The 13 Best Ways to Earn Delta SkyMiles in 2021
Earn Delta SkyMiles

The 13 Best Ways to Earn Delta SkyMiles in 2021

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Need to earn Delta SkyMiles, and a lot of them? Look no further.

While earning and using Delta SkyMiles may not have been top of mind over the last year, there is never a bad time to start earning them. For starters, SkyMiles never expire. And if you ask us, using SkyMiles is one of the best ways to book your future travels.

So we don’t blame you for wanting to increase your stash of SkyMiles. While others bash Delta SkyMiles for being “worthless,” there are plenty of great ways to redeem SkyMiles. Between frequent flash sales offering half-priced routes, cheap domestic fares, and some great partner airlines, you can get a lot of value out of SkyMiles.

Here are the best, tried-and-true ways to earn Delta SkyMiles in 2021. And it goes far, far beyond flying with Delta.



American Express Delta Airlines Co-Branded Credit Cards

There’s no easier way to amass a ton of Delta SkyMiles quickly than getting a welcome bonus offer from the co-branded American Express Delta credit cards. All told, there are seven co-branded Delta credit cards from American Express, between the personal and business versions. And each card offers a different welcome offer bonus.

If you come away with one thing here, make it this: You can earn the welcome bonus on each card once per lifetime. That means you could open the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and earn a big welcome offer bonus, then open the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card down the road and earn a welcome offer bonus on that card, too. That makes it much easier to continue earning SkyMiles.

Read more: The 7 Best Delta Credit Cards for Travelers in 2021


delta gold card


Click Here to learn more about the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card. 


delta platinum card


Click Here to learn more about the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. 


delta blue card


Click Here to learn more about the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card. 


delta reserve card


Click Here to learn more about the Delta Reserve® Card from American Express.


Want to learn more about what each of these cards offers? Make sure to visit our Top Credit Cards Page. 


American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards

It might seem counterintuitive, but one of our favorite ways to earn Delta SkyMiles isn’t even a Delta credit card.

American Express has its own suite of credit cards that earn Membership Rewards points. But you can transfer these points from Amex directly to your Delta SkyMiles account on a 1:1 basis (1 point = 1 Delta SkyMile). And thanks to some excellent bonus categories, you can earn even more SkyMiles than by using one of Delta’s co-branded cards in certain spending categories.

Our absolute favorite is the Platinum Card® from American ExpressIt starts with a standard, 100,000-point welcome bonus after spending $6,000 in six months. But be sure to check and see if you qualify for a 150,000-point bonus for the same spending requirement.

One of the best features of this card is that it earns an unbeatable 5x points on all airfare purchased directly through airlines or at

So if you buy a $500 ticket at, you’d earn 2,500 Membership Rewards that you could transfer to your Delta account. You earn just 2x SkyMiles on Delta purchases with the Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Expressso the same flight would earn you just 1,000 SkyMiles.

This card carries a hefty fee, at $695 annually (see rates & fees). But with that comes an incredible suite of perks like $200 in travel credits, up to $200 toward free Uber rides, airport lounge access, up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or PreCheck, and more. Those benefits can easily outweigh the annual fee.

Read: Is the Amex Platinum Worth the Annual Fee? An Honest Review


amex platinum card


Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express. 


The American Express® Gold Card is another strong option. The card is currently offering a 60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $4,000 within six months of card membership. But like the Platinum Card, you may qualify for a much higher offer through CardMatch.

You’ll also earn an unlimited 4x points per dollar spent at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 each year then 1x) – the highest bonus on the market – and 3x points on airfare booked directly with airlines or through This card has an annual fee of $250 (see rates & fees), which we feel can be worth it.


Amex Rose Gold


Click Here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card.


