by making small changes to the ways you shop, dine or take vacations, you can earn miles organically and, most importantly, without spending any more money than you already do.

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