How to Earn Delta SkyMiles Points


deltaWhen it comes to ways to earn frequent flyer miles, the folks at Delta Air Lines aren’t mucking about – they’ve set up so many ways to earn Delta SkyMiles points that you’d almost have to be trying not to earn them… Assuming you’re traveling at all, that is. And because Delta is a part of the same airline alliance as Northwest Airlines and Continental, that helps you earn points even faster than you would otherwise (not to mention that it gives you more options for redeeming those points later on).

You’ll find all the usual suspects on the list below of ways to earn Delta points – but there are a few on this list that are unique to Delta, and might be things you’re doing already. Whether you fly Delta exclusively or just every once in awhile, it’s worth looking at the various ways you could earn SkyMiles points to see if you aren’t missing out by not registering for their frequent flyer program.

Here’s an outline of how to earn Delta SkyMiles points.

Air Travel
As with other frequent flyer programs, the most straightforward way to earn SkyMiles points is to take a flight on an airline in the Delta family – that includes Delta, Delta Connection, and Delta Shuttle. On Delta and Delta Shuttle flights, you’ll earn 500 miles at a minimum or the actual amount of miles you’ve flown (whichever is greater) on discounted coach tickets, 150% of the actual mileage amount if you’ve paid full price for your coach ticket or are flying business/first class. Delta Connection airlines are Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Chautauqua Airlines, Comair, Freedom Airlines, Shuttle America, and SkyWest. On any of those airlines you’ll earn 500 miles minimum or the actual mileage flown (whichever’s greater) for discounted coach tickets, or 150% of the actual mileage on full price coach tickets.

Flights on Delta’s airline partners also earn you SkyMiles points when you present your SkyMiles membership number during the ticket purchase process or at check-in. Some of the airlines that partner with Delta are Aeromexico, Air France, Alaska Airlines, Alitalia, China Airlines, Continental Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Northwest Airlines, and Singapore Airlines. The number of SkyMiles points you’ll earn for a flight will vary with each of these airlines, so be sure to check before you buy your ticket.

Hotel Stays
Delta is not along in partnering with hotels to let you earn frequent flyer miles just by booking stays at certain hotels, but the list of hotel partners Delta has is pretty impressive. The number of points you can earn with each hotel stay depends on the hotel you’re in – from a points per dollar spent deal to a flat-rate of miles per stay – and some even come with extra perks like credits for visits to the in-house spa.

Some of Delta’s hotel partners require that you enroll in their own rewards programs before you can earn Delta SkyMiles, and some will award more points if you’re a member of their more elite rewards programs – so you’ll definitely want to look at the hotels on the complete list and see which rewards programs you’re already enrolled in, which don’t require enrollment, and which ones will help you earn points more quickly.

Credit Cards
Delta has a few airline mileage credit cards that’ll help you earn points with the things you purchase. The US-based cards are American Express cards, although there are cards which are great if you’re based in other countries as well (those are predominantly Visa cards). Here are the US-based cards you can get that will earn Delta SkyMiles points.

  • Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express – Earn 1 mile for every eligible US $1 spent, and double miles on Delta or Northwest Airlines purchases. Get 10,000 “Medallion Qualificiation Miles” after you make your first purchase with the card. Earn “Miles Boosts” of up to 30,000 “Medallion Qualification Miles” and 30,000 bonus miles. Apply for the Delta Reserve Credit Card
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express – Earn 1 mile for every eligible US $1 spent, and double miles on Delta or Northwest Airlines purchases. Get 20,000 bonus miles with your first purchase (5,000 of those points count as “Medallion Qualification Miles”). Earn “Miles Boosts” of up to 20,000 “Medallion Qualification Miles” each year. Apply for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express – Earn 1 mile for every eligible US $1 spent, and double miles on Delta or Northwest Airlines purchases. Get 20,000 bonus miles with your first purchase on the card and up to 5,000 bonus miles by adding additional cardmembers to your account. Earn “Miles Boosts” of up to 10,000 bonus miles each year.
  • Classic SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express – Earn 1 mile for every eligible US $1 spent. Get 5,000 bonus miles with your first purchase, and an additional 2,500 each year when you spend $10,000 in that year.
  • Options SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express – Earn 1 mile for every eligible US $1 spent with Delta, and 1 mile for every $2 spent on anything else. Get 1,000 bonus miles with your first purchase, and 1,000 bonus miles each year when you spend $5,000 in that year.
  • Diner’s Club Credit Card – You can transfer Diner’s Club Rewards points to your Delta SkyMiles account on a one mile per point basis.

If you bank with SunTrust Bank, or are interested in doing so, you can earn miles using your Visa check card from SunTrust, too. There are three SkyMiles Check Card options from SunTrust Bank which earn different points depending on the card.