And then there is the American Express® Green Card which Amex refreshed in October 2019 with a handful of new perks including a $100 credit to cover a portion of the cost of CLEAR membership, and a $100 Lounge Buddy credit. It also earns 3x points on every dollar you spend on both dining and travel.


amex green card


Click Here to learn more about the American Express Green Card. All information about the American Express Green Card has been collected independently by Thrifty Traveler and has not been reviewed by the issuer.


Read our guide to help you decide which card is right for you: Gold, Green, or Platinum?


One important note: American Express Membership Rewards charges a fee of 0.06 cents per point up to a maximum of $99 when you transfer from American Express Membership Rewards points to a U.S. airline.  So a transfer of 100,000 points would incur a $60 fee when you transfer to Delta. It’s not earth-shattering, but it is slightly annoying and something to be aware of when making Membership Rewards points transfers to Delta.


Earn by Flying with Delta – or Partner Airlines

This one is obvious. Of course, you can earn SkyMiles by flying with Delta. But it’s no longer the easiest way to earn Delta SkyMiles.

The days of earning miles based upon how many miles you fly are long gone. These days, everyday SkyMiles members earn 5x SkyMiles for every dollar spent on Delta flights. You can juice those numbers by paying for your flight with the right credit card or by earning Delta status – more on that soon.

So let’s say you spend $200 on a flight from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Atlanta (ATL). After you take that flight, you’ll get just shy of 1,000 SkyMiles in your account – the taxes and fees you pay on each plane ticket don’t count towards your mileage earning.

But you can also earn SkyMiles by flying some of Delta’s partner airlines like Air France, KLM, or countless more. Here’s where it gets tricky.

If you book that KLM flight directly through, you’d earn SkyMiles just as if you were flying Delta – it’s based upon the cash price of your flight. But if you book through KLM and attach your SkyMiles account to your reservation, it’s based upon the length of your flight, what cabin you’re flying in, and other factors.

It gets complicated, but flying partner airlines is a way to earn even more SkyMiles (and earn Delta status faster, too).


Earning Delta Medallion Status

Delta’s Medallion status program isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great way to earn some additional SkyMiles if you can get it.

The higher you climb on Delta’s status ladder, the bigger bonuses you’ll get on Delta purchases. The lowest level is Silver Medallion, and with that, you’ll earn 7x SkyMiles on all Delta purchases. Gold members earn 8x, while Platinum members get 9x SkyMiles. At the very top is Diamond, and those members get 11x SkyMiles on Delta purchases.


earn delta skymiles medallion status


Needless to say, any level of status with Delta is a great way to accelerate your SkyMiles earning. Learn more about Delta’s elite program.


Marriott Bonvoy Points & Credit Cards

Marriott points aren’t just good for hotel stays.

Transferring hotel points to airlines is generally a poor value, but Marriott is an exception. You can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to over 40 different airline partners, including Delta, at a 3:1 ratio.

That’s not outstanding, but it gets better: You’ll get a 25% bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer. So if you transfer 60,000 Marriott points to your Delta account, you’ll get 25,000 Delta SkyMiles. This is a great way to bolster your SkyMiles account balance for your next redemption.

Both American Express and Chase offer different versions of Marriott Bonvoy credit cards that will earn Bonvoy points.


Earn Delta SkyMiles with Marriott transfers


Want to learn more about transferring Marriott points to Delta? See our guide on how to transfer Marriott Rewards points to partner airlines, and start your points transfer here.


The SkyMiles Shopping Portal

Shopping portals are one of our favorite ways to earn additional points and miles for shopping you’re doing anyway. And Delta SkyMiles has its own dedicated shopping portal called (go figure) SkyMiles Shopping.

By using the program, you can shop with hundreds of online retailers and earn additional SkyMiles just for clicking through their portal on the way to your favorite online retailer. Delta frequently offers bonuses at specific retailers, so be sure you’re signed up for email alerts. To register for the SkyMiles shopping program, visit their site.


