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Your Guide to Earning Delta Air Lines SkyMiles

Feb. 20, 2020
Loyalty Programs, Travel
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Founded in 1928, Delta Air Lines is the world’s second largest airline. There are enough ways to earn Delta SkyMiles that it’s tough to remember them all. Here’s a breakdown of where and how you can earn miles.

» Learn more: Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program: The complete guide

Fly with Delta

The original, and potentially easiest, way to earn miles is by flying on Delta-operated flights. You no longer earn SkyMiles based on the amount of your flight’s flown miles. Instead, you earn SkyMiles based on the fare you purchased. The exact amount that you earn is also based on your status level with Delta.

StatusRewards earned
Basic SkyMiles membership5 SkyMiles per $1 spent
Silver Medallion7 SkyMiles per $1 spent
Gold Medallion8 SkyMiles per $1 spent
Platinum Medallion9 SkyMiles per $1 spent
Diamond Medallion11 SkyMiles per $1 spent

One important note is that you only earn SkyMiles based on the base fare and any carrier-imposed surcharges. You don’t earn SkyMiles on government-imposed taxes and fees. You can earn extra SkyMiles on your Delta flights if you pay for your flight with one of Delta’s co-branded cards (more details on that below).

Fly with Delta’s partner airlines

Delta is a part of the SkyTeam alliance, and flights on the other 18 SkyTeam partners can be credited to Delta by providing your SkyMiles number during booking. In addition to its SkyTeam partners, Delta also partners with Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and WestJet, to name a few.

Earning rates vary by partner and fare class. Visit Delta’s list of airline partners, choose your partner and look up the earned miles based on your fare class.

Here’s an example showing the earning rates for Delta SkyMiles on Virgin Atlantic:

» Learn More: The complete guide to Delta partners: Earning, redeeming, elite perks

Spend on the various Delta Airlines credit cards

Another good way to earn Delta Air Lines miles is through spending on Delta’s co-branded credit cards. There are four Delta personal cards and three business cards. They have the following earning rates.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

  • 2x miles at restaurants.
  • 2x miles on direct Delta purchases.
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Terms apply.

» Learn more: Blue Delta SkyMiles review: Ideal for loyal but infrequent flyers

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • 2x miles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets.
  • 2x miles on direct Delta purchases.
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Terms apply.

» Learn more: Delta SkyMiles Gold AmEx review: Worth the fee for Delta fans

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

  • 3x miles on Delta flights and Delta Vacations.
  • 2x miles at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets.
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Terms apply.

» Learn more: Platinum Delta SkyMiles review: One big perk pays the fee

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

  • 3x miles on Delta flights and Delta vacations.
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Terms apply.

» Learn more: Delta Reserve Credit Card: $550 annual fee, Sky Club access

There are also business versions of the Gold, Platinum and Reserve card:

Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card:

  • 2x miles on purchases made directly with Delta.
  • 2x miles on U.S. purchases for advertising in select media.
  • 2x miles on U.S. shipping purchases.
  • 2x miles on dining at restaurants.
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Terms apply.

» Learn more: Delta SkyMiles Gold Business AmEx review: Decent perks and rewards

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card

  • 3x miles on purchases made directly with Delta.
  • 3x miles on purchases made directly with hotels.
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Terms apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card

  • 3x miles on purchases made directly with Delta.
  • 1.5x miles per $1 spent on purchases after the first $150,000.
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Terms apply.

» Learn more: 5 things to know about the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card

Transfer from other rewards programs

Delta is also a transfer partner of a couple of other reward programs. You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points 1:1 to Delta.

Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to Delta at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus if you transfer in increments of 60,000 Bonvoy points.

Make purchases through Delta’s partners

Delta has a variety of partners that can help you earn SkyMiles. Here are a few of the most common and/or lucrative:

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 2020, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
The revamped Delta Cards: Worth the headache of redeeming SkyMiles?
Which Delta Air Lines credit card should you get?
Find the best travel credit card for you

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