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Car Rentals
There are several rental car companies which partner with Delta to help you earn SkyMiles points. With Alamo, Budget, Dollar, and National, you’ll earn 50 miles for every qualifying rental day at participating rental locations. Avis and Hertz give you that same 50 miles per day on rentals of 1-4 days, and they give you 500 miles per rental on qualifying rentals of 5+ days.

With Europcar, you’ll get 60 miles per day on your rental car. With Thrifty, you’ll get 50 miles per day and then 250 miles for parking 3 times in the same participating Thrifty parking lot in a one-year timeframe. Sixt gives you 500 miles per car rental or limo transfer, plus discounts on rentals to SkyMiles members.

Even if you’re not driving, you can still earn points. With SuperShuttle, you’ll earn 50 miles for each direction you’re taken to and from the airport when you book online. Or, book a limo with LimoRes and get 500 miles plus up to 5 additional miles for every $1 spent on vehicle reservations.

Dining & Shopping
The “dining” portion of this section is actually a short explanation, whereas the additional partners in this category is (again) a long list. To earn miles by eating out, you just need to sign up with SkyMiles Dining and register the credit or debit card you use the most. Then, every time you use that card (it can be any card, it doesn’t even have to be a Delta card) at one of the dining establishments on Delta’s list you’ll earn as many as 5 miles for every $1 you spend. It’s that easy.

Some of the other merchants who’ll help you earn Delta points are:

  • SkyMiles Subscriptions – Earn 200 miles or more with each magazine subscription
  • SkyMilesShopping.com – Earn up to 10 miles per $1 spent on the merchants listed
  • Netflix – Earn 1,500 miles when you join Netflix as a new member
  • Orkin – Earn 2,500 miles when sign up for Orkin’s services
  • Shutterfly – Earn 10 miles for $1 spent
  • LasikPlus – Earn up to 25,000 miles when you have LASIK at participating centers
  • Nutrisystem – Earn 10 miles per $1 spent at Nutrisystem
  • Neiman Marcus – Earn points by using your Neiman Marcus Credit Card which can be redeemed for SkyMiles
  • IdentityGuard – Earn 3,600 miles for an annual subscription
  • Fiji Water Delivery Service – Earn 2,500 miles with the purchase of Fiji service
  • Broadview Security – Earn 10,000 with installation of a Broadview Security system

Additionally, if you’re thinking of sending flowers to someone, you’ve got a few choices that’ll all earn you points with Delta – 1-800-Flowers, FTD, Organic Bouquet, and Teleflora all give you points for purchases. Details about how many points you’ll earn with each of these programs, and additional programs not listed here, can be found on the official SkyMiles site (link below).

Financial Services & Real Estate
The services in this category aren’t likely to be things you’ll do on a regular basis, but if you’re thinking about refinancing your mortgage or making an investment anyway, then you’ll want to check out which of the Delta financial and real estate partners can help you earn points while you’re doing just that.

For instance, with a Chase mortgage you’ll earn 1,350 points for every $10,000 borrowed for a new mortgage or a refinanced mortgage. Chase auto loans will also earn you points – up to 7,500 (2,500 miles for every $10,000 financed). If you open an account with Fidelity or TD Ameritrade, you could earn up to 25,000 bonus points.

If you close a loan deal with LendingTree, you can earn up to 1,250 points for every $10,000 loaned – and up to 3,000 points for every $10,000 of your home’s worth when you use LendingTree to buy or sell your home. Get an auto or home insurance quote with Liberty Mutual (no purchase necessary) and earn 500 miles.

Learn more about each of these, and the other financial/real estate partners, on the SkyMiles website.

Internet & Phone Services
There are a couple phone- or internet-related purchases you can make that’ll earn you points with Delta.

If you buy a new BlackBerry with a new wireless service, or extend your existing contract, you can earn 4,000 miles. If you sign up for Call in Europe for mobile phone service overseas, you can earn 1,000 miles automatically plus an additional 2 miles for every outbound call minute. If you get an annual T-Mobile HotSpot subscription, you can earn 5,000 miles. Complete details are available on the SkyMiles website (link below).

Cruises & Vacations
In addition to Delta’s own vacation planning department – Delta Vacations – which will earn you up to 7,500 bonus miles when you use their services, Delta also partners with Hilton’s and Marriott’s vacation planning services. With Hilton, you can earn 500 miles per stay or 1 mile for every eligible $1 spent. With Marriott, you’ll earn 2 miles for every eligible $1 spent on qualifying charges. More in the mood for a cruise? Book your next cruise adventure with SkyMiles Cruises and earn up to 10,000 bonus miles.

Limited Time Offers
Each of the categories above has within it a sub-category of “limited time offers” – deals which will help you earn more miles than normal with each program – so it pays to keep on top of what new and limited offers are available.

To learn more about the Delta SkyMiles program and get more information about each of the earning options listed in this article, visit the official Delta SkyMiles program website.

photo by Franco Folini