Borrow Delta SkyMiles now, earn them back later

Fly Now, Earn Later

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy

If you want to purchase a flight using your Delta SkyMiles, but don’t have enough miles to cover the full amount, American Express may have a solution for you. “Fly Now, Earn Later” is a pilot program that allows select Delta SkyMiles cardholders to borrow miles and earn them back by making purchases on their Delta SkyMiles cards.

Launched by American Express in June 2017, the program requires cardholders to earn back the borrowed miles within a six-month period. Any miles remaining after that time will be charged to your credit card at a rate of 2.5 cents per mile. So, for example, if you still owe 3,000 miles at the end of six months, your credit card will be charged $75 to fulfill the remaining balance.

Fly Now, Earn Later is currently being targeted to select Delta SkyMiles consumer and business cardholders. If you are eligible to participate, you will see a “Request Fly Now, Earn Later” button after logging in to your americanexpress.com account and clicking on the “Benefits” tab. From there, you can view the amount of miles you are eligible to borrow.

Is it worth it?

This is the first airline loyalty program we’ve seen that allows its members to earn miles for a reward retroactively, and it could be a handy feature for SkyMiles members who need to book an airline ticket or hotel stay and are short on miles. But keep in mind that it could come at a cost if you don’t earn them back by the six-month deadline.

We estimate the value of Delta SkyMiles to be worth 1.4 cents per mile. However, because you will be charged 2.5 cents for each additional mile you owe at the end of six months, you will essentially be paying an extra cent more than each mile is worth. For example, according to our valuation, 3,000 Delta SkyMiles is equivalent to approximately $42 under normal circumstances. With the Fly Now, Earn Later program, that same 3,000 miles will cost $75 if still owed at the end of the six-month period. 

We recommend that you earn back the total amount of miles borrowed within the six-month period to avoid additional charges.

Earning Delta SkyMiles

Fortunately, Delta SkyMiles cards offer rewards bonuses and the opportunity to earn miles on every purchase – so you may be able to earn enough miles through normal spending without having to borrow them. If you do borrow miles, you have several opportunities to earn them back within the six-month period.

See the rewards offered by each Delta SkyMiles card in the chart below:

DELTA SKYMILES REWARDS RATES
Credit card Sign-up bonus Rewards rate Annual bonus Total bonus miles possible during first year (not including regular rewards earned)

Gold Delta SkyMiles

(Update: Offer no longer available through our site)

• 30,000 miles after $1,000 spend in first 3 months
• $50 statement credit after first Delta purchase in first 3 months
• 2 miles per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta
• 1 mile per dollar on general purchases
None 30,000 bonus miles

Platinum Delta SkyMiles

(Update: Offer no longer available through our site)

• 35,000 miles and 5,000 MQMs after $1,000 spend in first 3 months
• $100 statement credit after making a Delta purchase in first 3 months
• 2 miles per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta
• 1 mile per dollar on general purchases
• 10,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs after $25,000 spend in a calendar year
• Additional 10,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs after $50,000 spend in a calendar year
55,000 bonus miles and 25,000 bonus MQMs
Delta Reserve • 40,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs after $3,000 spend in first 3 months • 2 miles per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta
• 1 mile per dollar on general purchases
• 15,000 miles and 15,000 MQMs after $30,000 spend in a calendar year 55,000 bonus miles and 25,000 MQMs

Gold Delta SkyMiles Business

(Update: Offer no longer available through our site)

• 30,000 miles after $1,000 spend in first 3 months
• $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase in first 3 months
• 2 miles per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta
• 1 mile per dollar on general purchases
None 30,000 bonus miles

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business

(Update: Offer no longer available through our site)

• 35,000 miles and 5,000 MQMs after $1,000 spend in first 3 months
• $100 statement credit after making a Delta purchase in first 3 months
• 2 miles per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta
• 1 mile per dollar on general purchases
None 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 bonus MQMs
Delta Reserve for Business • 10,000 MQMs after making first purchase • 2 miles per dollar on purchases made directly with Delta
• 1 mile per dollar on general purchases
None 10,000 bonus MQMs

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of the offer.

See related: Delta SkyMiles members can earn up to 3X miles with Lyft, Credit card special offers and limited time promotions

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy


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Updated: 11-22-2017