Let me point your mind at rest – the FACTS about paying with points & earning points on Delta!

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Every now and then folks freak out. Now much of it can be due to United, an airline that really has issues, and can at times not give proper credit for flights. Just what am I talking about?

Well, for us, as Delta flyers, we have some really sweet opportunities to earn points spending points. What points? First off, if the price is JUST right, when you book in 1st / business class with Skymiles and “Pay with Miles” you will EARN MQDs, MQMs & Skymiles for the ticket. Again, ONLY 1st / business class as coach earns you nothing. The Delta Gold / Platinum / Reserve cards all let you use the PWM feature.

What else? As you have seen in my latest trip report using FlexPerks points absolutely earns you ALL Delta points across the board. I almost exclusively use my FlexPerks points for positioning flights for mileage runs and have never missed out on earning for the trips. Not just that, but I get full medallion perks and if I look at the receipt of how it was paid it shows as paid with a “MasterCard” ending in some number (strangely, never the same number). Also, just so we have it covered, buying a $50 e-Gift with your FlexPerks card the day of travel and then calling in for my airline expense reimbursement has no impact on anything other than getting $25 per ticket credited back to your FlexPerks account (you have to call a few days after the flight and it takes a few weeks for credit to show up).

Then on to Ultimate Rewards. Again, thanks to UA and a few DL IT bugs (OK, they have a bunch, but go with this for now), folks think a 1x issue means that UR points when spent buying a Delta ticket do not earn FULL and ALL points. They DO – trust me. I spent almost a full day flying on CRJ’s and burned almost 20k UR points to prove a point that you can read about from the link. Let me tell you, if you EVER have an issue just e-mail our dear Delta and you will get FULL credit for all flights booked with UR points and that makes the current AMAZING 70,000 point offer just that much better. If anyone tells you otherwise they are incorrect as UR points are, for Delta flyers who want Delta points and flights, a SOLID redemption option.

Now the very simplest of all points that without any question always counts is Barclay’s Arrival+ points because you are simply buying the ticket and the redemption for the points totally happens outside of the realm of Delta. The same goes for Captial One points, but they are nowhere near as valuable as Arrival points are (even the standard Arrival points when buying airline tickets that pays 2x – yes, you can hold BOTH cards)!

I don’t have/use Citi Thank you points but I would not see them or have ever heard of them causing any kind of issue (feel free to chime in readers if you have experience with them).

The only redemption option we DO want to be VERY careful with and has been proven can result in no or fewer points is AMEX travel. They have proven to use consolidator fares unlike all the others. Now, having said that, next year, under the cursed Skymiles2015 (now just 90 days away), there can be many times consolidator fares pay MUCH MORE points than booking at Delta.com directly. So, next year, not this year, AMEX travel could be a very good option to choose once the Skymiles2015 changes are in full effect.

So there you are. I have goals each year and having now been Diamond for a while I never ever want to NOT be Diamond again and spending these kinds of points in the right way helps me to keep that goal each year! – René
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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  1. I’m not sure what you’re talking about with Amex Travel. I’m a lead for amextravel.com and all of our Delta fares are published fares. In fact, ALL of our standalone air bookings are published fares with the exception of a few LOT Polish Alirlines tickets. In our flight+hotel packages I have seen what we call “bulk” fares but they have only been on JetBlue and I have only seen 2 in 2 years. Perhaps American Express Vacations has special fares, but they are a different division.

  2. @James – If you want to send me your AMEX email I will be happy to forward a long list of readers who got shorted by AMEX for AMEX Travel booked tickets on Delta (if you can fix it and get them points). It is CONFIRMED AMEX Travel can and DOES use consolidator fares.

  3. I told you last time we talked in person that I struggle to PM because from time to time I NRSB. Well guess what else Arrival+ points are good for. And that’s on top of reimbursing MARTA light rail tickets to the airport. Excellent card. You just can’t beat the flexibility of Arrival+ but flexpoints seem to surely have a few niches. Thinking I may consider it 2015.

  4. @Rene: When you reference AMEX Travel and reduced MQM/RDM earnings, are you referring to airline tickets paid for with cash or with MR points?

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