Valuing Delta Amex Bonuses

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Update: These offers for the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express have expired. Learn more about the current offers here.


Through April 3, 2019, there are some great welcome bonuses on Delta’s co-branded American Express cards.

Details of Delta Amex Card increased bonuses

Some of the increased Delta Amex bonuses include the following:

  • The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card is offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 within the first three months; earn a $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase with your card within the first three months
  • The Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card is offering a welcome bonus of 75,000 bonus miles plus 5,000 bonus MQMs after spending $3,000 within the first three months; earn a $100 statement credit after making a Delta purchase with your card within the first three months
  • The Delta Reserve® Credit Card is offering a welcome bonus of 75,000 bonus miles plus 5,000 bonus MQMs after spending $5,000 within the first three months

These are among the best offers we’ve ever seen on the cards, and you’re eligible for the bonuses on each of these cards, as they’re all considered separate products.

For what it’s worth, those statement credits are triggered by virtually any Delta-coded purchase, even if it’s less than the $50-100 statement credit, so you can actually make money on those credit.

How much are Delta SkyMiles worth?

Personally I value Delta SkyMiles at 1.2 cents each. I’m conservative about valuing points, simply because you’re holding onto a currency that can easily be devalued (this is especially true with SkyMiles, since they don’t publish award prices).

Ideally I’d recommend redeeming SkyMiles for business class on a SkyTeam partner airline, like China Airlines, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, etc. For example, China Airlines offers an exceptional business class product, and they’re also generally good about making award space available.

85,000 SkyMiles for a one-way business class ticket from the US to Asia is quite a deal, if you ask me.


China Airlines’ 777 business class

However, for many people just redeeming for domestic travel is a lot more practical.

That’s one of the areas where Delta SkyMiles can be a great program. I know many people get frustrated by miles, and think an offer isn’t worth taking advantage of because the miles will be hard to redeem.

Delta’s “Pay With Miles” feature

The good news is that unlike some other points currencies, SkyMiles have a legitimate “floor” value, thanks to the ability to redeem SkyMiles as cash towards the cost of a ticket.

If you have a Delta co-branded credit card then you can redeem SkyMiles for one cent each towards the cost of a ticket, in increments of 5,000 miles. The Pay With Miles benefit is available exclusively to those with select Delta co-branded credit cards, and even elite members without the credit card don’t have access to this benefit.


You should use Pay With Miles for a Delta One ticket

In other words, if a ticket costs $200, you could choose to pay $150 plus 5,000 miles, $100 plus 10,000 miles, $50 plus 15,000 miles, or just pay 20,000 miles outright. The best part is that for all practical purposes these are still considered “paid” tickets. This means that:

  • You’re eligible for complimentary upgrades on these tickets as an elite member (assuming you don’t book a Basic Economy ticket)
  • You’re eligible for Medallion Qualifying Miles and Medallion Qualifying Segments for these tickets
  • You earn redeemable miles based only on the portion of the ticket for which you’re paying cash

That’s an especially great option for someone who is trying to requalify for status with Delta, since you can earn miles towards status requalification while redeeming.

Even for someone who doesn’t want to go through the effort of redeeming SkyMiles, this is something that’s very much a worthwhile welcome bonus.

Let me just emphasize again that this isn’t personally how I’d choose to redeem SkyMiles. Even though Delta has significantly increased many award costs over the past few years, I still think you can get more value through premium cabin redemptions.

However, there is something to be said for there being a floor value for miles, because I can see many people redeeming American and United miles for significantly less than a penny of value per point.

Crunching the numbers

On the most basic level, this means that if you get the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, the 60,000 miles could be redeemed for $600+ worth of travel on Delta. On top of that, you get a $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase, getting you an additional $50 worth of value.

Meanwhile, if you get the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, the 75,000 miles could be redeemed for $750+ worth of travel. On top of that, you get a $100 statement credit after making a Delta purchase, getting you an additional $100 worth of value. That doesn’t even factor in the value of the 5,000 MQMs that you get.

Bottom line

The current welcome bonuses on the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit CardPlatinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, and Delta Reserve® Credit Card, are well worth it for anyone who doesn’t have these cards.

SkyMiles has some useful partners for international premium cabin redemptions, and ideally, that’s how I’d redeem these miles. However, at an absolute minimum being able to redeem them for a penny each towards the cost of a Delta ticket is a solid option as well.

That means 60,000 miles can get you $600 worth of travel, while 75,000 miles can get you $750 worth of travel.

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Comments

  1. Looks like I might be taking another trip to Santa Barbara, California in the near future to advance the “side hustle millionaire” agenda. 🙂

  2. I get that you’re trying to push credit cards but we’re really rather overdue for a frank assessment of SkyMiles. I actually think their value isn’t bad if you’re okay redeeming for domestic coach, because if anything the value of domestic coach redemptions has increased in the past few years and can regularly yield 1.3 cents per mile or more (and is often more lucrative than AA or UA for such redemptions, especially for “non-saver” redemptions where AA and UA jump right to 50K roundtrip while Delta often has options in the 30-40K range).

    But international business redemptions have really tanked. I remember when you did an article years ago pointing out Delta’s various attractive and at-that-time readily available partner redemptions like Korean, Aeroflot, Air France, Alitalia, and Virgin Australia — all of those are now all but non-existent.

  3. You left out one VERY VERY important thing about China Airlines business class redemption on Delta:
    If you can find a award connecting flight to another city in Asia out of TPE on China Airlines, you can call Delta to add it onto your US city-TPE itinerary without paying extra miles.

    For example, you can search LAX-TPE on Delta and see the CI option, but if you searched LAX-SIN it won’t show you CI as option. If you searched TPE-SIN you can see the China Airlines flight. To book them separately on Delta.com it would be 85k (LAX-TPE)+40k (TPE-SIN). BUT, if you booked the LAX-TPE online using 85k first, then call Delta they can add the TPE-SIN leg onto your itinerary at no additional miles just taxes. I got SFO-TPE-BKK China Airlines business class for 85k miles that way. Thanks to this hack I turned my Skypesos to Skymiles, and I agree availability is decent.

  4. @Lucky The first checked bag is free benefit for these AmEx, are they for US domestic only or for all Delta flights, including international like Caribbean & Mexico, and how about Basic Economy? Thanks!

  5. I’ve used 2 Delta Amex bonuses for 2 Delta One transatlantic trips one way each. Worth it imo. Plus the Delta discounted skymiles fares are sometimes intriguing for international travel in coach which can be upgraded with cash or miles.

  6. @Gabe The first checked bag free benefit from the cards only applies to domestic flights. It does apply to Basic Economy. Most international flights include a free checked bag anyway if you don’t book Basic Economy. Make sure to check Delta’s website for your specific destination, though, as checked bag inclusions vary *a lot* by destination country.

  7. @vbscript2 Thanks for the clarification! I know the credit cards for AA and UA that have one free checked bag benefit only applied to domestic flights, but when I read the fine prints for the Delta cards, it really didn’t say it’s only for domestic at all; thus, the question.

    As for the Delta credit cards’ offer, I remember the highest number of bonus miles I’ve ever seen was 85,000, so these are pretty close.

  8. Another thing to note, of annoyance. I’ve held the DL Plat Skymiles AMEX for 20+ years now and have gotten good value from it. I acquired the card with no signup bonus. AMEX refuses to grant me the current signup bonus…great customer service there 🙁

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