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Earn Delta SkyMiles quickly using these strategies

You can earn SkyMiles without spending on Delta flights.

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Earning enough Delta SkyMiles to get award flights can seem daunting. Fortunately, you’ll find many ways to earn those miles beyond spending on Delta flights. For example, you can earn SkyMiles by flying with Delta partners or by dining out and joining SkyMiles dining.

Fly with Delta and Delta partners to earn SkyMiles

Just join Delta SkyMiles — it’s free. As a basic member, you earn five miles per dollar spent on eligible Delta and Delta partner flights.

You can earn status in Delta’s elite system by becoming a Medallion Member. As a Silver, Gold, Platinum or Diamond Member, you earn more miles per eligible flight.

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Earn SkyMiles with Delta credit cards

With Delta SkyMiles credit cards, you can earn SkyMiles in a few ways:

  • Welcome offer. If you reach the spending requirement on your Delta credit card within the specified time period, you qualify for a large number of miles depending on which card you own.
  • Spending with your card. All Delta credit cards offer 2x or 3x miles on eligible Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases. Depending on the card, you may also find bonus rewards in other categories such as hotels, restaurants and supermarkets.
  • Qualifying for Status Boost. Qualify for Status Boost by meeting annual spend requirements with the and — as well as their business versions — to earn more Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs). These help you earn higher status in Delta’s frequent-flyer program, which in turn helps you earn more SkyMiles on flights.
  • Getting Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) waivers. By meeting annual spend requirements with the , you can waive the MQD requirement for Platinum, Gold or Silver Medallion Status. Higher status lets you earn SkyMiles faster.
  • Transfer points. You can also transfer points earned using general travel credit cards into SkyMiles.

The beginner’s guide to Delta Airlines SkyMiles

Compare cards for earning Delta SkyMiles

With all Delta credit cards, you earn 2x or 3x miles on Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases. Certain spend categories — such as hotels, restaurants and US supermarkets — may also pay bonus rewards. The difference between the cards is the additional perks offered, such as priority boarding, free checked bag, lounge access, Status Boost, companion certificates and travel credits.

While you won’t directly earn SkyMiles using partner programs, you can transfer your earned miles to SkyMiles. Look for American Express cards that offer Membership Rewards points. You can convert these points to SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio. Using cobranded hotel cards, you can also convert points from certain hotel programs into SkyMiles.

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How many miles can you earn with a Delta credit card?

The mile-earning difference between Delta cards is minimal, so we’ll use the Delta SkyMiles Platinum in our example because this card offers the best bang for the buck.

Annual spendingMiles earned
Delta purchases$3,0009,000
All other purchases$4,0004,000

Depending on your elite status tier, you can earn even more miles on Delta purchases. For example, your $3,000 can earn an additional:

  • 15,000 miles with a SkyMiles membership
  • 21,000 miles with Silver status
  • 24,000 miles with Gold status
  • 27,000 miles with Platinum status
  • 33,000 miles with Diamond status

SkyMiles Dining

If you often dine out, consider registering your credit or debit card account to SkyMiles Dining for free to earn additional SkyMiles at participating restaurants, clubs and bars.


New Member Bonus: Earn up to 3,000 bonus SkyMiles

You can earn 3,000 bonus miles for your first three restaurant visits within the first 30 days of signing up for SkyMiles Dining.

Earning miles through SkyMiles Dining

This is a generous program where you can earn up to 5x SkyMiles on purchases, including tax and tip, at participating locations. But the exact number of SkyMiles you earn depends on your membership level.

Membership typeRewards rateHow to join
Basic member1 SkyMiles per $2 spentRegister for a SkyMiles Dining account
Select member3 SkyMiles per $1 spentRegister for a SkyMiles Dining account and opt in for marketing emails
VIP member5 SkyMiles per $1 spentOpt in for marketing emails and dine 11 times at participating restaurants by the end of the calendar year
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SkyMiles Shopping

Register for SkyMiles Shopping with your SkyMiles account number to earn SkyMiles when you spend at certain retailers.

There are hundreds of eligible partners in categories, such as apparel, jewelry, beauty and health, home, magazines, sports and travel.

