As one of the big three airlines in the U.S., Delta Air Lines more than likely services your city or one near you. Being loyal to Delta and their SkyMiles program has some amazing benefits, especially if you’re looking to redeem those hard-earned miles for free flights.
There is much more to a loyalty program than earning miles, however. Let’s review some of the benefits of the Delta SkyMiles program that you might not be aware of.
» Learn more: Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program: The complete guide
Miles never expire
As long as you’re a member of the SkyMiles program, your miles never expire. Many airlines make you have some sort of activity every year to keep your balance intact, and if you’re not a frequent flyer (or earning/redeeming miles another way), you might lose out on those miles. With Delta, you keep whatever miles you earn until you’re ready to use them.
This gives you the opportunity to save up miles for larger awards instead of feeling like you have to spend them before they expire.
Earn and redeem with partners
Delta has over 26 partners that you can redeem your miles with. Of those 26 partners, 21 can be booked directly on Delta’s website.
Apart from the SkyTeam member airlines, Delta has forged relationships with Air Tahiti Nui, WestJet, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Mandarin Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, GOL and Hawaiian Airlines.
Combined, all these partners offer over 1,000 destinations to explore.
Free changes on most domestic tickets
Delta does not impose change fees on domestic tickets, except basic economy fares. You still have to pay the difference if the new itinerary is more expensive than the original, but this policy nevertheless offers terrific flexibility for travelers who like or need to change plans.
Frequent sales for Delta flights
Delta frequently offers discounted award tickets for their own flights starting as low as 2,500 miles. Web specials and flash sales are common, and finding a cross-country flight for only 6,500 miles each way is not unusual.
Easy to earn with credit cards
Delta offers both business and personal credit cards with varying bonus offers. You’ll earn at least double miles on all Delta purchases and at least 1 mile everywhere else.
Elite loyalty benefits
Delta has four elite “Medallion” levels: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond. Each level offers increasing benefits. For the casual traveler, three of our favorite elite benefits are:
1. Unlimited upgrades
No confusing vouchers to use or miles to apply. If there is a seat in first class available and you are an elite member, you can be on the waitlist for an upgrade. All paid tickets except for E fares are eligible for upgrades.
2. Bonus miles at each tier
Non-elite members earn 5 miles per $1 spent on Delta flights. Once you become elite, the benefits increase. Silver Medallion members earn 7 miles per $1, Gold members earn 8, Platinum members earn 9 and Diamond members earn 11 miles for every $1 spent on Delta flights.
3. Baggage fee waivers
As an elite member, you won’t pay baggage fees and will get a nice bump in your baggage allowance. All elite members are allowed 70 pounds per bag instead of the usual 50. While Silver members get their first 70-pound bag for free, Gold members get two bags, and Platinum and Diamond members get three bags each.
This benefit extends to up to eight passengers on the same reservation. If you’re traveling as a family, this means you can save hundreds of dollars compared to those without elite status.
Rollover Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs)
If you manage to earn Medallion status, any extra qualifying miles that you earn toward the next elite level (but don’t quite get there) roll over to next year to give you a jump start on that year’s qualification.
For example, if you hit Gold status and then fly an additional 10,000 MQMs, those miles will roll over to the next year — on Jan. 1 you’ll already be 10,000 miles ahead.
Clear Membership Discounts
Clear is a helpful time-saver that has rolled out to a large number of major airports in the United States. They use advanced biometric data to allow you to keep your ID in your wallet and breeze through security. The lines are almost nonexistent, and you can bypass any security verification lines to expedite your TSA screening.
For a general SkyMiles member with no elite status, Delta offers a discounted membership of $119 per year. Have a Delta credit card? The cost is reduced to $109 per year. The same pricing applies to Silver, Gold and Platinum Medallion Members. If you’re lucky enough to be a Diamond Medallion member, the usual $179 fee is waived entirely.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: The complete guide to Delta Medallion elite status Credit cards with TSA Precheck or Global Entry credits 8 best airline credit cards