16 easy ways to earn more Delta SkyMiles in 2022

Delta SkyMiles has been devalued time and again, but it can still be a valuable program for domestic awards and other redemption sweet spots.

The airline has a vast route network with significant hubs in large U.S. cities, and there are a ton of different ways to earn Delta SkyMiles that you can redeem for SkyTeam flights. The carrier even runs frequent award sales to snag flights on the cheap, starting at 5,000 SkyMiles round-trip.

Delta SkyMiles are also fairly easy to accrue. We’ll show you the various ways that you can add to your SkyMiles balance, including flying on Delta and its partners, spending on travel rewards credit cards, transferring miles from other programs and more.

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In This Post

Earn miles by flying

Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-300
You can earn miles when flying with Delta and its airline partners. (Photo by Boarding1Now/Getty Images)

Earning Delta SkyMiles by flying may seem self-explanatory, but the number of miles earned depends on numerous factors. You’ll earn miles differently on Delta and partner flights — here’s everything you need to know.

Earning when flying with Delta

When flying on Delta-operated flights, you earn SkyMiles based on your ticket’s base price (which doesn’t include government-imposed taxes). Flyers without elite status earn 5 miles per dollar spent on airfare, not including taxes and fees.

This means a one-way Delta ticket from Minneapolis to Tokyo for $1,100 before taxes would earn 5,500 SkyMiles, assuming the flyer has no Delta elite status.

While this revenue-based scheme is used for earning purposes, keep in mind that Delta Medallion status is still earned based on distance flown, not just dollars spent. Any flight eligible for Medallion Qualification Miles will earn a minimum of 500 MQMs.

For example, if you’re flying from Newark to Detroit in economy class, you’ll earn 500 MQMs, even though the flight only covers a distance of 488 miles.

Elite status bonuses

Additionally, those with Delta Medallion elite status will earn at a higher rate than those without it — the higher your status, the more miles you’ll earn.

Here’s how many SkyMiles Medallion members earn for every dollar spent:

  • Silver Medallion: 7 miles.
  • Gold Medallion: 8 miles.
  • Platinum Medallion: 9 miles.
  • Diamond Medallion: 11 miles.

This means that a Diamond Medallion member would earn 12,100 SkyMiles on the same $1,100 ticket we discussed earlier.

Related: 5 things you need to know about Delta SkyMiles

Earning when flying with airline partners

Aeromexico and Delta Plane
(Photo by Helissa Grundemann/Shutterstock)

Things get confusing when earning miles on Delta’s partner airlines. These flights sometimes earn miles differently from ones operated by Delta, and it all depends on how the ticket is booked.

The simplest example applies to flights booked on Delta ticket stock, which generally happens when you book on Delta.com. Even though the flight is operated by another airline, it’s marketed by Delta. So you’ll earn miles the same as with a standard Delta flight.

But what happens if you book a partner flight on a partner airline’s website and add your Delta SkyMiles number after the fact? In this case, you’ll earn miles based on the distance flown. However, the exact number of SkyMiles you’ll earn varies based on the partner, fare class and elite status.

For example, here’s how many SkyMiles you’d earn on a flight that’s operated and ticketed by Aeromexico:

How many Delta SkyMiles you'll earn on an Aeromexico ticket
(Screenshot from delta.com)

Looking at the chart above, you’ll see that tickets booked in higher fare classes earn more miles. You should be able to identify your fare class by either calling the ticketing airline or checking the e-ticket sent to your email after purchase.

Once you’ve found your booking class, head over to Delta’s list of partner airlines, find your partner and locate your fare class. Multiply the number in the “Total Miles Earned” column by the distance of your flight(s); the easiest way to figure out this final number is to use the Great Circle Mapper.

Let’s take a look at an example. A one-way flight from New York City to Mexico City clocks in at 2,090 miles flown. An H fare economy ticket earns 100% of that mileage, so you’d earn 2,090 SkyMiles for this ticket.

Related: Here’s how to earn more Medallion Qualification Dollars by booking Delta partner tickets

Earn with credit cards

Delta Reserve credit card
You can earn SkyMiles quickly with a cobranded credit card. (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

By far, the easiest way to earn a large number of Delta SkyMiles is through cobranded credit cards, both through welcome bonuses and everyday spending. Currently, American Express issues seven different Delta credit cards: four personal cards and three business cards.

