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Earn Delta SkyMiles quickly using these strategies

You can earn SkyMiles without spending on Delta flights.

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Our pick for earning Delta SkyMiles: Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card logo


Welcome offer after spending $1,000 in first 3 months

  • 2x miles on Delta and at restaurants and US supermarkets
  • Delta perks include priority boarding, first bag checked free and statement credits
  • $0 intro annual fee, then $99
Apply now
See rates & fees

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.

Silver Gold Platinum Diamond
7x miles 8x miles 9x miles 11x miles
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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 Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card — 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 Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, 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.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 with this upper-mid tier travel card. Rates & fees
The Platinum Card® from American Express
100,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 combined in the first 6 months, 15x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases. Starting January 1, 2021, your 15x points on flights will be capped on up to $500,000 annually (then 1x points).
One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $4,500, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Rates & fees
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
100,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, plus earn 25,000 after the first anniversary of card membership (offer expires 1/13/2021)
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2x for all other purchases
Earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 or more within your first 3 months, plus earn 25,000 after the first anniversary of card membership (offer expires 1/13/2021). Rates & fees
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
35,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
With a welcome offer worth up to $600, up to 2x miles on select purchases, and assorted Delta perks, this is a strong choice for Delta fans. Rates & fees

Compare up to 4 providers

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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 spending Miles earned
Delta purchases $3,000 9,000
Hotels $3,000 9,000
Restaurants $4,000 8,000
Supermarkets $5,000 10,000
All other purchases $4,000 4,000
Total $19,000 40,000

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 type Rewards rate How to join
Basic member 1 SkyMiles per $2 spent Register for a SkyMiles Dining account
Select member 3 SkyMiles per $1 spent Register for a SkyMiles Dining account and opt in for marketing emails
VIP member 5 SkyMiles per $1 spent Opt 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.

Airbnb 1x miles Hotels At least 1x miles
Marriott Bonvoy 1x–2x miles
IHG 1x–2x miles
Radisson 250–500 miles per eligible stay
Accor Hotels 2.5x–12.5 miles
Hyatt 500 miles per eligible stay
Langham Hospitality Group 250–500 miles a night
Millennium Hotels and Resorts 250–500 miles per eligible stays
Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts 1500 miles per eligible stay
Worldhotels 500 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 Canada Bonus miles per person for international destinations and Hawaii
Luxury Vacations 3,000 7,500
Gold Preferred Pick hotels 750 3,000
Silver Preferred Pick hotels 500 2,000
Bronze Preferred Pick hotels 375 1,500
All other hotels 250 1,000

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 length Miles earned for interior/oceanview Miles earned for balcony/suite
1-5 nights 1,500 miles 4,500 miles
6-8 nights 3,000 miles 9,000 miles
9-12 nights 5,000 miles 15,000 miles
13+ nights 10,000 miles 30,000 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.

Lyft 1x miles
Hertz 500–1,250 base miles per eligible rental
Dollar Car Rental 500 miles per qualifying rental
Thrifty Car Rental 500 miles per qualifying rental
Alamo 500 miles per qualifying rental
Enterprise 500 miles per qualifying rental
National Car Rental 500 miles per qualifying rental
Europcar 60 miles per day
ExecuCar 150 miles per direction
Carmel Up to 2x miles
Sixt 500 miles per car rental; 1,000 miles per chauffeur service
SuperShuttle 50 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 November 2020 valuation.

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

Minimum miles per transaction 2,000
Maximum miles per transaction 60,000
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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