First things first. If you are relatively new to miles and points hobby, you should not invest in Delta SkyMiles. Not yet, anyway. Focus on Chase and Capital One cards first, because they will be much harder to get later on, assuming this hobby becomes an obsession (which it probably will). If, however, you already got several valuable Chase/Capital One offers and are looking to diversify, Amex should be the next logical choice.
Ideally, you want to first focus on cards that earn valuable Membership Rewards (flexible points that transfer to miles). Certain Amex cashback products, like Blue Cash Preferred, are also usually worth getting. But then what? You basically have a choice of Marriott, Hilton or Delta co-branded cards.
Most people would put Delta offers dead last on their priority list. In fact, I was one of those people. I did sign up for one card in my name, and that’s it. Don’t get me wrong, I was planning on getting to the rest of Amex Delta lineup someday. But I just never had any specific use for them, so I chose to focus on Hilton currency in the meantime.
Well. Amex has introduced the bonus qualification pop-up tool awhile back (see Nancy’s recent post). Ever since then, I’ve tried and tried applying for Delta offers in mine or my husband’s names, to no avail.
When will Amex deem me worthy of a new sign-up bonus? That’s a million dollar question. Unlike Chase 5/24 rule, we don’t know what proprietary formula they use to weed out deadbeats. I certainly don’t blame them for protecting their bottom line, and don’t take it personally. I just want my Delta miles. And now that I can’t have them, I want them even more.
Are Delta miles really worthless?
Of course not! No, no, no. It makes me laugh when I see readers or bloggers proclaim this universal “truth”. Sure, they aren’t usually valuable if you only want to fly upfront. The rates via miles are often astronomical, no argument there. Though as with everything in life, there are exceptions if you look hard enough.
If you usually fly in economy, then you should definitely research Delta award prices for your particular route. You might be surprised by what you’ll find. If you live near Delta hub, you absolutely should consider having at least some Delta currency on hand.
Do you prefer Southwest because it lets you check in bags for free? All the more reason to use Delta miles and save valuable Rapid Rewards points for later. It costs $30 to check in a bag, hardly a deal breaker in my book. Plus, if you have a co-branded Delta credit card, it’s free.
Few years ago, we flew Spirit because it was a much better deal compared to Southwest. We survived. I certainly have preferences when it comes to airline carriers but ultimately, it’s about saving money. As long as departure time works with my schedule and as long as I don’t have to make several connections, I’m game. Delta, Spirit, Southwest…it doesn’t really mater. In the end, it’s just a bus in the sky that gets me to my destination.
Plus, don’t forget that if you happen to hold Delta co-branded card, you can use miles at 1 cent apiece towards Delta flights. But you can usually do better.
The strength (as well as weakness) of Delta award pricing lies in the fact that what you see online is what you get. It’s not true for all partners but for the most part, you do a search and Delta website spits out the results. You won’t book any convoluted routes with several stopovers for one crazy-low price. No free one-ways to Hawaii here, folks. But you won’t have to call a foreign center and hope they speak good enough English.
Also, as crazy as it is for some of our brethren to believe, not everyone collects miles so they can fly to Europe via Asia, while making several stops along the way. Some folks simply want to take their kids from New York to Florida for spring break. Delta miles don’t ever expire, so you can simply hang on to your stash until you find a decent use for it.
A Few Delta partnerships that don’t get much coverage
Something I was recently surprised by is WestJet partnership. In a few years we are thinking about going to Halifax, Canada. Lo and behold, WestJet flies there non-stop from Orlando on Sundays. In fact, it’s the only airline that does so in the summer months. Pricing varies, but I was able to find a few days in June with 12,500 SkyMiles rate:
The same flight was running at $180, so it’s a respectable return on your miles. As I’ve said earlier, you won’t usually get a mind-blowing value when it comes to Delta program, but flying to Canada non-stop from Orlando for 12,500 Delta miles is certainly a good deal.
Another option I don’t see covered often is the ability to redeem on Hawaii inter-island flights, operated by Hawaiian Airlines. If you are planning to pay cash, it could make sense to dip into your Delta stash instead.
While Delta program isn’t the best option for flying from Mainland to Hawaii, it may come in handy if you don’t want to burn your valuable flexible points. Here is an example for early August from Kauai to LAX:
I could give many more examples but my point is, Delta miles are not worthless. They are just another tool in your travel hacking arsenal. they won’t always be the right tool for the job, but you shouldn’t automatically dismiss this currency because most bloggers don’t like it.
In this environment you have to be picky
As I’ve said earlier, I chose to prioritize Amex Hilton cards in the last few years. I certainly had fun with my Hilton points, but there was a steep opportunity cost to that decision. Obviously, I don’t lose sleep over it. It’s just miles, folks. Plus, it’s not like my Hilton points were wasted.
Staying on the island of Moorea courtesy of Hilton
Still, back in the day I could have loaded up on at least additional 200k Delta miles with relative ease. I do have 63k miles at the moment and hope to use them on non-stop flight from LAX to Tampa. Will I ever be able to get the sign-up bonus on other Delta co-branded cards? We shall see.
A reminder: the increased referral offers for Delta cards end on May 1st. They will most definitely come back in the future, so this isn’t a “last call” type post. If you are planning to apply and aren’t able to generate your own referral link, I hope you consider using one of mine:
Referral link for Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card (60,000 miles+$50 statement credit on Delta purchase, first year fee waived)
Referral link for Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card(75,000 miles+$100 statement credit on Delta purchase, annual fee of $195 is not waived)
Offers on business Delta cards are currently reduced, so I recommend skipping them for now. Also, keep in mind that sometimes you can find higher targeted offers on these cards, though I’m not aware of any at this time.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.