Use Delta Pay with Miles to Book Flight Deals with Your SkyMiles

Delta Pay With Miles

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Delta SkyMiles are truly a mixed bag. There are some great ways to use them, like the frequent SkyMiles flash sales. And there are some horrible ways to use them, like using them to upgrade to Comfort Plus or first class. It can be tough to understand what’s what with Delta SkyMiles. 

But one of our favorite ways to use Delta SkyMiles is the “Pay with Miles” feature available only to Delta SkyMiles credit card holders. Rather than charging an ever-changing amount of miles for your flight, this feature bases the miles you need on the cash fare – every mile is worth a cent.  It’s not always the best option, but when you find a good Delta flight deal here or through Thrifty Traveler Premium, you can save some serious SkyMiles. And as a bonus, you can keep earning Delta status when using Pay with Miles.


What Is Delta Pay With Miles?

Delta’s website spells it all out. Pay with Miles is an exclusive benefit card members who have the co-branded Gold, Platinum or Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express.  This benefit allows card members to use their miles, starting at just 5,000 miles, to discount the price of tickets.  Regardless of the ticket price, a Card Member can reduce the cost of their ticket by $50 for every 5,000 miles. For example, redeeming 10,000 of your miles takes $100 off your fare, 15,000 miles takes $150 off, 20,000 miles takes $200 off, and so on.

The best part? Delta Pay with Miles tickets are eligible to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) where standard award tickets are not. In addition, you can earn miles on the part of the fare you pay for with cash when using Pay with Miles.


Using Delta Pay with Miles to Book Flight Deals

One of our favorite ways to use points and miles is to book cheap flights. It’s the only way to make a flight deal truly free. 

Most airlines don’t have a way to use their frequent flyer miles toward a cash fare. But Delta has Pay with Miles.

And by harnessing the power of flight deals found at Thrifty Traveler or through Thrifty Traveler Premium in conjunction with Pay with Miles, you can score some great deals. Now, some will argue that getting 1 cent per SkyMile isn’t the best use, and that’s true. But if you’re looking to travel for cheap (or free), there’s no better way to do it.

First things first, you need a Delta co-branded credit card to unlock this feature. Read up on which card might be the right fit for you. Then, log in to your account and make sure your new co-branded credit card is linked to your account.

Now you’re ready to use Pay with Miles. Here’s a quick example of how it can work in your favor.


Delta Pay With Miles

Flight deal using “Pay with Miles”


We recently featured a Europe flight deal from 25+ cities through our Thrifty Traveler Premium service. One of the routes included in the deal was New York City-JFK (JFK) to Amsterdam (AMS) for $496.16, roundtrip and nonstop as is pictured above.

If I were to book this as a normal award ticket using SkyMiles, the exact same flight would cost me 60,000 SkyMiles. But by using the “Pay With Miles” feature, I’d only have to spend 50,000 SkyMiles.  And as a bonus, I’ll earn both MQMs and MQS towards elite status – not the case with a standard SkyMiles booking! Delta Pay With Miles won’t make sense to use in every situation, but we think it is a great way to leverage the flight deals you find here.

While you’d save 10,00 SkyMiles in this example, it isn’t uncommon to find savings of 20,000 to 70,00 SkyMiles by using Pay with Miles.

Thrifty Tip: While you must have a co-branded Delta American Express card to unlock this feature, there is not a requirement to pay for any cash portion not covered by the Pay with Miles feature with the card. You are free to use any card of your choosing.


Bottom Line

You’ll have to crunch the numbers for yourself and see your cheapest option. But Pay with Miles is a great feature that allows you to leverage a great flight deal and save some serious SkyMiles. Just remember, you’ll only be eligible for this feature if you carry one of Delta’s co-branded American Express credit cards.


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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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