There are presently welcome bonuses on the co-branded Delta American Express cards:
I’ve shared what I consider to be the best strategy for applying for these cards, and experience with getting approved. While some like to call SkyMiles worthless, I think there are lots of great uses of these miles. The reality is that SkyMiles remain extremely useful for business class travel to Europe and Asia, which are two of the most popular destinations which people try to redeem miles to.
Redeeming SkyMiles for China Airlines business class is super easy
For those who think SkyMiles are worthless, I do think it’s worth pointing out a way you can redeem your miles without any restrictions. This is a method Nick mentioned he takes advantage of in his post in defense of Delta a while back.
Delta’s Pay With Miles option
There’s no denying that Delta would love to switch to a revenue based program on the redemption side, and that they’re basically trying to establish the mileage currency as something worth one cent per mile.
When redeeming miles through the traditional award chart, some people get considerably more than one cent of value per mile per mile, while others get considerably less than one cent of value per mile.
However, there’s one type of redemption to be aware of, which isn’t offered in the same way through American or United.
Delta has a Pay With Miles option, where you can essentially redeem miles for a discount on the cost of a cash ticket. You can redeem in increments of 5,000 miles, with each set of 5,000 miles getting you a $50 discount. What makes this cool is that you still earn elite qualifying miles for your ticket, and still earn redeemable miles for the portion of your ticket which you paid for in cash.
This is available exclusively to those with a co-branded Delta American Express card, so other members can’t take advantage of this. If you are eligible, you should automatically see the option when you log into your SkyMiles account and search for a revenue ticket.
Take the below flight between Los Angeles and Seattle, which costs $78.10. As you’ll see, below the price it says “Pay with Miles eligible.”
When you get to the next page you’ll have the option of choosing how many miles you want to redeem towards the ticket. You could redeem 5,000 miles and then pay just $28.10.
Or you could redeem 10,000 miles and pay nothing (which I wouldn’t do, since those 10,000 miles could also be used for a $100 ticket — you’d be “wasting” ~$22).
I’d argue this is a significantly better redemption option than booking an award ticket. An award ticket would cost 7,000 miles plus $5.60 in taxes. I’d much rather redeem 5,000 miles and pay a total of $28.10, so that I’d earn Medallion Qualifying miles plus also have higher upgrade priority (award tickets are prioritized last for upgrades).
This is an even better deal if you wanted to outright book first class on the above flight. A paid ticket costs $172.10, meaning you could redeem 15,000 miles and then pay $22.10, while an outright award ticket would cost you 37,500 miles.
Delta 737 first class
This certainly wouldn’t be my first choice for redeeming SkyMiles, as I’d much rather redeem them at the saver level for travel on partner airlines.
For example, I think New York to Taipei in China Airlines’ excellent business class product represents a considerably better value, since I value a business class ticket to Asia at more than $700 one-way.
However, I know lots of people who are trying to requalify for status and don’t otherwise have time to redeem miles, and they’d much rather redeem their SkyMiles through the Pay With Miles option.
Delta SkyMiles Pay With Miles bottom line
Pay With Miles is an exclusive benefit for those with one of Delta’s co-branded credit cards. This isn’t how I choose to redeem SkyMiles, since I earn miles primarily in order to book international premium cabin redemptions. However, I think this is a great option to have, and it’s something many value.
I know lots of people who collect miles & points precisely because they don’t want to pay for airline tickets, but rather want to redeem miles as inexpensively as possible. Lately we’ve been seeing a ton of fare sales, both in business class and economy class, so taking advantage of one of those in conjunction with a Pay With Miles deal could make a lot of sense.
This is also great for people who really want to requalify for status, but don’t have enough free time to redeem their miles efficiently. This helps them save money on requalifying for status, while not racking up too big a balance of SkyMiles (since miles devalue over time).
Like I said, I’d personally rather part with one cent than one SkyMile, but everyone values things like this differently, and I know plenty of people who swear by Pay With Miles. So I don’t think it’s a bad use of SkyMiles.
To Delta loyalists, do you ever use the Pay With Miles option?