Rookie Sunday: Can I transfer Delta points from (whatever) to (whatever). Can I buy SkyMiles? Just because you can do a thing does not mean you should do a thing!

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a regular feature on the Renés Points blog. This blog 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 featured topic.

Really no – not ever Delta!

Delta SkyMiles gets a lot of flack from blogs and rightly so. The beyond hopelessly broken award booking page is maddening. Pair that with Delta SkyMiles management being just fine with additive prices (vs. non additive paid tickets) is nauseating. Oh then there are things like not publishing the award charts (at least I do on the blog). Clearly, I could go on all day, but despite all that SkyMiles do have SOME value and when I spend mine I always get my money’s worth.

With the above in mind, the image above is a screen grab from where Delta marketing is suggesting that you should either spend your SkyMiles on drinks in the Sky Club or on Delta private jet rides. As to the first suggestion – just don’t – EVER! As for the latter, if you can afford to fly DPJ then feel free to spend your SkyMiles any way you want to! 🙂

The first question I want to knock out that I am often asked, that is, can I transfer my Delta points to someone else if I want to. Yes you can – but please don’t. Here is what Delta says about transfer option:

Transfer miles
Transaction Terms:
Minimum/Maximum mileage transferred per transaction: 1,000/30,000
Mileage increments: 1,000
Rate per mile: $0.01. Rate Chart
Processing Fee per transaction: $30.00
Applicable Taxes. Visit terms and conditions for details
One to four Miles recipients may be included in a single transaction
Yearly Maximums:
Maximum mileage deposited to a SkyMiles account per year: 300,000
Maximum mileage transferred from a SkyMiles account per year: 150,000

That is a massive cost to send points over to someone. Many argue that SkyMiles are only worth about 1 cent each so you are basically flushing the value of the miles to send them to someone else this way. I personally value my SkyMiles at much more than 1 cent each but I think you still see the point that there is VERY low value doing this kind of transfer. If you must get points into your own account consider getting Amex Membership Rewards points from say a non-Delta Amex Platinum card as they, for a very tiny fee, transfer almost instantly from Amex to Delta 1:1 that is one for one! What about gifting someone Delta points? Take a look:

Gift miles
Transaction Terms:
Minimum/Maximum mileage purchased per transaction: 2,000/60,000
Mileage increments: 2,000
Rate per mile: 0.035. Rate Chart
Applicable Taxes. Visit terms and conditions for details
One to four Miles recipients may be included in a single transaction
Yearly Maximums:
Maximum mileage deposited to a SkyMiles account per year: 60,000

Not in my WILDEST dreams would I EVER value a SkyMile at 3.5 cents. That price is simply outrageous and insane. You are way better off getting a Delta Amex card, earning the points, then simply buying a ticket for someone who you wanted to gift the points to instead! Or, as a work around, if you have SPG points (i.e. Starwood or Marriott points you send to Starwood) gift those free to someone else in your household and then they can send their SPG points to Delta.

I like the experience of flying free vs this, Delta!

Now on to yet another way Delta suggests you can spend your SkyMiles, that is, the SkyMiles Experience. Yes, these are unique events and with some of them this could be the only way you can experience the event. I myself have burned SkyMiles for one of these events but there has to be real impressive value. Take for example the cool chance for Braves tickets in the all-inclusive Delta360 box. If you use the “buy now” option you are getting 4 tickets for 90,000 SkyMiles. Even valuing a SkyMile at just 1 cent each you are paying $225 per person for this experience. Worth it? Maybe to some but not to me.

Flushing value down the drain? No thanks!

Next up we have SkyMiles shopping. Eee gads what a joke this is. Look at just two of the above as examples. Buying Delta gift cards results in a value of just 7/10ths of a penny per SkyMile. Paying for someone’s Global Entry credit you are netting 5/10ths of a penny value. That is truly horrid. The ONLY time I can recommend this is if you have a loved one who has died. If you still have access to their account then yes burn the points before “Delta DieMiles” heartlessly robs your dead loved one of their hard earned points!

This one I have to be careful with or I get blasted in the comments but it really is a simple YES or NO choice. If you, or say your employer, paid a very high fare class (in coach) and you want to use a reasonable amount of SkyMiles to upgrade on a long flight – I get that and would do the same. However, if you paid what most of us do a really cheap coach fare then the cost to upgrade will likely be as much as just buying a Level 1 or Level 2 award in the first place. Thus with the latter you are simply flushing the cash value of the ticket price down the toilet. Oh, and like normal SkyMiles tickets Delta also hides the price charts for upgrades – so have fun with that!

Next up a simple one to do but really makes me crazy, that is, overpaying with SkyMiles i.e. paying anything other than Level 1 or 2 award prices. Yes, here on the blog you can see what you are paying since users help support and update the live current SkyMiles award charts. Look at it this way folks, if you need to not over pay get my pal ADAM to help you book award tickets. The value of the SkyMiles saved will almost every time save you far more than the tiny fee to help find you lower point cost tickets!

This one, I have in the past, argued is a smart choice for Delta flyers that is registering whatever card you use to pay for eating out. But with the value of SkyMiles getting worse and worse year by year you may be better off choosing another airline or even a 5-10% cash back option within the RewardsNetwork like iDine. The latter is what I have chosen for my Chase Sapphire Reserve card that I always pull when I pay for a meal.

So there you are and here you have this week’s “just because you can do a thing, does not mean you should do a thing” Rookie Sunday installment. What do you think of my advice above. Do you agree? Any other ways we can use SkyMiles but really should not due to the very low value returned for the burn? Let me know! – René

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One comment

  1. Rene I just booked a trip for early next year for my wife and I. MLB/ATL/LHR Delta/Virgin in First/Upper
    and return FCO/ATL/MLB DeltaOne and First
    Total 161K SkyMiles plus $77.41 taxes each person.

    There were many other options with pricing around 311K plus a lot more in taxes/surcharges and in fact some required multiple connections. It pays to do the flexible date search.

    Looking at from one-way it was 75K to LON and 86K from Rome back so a great redemption and looking at your latest award chart that is Level1/2 pricing.

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