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.
This one is kinda an amalgamation of a few of the reader requests from my 125 reader comments about what they want to see on rookie Wednesdays. The question is on the point of what are the best points to use to buy delta tickets.
This really is a good question. When it comes to buying a ticket you really have an amazing amount of choices and what is “best” is not a one word answer. It really depends on a number of factors so let’s break it down and look at the choices.
1) Buy with card that pays max points. What card to use? AMEX Premiere Rewards Gold travel card for 3x, or Delta AMEX for 2x and meet spend toward MQD exempt are my go to choices.
2) Buy with card, pay yourself back with points. Choices are Barclay’s Arrival or Capital One type cards so after the ticket posts you can pay for it with points to net out as no cost.
3) Pay with points card that is non-AMEX one. You can pick ones that let you buy a ticket with like FlexPerks points, Ultimate Rewards, AMEX Membership rewards or Citi Thank You points so you never really pay for the ticket upfront at all (there can be tax and other fees).
4) Pay with Miles from Delta. This is a perk of the Delta AMEX airline travel cards that lets you get 1 cent per Skymile in value to buy any ticket you want.
5) Skymiles at the award level you find for the flights and times you want.
These are the main 5 ways and there really is a dizzying amount of ways to buy a ticket when you think about it. What choice really depends on so much like your goal for the flight and what you want at the back end, that is after the flight is over. Let’s break it down.
1) The first one really is simple at face value, but look again. You are just buying the ticket. But, you need to look at the goal for the purchase. Are you trying to get as many points back as possible for the purchase or are you trying to not only get max points but also knock out part of the $25,000 per year on a Delta AMEX to be exempt from the MQD requirement for your status level? If you are NOT into manufacturing spending, foregoing extra points may be well worth it to help meet spend for the year.
2) This one has it’s pros and cons. If you pay with your Arrival or C1 points to buy a ticket then you can not use these points to pay for say a car rental or a hotel etc. later on. You need to weigh whether the points you are earning from the Delta flight are more important to you than getting a free car rental or a free hotel stay? Especially if you have to pay out of pocket then for the other options. One to think about before you just say I will pay myself back for this flight.
3) This payment option can be really good. Chase Ultimate Rewards points, FlexPerks and Thanks You points all earn when you fly Delta so this can be a good use of points to earn you Delta points, both Skymiles & MQMs. Plus they do all count toward MQD spending levels. Membership Rewards from AMEX you always need to be VERY careful with as you run the risk of ending up in a consolidator fare class and earn either nothing or only a small percent of what you expected. Plus, the chance to get perhaps even greater value sending MR points to a partner. All goes into the math grinder for your personal value at the other end.
4) Pay with Miles. This one can be so good and so bad. The good is you can say buy a ticket to match up with other already booked flights either with points or even via a connecting city on a trip. Real value with flexibility. Downside is so many restrictions like no upgrades, will not earn ANY points for trip and on and on. Having said that, booking in 1st class does earn points so this can really be a sweet spot at the right price. Just be careful not to over spend with this option.
5) Just redeeming Skymiles. Shocking but this is after all the goal most times. To find a good as cheap as possible with points redemption in either coach or business class. I have spent recently 32,500 to fly out of SBN soon for my wife and I on Delta points. Not as good as 25,000 but considering the price of the tickets to buy them this is a good deal to me since buying the two tickets today would cost me almost $1300 so I am getting a good CPM value for my miles. I can live with that.
So to wrap up – you have a ton of choices. The key points are what are your spending and earning goals. Do you want to earn for your flight and yet not pay for it or are you sitting on a big pile of other points and would rather burn them to earn compared to using them for other things or transfer partners. Is the price so good it is worth just paying with points. Lastly is this the time to spend your points to save real money? Sometimes after all it is all about the trip itself not just earning for another trip down the road! – René
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