Each of these cards has a different suite of perks and benefits. Some are geared toward the frequent Delta flyer, and others are more suited for everyday consumers who want the occasional free Delta flight.

Here’s a look at the full suite of Delta SkyMiles credit cards from American Express (terms apply):

Personal cards

Business cards

Which Delta SkyMiles credit card is right for me?

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve card is one of my favorite credit cards. I use it for much of my non-bonus spending as I inch closer to Delta elite status. The card offers 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend on the card, up to 60,000 MQMs per year, and a Medallion Qualification Dollar waiver after spending $25,000 on the card within a single calendar year. That said, you have to spend $250,000 on the card to earn a Diamond MQD waiver.

I only recommend the card to Delta frequent flyers who want Delta Sky Club membership and MQM-earning opportunities. If you’re a more casual flyer, the Delta SkyMiles Gold card is your best bet. It earns SkyMiles on all purchases and has a 40,000-mile welcome bonus, worth $564 per TPG’s valuation.

If you’re thinking of applying for one of these cards, keep Amex’s once-per-lifetime rule in mind. This rule limits you to one card welcome bonus per lifetime. If you’ve received a welcome bonus for the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card before, you won’t be eligible to receive it again if you reapply for the card. That’s why it’s so important to hold out for a high welcome bonus — you’ll only receive it once.

Related: Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers

Transfer points

If you need SkyMiles quickly or simply don’t want to add another credit card to your wallet, you may be able to transfer SkyMiles from another reward program. Delta partners with both American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy, making it easy to top off your award when you need to.

Transfer Membership Rewards points to SkyMiles

You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles. (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Delta SkyMiles has one credit card transfer partner: American Express Membership Rewards.

You can transfer Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio. However, you will pay a fee of $0.0006 per mile (up to a maximum of $99) to offset the federal excise tax, so the transaction can carry an additional cost if you’re transferring enough for a large, international award.

Often, putting purchases on a card that earns Membership Rewards points will yield more SkyMiles per dollar spent than one of Delta’s cobranded American Express cards. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express earns 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with any airline or American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). In contrast, the Delta cards above will only earn 2 miles per dollar. Since you can transfer Amex points directly to Delta, you’re effectively earning 5 SkyMiles per dollar on these purchases.

Related: The best ways to use Amex Membership Rewards points

Transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to SkyMiles

Marriott Marquis in Downtown Chicago
Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to Delta SkyMiles at a 3:1 ratio. (Photo by Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock)

You can also transfer hotel points from a variety of programs to your Delta SkyMiles account. In my experience, the only worthwhile transfer is from Marriott Bonvoy. These points transfer to Delta at a 3:1 ratio, but you’ll get a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. That effectively drops the ratio (for the better) to 2.4:1.

There are several Marriott cobranded credit cards out there, issued by Chase and American Express. Check out our article on picking the best Marriott credit card to find the best card for your wallet.

Related: Beginners guide to Marriott Bonvoy

Transfer miles between accounts

While you can transfer SkyMiles between accounts, we don’t recommend it. Delta charges $0.01 per mile transferred plus a $30 transaction fee. This isn’t a great deal, as you’d lose most of the value of your miles after paying the applicable fees.

If you decide to go this route, both accounts must have been open for at least 10 days and earned at least one mile. Miles earned through the Delta SkyMiles Shopping portal do not fulfill this requirement.

Related: Your ultimate guide to family points pooling

Earn miles by shopping and dining

You can also earn Delta SkyMiles through several everyday Delta partners. These methods make it easier than ever to earn miles based on things you already do, like eating out and shopping online. Let’s check them out.

A Delta Airlines Boeing 767 takes off from Dusseldorf, Germany, on Nov. 24, 2019. (Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Earn with the SkyMiles Shopping portal

Like most airlines, Delta has its own online shopping portal: SkyMiles Shopping. This site lets you earn extra SkyMiles when you shop online, in addition to rewards earned with your credit card. To use the portal, just sign up for a SkyMiles shopping account, find your merchant on the site and click through the link. Each merchant offers a different number of SkyMiles per dollar spent, and these rates fluctuate — especially around the holidays.

