One of my greatest pleasures in life is travel. Moreover, I’m lucky that I’ve spent more than a decade writing about how to use credit cards to make the most of my travel. In fact, I’m able to significantly reduce the cost of my travel by using various rewards programs to make the most of each dollar I spend.
Being a member of the Delta SkyMiles program has been one of the greatest advantages in my effort to save money on travel. After all, booking a flight can be one of the most expensive parts of travel. If you can fly for free, that’s an immediate reduction in your total travel cost.
If you’re booking travel this month, here are some of the best ways to use Delta SkyMiles. Even if you don’t travel this month, you might be able to get some great deals for your future travel.
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1. Get One-Way Tickets for Less Than 5,000 Miles Within the U.S.
Delta did away with its awards chart a while ago, so finding the best deals can be a little difficult. The good news, though, is that there are some routes where you can get a really great deal on one-way tickets, including those for less than 5,000 miles.
Book a trip now for April between San Francisco and Seattle and you might even be able to get something for 4,500 miles, plus the $5.60 charges in taxes and fees. This even though Delta claims redemption starts at 10,000 miles.
2. Fly to New Zealand for 45,000 Miles on Virgin Australia
It’s possible to book award flights with partners on Delta.com, including partners like Virgin, which aren’t part of the Star Alliance. For example, a ticket from San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand is only 45,000 miles one way on partner Virgin Australia for travel in May. Normally, you’d pay $1,108.70 for this ticket. This is a redemption rate of about 2.5 cents per mile, which is a pretty good deal.
You can also fly to South Pacific destinations, like Fiji, starting at 45,000 miles on Virgin Australia.
3. Go to Paris in Delta One Suites for 80,000 Miles
Looking for a truly first-class experience? If you have a long lead time, you can get a great deal on Delta One Suites to Paris. Book in February for a trip in August, and you can score this amazing deal. Normally, you’d pay $9,229 for a one-way trip to Paris from L.A. in one of these suites. If you can get this deal, you’ll end up with a redemption value of 11.5 cents per mile — and that’s pretty amazing.
It’s also worth noting that, depending on when you fly, it’s possible to find one-way routes between the U.S. and various European cities starting at 25,000 miles in economy.
4. Fly Prestige from Japan to Australia on Korean Air for 75,000 Miles
Spending time abroad? You can fly from Tokyo to Sydney in June — with a Prestige seat — for the one-way award price of 75,000 miles. If that’s too much for you, you can still fly in economy for 45,000. However, you’ll get a better value for your miles by redeeming for the upgraded seat.
Consider that you’ll have a layover in Seoul, and if you have a long enough layover, you could actually do a little sightseeing. Or, if you just want to relax, the Korean Air lounge at the Incheon airport is one of the best-regarded lounges out there.
5. Visit Bangkok Starting at 35,000 Miles
Heading to Asia? Delta offers a number of award routes that start at 35,000 miles one way for economy seats. If you want to visit Bangkok in October, there are other options as well, including some Premium Select seats starting at 115,000 miles. However, in this case, you might actually get a better bang for your reward buck by flying Economy, or at least Comfort +, than actually getting the upgraded seat.
Run the numbers, comparing your award flight to the cost you’d pay in dollars to see where the biggest value is.
6. Go Roundtrip in the U.S. for Less Than 30,000 Miles
What if you’re like me, and you live in an area that’s harder to fly out of? Many of these great deals are for those who live near major airports. It’s still possible to find roundtrip flights for less than 30,000 miles within the U.S. If you’re flexible with your dates and airports, you can get a good deal.
I was able to find something for 26,000 miles, flying me roundtrip from Jackson Hole (1.5 hours away) to Newark (convenient to both New York City and Philadelphia by train) in September.
This is actually a route I’ve used on multiple occasions to get a solid redemption of about 3.3 cents per mile. That’s really not too bad when you think about it, especially when you consider that flying roundtrip from Idaho Falls to Paris during the same time period would only result in a redemption value of about 1.2 cents per mile (88,000 miles roundtrip).
7. Use Miles to Reduce the Cost of a Delta Vacation
For those who like the idea of an all-inclusive experience, with a flight and hotel included, it’s possible to book through Delta Vacations and reduce your cost using Delta SkyMiles. You can redeem up to 999,999 miles on the website, reducing the cost of your trip.
For example, a vacation for two in October, with roundtrip flights from LAX and a stay at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, would cost $4,856.76 for two people. By using 450,000 miles, it’s possible to get that price down to $856.76. When redeeming this way, miles are only worth 1 cent apiece, so the value isn’t as great as some of the other deals, but it can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket costs.
Sometimes, it’s more about the practicality of the situation and less about the straight redemption value. Carefully consider your own needs as you move forward. You might be surprised at the deals you can score with a little patience.
How Does the Delta SkyMiles Program Work?
Delta SkyMiles is a loyalty program that rewards members with free and discounted travel for purchasing flights through Delta. Miles don’t expire, so many casual travelers may find they’ve earned several thousand of them over the years. You use Delta SkyMiles to pay for flights or to upgrade an existing Delta booking.
Our guide to the Delta SkyMiles program details current mile value, mile redemption and best practices. Understanding how the program works will help you squeeze the most out of your experience.
How To Earn SkyMiles Points
Travelers can earn Delta SkyMiles by spending money on Delta flights. Similarly, Delta’s travel partners will offer customers the chance to earn SkyMiles through special promotions. In the past, Lyft, Hertz and Airbnb have allowed SkyMile members to attach their account numbers for accelerated earnings when using their services.
The most popular way to earn SkyMiles is by using a Delta SkyMiles credit card. These travel cards allow account holders to earn miles for their everyday spending. Delta SkyMiles cards also offer bonus miles on cardholder anniversaries and as a welcome bonus for signing up.
Becoming a SkyMiles member is free, but earning rewards will require spending.
Best Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards
If you’ve gathered several thousand SkyMiles over the past couple of years, but not enough to purchase your next flight — consider applying for a Delta SkyMiles Credit Card. They are generally regarded among the best travel credit cards. Plus, new cardholders are awarded big sign-up bonuses after meeting an initial spending requirement.