5 Things the Delta SkyMiles Program Gets Right

Amanda Johnson
By Amanda Johnson 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Editor's note: Big changes are coming to Delta's SkyMiles program in 2024, including how members can earn elite status. The carrier will also be cutting back Sky Club lounge access. Read more on these upcoming changes here.

Trying to decide on the right airline loyalty program can be head spinning. Frequent flyer programs seem similar on the surface, but quickly become difficult to compare once you add airline-specific credit card perks, redemption options and loyalty status levels into the mix.

If you’re looking for a new airline loyalty program, consider Delta Air Lines SkyMiles. It’s free to join and once you start earning, you can take a round-trip using as little as 12,000 reward miles when you book through Delta’s flight search tool. With hubs at eight major U.S. airports and 25 international airline partners, frequent flyers have options.

Here are five things the program gets right.

1. Miles never expire

It doesn’t matter how you get miles if you can’t keep them. Delta is one of the only major U.S. carriers where your miles never expire. For most, if you don’t have a trip planned on that airline within 18 to 24 months, you will need to use a redemption option to keep your points alive. With Delta, you never have to buy a magazine subscription with your SkyMiles in order to keep your miles when you’re unable to get away.

» Learn more: When do my credit card rewards expire?

2. You don’t have to travel to earn miles

If you’re looking to acquire miles without stepping on a plane, using one of Delta’s co-branded credit cards, like the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, means you don’t need to travel in order to earn miles toward your dream vacation.

Earn points with your grocery and restaurant purchases, and soon you’ll be lounging on the beach in Belize.

3. Partnerships you actually use

Delta is making strides with innovative partnerships in tune with the modern traveler. Most recently, they’ve partnered with rideshare provider, Lyft. Simply link your Lyft and SkyMiles accounts and earn one mile for every Lyft ride in the U.S. and two miles for rides to the airport. In addition to sharing economy juggernauts like Lyft and Airbnb, Delta also partners with a number of large hotel chains and car rental providers, enabling you to earn miles during every part of your trip.

» Learn more: 5 things you need to know about Lyft’s loyalty program

4. Redeem miles for non-travel purchases

While your SkyMiles never expire, sometimes life doesn’t align with our travel dreams. When limited PTO or unexpected events get in the way, you can always use your miles for gift cards or merchandise on the Delta Marketplace or to bid on VIP access to events. You can even donate your miles for charity use.

Redeeming your SkyMiles for non-travel might not necessarily give you the best value, but using miles to zap routine expenses can help you trim spending.

5. Easy ways to achieve elite status

If you are just a few points shy of achieving elite status with Delta, the airline allows you to buy your way into a higher status tier with their Elevate Your Status program. Flyers with Delta’s Medallion elite status get complimentary upgrades, priority boarding, waived baggage fees and more.

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 2024, including those best for:

Cards for Delta from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


Intro offer


Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

See more cards for delta
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