Earn Delta SkyMiles


About to make an online purchase? Visit to see whether the store offers bonus miles through the SkyMiles shopping portal. You don’t need to use a Delta SkyMiles credit card to receive the bonus miles through the program. Simply go through the shopping portal and pay with whatever credit card you’d like to earn the additional SkyMiles.

Check out our full guide to SkyMiles shopping here.


The SkyMiles Dining Program

Dining portals offer another great way to rack up additional points and miles. And Delta’s SkyMiles Dining Program offers an easy way to earn Delta Skymiles just for eating at or getting takeout from certain restaurants.

Sign up and link a credit card to your account. Just as with the SkyMiles shopping portal, it doesn’t need to be a co-branded Delta credit card.

Visit one of the participating restaurants, and you’ll earn 3x miles for every dollar you spend on your bill. This is in addition to whatever points, miles, or cash back you earn on the credit card you are paying with.

But you can get even more SkyMiles with Delta’s promotion for new members. You can earn up to 3,000 bonus SkyMiles by spending at least $30 (taxes and tips count!) at three restaurants within 30 days of signing up.

You’ll earn 500 SkyMiles for the first visit, 1,000 SkyMiles for the second, and 1,500 SkyMiles for the third. In order to earn those bonuses, you’ll also need to leave a review of each restaurant through the review portal.


Earn Delta SkyMiles


These bonuses don’t rival the huge bonuses you’ll get from credit cards. But it’s a great way to continue earning SkyMiles for everyday spending. You can join SkyMiles Dining here.

Check out our full guide to SkyMiles Dining here


Link Your Lyft Account to Delta SkyMiles

Delta and Lyft have a great partnership that allows you to earn Delta SkyMiles every time you hop in a Lyft. It’s as simple as linking your Delta SkyMiles and Lyft accounts. You will earn 1x SkyMile per dollar spent at Lyft & 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent on rides to and from the airport. 

Again, these miles will be in addition to any points, miles, or cash back you are earning on the credit card you use to pay for your ride. That means you can use a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 10x points on your ride in addition to the Delta SkyMiles.

You can also link your Lyft account to your Hilton Honors account and earn both Delta and Hilton points for the same ride!


Earn Delta SkyMiles


Link your accounts today and start earning!


Purchase Event Tickets Through Ticketmaster

In June 2019, Delta launched a brand-new partnership with ticket-selling behemoth Ticketmaster, allowing SkyMiles members to earn bonus SkyMiles when buying tickets to concerts, sporting events, and more.

While it’s unlikely you’re buying many event tickets these days, it’s still an easy way to earn additional SkyMiles when the time comes.


earn delta skymiles ticketmaster


Simply head to the new partnership page at and punch in your SkyMiles number before buying tickets. This partnership will earn 1x SkyMiles per dollar spent, and if you buy a lot of tickets, that can add up fast. However, you won’t earn SkyMiles for the (often extensive) taxes and fees on your tickets.

Almost all tickets purchased through Ticketmaster will be eligible to earn SkyMiles. According to the terms of the partnership, that even includes resale tickets bought on Just be sure to make your purchase through the page


Book With Airbnb

In early 2016, Delta and Airbnb launched a partnership allowing you to earn Delta SkyMiles for Airbnb stays. To get those bonus SkyMiles, you must book through You’ll earn 1 SkyMile per dollar spent on qualifying Airbnb stays.


earn delta skymiles


New To Airbnb? Sign up using our link and you will get $50 towards your home booking and $15 to use toward an Airbnb experience worth $50 or more. We will get $30 as well which we appreciate!

Read our guide on the Top 5 Ways to Save on Airbnb Bookings


Book Car Rentals Through Rental Agencies

Need to rent a car? Make sure you’re earning SkyMiles.

Rather than earning credits with the car rental company, you can credit those rentals to your SkyMiles account instead! It’s a little-known option, but an easy way to earn some extra SkyMiles. For every qualifying rental, you’ll earn 500 SkyMiles.

