Rookie Wednesday: Buying, gifting or transferring Delta Skymiles? Ever a good idea?

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

buy-gift-transfer miles delta-com

I started this rookie Wednesday series as a way to educate on, not just how to do things with Delta, but also to show how some things are a good value if you do them and some are just not. Today’s post is one of the latter. It is almost never, with a few rare exceptions, a good idea to buy or gift or transfer Skymiles.

First the basics. Delta will allow you to buy or gift Skymiles each year. The cost is very high. How high? Take a look at buying:

cost to buy skymiles at delta-com

OUCH! 3.5 cents each is a very high price. Even if you are thinking (in some way) that this is a good deal if you can find a business class ticket at low level 100,000 award points, you need to think again. A fall trip for a week  from New York to Paris in business class, just buying it, and earning a ton of miles along the way, is under $2700 midweek.

cost to buy a business class ticket to paris from jfk on delta air lines

So we have established buying is expensive. What if you are just a few points short of some award trip? What about having someone gift you some miles then, like grandma?

gift miles delta-com

OUCH AGAIN! 3.5 cents to gift is the same price as you would get to buy them. So again here we see this is a very expensive option (grandma can give you something else nice ok)!

Well what if grandma has say 5000 miles left over and she will never ever fly again on Delta. Well maybe in this case. Let’s take a look.

transfer miles delta-com

Now in this case we see you are “only” paying 1 cent per point to send them over. However the uber-important thing to keep in mind is you are only paying 1 cent for points someone already has. So while this is the cheapest option, it is still not cheap. So consider this option if you only need a few points for some redemption from an account that will NEVER EVER use their points (since Skymiles never expire)!

award builder delta-com

What about Award Builder we see each time we buy a Delta ticket? I mean, it sounds nice to be able to get 1000 or 2000 or 3000 extra Skymiles for one of the few trips I take each year. Right? Well not so much! This price comes to a gut wrenching 2.8 cents each. Still way too high. I would NOT do this either even for the few extra points I would need.

So we can see it costs just about more than they are worth so you are better off not doing the above under normal circumstances. However, now and then, Delta runs 100% bonus offer to do the above, then, maybe, if you must, to get an award, it could be worth it to you! Then the buy or transfer cost can drop down to 1.8 cents each and while high, it is possibly tolerable to get you over the top for some trip.

Ok René you have shown me these are costly options. Then what do I do to get the few points I need? I had a post asking for suggestions from readers for bonus Skymiles deals out and about. Be sure to check the comments in the post for some ideas.

What else? Clearly you can pick up a bunch of Skymiles with the Delta AMEX cards either personal or business. This is a much cheaper cost out of pocket to get what you need.

Lastly there are other ways. I had a reader (you may have hear of him – BOB) who was so upset at Delta that he attempted to complain his way to 100,000 Skymiles in one year. There are few times a flight and trip is perfect and Delta most times is happy to send you a few Skymiles to say they are sorry for a LEGITIMATE gripe you had about the trip. – René


PS – in case you missed it –  ATL-CDG $558!


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  1. What are your experiences buying VRs with a Delta Amex? I just picked up the Platinum card and am thinking of manufacturing $25k of spend to get the 10k MQMs. Plus, it works out to buying Sky miles at $0.008/mile, better than any other option. Am just worried about an Amex FR..

  2. I’m sure most of you are aware of this, but another option is you can buy miles with the Delta SkyMiles Gold or Platinum cards. o

    Members of the Delta SkyMiles program that have the Delta Gold or Platinum credit cards don’t have to wait until they have enough miles to pay for an entire flight. These members can use 10,000 miles for the first $100 toward the cost of their ticket and then pay in increments of 5,000 miles for every $50 of the cost of the ticket after that. This option is only available for tickets above $100 one-way in cost. For tickets that are less than $100, only a full payment of 25,000 miles is accepted to cover the cost.

    Is this a good deal if you need some more points for the award travel?

  3. @Nancy – I would only use PWM (pay with miles) if you are booking 1st class as you then also EARN MQM & SKYMILES. There are few other times but if you are talking award tickets most want BIZ and PWM is hard for this.

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