Delta’s amazing 100% bonus on transferred miles through December 16, 2011

Through December 16, 2011, Delta is offering a 100% bonus on transferred miles. Transfers cost one cent per mile, plus a $30 per transaction processing fee. You can transfer a maximum of 30,000 SkyMiles in a single transaction. That means transferring 30,000 SkyMiles would cost you $330, and would get you 60,000 miles in the second account (a net gain of 30,000 miles). That’s an amazing 1.1 cents per mile.

The fine print is that you can transfer a maximum of 150,000 miles out of a SkyMiles account per calendar year, and a maximum of 300,000 SkyMiles into a SkyMiles account per calendar year. Of course you can have multiple family members take advantage of the offer. The major restriction is that accounts need to have been been open for at least 10 days before taking advantage of this offer, and must have earned at least one mile before taking advantage of the offer.

This is the second time this year that Delta is running this promotion. They offered the same promotion in August and September, and as I mentioned at the time, I intended to take full advantage of the promotion.

Keep in mind that if you don’t currently have any Delta SkyMiles you can build your balance to take advantage of this promotion by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards using the current bonus, which is a 30% refund of Membership Rewards points, the equivalent of a 43% bonus.

When it comes to most promotions for purchasing or transferring miles I usually have the same general advice: only take advantage of the offer if you have a specific use for the miles in mind.

So I’m about to make a bold statement. A really bold statement. You guys ready? I recommend speculatively buying SkyMiles at this rate. Are you in shock? Yeah, I can’t believe I said it either.

I hate to admit it, but as a relative matter, Delta SkyMiles are getting more and more valuable by the day. One of my biggest complaints about SkyMiles is that you can’t redeem them for international first class. Well, given recent events, including Lufthansa no longer releasing first class award space in advance, that competitive disadvantage isn’t as major of a point anymore.

Nowadays I’d actually say that SkyMiles are best positioned for a lot of different types of trips, including:

  • Business class to Europe on Air France
  • Business class to Tahiti on Air France/Air Tahiti Nui
  • Business class to Mauritius on Air France through Paris
  • Business class to India/Middle East on Air France
  • Business class to Australia on V Australia

So seriously, how can you go wrong here?

This translates to an $1,100 business class ticket (plus tax) from Los Angeles to Paris on Air France:

This translates to a $1,650 business class ticket (plus tax) from Los Angeles to Tahiti on Air France:

Don’t have any plans over the holidays and hate your family and/or in-laws? SkyTeam still has plenty of award space to Europe over the next few weeks. Forget British Airways’ $2012 business class sale, this is nearly half the price.

And there really is a lot of award space. I randomly just typed in Seattle to Amsterdam, for example, and take a look at the amount of low level award space:

So if you’ve got the money sitting around, this is one of those things that just can’t be a bad investment, in my opinion.

Filed Under: Awards, Delta
  1. how do i use these miles to australia, i tried signing up for a velocity account and it says only australian residents can do so



  2. You say: “Keep in mind that if you don’t currently have any Delta SkyMiles you can build your balance to take advantage of this promotion by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards using the current bonus, which is a 30% refund of Membership Rewards points, the equivalent of a 43% bonus.”

    But the T&C says: “Transfer Miles may only be donated and received by SkyMiles accounts that have been established for at least 10 days and have earned at least one automatically posted mile since enrolling in the Delta SkyMiles program.”

    So you can’t create a new account and then transfer miles in. If you have an old, depleted account though, that’s ok.

  3. I live in seattle and travel 4-6 times a year and wanted to know which airline I should concentrate building miles on. We mainly go to hawaii with occasional trips throughout the us , mexico. rarely trips to asia and europe.

    thanks a bunch

  4. All well and good for those who live in a ST gateway…. for the rest of us, just try finding DL low-level award space for the positioning!

  5. Just an unrelated suggestion – could you maybe take screenshots with slightly higher resolution going forward, as the ones from the article are a bit difficult to read.

  6. @ mark — You can always register a fake address in Australia. Just pick your favorite hotel and put that as your residence, and that should do the trick.

    @ Jettyboy — It’s certainly not my favorite, though I’d say it’s comparably to Lufthansa business class, given that they have similar types of seats.

    @ AdamRx — You can have one stopover per international award.

    @ swag — Good point, though I do believe a Membership Rewards transfer would qualify for that, no?

    @ The Travel Abstract — Absolutely, as long as you stay within the transfer limits.

    @ samuel — Living in Seattle, Alaska isn’t a bad program given that they partner with so many airlines and are your hometown airline.

    @ Vitaly — Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll take closer in screenshots in the future.

  7. Transfer from a GM or SM account to PM or DM and get the added advantage of flexibility (cancel up to 72 hours pre flight)

  8. @ AdamRx – Not to contradict Ben on his own blog, but you get one stopover AND one open jaw on an international award. You can basically have up to 8 segments as long as the routing makes sense.

  9. So here’s what I ended up completing today. In 11 transactions between 3 family skymiles accounts, starting out with a 60,000 mile transfer, I accumulated 450,000 miles in bonus’. When you add in the skymiles points I get for the charges on my DELTA AMEX card, my cost is 1.045 cents per mile. I just snagged two award tickets for 25,000 miles each (my cost $261.25) that have economy fare at $1029 each and one award ticket for 32,5000 miles (my cost $339.63) that has a fare of $565. This is a value of 3.18 cents per mile redeemed, pretty good. So basically I saved $1761 on those 3 tickets alone. This also allows me to leave my 110,000 BUSINESS PLATINUM AMEX membership reward points in AMEX until a really good transfer bonus comes along, hopefully one with MQM’s! We live in a remote town, in a remote state and frequently travel through MSP to another remote town to visit kids, the fare for this route is always really high because of lack of competition on the route. My wife and I are self-employed and have flexible schedules, so I hope we can get a lot of last minute 25,000 mile awards and parlay our purchased 1 cent miles into 3 cents redemptions – saving 1/3 on our airfares! The ONLY downside I see to this is the 450,000 miles do not count towards lifetime million miler, oh, and it took several hours of spread sheet work to figure out the least expensive way to accomplish these transfers and end up with the majority of the bonus points in my GOLD MEDALLION account.