Earning miles through SkyMiles Shopping

You can find many one-time mile bonuses while shopping. For example, you can earn up to a few thousand miles for joining a partner program. However, most retail partners offer 2x or 1x miles when you spend with them. Sometimes, you’ll find partners who offer up to 20x miles.
Picture not described: delta-shopping-1.png Image: Getty

How to earn miles through SkyMiles Shopping

  • Log in to your SkyMiles Shopping account.
  • Look for a participating retailer through the SkyMiles Shopping portal.
  • 1,500 miles after you spend at least $30 on your third participating restaurant visit.

Use the SkyMiles Shopping button

Download the SkyMiles Shopping button for Google Chrome to earn SkyMiles without going through the SkyMiles Shopping portal. The plugin notifies you when you’re on a participating retailer’s website. Then just activate your rewards and shop as normal.

SkyMiles shopping button

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Book through hotel partners and Airbnb

Here are the rewards rates for qualifying charges with eligible Airbnb properties and hotels where you can earn SkyMiles.

Airbnb1x miles
Delta.com HotelsAt least 1x miles
Marriott Bonvoy1x–2x miles
IHG1x–2x miles
Radisson250–500 miles per eligible stay
Accor Hotels2.5x–12.5 miles
Hyatt500 miles per eligible stay
Langham Hospitality Group250–500 miles a night
Millennium Hotels and Resorts250–500 miles per eligible stays
Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts1500 miles per eligible stay
Worldhotels500 miles per eligible stay
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Delta Vacations

Earn up to 7,500 SkyMiles per person on your itinerary when you book a Delta flight and hotel package through Delta using your SkyMiles number.

Bonus miles per person for vacations in US contiguous 48 states, Alaska and CanadaBonus miles per person for international destinations and Hawaii
Luxury Vacations3,0007,500
Gold Preferred Pick hotels7503,000
Silver Preferred Pick hotels5002,000
Bronze Preferred Pick hotels3751,500
All other hotels2501,000

You earn more SkyMiles when you add an eligible car rental through National or Alamo. As the primary driver, you earn an extra 500 bonus miles. And with a Delta SkyMiles credit card, you earn double miles per eligible dollar.

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SkyMiles Cruises

If you’re setting out on the seas, consider booking your trip through SkyMiles Cruises. Here are the miles you can earn:

Trip lengthMiles earned for interior/oceanviewMiles earned for balcony/suite
1-5 nights1,500 miles4,500 miles
6-8 nights3,000 miles9,000 miles
9-12 nights5,000 miles15,000 miles
13+ nights10,000 miles30,000 miles

You’ll find around 30 SkyMiles Cruises partners, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Viking River Cruises.

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Car partners

Lyft is Delta’s ridesharing partner. You’ll also find a bevy of car-rental partners.

Lyft1x miles
Hertz500–1,250 base miles per eligible rental
Dollar Car Rental500 miles per qualifying rental
Thrifty Car Rental500 miles per qualifying rental
Alamo500 miles per qualifying rental
Enterprise500 miles per qualifying rental
National Car Rental500 miles per qualifying rental
Europcar60 miles per day
ExecuCar150 miles per direction
CarmelUp to 2x miles
Sixt500 miles per car rental; 1,000 miles per chauffeur service
SuperShuttle50 miles per direction
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Buy SkyMiles

Buying SkyMiles is an option at a cost of 0.035 cents each. This is a poor rate considering SkyMiles are worth 1.4 cents each according to our March 2021 valuation.

That said, buying miles could be a good option if you only need a few more for an award flight.

Minimum miles per transaction2,000
Maximum miles per transaction60,000
Cost per mile$0.035

You can deposit a maximum of 60,000 miles to your account each year.

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Bottom line

You can earn SkyMiles faster than you think by spending through Delta and Delta partners. Use a combination of credit cards and spending through Delta portals.

Compare Delta cards to find the right one for you, or consider general travel cards that may offer valuable perks and rewards. And once you’ve collected enough miles, compare your redemption options to find out which offer the best overall value.

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