What are Delta miles worth?

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If you have a stash of Delta miles or if you’ve thought about collecting them, you might well be wondering what Delta miles are worth. And like all airline miles, the value of Delta miles varies. It comes down to:

  • How flexible you are with travel dates
  • How easy (or difficult) it is for you to collect miles
  • Your personal valuation of miles

All of us on the MMS team are either actively collecting or have previously amassed hundreds of thousands of Delta miles. We estimate that, on average, you should be able to achieve a value of 1.25 cents per mile. However, Delta miles can be very valuable if you’re willing to work around their quirks – most notably the lack of a Delta award chart – and play up to their strengths, like flash sales.

A few awards in particular are excellent deals. You can easily earn Delta miles via Delta promotions and by earning the bonuses that come with some of the best airline credit cards on the market. You can also transfer American Express points to Delta. Here are the current Delta credit cards:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

Let’s look at what you can do with Delta miles.

The value of Delta miles depends on how you redeem them. You can use Delta miles to get you across the Atlantic, like to London, for potentially huge value. (Photo by Shaun Jeffers/Shutterstock)

Delta miles value: What are they worth?

First things first, Delta doesn’t have an award chart. So that can make it hard to know how many miles you should collect, and if you’re getting a good deal for your miles.

I recommend running a test award search for a few routes and dates to get a feel of what typical pricing is like for trips you’re interested in. Delta makes it easy to start searching for award flights directly on their homepage, without even having to log-in.

I found many flights from Seattle to London for only 20,000 Delta miles each way in coach.

For example, I found flights from the West Coast to Europe for as low as 20,000 Delta miles one-way in coach, plus taxes & fees. These flights were selling for $900+, so the value here is ~2 cents per mile, which represents good value with Delta miles.

But that’s just one example. Let’s look at a few more.

Short flights within the U.S. – Usually good value

A “short flight” on Delta is basically anything that isn’t transcontinental and can be as far as say, Seattle to Detroit. Many of these flights price at 10,000 Delta miles each way and other short flights, flight San Francisco to Los Angeles, start at 5,000 Delta miles each way.

Sometimes cash prices are cheap, but then again so is the mileage required for an award flight — and even better, you usually have your pick of flight times throughout the day when you pay with miles for no additional charge.

For example, I found flights between Seattle and Los Angeles for 6,500 Delta miles. The cash price was ~$111, but the mileage value is actually good here – close to 2 cents per point. If you typically pay for short hops, you can get surprisingly good deals with Delta miles.

Domestic business or first class – Occasionally worth it, usually poor value

I ran a few test searches for business class seats domestically and had a hard time finding instances where Delta miles are worth anywhere near 2 cents each. Typical values were closer to 1 cent per mile. That said, award pricing is variable. So if your dates are flexible, you can find a good deal.  It seems Delta monitors these awards carefully, and the inflated pricing definitely reflects that most times.

Below is a Delta One flight (lie-flat business class) from San Francisco to New York for 46,000 miles. The same flight costs $539. This gives you a value of 1.17 cents each. Not horrendous, but below average.

Business and first class awards to the Middle East – Typically excellent value

Delta is part of the SkyTeam alliance, which gives you access to award flights not only on Delta, but on 30+ airlines around the world. International airlines usually have fantastic business and first class seats – and can cost thousands. There used to be many excellent deals by using Delta miles on partner airlines. However, Delta recently increased the prices for the vast majority of partner flights.

One of the few routes Delta hasn’t ruined are flights between the U.S. and the Middle East. You’ll spend 85,000 Delta miles one-way for a business class flight to cities like Beirut, Cairo, Dubai and Tel Aviv.

For example, you can book Delta One flights to areas like Dubai and Amman for between 85,000 and 105,000 Delta miles one-way in business class. These exact same flights can easily sell for over $3,000, giving you a value around 2.86 cents per point!

All of us on the MMS team have used our miles to fly internationally with airline partners, as it’s typically among the best uses for all types of miles. You can use SkyMiles to book Delta’s partners like Air France, KLM, Middle Eastern airlines and more.

Use pay with miles to avoid blackout dates  – Poor value but ultimate convenience

You can use Delta Pay With Miles for Delta and Delta Connection flights if you have a Delta credit card such as:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Each Delta mile is worth 1 cent, and the tickets are treated as cash tickets, so you’ll earn miles and elite status credit when you fly. You can redeem your Delta miles in increments of 5,000 miles, and partial payments are allowed. So 5,000 miles = $50, 10,000 miles = $100, etc.

The advantage is not having to find an award seat or think about blackout dates. Although if you’re flexible, your Delta miles can be worth much more, but this is an option for maximum convenience with minimal hassle.

Limited-time flash sales – Almost always a great deal

Delta frequently releases new flash sales between city pairs for a set amount of miles – and you can save thousands of Delta miles by monitoring the promos. This is an easy way to get inspiration for your next trip while getting excellent value in the process.

Sometimes the sales aren’t even “official” Delta deals — you can just find insane prices for random routes. We maintain an updated list of Delta’s promotions here and try to stay abreast of those unofficial deals. For example, a recent unadvertised sale was the ability to book flights for as little as 3,000 miles each way in coach. Occasionally, Delta will heavily discount business class award flights too — we’ve seen business class flights to Europe for 98,000 miles round-trip.

If you see a place you’ve wanted to visit for a while, it might be reason enough to book a trip and save a lot of miles.

One huge downside to Delta SkyMiles

Be aware, the sooner your award flight is departing, the more it will cost – usually.

If much of your travel planning tends to happen last-minute, Delta miles won’t be worth much to you or at least, you likely won’t get the best deal with them. In general, Delta pegs the number of miles needed to the cash price of the flight. Usually, cash prices are higher closer to departure, so expect to pay more miles.

Estimate your own value for Delta SkyMiles

So far we’ve seen the typical value you’ll get for each Delta mile is about 1.25 cents. Anything over that is considered a solid redemption – while anything below that is not. In the end, how you value your miles is based on your personal preferences and travel goals.

For example, if the idea of finding award seats makes your skin crawl, you might like the no-nonsense Pay With Miles option. If you’re one of those people who likes searching for the best deal, you’ll love hunting and pecking until you find the perfect high-value itinerary on an international partner flight. In general, the more flexible you can be, the more your miles are worth.

Another point to consider is how easy it is for you to earn your Delta miles. If they flow in easily, you might be alright with using some of them for a fun, but not necessarily “amazing” award. Conversely, if you track every mile earned, you’ll want to plan for a big award to pack a bigger punch for all your saving.

All this to say, the best award is the one that makes you happy. If you’re happy with your reward, it’s worth it and there’s still a lot to like and value about Delta miles.

Bottom line

Delta doesn’t have an award chart so your Delta miles value will vary, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find good ways to use your miles. Some of the best ways to use Delta miles include:

  • Select international first and business class tickets to the Middle East on airline partners
  • Flash sales and promotions
  • Short flights within the U.S.

With these, you’ll usually realize an average value of 1.25 cents for each Delta mile.

Low-value options are:

  • Domestic business or first class flights
  • Delta Pay With Miles
  • Award flights within a month of departure

Here, you’ll usually see each mile worth 1 cent or less, and last-minute travel awards are by far the worst deal with Delta miles. If your travel patterns include the higher-value options, you can do well with Delta miles, especially if they’re easy for you to earn and your dates are flexible. It’s not a bad program, but it’s certainly quirky. If you don’t mind searching or have a few well-priced awards in mind, it can even be an excellent deal.

What are Delta miles worth to you?

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Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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