Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
Delta is my favorite domestic airline, and American Express Membership Rewards are my favorite transferable points.
Coincidentally, Amex and Delta are 1:1 transfer partners. So I can transfer points from my favorite credit cards to my favorite airline. This transfer isn’t usually recommended, though — Delta SkyMiles have been continuously devalued and are worth just 1.1 cents each per TPG’s valuations. This is 0.9 cents lower than Amex’s 2-cents-per-point valuation. And in my experience, it’s hard to get a higher value from Delta SkyMiles.
That said, there are some exceptions to this rule. I’ve personally achieved high redemption values from Delta SkyMiles that warrant transferring points from Amex. These opportunities are few and far between but are still possible if you know where to look.
So in this article, I’ll show you times that it makes sense to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles. Some of these redemptions are of niche use, while others have a wider appeal. That said, all have the potential to stretch the value you obtain from your Membership Rewards points.
Before we start, though, always compare pricing with other airlines and transfer partners. Membership Rewards has a slew of different airline partners, so you may get a better deal depending on the flight you’re booking and when you book it.
Now, let’s dive in!
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Book economy flights to Europe
One good way to use Delta SkyMiles is to book economy flights to Europe.
Generally, you can book these flights for roughly 25,000 SkyMiles one-way with minimal taxes and fees. Remember, though, SkyMiles awards are priced dynamically. So there’s no guarantee that this price will be the same when you go to book. Prices change by day and route, so some days are more expensive than others.
For example, one-way flights from New York-JFK to Paris (CDG) consistently price at 25,000 SkyMiles and just $5.60 in taxes throughout most of next year. Likewise, round-trip flights price at just 50,000 SkyMiles and $90.05 in taxes and fees.
You can often find reasonable pricing on connecting tickets too. For example, you can book a round-trip economy ticket from Charlotte (CLT) to Amsterdam (AMS) via New York-JFK for 58,000 SkyMiles and $71.85.
You may not always find excellent U.S.-to-Europe deals with SkyMiles, but it’s worth a look when booking a trip. You may be able to find a redemption that beats other Membership Rewards transfer partners, especially on connecting flights.
Fly to Mexico on the cheap
Flights to Mexico are another solid SkyMiles redemption. Delta and Aeromexico are SkyTeam partners, so you can use your SkyMiles to book flights operated by Mexico’s largest airline. Between Aeromexico and Delta, you can book flights on several different routes to Mexico.
For example, you can book round-trip business-class flights from New York-JFK to Mexico City (MEX) for 89,000 miles and $114 in early February. These same flights cost $1,235, so while it’s not the best redemption value at 1.26 cents per point, you save some cash and have a comfortable nonstop flight.
You can book economy flights to smaller Mexican cities for similar prices. This Delta itinerary from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Guadalajara (GDL) via Atlanta (ATL) costs 12,000 SkyMiles and $115 round-trip. The same flights cost $397, so you’re getting over 2.3 cents per point in value.
Take advantage of flash deals
Delta often runs SkyMiles flash deals that offer limited-time discounts on award travel. In the past, we’ve seen amazing deals like round-trip economy flights to Europe for 16,000 SkyMiles. These sales are generally limited to specific city pairs and only last for a few days at a time. Keep an eye on Delta’s flash deals page for the latest sales.
Low-cost domestic award tickets
My favorite way to redeem SkyMiles is by booking last-minute, low-cost domestic award tickets.
Booking expensive last-minute and holiday flights with SkyMiles can save you a considerable chunk of change — even if it doesn’t yield the highest cent-per-point value.
Again, Delta prices awards dynamically, so pricing varies by day and route. That said, the airline is known to discount its domestic award tickets between non-hub cities that connect in Delta hubs like Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW) and New York-JFK.
Check out these flights from Moline, Illinois (MLI), to Nashville (BNA) via Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and Atlanta (ATL). A round-trip ticket in Main Cabin economy costs just 15,000 SkyMiles and $11.20 in taxes and fees. The same ticket costs $249, so you’re getting just under 1.6 cents per point in value.
There are solid deals to be had on flights between major cities too. I fly from New York (LGA/JFK) to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) a few times a year to visit family and often book with SkyMiles. You can find tickets for as low as 5,000 SkyMiles one-way in basic economy, with the option to book standard economy for an extra 2,000 SkyMiles.
These may not be the most exciting redemptions, but they’re worth a look if you need to take an expensive domestic flight. Plus, these redemptions can save you a nice chunk of change if you take domestic flights frequently.
Last-minute intra-Europe award tickets
If you’re based in Europe or are taking a multistop tour of the region, you may want to use SkyMiles to book your intra-Europe flights.
Intra-Europe flights price at 10,000 SkyMiles one-way in economy or 25,000 in business class — even at the last minute. For example, this KLM flight from Amsterdam (AMS) to Paris (CDG) in less than two weeks costs 10,000 SkyMiles and roughly $45 in taxes and fees. The same last-minute ticket costs $228, giving you 1.83 cents per point in value.
Alternatively, this one-way business-class flight from Paris (CDG) to Kyiv, Ukraine (KBP), costs 25,000 SkyMiles and $133 after currency conversion. You’ll pay $796 for the same business-class flight, giving you over 2.6 cents per point in value.
Business-class pricing on flights from Europe to Israel is reasonable too. London Heathrow (LHR) to Tel Aviv (TLV) in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class prices out at just 42,500 SkyMiles and $379. A paid ticket on this route costs $1,085 at the time of writing this article, for roughly 1.7 cents per point in value.
How to earn Amex Membership Rewards points
You can earn Membership Rewards with one of American Express’ many cards. Each has its own set of benefits, fees and bonus-earning categories. Further, each card has a welcome offer that will jump-start your earning and — depending on the card — put you within reach of many of these flights.
- American Express® Green Card: Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first six months of account opening. Terms apply.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership. Terms apply.
The information for the Amex Green card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Delta SkyMiles aren’t the most valuable points-and-miles currency out there. But you can get solid redemption value from the Delta SkyMiles program if you know where to look.
In this post, I showed multiple times it makes sense to transfer your Membership Rewards to SkyMiles. While it may seem like you’re devaluing your points when making this transfer, you can often get a great value — even when compared to other Amex transfer partners.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.