Delta Air Lines is known as one of the better domestic carriers, but with the added luxury and amenities comes a heftier price tag. Those who are loyal to Delta, however, frequently praise its SkyMiles loyalty program, which is a true loyalty program through and through. This means that it’s not necessarily a great loyalty program if you’re trying to get the most miles, the quickest, so you can use them on whatever you want. Instead, SkyMiles rewards, and quite nicely, those that are loyal to Delta and want to spend their miles on Delta products.
If you’re one of those individuals, here are the 13 best ways to earn Delta Air Lines SkyMiles, so you can start reaping those Delta rewards faster.
1. Get a SkyMiles Account
Firstly, you’re going to want to sign up for a SkyMiles account. If you think you need a Delta credit card to start earning SkyMiles, think again. All you need is your trusty SkyMiles account. Just note that there are two ways to earn with your account — earning with SkyMiles or earning Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs). The MQMs help you earn a better SkyMiles membership tier, but you can’t use MQMs to book award flights. However, the higher your SkyMiles membership tier, the more miles you overall earn for flying. That brings us to #2…
2. Flying Delta
If you’re enrolled in SkyMiles, let’s be honest, your favorite airline probably isn’t United. It’s going to be Delta, so you’re going to have to fly Delta in order to see the biggest miles return for your efforts.
As stated, the more you fly, the more MQMs you earn (along with Medallion Qualification Segments, MQSs, and Medallion Qualification Dollars, or MQDs) and these all add up to giving you a higher elite tier.
- To earn Silver status, you have to accumulate 25,000 MQM or 30 MQS and $3,000 MQD.
- To earn Gold status, you need 50,000 MQM or 60 MQS and $6,000 MQD.
- For Platinum, you need 75,000 MQM or 100 MQS and $9,000 MQD.
- Lastly, for Diamond status, you need 125,000 MQM or 140 MQS and $15,000 MQD.
Note that for any of the MQD amounts above, you can replace that requirement with a MQD waiver. MQD requirements to reach the next elite status tier (Silver, Gold or Platinum) are waived if you make $25,000 or more in eligible purchases during the calendar year with a Delta SkyMiles credit card from American Express (learn more). In order to reach Diamond status with a MQD waiver, you must spend more than $250,000 on eligible purchases with a Delta SkyMiles credit card from American Express.
How does this translate to earning more miles?
- Basic SkyMiles members earn 5 miles per $1 spent on a ticket
- Silver members earn 7 miles per $1 spent on a ticket
- Gold members earn 8 miles per $1 spent on a ticket
- Platinum members earn 9 miles per $1 spent on a ticket
- Diamond members earn 11 miles per $1 spent on a ticket
3. Flying with Partner Airlines
Just because you’re flying a route Delta doesn’t service, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up on earning your SkyMiles. You can earn at a comparable rate on Delta’s partner airlines.
4. Co-Branded Credit Cards
There are several different co-branded Delta credit cards to choose from, so you can start earning miles with your spending.
- The Blue Delta SkyMiles card
- Gold Delta SkyMiles card
- Platinum SkyMiles card
- Delta Reserve card
The Blue Delta SkyMiles card gives you 2 miles at U.S. restaurants, 2 miles on Delta purchases and 1 mile for every other eligible purchase (learn more). There’s no annual fee. If you’re just looking for good miles-earning potential, and not necessarily more travel perks, this is the card to go with.
If, however, you’re willing to give up the 2 miles at restaurants in exchange for some travel benefits, these other cards could be a better fit.
The Gold Delta SkyMiles card, which is often considered the favorite, does not give you the 2 miles at restaurants, but it does give you 2 miles on Delta purchases and 1 mile on everything else (read more). Travel perks include a first free checked bag, priority boarding, no foreign transaction fees, in-flight purchase discounts, discounted Sky Club access and the opportunity to earn a MQD waiver.
The Platinum card gives you the same earning potential as the Gold card, but more travel perks, like a companion certificate and a built-in miles boost (earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after you make $25,000 in purchases).
The Delta Reserve card also gives you the same earning potential, but additional perks like concierge services, Sky Priority access, upgrade priority and an extra 5,000-mile boost.
5. Hotel Partners
You can earn miles when you stay at your favorite hotels as well. Delta’s hotel partners range greatly, as does the amount you earn at them.
If you stay at a Marriott Bonvoy or IHG Rewards Club property, you’ll earn 2 miles for every $1 spent. This is probably the easiest opportunity, because each program includes quite a few different hotel brands, and you can find them all over the globe. The earning potential is clean cut and to the point.