Delta SkyMiles shopping portal
(Screenshot from skymilesshopping.com)

Check the portal frequently for spending and merchant bonuses. In the past, we’ve seen promotions from merchants like Nike, Under Armour, AT&T and others. If you’re looking to make a purchase anyway, shopping through Delta’s portal can mean serious bonus miles.

Related: The beginners guide to airline shopping portals

Earn while you eat with SkyMiles Dining

Group of people dining at a restaurant
Eat your way to more miles with SkyMiles Dining. (Photo by VGstockstudio/Shutterstock)

The Delta SkyMiles Dining program is a great way to earn extra miles when dining out. Just sign up for an account, link a credit card and dine at a participating restaurant, cafe or bar. When you swipe your registered card at these establishments, you’ll earn extra SkyMiles. This is in addition to the miles you already earn with your credit card. Make sure to link a card that earns bonus points at restaurants to watch the rewards really add up.

The number of miles you earn through SkyMiles Dining depends on your status, which is entirely separate from your Medallion status. There are three tiers: member, select member and VIP. You’ll become a select member by signing up for email alerts, and you can get VIP status after making 11 transactions within 12 months.

If you don’t give the program a valid email address and sign up for email alerts, you’re a standard member and will only earn 1 mile for every $2 spent. Select members will earn 3 miles per dollar spent, while VIP members will take home 5 miles per dollar.

As of the time of writing this article, SkyMiles Dining offers a welcome bonus of 3,000 miles after making three $30 dining purchases within 30 days of account opening and writing reviews for each.

Related: Maximizing restaurant spending with dining rewards programs

Earn SkyBonus points for your business

Business owner sitting with a pencil in hand
Enroll in SkyBonus to earn rewards for your business travel. (Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images)

While not SkyMiles, businesses can enroll in SkyBonus to earn rewards on employee travel. Through this program, businesses earn SkyBonus points whenever an employee travels. These points are earned in addition to the traveler’s personal SkyMiles earning, so there’s no downside to enrolling. You can redeem SkyBonus points for free flight credit, elite status and lounge access.

Businesses can earn SkyBonus points on flights operated by Aeromexico, Air France, Delta, KLM and Virgin Atlantic. Depending on how much you spend, you can earn up to 30 SkyBonus points per dollar spent on airfare. You can earn miles by adding your business’s SkyBonus number to employee itineraries.

Redemptions start at just 7,500 points. If you’re interested, you can enroll your business in SkyBonus for free on Delta’s website.

Related: Airline loyalty programs for small businesses

Earn miles with travel partners

You can also earn bonus miles when you book other types of travel, like rental cars, Lyft rides and hotel stays. Here’s a quick look at all your travel earning options.

Book a ride with Lyft

(Photo courtesy of Lyft)

Here’s an easy way to earn miles: Just link your Delta and Lyft accounts. When you take a ride with Lyft, you’ll earn 1 mile per dollar spent on everyday rides and 2 miles per dollar spent on airport rides. Business travelers can rack up huge amounts of points with this promotion.

Best of all, once you’re linked, you don’t need to click through a link to earn SkyMiles on Lyft rides. They’ll be automatically credited to your account.

Related: Triple stack these offers to maximize your next Lyft ride

Earn SkyMiles on cruises

Through SkyMiles Cruises, you can earn miles on your next sailing. At the time of writing, SkyMiles Cruises is offering 1,500 miles on shorter sailings and up to 10,000 miles on sailings that are 13-plus nights.

In order to earn SkyMiles on your next cruise, you must book on skymilescruises.com or by calling 800-820-3244 with your SkyMiles number.

Related: How to book a cruise using points and miles

Earn SkyMiles on Airbnb stays

Similar to Delta’s partnership with Lyft, you can earn SkyMiles on Airbnb stays. Just head over to Airbnb’s Delta website, enter your SkyMiles number and click through the link before you make a booking. You’ll earn 1 mile per dollar spent on Airbnb purchases with no limit, so longer trips can rack up a nice haul of SkyMiles.

Related: 15 tips that will help you score the perfect Airbnb every time

Earn miles with Instacart

Delta also has a partnership with Instacart where you can earn either 1 or 1.5 SkyMiles per dollar spent on eligible orders. As a SkyMiles member, you can also enjoy Instacart Express for a limited time. Depending on your status with Delta, your “free” Instacart Express membership will differ in length:

  • Three free months for eligible SkyMiles members.
  • 12 free months for eligible Diamond/Platinum Medallion members.