Delta has partnerships with Hertz, Dollar Car rental, Thrifty Car Rental, Alamo, Enterprise, National, Europcar, ExecuCar, Carmel, Sixt, and Super Shuttle. But we are partial to National because of the Free Executive Status that comes with a handful of travel rewards credit cards.


earn delta skymiles car rental


Book Cruises Through SkyMiles Cruises

You can even earn Delta SkyMiles by booking a cruise. Through their partnership with CruisesOnly, you can book a cruise to places like Alaska, the Caribbean, and even Europe on many of the large cruise lines and earn bonus SkyMiles based on the number of nights in your package.

Simply start the booking process at to start earning.


earn delta skymiles with Delta cruises


Delta’s Bags on Time Guarantee

If you often check a bag with Delta, this is one you want to be aware of.

Delta is committed to providing reliable baggage service each and every time you fly. And as a part of that, if your checked bag doesn’t arrive at the carousel in 20 minutes or less after any domestic flight, you are eligible to receive 2,500 bonus miles. 

All you have to do is complete the form at this link no later than three days after your flights arrive.


earn delta skymiles with bags on time guarantee


Can You Transfer SkyMiles to Another Member?

Technically, Delta allows you to transfer SkyMiles to other program members. But we don’t recommend it.

That’s because Delta will charge you $0.01 per mile plus a $30 processing fee per transaction (plus applicable taxes). And you must transfer miles in allotments of 1,000 SkyMiles.

So if you were looking to transfer 30,000 SkyMiles to another user, it would cost you $330 ($300 for the miles and a $30 transaction fee).

You can transfer a maximum of 30,000 SkyMiles per transaction. Within a calendar year, one SkyMiles account can transfer a maximum of 150,000 SkyMiles. One SkyMiles member can receive a maximum of 300,000 SkyMiles each year via transfer.

But with costs that high, I can’t think of a situation where this would make financial sense. Just avoid these transfers, as it isn’t a good way to earn Delta SkyMiles.

You can learn more about this on Delta’s mileage transfer FAQ page.


Can You Buy Delta SkyMiles?

You may be just a few miles short of your next SkyMiles redemption, and one of the options above just simply won’t work. In this case, it may make sense to buy some SkyMiles.

But that’s the only situation in which it makes sense to buy SkyMiles direct through Delta. The costs are simply too high for it to be worth it.

Delta charges $0.035 per SkyMile and you must buy them in increments of 2,000 SkyMiles. That means buying 2,000 miles would cost you $70. And there are no savings as you buy more and more SkyMiles.

Delta allows you to purchase a maximum of 60,000 SkyMiles each year.


earn delta skymiles buy miles


This clearly isn’t the best option for earning Delta SkyMiles – or even a good one. But it can work if you are just short of making a redemption and need to top off your SkyMiles account.

Read More: A Guide to Buying Airline Miles: When to Buy, When to Skip


Bottom Line

Whether you’re near a Delta hub airport or not, Delta SkyMiles are absolutely worth earning. And luckily, there are tons of great ways to earn big bonuses and keep adding onto your SkyMiles stash.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

6 Responses

  • If I would get the American Express Platinum card with the $500 fee and have my husband on the account would both of us get the Global Entry Free offer?

    • Yes and he would get his own lounge memberships. However, the downfall is authorized users are $175 more in addition to the $550 fee.

  • Great advice. However, I tried clicking the link for the new AirBnb user discount. I set up an account, but before I could book anything an error occurred telling me that I should clear my cookies. So I did. Now it’s saying that I have an account already, so I can’t use the discount. It doesn’t seem fair.

  • We are Delta Sky Miles Am Ex Holders. My whole family of 5 is looking (and hoping to travel to CPH next year). But the sky miles flights aren’t available yet (July 2021). Do you know how early they start opening up those seats?

    • Flights for 2021 should already be bookable (you should be able to book all the way out into early August). The issue you might be running into is that there are not 5 seats available that can be booked with miles.

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