If you stay at hotels under the Radisson Rewards, Millennium Hotels and Resorts brand, Shangri-La Golden Circle, Worldhotels or the World of Hyatt programs, you’ll earn 500 miles per stay.
For AccorHotels properties, you earn 12.5 miles for every 10 euros spent at Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel, Mercure and Thalassa properties; 6.25 miles for every 10 euros spent at ibis and ibis Styles properties; 5 miles for every 10 euros spent at Adagio properties; and 2.5 miles for every 10 euros spent at Adagio Access properties.
The Langham Hospitality Group gives you up to 1,500 miles per stay (or 500 miles per night) at Langham Hotels and Resorts and Cordis Hotels and Resorts. Confirm the miles you’ll earn at Langham properties before you go, though, because at some select properties, the miles earned dips down to 250 miles per night, up to 750 miles total.
Airbnb is also a hospitality partner, giving you 1 mile per $1 spent with the platform.
6. Rental Partners and Ride Share Services
With Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, Enterprise and National, you receive usually around 500 miles per rental, unless there’s a special promotion running.
There’s no miles earned from Uber, but you can get 1 mile per $1 spent with Lyft, and 2 miles per $1 spent with Lyft if you’re traveling to or from an airport. To earn, link your Lyft account to your SkyMiles account.
7. SkyMiles Dining
Many loyalty programs allow you to earn miles when you dine, through a dining program, and SkyMiles is no different. The SkyMiles Dining program gives you 5 miles for every $1 spent at restaurants, clubs and bars, after you dine 11 times before the end of the calendar year. Before the 11th purchase, you’ll earn 3 bonus miles for every $1 spent.
You do not need a Delta credit card to join the SkyMiles Dining program. You just sign up with whatever card you like (either credit or debit) and then make sure to use that card when dining.
Do note that you’re not automatically enrolled in SkyMiles Dining when you sign up for SkyMiles. You’ll have to sign up separately. The good news is, there’s often a sign-up miles bonus available.
8. SkyMiles Shopping
Also, like just about every other loyalty program, Delta has its own shopping portal.
The amount of miles you can earn depends on the brand you’re shopping with, but it’s simple and easy to use. Just go to the SkyMiles portal, pick the brand you’re looking to buy with and be redirected to that particular vendor. You’ll shop right on the vendor’s site, but because you were redirected, you’ll earn some extra miles. Many brands give you 2-3 miles per $1 spent, but there’s always a special running with someone, allowing you to earn up to 5 miles per $1 spent.
9. Other Credit Cards
Since Delta is an American Express Membership Rewards partner, you can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards to SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio.
This can be a great opportunity, because you can often earn more miles with an American Express card than you could with one of the co-branded cards. For example, all of the co-branded cards give you 2 miles per $1 spent, but the American Express Gold Card (Learn More) gives you 3 miles per $1 spent on travel.
There are also American Express cards that allow you to earn on categories that Delta co-branded cards do not, such as gas stations and supermarkets.
If you refer a friend to any Delta co-branded credit card and they sign up and are approved, you’ll receive 5,000 bonus miles.
You can refer up to 11 friends per year, for a maximum 55,000 bonus miles through referrals alone.
If you like to bundle your vacations rather than book your flight, hotel and car rental separately, you can earn up to 7,500 bonus miles toward award travel when you book with Delta Vacations. The amount you earn varies and depends, of course, on the flights, car rental and hotels you pick. You can also earn 1 mile per $1 spent with SkyMiles Villas.
If you prefer cruises, you can earn up to 10,000 bonus miles per cruise. The amount of miles you earn is dependent upon the number of nights you spend on the cruise, which must be booked through the SkyMiles Cruises portal, powered by Cruises Only (giving you access to your favorite cruising brands like Celebrity, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian).
Earn 1,500 miles for cruises up to five nights; 3,000 miles for cruises six to eight nights; 5,000 miles for cruises nine to 12 nights; and 10,000 miles for cruises of 13 or more nights.
13. Authorized Credit Card Users
While not always available, occasionally American Express will run a promotion, offering you bonus miles for adding an authorized user to your Delta co-branded credit card. The catch is, the new authorized user must spend a certain amount before you get the bonus miles. An example of a promotion you might see could be 2,500 bonus miles if the new authorized user spend $500 in three months.
Delta SkyMiles are easy to earn for those who love Delta and live near a Delta hub. If you’re willing to put in some work, you can easily earn plenty of miles, to get you closer to where you want to travel.