Delta To Limit Partner Transfers to SkyMiles

Oct 1, 2014

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Over the past year, Delta has really chiseled away their SkyMiles program by implementing many negative changes for their flyers. They’ve announced Mileage Accrual Based on Spending, Additional Revenue Requirements for Medallion StatusReduced SkyClub Guests and Increased Fees, Tightened Their Same Day Confirm Policy and Blocked Access to ExpertFlyer, just to name a few of their recent changes.

Delta is limiting the amount of SkyMiles you can transfer in from their partners.
Delta is limiting the number of SkyMiles you can transfer in from their partners.

Well, Delta is at it again, and this time their newest change has to do with transfer partners. Starting January 1, 2015, Delta will limit the number of miles a SkyMiles member can transfer from a single transfer partner (e.g., American Express Membership Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest) into a single Delta SkyMiles account to 250,000 miles per calendar year. This change will apply to all their partners that allow you to convert points into SkyMiles.

What this means for American Express Card Members with Membership Rewards:

  • Cardmembers can transfer a total of 250,000 Membership Rewards points per calendar year from a single Membership Rewards account into the Delta SkyMiles program.
  • Delta will only accept a total of 250,000 Membership Rewards points, from one or multiple Membership Rewards accounts, into any one SkyMiles account in a calendar year. So you can’t circumvent this rule by transferring in from different Membership Rewards accounts; a single Delta SkyMiles account will only accept up to 250,000 Membership Rewards points per calendar year no matter which Membership Rewards account the points are transferred from.

Who this impacts: All American Express Card Members who transfer Membership Rewards points to the Delta SkyMiles program. This doesn’t affect American Express Delta SkyMiles Card Members who earn miles for their eligible spending. There’s no limit on the number of miles an American Express Delta Card Member can earn in a calendar year.

How it works: American Express Card Members can transfer up to 250,000 Membership Rewards points per Membership Rewards account per calendar year into the Delta SkyMiles program. Other transfer partners besides American Express Membership Rewards include Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Rewards, Hyatt, Hilton HHonors, IHG Rewards, Club Carlson, Accor, Hertz, and Diners Club. Again, the maximum number of SkyMiles you can transfer in from each of these accounts is 250,000 per year.

My Thoughts
SkyMiles aren’t the most valuable airline mileage currency, but they’re a decent option for certain rewards (see Top 11 Ways to Redeem SkyMiles). This is a hit to Membership Rewards members and is clearly a play for people to switch to using Delta co-branded credit cards. Unfortunately, the Delta co-branded cards only offer bonuses on Delta spending, and not on other lucrative categories like 3x points on airfare and 2x points on gas and groceries offered by the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express. Overall, these are not good changes, but the bright side may be that Delta is trying to limit the number of SkyMiles being minted so that they don’t have to drastically increase mileage levels when their awards go from a 3 tier to 5 tier program in 2015. I won’t hold my breathe for lower priced Delta awards, but a man can dream!

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