What to Do With 5,000 or Fewer Delta SkyMiles

Feb 6, 2019

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One of the benefits of earning miles in the Delta SkyMiles program is that they never expire, so you don’t have to rush to use your miles before a set expiration date. However, Delta is known for implementing devaluations out of nowhere, making many flyers uneasy about keeping a mileage balance in the program.

But what if you have a small mileage balance of 5,000 SkyMiles or less? Thankfully, you have few options for redeeming even the smallest amount of SkyMiles.

In this article, we’ll show you how to redeem 5,000 or fewer Delta SkyMiles. These methods may not give you as much value as a long-haul business class flight but are still good options if you want to use up the remainder of your balance.

Book A Cheap Award Ticket

One of the most frustrating aspects of the SkyMiles program is that Delta hasn’t published award charts since 2015. Your price is whatever’s quoted, and this has led to some wild prices, especially for premium classes. However, it has also allowed the carrier to price some awards lower than the “standard” price of 25,000 miles for a round-trip domestic flight. In certain cases, these rates fall well below that amount. The cheapest one-way flights I’ve seen are just 5,000 SkyMiles, making it a great way to redeem small amounts of SkyMiles.

Unfortunately, flights at this rate can be hard to come by. However, it does happen, like late last year when we saw Nashville (BNA) to Raleigh-Durham (RDU) discounted to 5,000 miles each way. Keep your eye out for more SkyMiles sales by signing up for our daily newsletter or following us on Twitter.

Shop on the SkyMiles Marketplace

Redeem SkyMiles for merchandise.

You can also redeem your SkyMiles for merchandise on the SkyMiles marketplace. Don’t expect a balance of less than 5,000 miles to get you a new iPad, but you can redeem for a range of other products like office supplies, bath products, kitchen products, and more. Just be sure to pay careful attention to the item and compare prices to other online retailers, as this site can provide a horrifically minimal amount of value for your miles.

For example, you can buy a six-pack of Green Mountain Vista K-Cups for 2,243 SkyMiles. However, this same box of K-Cups costs just $4.48 at Walmart, giving you a value of just 0.19 cents per mile. This is much lower than TPG’s most recent valuations, which pegged SkyMiles at 1.2 cents apiece.

Redeem for Magazine Subscriptions

Another way to use a small amount of SkyMiles is for magazine subscriptions. Delta gives you access to dozens of periodicals, and you can pick up a year-long subscription to many of them for a relatively small outlay of miles. For example, you can get 54 issues of People for 2,200 SkyMiles. This subscription regularly costs $89.10 through the magazine’s website, giving you a terrific value of 4.05 cents per mile. Just bear in mind that after the year is up, you’ll generally be charged the standard annual price to continue the subscription, so be prepared for that (or set a calendar reminder to cancel before that comes due).

Buy Premium Drinks in Delta Sky Clubs

Delta Sky Clubs are stocked with complimentary house beer, wine, and liquor but also have a premium menu. Interestingly enough, you can use your SkyMiles to purchase premium beverages at participating lounges — just ask the bartender for a menu. Unfortunately the carrier doesn’t publish this menu online, though online reports indicate that you can get a glass of wine or even bubbly for less than 1,000 miles, with more expensive vintages and brands requiring higher amounts.

Donate Your SkyMiles to Charity

Delta Airlines partners with a wide range of different charities. You can donate your SkyMiles to any one of them, letting you make a real difference with your miles. Just note that there’s a 1,000-mile minimum to donate.

Earn More Miles

American express gold delta skymiles credit card
Opening a new credit card is a great way to boost your SkyMiles balance back up to a meaningful level.

If none of these options are intriguing, consider taking a different path: earn more SkyMiles. Your current travel plans may not include Delta, but what happens if you have a death in the family, need a last-minute plane ticket, and want to avoid those pesky close-in award booking fees that American and United charge? This is a key reason why Delta is a terrific option for these last-minute awards, and you’d be surprised at how quickly you can build your SkyMiles balance back up.

Here are three easy ways to accomplish this:

  • Open a credit card: Delta offers a number of different cobranded credit cards through American Express, and these all offer lucrative welcome bonuses as well as ongoing perks when you flight Delta. For example, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is currently offering 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Shop online: Whenever you buy items online, you should always try to utilize an online shopping portal. Sites like Ebates allow you to earn cash-back on these purchases, but you could earn bonus SkyMiles by clicking through Delta’s shopping portal at hundreds of retailers. Tip: To quickly compare rates across all available sites, use a shopping portal aggregator.
  • Dine out: Another easy way to earn Delta miles is by leveraging the Dining Rewards Network, a series of thousands of restaurants that partner with major airline programs to award you bonus points or miles. All you need to do is sign up and link your preferred credit card(s) to Delta SkyMiles Dining. Whenever you swipe one of those cards, you’ll automatically earn extra miles on top of the regular earnings you’d enjoy on your card.

For more information on these three items and various other ways to boost your Delta balance, be sure to review our guide to earning SkyMiles.

Bottom Line

There are many ways to use your hard-earned airline miles, but it’s harder when you’re left with a small balance. The above suggestions are our favorite ways to use a small amount of Delta SkyMiles, and even though these may not give you as much value as a long-haul business class flight, they’re still great options for still putting those remaining miles to use.

Just bear in mind that since SkyMiles never expire, there’s no rush to use them in a suboptimal way. You never know when you’ll suddenly wish you hadn’t burned those miles for that magazine subscription.

Featured image courtesy of Delta Air Lines

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