  10. Does it make any sense to do this for Canadians? For those like me in YYZ, I’m guessing it’s very hard to get low space into a DL hub (I guess Detroit for us up here), and positioning flights would probably be expensive.

    Ben, would you recommend Canadians print Delta miles? I guess we also have 13% tax on any transaction with Delta.

  11. @ Michael — I absolutely would. Air France flies from Toronto to Paris and has good business class award space, so this is a good way to get to just about anywhere in Europe for cheap.

    @ Kevin — No, it is 1.1 cents per mile. If you transfer 30,000 miles for $330 you get 60,000 miles, a net gain of 30,000 miles for $330. That’s 1.1 cents per mile.

  12. @lucky, right… But typically the points in the other program are more valuable… If you are equating them to skypesos, then yes – but if you were to say Amex points were more valuable than sky pesos, there would be some kind of offset…

    Not all miles are created equal… No?

  13. @ Kevin — The 1.1 cent figure is assuming you already have some SkyMiles you can transfer around. If you’re transferring from AmEx you’re correct that some “cost” would need to be factored in, given that those miles are a bit more valuable.

  14. Hi lucky,

    You’re right about the lots of award space on YYZ-CDG. I just checked the taxes and it’s $693 on I’m guessing that’s a fuel surcharge in there (they don’t seem to give a breakdown) — would one pay that on redeeming a Delta award? DL does have surcharges on flights that don’t leave from the US, right? If you pay $693 in taxes + $1100 for the miles + 13% tax on the miles you’re at around $1900 a ticket, which is still not bad for business class, but is more than I could comfortably pay 🙂

  15. @ Michael — Delta actually only imposes fuel surcharges for redemptions originating in Europe, so you wouldn’t have to pay those. Expect taxes to be closer to $150 roundtrip.

  16. @lucky,

    ah i see – i didn’t factor people just transferring skymiles between each other – that’s just a brain fart on my behalf.

  17. The skypeso rises…

    I’m not sure if I trust the award calendar given its sketchy past, but availability to Europe on AF is really quite good, especially from the east coast. Fairly recently someone mentioned interest in booking a TATL award with relatively fixed dates in may/june, and when I checked most east coast gateways had multiple seats in biz available every day +/-3 days from the desired dates.

    I can vouch for the Mauritius option (or Reunion for that matter) as well – it was pretty easy to book an itinerary through paris to reunion and mauritius (open jaw down there, but only because we wanted to see both islands – availability was pretty decent) with a stopover in Paris on the way back.

    I also just redeemed 25k skypesos to get my sister home for christmas. The ticket (small market to small market) would be $850 otherwise. It’s not a terrible idea to have miles in multiple programs as a hedge against last-minute high-cost travel as well.

    Eric: I believe (and this is my experience) $100 and under will likely be reimbursed. I did a $100 transfer under the same promotion when offered earlier this year and it was reimbursed.

  18. I am confused by something with skymiles. Ben, in your travelsort article you stated that all partner awards price at the “low” bucket for miles, but I am not finding that to be the case on the website. Is this indeed still the case that any availabilitiy in air france biz should price at 100k? Perhaps i am looking at things incorrectly.
    thanks for the clarification

  19. Ryan,
    Partner flights price at low. To get low pricing you need to hook up to them with a low connecting flight to your gateway. That is generally a bit more challenging than actually securing the space TATL.

  20. @Ryan — my newbie understanding of the “low” partner awards is that Delta will only “pay” for a partner award when the lowest award fare class is available from the partner. In the case of FlyingBlue (AF/KLM), that’s the “Classic” award fare. Since you can only book an award flight on a partner that’s at the partner’s low rate, you get the low rate on DL. The trick, as Matt said, is getting to the partner’s gateway for the low award rate. So getting to ATL/IAD/LAX/CDG/AMS/etc. is usually the hard part.

  21. @ TCho — Alitalia actually has excellent award space in business class, even on their A330s equipped with the new business class product.

  22. Moving to Hong Kong January 2nd and transferred around enough to get miles to fly my mom and sis from MSP to HKG (coach, biz seems tough to find). Now trying to figure out if buying more speculatively makes sense being in Hong Kong. I can use the miles on Vietnam Airlines and Korean Air. And on Delta to go to Japan. Plus trips back to the US but biz seems tough, though not coach. Thoughts? Anything I’m missing?

  23. Delta Pulled this deal early! Site states “Our Transfer Miles limited-time offer expired on December 16, 2011, but don’t sweat it.”..blah blah, tried to do this just before midnight the 15th but didn’t get on until just after (so 16th), called Delta and was transferred to online support, they had no explanation, the guy was no help. I stated that ending a promotion on December 16 typically means it expires midnight of that day, not the beginning of that day! I will keep trying to get someone worthwhile to speak to and get this righted…please help-Rise Up!

  24. I discovered that that it does work if you go through normal transfer steps and bonus miles to recipient will appear in step 3 of 4. Clicking on the 100% Bonus Offer will get you an error message….whacky, why do they do that?

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