Sunday, August 1

How to use Delta Pay With Miles to save money on flights — without worrying about award charts or blackout dates


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Ask any award travel enthusiast, and they’ll tell you that there’s an art to spending frequent flyer miles. And for those who aren’t very experienced with these programs, redeeming your miles can be very frustrating.

Fortunately, in addition to standard award tickets, Delta Air Lines offers another redemption option called Pay with Miles. This program is available to American Express Delta credit card holders, and allows you to redeem your miles at a fixed rate toward paid tickets without having to worry about award charts, blackout dates, or availability.

What is Pay With Miles?

Pay with Miles is a benefit offered to American Express Delta SkyMiles cardmembers to give them more flexibility in applying their miles to pay for their ticket. Miles are worth 1 cent each toward paid airfare, and you can redeem them in increments of 5,000.

Read more: The best credit cards for Delta flyers

So 5,000 miles will give you a $50 credit towards a flight purchase, 10,000 miles will offer you a $100 credit, and so on. You can even pay for the entire ticket cost by using miles up to the next highest $50 increment. So if you have a $178 ticket, you can redeem 20,000 points to cover the entire cost.

Which credit cards do you need to use Pay With Miles?

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $99

Regular APR

15.74%-24.74% variable

Featured Reward

70,000 Bonus Miles after spending $2,000 in purchases (plus a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase) within your first 3 months (offer expires 7/28/2021)

Intro APR

0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months (offer expires 7/28/2021)

Chevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Pros & Cons

  • Details


  • Pros
    • Earns bonus miles at restaurants and US supermarkets
    • Annual fee is waived the first year
    • You get a free checked bag and Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights
    Cons
    • Doesn’t go above and beyond in terms of benefits beyond Delta perks
    • Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021 .
    • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
    • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
    • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at US supermarkets.
    • $100 Delta Flight Credit: After you spend $10,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, receive a Credit to use toward future travel.
    • Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.
    • Terms Apply.

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    To use Pay With Miles, you’ll need one of Amex’s eligible Delta credit cards.

    Personal SkyMiles Amex cards:

    Amex SkyMiles cards for small business owners:

    Each of these cards comes with other perks that can make your travel more comfortable and save you money. For example, all of these cards (except the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card) offer priority boarding and a free first checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight companions on the same reservation on Delta flights.

    A step-by-step guide to using Pay With Miles

    To redeem SkyMiles using Pay With Miles, you can use Delta’s regular website and search for flights as you normally would. You can use Pay With Miles on Delta and Delta Connection flights, but not for partner flights.

    When you search, you’ll need to have at least 5,000 miles in your Delta account (the minimum redemption amount) for Pay With Miles to appear as an option. Flights that qualify for Pay With Miles are listed as “Pay With Miles eligible” in your search results.

    A screenshot of Delta Airlines' main flight booking screen.

    Start your flight search on Delta’s website to use Pay With Miles.

    Delta


    Screenshot of Delta Pay With Miles feature on a flight booking made online through Delta's website.

    Eligible cardholders will see the option to Pay With Miles after selecting a flight.

    Delta


    The benefits and drawbacks of using Pay with Miles

    There are several advantages to using Pay with Miles when purchasing a Delta ticket, on top of reducing or eliminating your out-of-pocket cost for the flight. Even though each mile you redeem is only worth 1 cent, this can sometimes be a greater value than is offered when redeeming Delta SkyMiles directly for award tickets.

    Another advantage is that you can use Pay with Miles to cover not just the base cost of the airfare, but also any taxes or fees you might incur. Domestically, these taxes and fees are typically only $5.60 per person, each way. But when you fly internationally, many destinations will impose much larger taxes and fees that must be paid for in cash when booking a standard award ticket.

    Read more: How to earn, redeem, and maximize Delta SkyMiles

    But with Pay with Miles, you always have the option to cover the entire cost of the ticket with your miles, including all taxes, fees, and surcharges collected at the time of purchase.

    Also, tickets purchased in whole or in part with Pay with Miles count as revenue (paid) tickets. That means you’ll earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), and Medallion Qualification Segments (MQS) which will help you earn and retain elite status in the SkyMiles program.

    You can also earn redeemable SkyMiles and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) from your trip, but only on the portion of the fare that you pay in cash, after miles are applied to the ticket. For top-tier Diamond Medallion members, that will mean that you’ll receive 11 miles for every dollar of the cash portion of the ticket price. When you book award tickets the usual way, you won’t earn any miles.

    Read more: 2 of Delta’s credit cards offer bonus Medallion Qualification Miles — the key to getting elite status

    The disadvantage of Pay with Miles is that you’ll only get a value of 1 cent per mile redeemed, which is usually considered to be a lower rate compared to using miles to book traditional award tickets.

    Regular APR

    15.74% to 24.74% variable

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases (plus a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase) within your first 3 months (offer expires 7/28/2021)

    Intro APR

    0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months (offer expires 7/28/2021)

    Chevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Pros & Cons

  • Details


  • Pros
    • Earns bonus miles at restaurants and US supermarkets
    • Annual companion certificate can help you recoup most, if not all, of the annual fee
    • You get a free checked bag and priority boarding on Delta flights
    Cons

    • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021 .
    • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
    • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
    • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
    • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at US supermarkets.
    • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
    • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
    • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
    • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
    • $250 Annual Fee.
    • Terms Apply.

    Read Our Review
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    Bottom line

    It’s always better to have more ways to redeem your miles, and Pay with Miles can be a valuable option for some travelers.

    By getting an American Express Delta SkyMiles credit card, and understanding this option, you can decide when it makes the most sense to use your miles instead of your dollars the next time you purchase a ticket on Delta.

    Featured credit cards from our partners

    Featured Reward

    100,000 points

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    3 Free Nights (valued up to 50,000 points each) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus 10x total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases in select categories within your first 6 months

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent



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