9 Epic Ways to Use 80,000 Delta SkyMiles [2019]

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Today, we're going to recap some of the exceptional value you can extract from Delta’s frequent flyer program. Delta’s history of unannounced devaluations and the lack of a publicly accessible award chart, plus a move to fully dynamic award pricing has left many Delta fans with bitter feelings towards the SkyMiles program. But, with a little research and some patience, SkyMiles can still have you sipping Champagne while you relax in business class on your way to some of the world's most exotic destinations.

The current offers on the Delta co-brand cards feature four of the highest welcome bonuses we've ever seen on these cards—up to 80,000 SkyMiles—so all of the redemptions listed below are well within reach with just a single card application. Don't forget, you can also top up your SkyMiles account by transferring points from Amex Membership Rewards to help put your next award flight within reach.

The Best Delta SkyMiles Award Redemptions
Image courtesy of Delta.com

The current welcome bonuses on Delta's co-brand cards are:

If you already hold a Delta Amex card, that doesn’t stop you from applying for other cards in the Delta family of cards. Outside of Amex’s standard application restrictions, nothing is preventing you from holding multiple Delta Amex cards.

1. One-Way Business-Class Transatlantic Partner Awards for 75,000 SkyMiles

It wasn't long ago that you could redeem Delta SkyMiles one-way in business-class to Europe for 70,000 miles any day of the week. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. If you want to fly Delta business-class to Europe you are now looking at a minimum 105,000 miles each way. However, Delta doesn't apply the same award pricing to partners as it does to fly its own metal. Transatlantic Skyteam partner awards typically cost 86,000 SkyMiles, but, it's still possible to land 75,000-mile partner awards flying Virgin Atlantic.

Boston Paris Delta SkyMiles Redemption

2. One-Way Business-Class Japan to Australia or New Zealand on Partners for 75,000 SkyMiles

One of the best-value routes left in Delta’s international partner network, you can fly a variety of Delta’s SkyTeam partners in business-class from Japan down to Australia or New Zealand for just 75,000 miles and minimal fees & taxes. There is a massive selection of partners to choose from depending on your final destination, with highlights including Korean Air, Vietnam Airlines, and China Airlines. While Delta doesn’t allow stopovers, choosing the right itinerary will give you a full day to explore connecting cities such as Seoul or Ho Chi Minh City.

Tokyo Sydney Delta SkyMiles Redemption

3. Round-Trip First-Class to Mexico on Delta for 47,000 SkyMiles

Another popular destination for U.S. holidaymakers, Cancún is home to a vast array of resorts, stunning beaches, and a tropical nightlife that can lead to one too many cocktails if you’re easily led astray. Direct awards from Atlanta to Cancún will set you back 54,000 miles round-trip, but if you don't mind taking the longer route you can get round-trip flights in first-class for as low as 47,000 miles.

Baltimore-Washington Cancun Delta SkyMiles Redemption


4. Monthly Delta Flash Sales

Delta’s monthly award flash sales are a chance to save big on award travel using SkyMiles. In past Delta flash sales, we've featured round-trip flights in coach to London for 48K, round-trip Delta Premium Select to Asia for 80K, and round-trip premium cabin awards to Europe for 99K. Each month tends to focus on a different geographic location, and you can save tens of thousands of miles per person on award travel. Check out some of the previous Delta flash sales in the links below, and keep an eye on the blog for future deals from Delta.

5. One-Way Business-Class to Morocco on Partners for 75,000 SkyMiles

Morocco is one of the most talked about destinations in Award Travel 101, AwardWallet’s thriving Facebook community. You can land a one-way business-class flight from Detroit to Casablanca flying Air France for 75K plus minimal fees and taxes.

Detroit Casablanca Delta SkyMiles Redemption

6. Round-Trip Economy Intra-South America for 25K

Trying to traverse Argentina by any method of transport other than air travel is a nightmare. Less than a third of the roads in Argentina are paved, and while the country has an extensive rail network, air travel is the fastest and most comfortable way to get around. It can also be costly. You can redeem Delta SkyMiles for flights on Aerolineas Argentinas, and compared to the cash price of airfare; the rates are pretty sharp. This round-trip fare between Buenos Aires and El Calafate, on the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, costs over $450 for a round-trip journey, or, you can shell out just 25,000 SkyMiles for a Delta partner award.

Buenos Aires El Calafate Delta SkyMiles Redemption

7. Minimum $350 Value Using ‘Pay With Points'

One of the highlights of the Delta co-brand cards, and an underrated benefit, is the Pay With Points feature. Pay With Points is exclusive to Delta co-brand cardholders, so you won’t see this benefit if you don’t hold one of Delta’s Amex cards. Pay With Points allows you to redeem SkyMiles for revenue fares at a value of a penny per mile, in blocks of 5,000 miles (5K miles is worth $50 against your paid ticket). You still collect Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) for your fare and have higher priority than award travelers on the upgrade list, and you'll earn redeemable miles on the cash portion of the ticket.

Now, you may be thinking, why would anyone want to redeem miles at a penny a piece when you can achieve higher returns redeeming for international premium cabin awards? There are several instances where it makes sense to redeem for 1¢ value:

  • When the cash fare presents better value than a traditional award ticket. If the choice is an award fare at 40,000 miles + $5.60, or a cash ticket for $330, you would be better off paying 30K SkyMiles + $30 for your fare than taking the award ticket.
  • If you’re chasing status. Fares paid using Pay With Points are treated as revenue fares in the respect that you still earn MQMs. If you’re trying to achieve Medallion status, it can make more sense to redeem miles at a penny a piece for flights which will earn MQMs than for an award flight that won’t. And as a Delta co-brand cardholder, when you see a Delta airfare sale, you can jump on it knowing you are getting solid value for your miles.

8. Redeeming Skymiles for Drinks in the Delta SkyClub

Redeeming your hard-earned SkyMiles at the bar may not appear like the best use of miles at first glance, but with a guaranteed value of $0.02 per mile redeeming at SkyClub lounges, alcohol may be one of the most consistent ways of receiving top-value for SkyMiles. A great example comes from a member of AwardWallet’s Facebook community, Award Travel 101:Howie-Champagne-SkyClub

Lounge prices can be a little inflated, but a bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne for 13,750 miles (instead of $275), while you relax in the lounge pre-flight, waiting for your business-class flight paid for with miles is a perfect example of how award travel can change the way you fly.

9. Domestic Hops for 5,000 Miles

Delta's funky award pricing will sometimes dish up award tickets costing north of 450K miles, but you can also find domestic hops between non-hub cities for as little as 5,000 miles + $5.60. If you had a cool 70K SkyMiles sitting in your account, you could take 14x of these shorter domestic flights.

Los Angeles San Francisco Delta Award Redemption


Final Thoughts

When Delta pulls an unannounced award chart change, I’ll be the first to jump on my soapbox and cry that it's foul play, but there is still exceptional value in the SkyMiles brand when you know where to look. Whether your goal is premium cabin international travel, requalifying for Medallion status, or a bottle of Dom Pérignon in the SkyClub as a precursor to a romantic weekend away, SkyMiles offers a ton of value.

9 Epic Ways to Use 80,000 Delta SkyMiles [2019]
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