10 ways to earn more Delta SkyMiles

You can earn a free flight on Delta in just a few months with some of these tactics

Earning Delta SkyMiles

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The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch tool to find cards matched to your needs.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Whether you want to explore the Great Wall of China, sip coffee in a sidewalk café in Paris or relax on a tropical beach on the Caribbean, Delta SkyMiles can make your travel dreams come true. This frequent flyer program works for destinations all over the globe and flights may require fewer miles than you think.

Still, racking up additional miles can help you travel further or bring a friend. Read on to find out the best ways to earn more Delta SkyMiles.

1. Sign up for co-branded Delta credit cards

While you can earn Delta SkyMiles when you fly with Delta Air Lines, the best — and fastest — way to earn miles is by signing up for a co-branded Delta credit card through American Express. All Delta credit cards offer an introductory bonus for meeting a minimum spending requirement within a short span of time — usually three months.

It’s important to note that American Express limits introductory bonuses on their cards to once per lifetime. However, you can earn the introductory bonus on each of these cards since they are all considered separate products.

Fortunately, there are many Delta SkyMiles credit cards you can try out and earn bonus miles with over time:

Delta SkyMiles introductory bonuses

  SkyMiles earned Estimated value
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express 30,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply $483
Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
10,000 miles if you spend $500 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$161
Delta Reserve Credit Card
40,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$644
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express 30,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply) $483
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

35,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)

$564
Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
40,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$644

2. Add authorized users to your account

Occasionally, American Express may offer bonus miles for adding an authorized user to a Delta SkyMiles card. You can check for special offers under the Amex Offers portion of your account once you sign into your online account management page at American Express. While there’s no guarantee you’ll receive a special offer, we’ve seen offers for 2,500 bonus miles after adding an authorized user who spends $500 on their card within the first three months.

3. Get your spouse or partner in the game

While American Express has a strict “once per lifetime” rule on their introductory bonuses, there’s no restriction against family members applying for the same card as you. Even if your spouse or partner resides at the same address as you, they can sign up for Delta SkyMiles cards that you already own to earn an additional introductory bonus. If you have a trip on the horizon, you and your partner should try applying for the same Delta card to double your bonus miles.

4. Take advantage of Amex Offers

Amex Offers is a discount program that connects to all American Express credit cards, including Delta SkyMiles cards. While many of the promotions are cash back offers, you may occasionally see a bonus offer for Delta SkyMiles. Make sure to check Amex Offers frequently so you can take advantage of these offers when they come up.

5. Refer friends

If you have friends who also want to earn miles for free flights, you can refer them via the Amex refer-a-friend page to earn a referral bonus if they are approved for a card. You will typically earn 5,000 bonus miles per referral for a total bonus of up to 55,000 miles per year.

6. Maximize bonus categories

Depending on the Delta SkyMiles credit card, you can earn bonus miles on purchases in certain categories of spending. For example, the Blue Delta SkyMiles credit card from American Express offers 2 miles per dollar on dining purchases. Also, you earn double miles on direct purchases with Delta with any Delta SkyMiles card. For that reason, you’ll want to make sure to use your Delta credit card when you pay for airfare with Delta Air Lines.

 
Gold Delta SkyMiles 
2x miles on direct Delta purchases
Blue Delta SkyMiles 
2x miles on direct Delta purchases and restaurant purchases
Delta Reserve
2x miles on direct Delta purchases
Gold Delta SkyMiles Business 
2x miles on direct Delta purchases
Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business  
2x miles on direct Delta purchases
Delta Reserve for Business 
2x miles on direct Delta purchases

7. Use the Delta SkyMiles shopping portal

The Delta SkyMiles shopping portal offers another way to rack up Delta SkyMiles over time. Like other shopping portals, you can earn bonus miles on your purchases when you visit a retailer’s site through the Delta SkyMiles shopping portal.

While options change all the time, the list of participating stores currently includes Lord & Taylor, Home Depot, Sephora and eBags.com. Since you may earn up to 6 miles per dollar through the portal in addition to your regular credit card rewards, it’s always worth checking whether a retailer is on the list before you buy anything online.

8. Sign up for Amex credit cards that earn Membership Rewards

Since American Express Membership Rewards transfer to the Delta SkyMiles program, signing up for an American Express card to earn an introductory bonus and then transferring your bonus points is another great way to rack up SkyMiles.

The transfer ratio for Membership Rewards is 1:1, so 1,000 Membership Rewards is equal to 1,000 SkyMiles.

American Express credit cards to consider include:

 
Everyday card
10,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
Everyday Preferred card
15,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
American Express Gold card 
25,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
Platinum card
60,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
Business Green Rewards card 5,000 points with your first purchase (Terms apply)
Business Platinum card
  • 50,000 points if you spend $10,000 in first 3 months
  • Another 50,000 points if you spend additional $15,000 in first 3 months
 Morgan Stanley card 10,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
 Morgan Stanley Platinum card 60,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
 Schwab Platinum card 60,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)

9. Sign up for the Delta SkyMiles dining program

The Delta SkyMiles dining program lets you earn bonus miles when you sign up for an account and dine at participating restaurants in your area.

With the program’s current introductory offer, you can earn up to 3,000 bonus miles in your first 30 days -- 500 bonus miles after you spend your first $30 through the program, 1,000 more miles when you spend at least $30 at a second restaurant and 1,500 more miles when you spend $30 at a third restaurant -- in addition to up to 5 miles per dollar spent at participating restaurants.

10. Link your Lyft account to your Delta SkyMiles account

Last but not least, you can earn Delta miles on rides with Lyft. After you link your Delta SkyMiles account with your Lyft account, you’ll earn 1 mile for each dollar you spend on ridesharing through the program. You may also earn a special introductory bonus if you’re a new Lyft user, although promotions vary.

You only have to link your accounts once to start earning Delta miles on Lyft rides, so make sure to do it right away.

Final thoughts

Delta SkyMiles can help you see the world without overpaying for airfare, but you need a lot of miles to book the trip of your dreams. Once you sign up for a Delta SkyMiles credit card, your best bet is maximizing all the little ways you can earn more miles. Over time, your efforts can add up in a big way.

Your gateway to Delta perks

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles card

Why should you get it?

Since its annual fee is waived in the first year, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card is the most affordable option for scoring a large introductory bonus and perks with Delta Air Lines.

More things to know: 

  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • $50 statement credit if you make a Delta purchase with your card in first 3 months
  • 2 points per dollar on Delta purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • First checked bag free for you and up to 8 companions
  • Priority boarding privileges
  • $0 annual fee in the first year ($95 thereafter) (See rates and fees)
  • Terms apply 

See Related: What are Delta SkyMiles worth?, Which Delta SkyMiles card is best for you?, Best ways to redeem Delta SkyMiles, Delta SkyMiles partners, Delta elite status benefits, Delta Sky Club lounges, How to book a flight with Delta SkyMiles, Delta Skymiles Shopping guide


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Updated: 12-09-2018