You can visit this page to link your SkyMiles and Instacart accounts.

Earn miles when you book hotels

(Photo courtesy of The Ritz Carlton Orlando Grandlakes)
Earn bonus miles when you book hotels with Delta’s partners. (Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes)

In addition to Airbnb, you can earn SkyMiles with Delta’s hotel booking portal. The portal awards 1 mile per dollar spent on hotels, with frequent bonus promotions. The prices you see on this portal should match booking directly, but it’s in your best interest to double-check.

One word of caution: You won’t earn hotel points or get to use elite status benefits when booking through this portal. Unfortunately, these are generally reserved for those booking directly with the hotel company. Do your own research and see if earning Delta miles or hotel points is best for your specific hotel stay.

You can earn SkyMiles when you book directly with Delta’s hotel partners too. The number of miles you’ll earn depends on the hotel group you book with — here’s a look at how many miles you can earn:

Hotel Earning rate
World of Hyatt Earn 500 miles per stay.
IHG One Rewards Earn up to 2 miles per dollar spent depending on the brand.
Langham Hospitality Group Earn 500 miles per night with a maximum of 1,500 miles per stay at select hotels.
Marriott Bonvoy Earn up to 2 miles per dollar spent depending on the property.

Points transfer at a 3:1.1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus awarded for every 60,000 transferred.

Radisson Rewards Points transfer at a 10,000:1,000 ratio.
Shangri-La Circle Earn 500 miles per stay.
WorldHotels Earn 500 miles per stay.
Accor Live Limitless Earn up to 12.5 miles for every 10 euros spent.

Related: Earning airline miles for a hotel stay — reader mistake story

Rent a car with one of these partners

Rental Cars in a lot
You can earn SkyMiles every time you rent a car with one of Delta’s partners. (Photo by alexfan32/Shutterstock)

You can also earn SkyMiles when you rent a car with one of Delta’s rental car partners. Similar to hotels, you won’t earn rental car points when you elect to earn SkyMiles. Here’s a look at how many SkyMiles you can earn:

Rental car company Earning rate
Alamo Earn 500 miles per qualifying rental.
Dollar Earn 500 miles per qualifying rental.
Enterprise Earn 500 miles per qualifying rental.
Europcar Earn 60 miles per qualifying rental day.
Hertz Earn 500 miles per qualifying rental. Elite members can earn up to 1,250 miles per rental depending on status tier.
National Earn 500 miles per qualifying rental.
Sixt Earn 500 miles per qualifying rental.
Thrifty Earn 500 miles per qualifying rental.
Turo Earn 2,000 miles after your first rental and 500 miles per qualifying rental thereafter.

Delta elite members are eligible for a free status match with Hertz Gold Plus Rewards. Gold members receive a match to Hertz Five Star status, while Platinum and Diamond members are eligible for President’s Circle status. You can enroll in this status match on Delta’s website.

You can also read about Delta’s new partnership with Turo here.

Related: How to never pay full price for a rental car

Buy miles

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Only buy SkyMiles if you have an immediate plan to use them. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If you need SkyMiles in a pinch, you can buy them directly from Delta. The airline charges a whopping $0.035 per SkyMile, which is more than double TPG’s valuation of 1.41 cents per mile. You must buy miles in increments of 2,000 miles and you can purchase a maximum of 60,000 SkyMiles per account per year.

Delta frequently discounts SkyMiles by offering bonus miles or a bonus on the number of miles purchased. Buying SkyMiles is only worth doing if you have an immediate use for them. Otherwise, it’s usually a bad idea to speculatively purchase miles as they can be devalued at any time.

Related: You can currently buy points and miles with up to a 145% bonus — but should you?

Bottom line

There are plenty of ways to earn Delta SkyMiles, whether it’s through flights, credit cards, transferring points or using one of Delta’s many other partners.

Even better? SkyMiles is one of the few loyalty currencies that never expire. And with the myriad earning opportunities outlined above, you’ll hopefully have no shortage of SkyMiles the next time you’re planning a trip.

For details on the redemption process, check out our guide on how to redeem miles with the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program.

Additional reporting by Kyle Olsen.

Featured photo by Camilo Freedman/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images.

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