This post has been updated to include business class award deals where neither the start nor destination is within the U.S. or Canada. Plus, I’ve added the new ability to get a 15% discount by holding any Delta Gold, Platinum, or Reserve card.
The way to “win” the points & miles game is to acquire points cheaply (or for free) and to then use them towards outsized value. For example, you may be able to earn 60,000 points or more from a single credit card bonus. Then, if you find great sweet spot awards, you may be able to use those points for thousands of dollars in value. With Delta, though, opportunities to get far outsized value are slim (see: Delta Miles are Worth Less). Still, there are opportunities to get good value and sometimes even great value. Here’s a round-up of best uses for Delta miles…
Great Value Options
In my opinion, any time you can get 2 cents per mile value or more from Delta miles, that’s great. Here are some options…
Delta Skymiles Flash Sales
Delta periodically runs SkyMiles sales, and often doesn’t even advertise them. When blogs like this one post about these sales, it’s worth running some searches yourself on Delta.com. Sometimes you can get extraordinary value from these deals. And now that Delta is offering cardholders 15% off award flights, even better deals should soon be available.
Here’s an example where Delta was offering one-way flights for as little as 2,000 miles:
This was a rare case where Delta miles were often worth more than 2 cents per mile. Even rarer was the situation where a domestic first class award netted nearly 4 cents per mile value (for the 7:35am flight, above). Here’s the calculated value per mile for each class of service from the above example:
- Basic Economy: 2.14
- Main Cabin: 2.3
- Comfort+: 2.1
- First: 3.7
US to Canada via WestJet for 12.5K one-way, economy
Update 2/2/2023: This sweet-spot is still alive! I had doubts after the partner devaluation we reported in October 2022.
I don’t know how long this will last, but for now at least, Delta is pricing all awards on partner WestJet at their old fixed award prices: 12,500 miles one-way within North America. WestJet has flights to Canada from Atlanta, Boston, Denver, JFK, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and more. Anytime the cash price is over $170 one-way, you’ll get good value from your miles. And, anytime the cash price is over $250 one-way, you’ll get great value from your miles. I was easily able to dig up a few cases where one-way prices were over $300, especially to more remote parts of Canada.
Tip: Don’t trust Delta’s cash price for WestJet flights. I found an example where Delta wanted either 12,500 miles or $1,062 for a nonstop flight from JFK to Calgary! That would give you a theoretical value of 8.5 cents per Delta mile. Via Google Flights, though, I found that the exact same flight could be purchased through WestJet for only $211. When compared to the more reasonable price, the 12,500 mile award offers 1.6 cents per mile value. That’s still good for Delta miles, but not the insane value I first thought.
Flights that originate and end outside of the U.S. and Canada
Delta charges much less for most flights originating and ending outside of the U.S. and Canada. In each case where this works, at least one segment is flown by a partner airline, but often the bulk of the flying is on Delta itself. Below you’ll find a number of examples. For full details, see: Delta SkyMiles Business class deals aren’t dead. Here’s how to find them.
Unfortunately, the Delta credit card 15% discount applies only to itineraries flown entirely by Delta and so there is no additional discount for flights like those shown below.
Mexico to/from Australia business class for 95K
- Mexico City to Sydney via Houston and LAX
- Sydney to Mexico City via LAX
Mexico to/from South Africa business class for 95K
Example: Johannesburg to Mexico City
Mexico to/from Europe business class for 75K
- Mexico City to London via Amsterdam on KLM
- Amsterdam to Mexico City via Paris on Air France
South America to Europe business class for 80K to 90K
- Colombia to Paris on Air France for 80K
- Brazil to Paris on Air France for 90K
- Argentina to Paris on Air France for 90K
Mexico to/from Asia business class for 90K
Example: Mexico City to Seoul Korea on Korean Air
Europe to/from Asia business class for 90K
- Paris to Seoul on Korean Air
- Seoul to Amsterdam on Korean Air
- Vienna to Taipei via China Airlines business class
South Korea to/from Japan business class for 15K
Example: Seoul to Tokyo on Korean Air business class
Good Value Options
In my opinion, any time you can get between 1.3 and 2 cents per mile value from Delta, that’s a good value.
15% Off for Delta cardholders
Now that Delta offers a 15% award discount to Delta Gold, Platinum, and Reserve cardholders, you can get good (but not exciting) value on almost any flight.
Shown above you can see both the cash and award search results for a one-way flight from Detroit to Los Angeles. In the table below, I’ve calculated the value of using SkyMiles to book into each of the 3 cabin options both with and without the 15% discount:
Cents Per Point
Cents Per Point
Cents Per Point
|With 15% Discount||1.4||1.4||1.3|
As you can see above, the value of SkyMiles for a domestic flight often hovers around 1.2 cents per point, but with the 15% discount you’re more likely to get 1.4 cents per point value.
Fly within Europe for 10K economy or 20K/25K business
Delta offers fixed award prices when flying partner airlines within Europe. Economy appears to be fixed at 10K miles one-way whereas business class costs 20K within a country or 25K across countries. Whether or not this is a good deal depends upon cash rates at the time. Also note that you can often do much better with Virgin Atlantic miles. See: Air France & KLM across Europe for less.
Unfortunately, the Delta credit card 15% discount applies only to itineraries flown entirely by Delta and so there is no additional discount for flights like these.
US to northern South America via LATAM for 25K one-way economy
Using Delta miles, LATAM flights between the US and northern South America price at 25,000 miles one-way. That can be a good or bad value depending on the cash price of the ticket. Anytime the cash price is over $350 one-way, you’ll get good value from your miles. And, anytime the cash price is over $500 one-way, you’ll get great value from your miles.
Sky Club Premium Drinks
Delta Sky Clubs offer both complementary and premium alcohol options. The latter must be paid for with cash or with miles. When using miles to pay for premium drinks, you’ll get 1.5 cents per mile value. You can view a recent menu with prices here.
A cool bonus: you can tip the server with miles at the same rate! For example, you can give the server a $3 tip and it will cost you only 200 miles.
What did I miss?
Do you know of great uses for Delta miles not included above? Please comment below.