Earning Delta SkyMiles is only half the battle. The true challenge (and sometimes the real fun) comes in figuring out how to redeem them. A quick search on Delta’s website can give you hundreds of different options to travel, but where are the real sweet spots? Here are five of our favorite ways to get value out of Delta SkyMiles:
1. Short-haul U.S. domestic flights
Getting around the U.S. doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. If you’re sitting on as little as 2,500 SkyMiles, you can get on a Delta flight.
Take a look at this example from San Diego to Seattle. It’s just over a three-hour flight, but it can be yours for only 2,500 SkyMiles.
Want to fly in first class? You can do it for 13,500 miles — but we’d argue that flying five times in economy for 12,500 miles is a better value than one leg in first class.
Want to fly a little bit longer? You can snag more value by flying cross-country from Seattle to New York’s JFK Airport for only 6,500 miles.
» Learn more: Our review of the Freehand New York
2. West Coast to Europe in business class for 75,000 miles on Air Tahiti Nui
Air Tahiti Nui flies from Los Angeles to Paris daily on their new 787 Dreamliner. Since not many people know about this flight, finding award space is not as difficult as you may think.
We had the opportunity to book this award just a couple of months ago and were shocked by the service and onboard amenities. It was a great way to get from the U.S. to Europe and one we’d happily use again. This award was just 75,000 SkyMiles, and we had to call Delta to book it, since Air Tahiti Nui availability does not appear on Delta’s website.
This redemption offers an exceptional value considering that Delta charges between 110,000 and 325,000 miles for the same distance.
3. U.S. to North Africa for 37,500 in economy or 85,000 in business class
We’ve had the opportunity to visit both Morocco and Egypt using Skyteam awards, and both represented excellent values. Air France and Saudia offer plenty of connecting flights to Egypt, while Air France and KLM both offer convenient connecting times for flights arriving from the U.S.
4. U.S. to Mauritius for 40,000 miles in economy class (or 95,000 in business)
Mauritius is a small island in the southern part of the Indian Ocean. If you’re a fan of nature, scuba diving and secluded beaches, then this is the place for you. While 11 hours from Paris is quite a haul, considering the remoteness of this location, we think using your points and miles is a good bet to get you there.
Not many people use miles for this flight, so finding availability is usually pretty easy. If you’re departing from the U.S., it will set you back 40,000 miles one-way in economy class or 95,000 miles one-way in business class. If you’re already in Europe, the cost is 35,000 miles in economy and 65,000 in business. The “up-charge” of only 5,000 miles to fly from the U.S. directly is minimal.
Considering that one-stop flights for this route in economy routinely price out at $1,900-$2,500, using your miles for this trip is a great way to save cash.
5. Europe to Australia or South Africa for 60,000 miles in economy (or 90,000 in business)
While Delta does publish fares from the U.S. to Australia, more often than not you won’t find any way to use your miles. Delta flights from Los Angeles to Sydney are in high demand, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find any availability.
That said, a flight between Australia and Europe is only 60,000 miles each way in economy class and 90,000 miles in business. If you want to head all the way to South Africa, it’s the same price.
Since Delta will allow a maximum of a 24-hour stopover, you can get three trips in one on your vacation from Down Under to South Africa.
Flying from Sydney to Shanghai gives you an almost 17-hour layover in the “Magic City.” After enjoying a night on the town in Shanghai, head over to the “Venice of the North,” Amsterdam, to enjoy almost 17 hours there as well. Finally, end your trip down in Cape Town. All flights in business class and two mini-stopovers for the same price: 90,000 SkyMiles.
The bottom line
Just because Delta is operates mostly in the U.S. doesn’t mean there aren’t some really neat ways to use your miles with international partners. Remember that the lowest pricing is typically with their partners, as Delta charges whatever price they feel like for flights on their own planes.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Best airline credit cards
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program: The complete guide
Which Delta Air Lines credit card should you get?