Can I Pay for Delta Tickets with SkyMiles and Cash?

Aug 9, 2015

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TPG reader William wrote in with a question about Delta SkyMiles:

“There used to be an option to redeem Delta SkyMiles and cash to book a ticket. Did they take that option away? It would be nice to use some miles and pay for the rest on my Amex card.”

There’s no doubt Delta has been turning its frequent flyer program into a frequent spender program. First, Delta invented Medallion Qualification Dollars, requiring flyers to spend a certain amount to earn elite status. Then last year, the airline announced that flyers will only earn miles based on how much they spend, not how much they fly.

On the redemption side, Delta also been steadily eroding SkyMiles toward a value of about 1 cent a piece, whether you’re upgrading or redeeming for award flights. In fact, Delta doesn’t even publish award charts anymore.

So, the option William mentions hasn’t been taken away, but in fact has been enhanced recently. This option is available if you have a cobranded Amex card like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. Cardholders can redeem one SkyMile at a rate of one cent apiece toward the purchase of any Delta fare on Delta.com.

Delta allows you to redeem SkyMiles as cash toward flights.

The plus side of this is that you actually earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) for these Pay with Miles purchases. You’ll also earn redeemable SkyMiles and MQMs on the cash portion of the ticket if you do decide to pay with miles and cash, and Medallion members are eligible to receive complimentary upgrades on Pay with Miles tickets.

Delta probably has the most flexible Pay with Miles option of any airline. Even though Delta SkyMiles have been called “Sky Pesos” and “worthless” for years, if you have an Amex Delta card, they’re worth at least 1 cent per mile. That’s not great, but it’s certainly not worthless.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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