Why this is the best time EVER to spend “other” points flying Delta (and earning points and status along the way)!

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I am in love. Now wait I know what you are thinking and just give me a second. I am not talking about my adorable bride of 30 years! No, I am talking about my 2nd love. OK, well maybe 3 or 4th love! Anyway…

What I am babbling on about is how amazingly simple it is, today, to burn points from so many sweet programs that are simple to earn points on to fly Delta as a “cash” or paid ticket. Just think about this list of cards I hold in my wallet right now and all of them can earn you full Delta points when you spend them on Delta tickets:

…and I could go on and on and on. The point is, it is simply dizzying the amount of points you can now use to simply “pay” for a ticket. You may say “so what”? Let’s dive deeper as the Delta CEO is fond of saying (just in regard to another issue for another post). 😉

how long does it take for amex membership rewards 50 percent bonus point to come back - only a few short days with Delta Air Lines

It only took a few days to get 50% points back!

The first points, i.e. Membership Rewards, spent when you hold the AMEX Business Platinum card (if you don’t hold this card, you just don’t get how valuable this is), is one of the most amazing programs ever for those who choose Delta as their preferred airline. Getting 50%, yes HALF, of your points back when you book a trip is just spectacular. I stand by my post that these points alone have destroyed Delta SkyMiles award tickets and one day Delta will wake up to this. Let’s move on.

Like any 3rd party points, as long as you work hard to avoid evil BASIC E class fares with Delta, you can spend points you likely earned very cheaply and can fly Delta and enjoy all the perks just like you paid with any other credit card for your flights. I can “make” Chase UR points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card that I have earned for almost nothing and enjoy spending them in all kinds of ways including tickets flying Delta.

Then we have US Bank FlexPerks. While these can be frustrating to spend (in a simple way) when you consider that I can earn them for either nothing or for at most 25% of retail to buy Delta tickets and qualify for upgrades and earn full points (as long as you avoid BASIC fares) is just stunning. Oh, and don’t forget I buy a $50 Delta e-Gift card each flight and then call them and get credit for my “incidentals” when I am flying on a FlexPerks ticket. I just love these so much!

It does not get more simple than Barclays Arrival+ points. Not only do you have “true” chip-N-pin for use around the world in automated machines (that works, btw) but charge just about anything travel and then you have 3 months to make the points to pay it back (as long as it is over $100). Again, super simple. I do this!

CNB points are worth about ~1.2 cents each when burning on Delta tickets. Maybe not the best value out of this prestigious group but they have nice bonus offers for spend and this works when I need them to.

Lastly in this list SkyMiles. Being a Delta AMEX card holder I can use PWM or Pay With Miles and earn MQMs for my flights even if I pay for the ticket 100% with SkyMiles. Considering how utterly brutal Delta has been recently slashing the value of SkyMiles this is a feature I have used now and then (but still mostly burn them for business class awards).

So there you are. Clearly I am focused on retaining my Delta elite status. I like buying tickets vs. just awards tickets as when you buy them, even with the points above, you can qualify for upgrades (as long as you avoid BASIC E fares), earn SkyMiles (other than PWM tickets) and all of the above earn 100% MQM elite qualifying points for flying as far as you can. Sweet!

See why I am in love? – René

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  1. René,

    I can’t agree more on using the Membership Rewards points with Delta as my preferred airline with my Amex non -DL Platinum Business card. My two kids and I went to the NYC area this past weekend Tickets about $900 RT for the three of us. If had used DL pay with miles, it would have been 90,000 miles, even more if I tried to buy the tickets using miles to get award flights. I used my Amex points and got back 45,000 points. So when converting points to cash at $.01, I paid $450 for three round trip tickets for FLL-NYC. Since the points don’t really cost anything for me to acquire, I see it as I just paid for my annual card fee for the Platinum Business card.

    I went on a trip earlier this year with my son to PHX and that was $1000 worth of airfare that I got for 50,000 Amex points. And of course I am getting full MQMs and miles like any other cash purchase.

  2. Do you only buy one way award with flex points? I just checked each card and I only $25 credits available per award booking.

  3. Unfortunately 100% of my yearly ~$90k in spend gets directed at my Reserve then Platinum AMEX as they earn me 40k MAN yearly.

  4. @rene I’m a relatively new reader, so I’m still trying to figure out all the info you publish. Am I correct that there is either a choice between status with my Amex Delta Reserve card, or if I want to fly cheaply, I should get the Amex Business Rewards card. Is there a way to optimize using both, or do you recommend going one way or the other?

  5. @Pauldz – I hold both and if you fly Delta often and want status you also need both. The Delta Reserve card is good for earning MQMs via spend levels and reaching the 25k per year spend level for more upgrades and holding the card for more upgrades and all the other perks. The non-Delta AMEX business Platinum card is good for so much else like non-Delta clubs, spending point to get the 50% back, Centurion club access, international Gogo passes each year and on and on and on… After the $200 per year travel credit from the latter you are paying $650 in yearly fee’s but to me it is well worth it for all I get back!

  6. I didn’t know I can use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book Delta flights. How does that work? Thanks.

  7. thanks Rene. i love the blog, looking forward to the rookie post on ultimate rewards. i thought the delta-american express axis sort of famously meant that chase UR points could NOT be leveraged on delta. i have chase as well as amex accounts, so UR points -> delta could be a difference maker to me!

  8. @M – You do not transfer from UR->Delta you spend UR points to buy Delta tickets (and Delta considers it just like paying cash).

  9. thanks for the heads up, Rene. i just booked a RT from JFK to CDG on air france (delta). i combined my two UR accounts’ balances (this worked instantly), which summed to ~110k UR points. those points got me ~$1350 towards my business class trip. i guess, when one doesn’t have extra Amex MR points lying around, (so the pay with MR points –
    get half back – using amex business isn’t a possibility), using UR points like this way is not a bad way to do it? :: looking to catch up on if/how booking with UR points, and then paying balance w chase sapphire preferred, for example, offers any other kickers (a multiplier on points earned booking travel (on delta)), etc, now :: Thanks !!

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