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Delta currently has a 100% bonus when you transfer Delta miles between accounts until September 30, 2011, which basically equates to them selling miles at roughly 1.1 cents a piece. I have been getting a lot of emails about this promotion, so I thought I’d lay out a couple different scenarios so you can decide if this makes sense for you. While Delta SkyMiles are among the hardest to redeem at low levels, it can be done, especially when redeeming for partner awards (like Air France, KLM, V Australia and China Southern). I recommend using Expertflyer to find partner award availability and then calling Delta to book. See this post for more tips on booking Delta awards and my most recent one about Maximizing Delta Awards.
Scenario 1: You have no Delta miles and no American Express Membership Rewards Points and let’s say you want to get 120,000 miles, which is enough for a roundtrip ticket to Asia or even Mauritius/Seychelles with a stopover in Europe (like I did this summer).
Step 1: Set up two Skymiles accounts. It doesn’t matter the names or addresses on the account, because you can book awards for whoever you want. Create accounts here. Cost: Free
Step 2: Generate at least 1 mile in each account. You can do this a ton of ways, like transferring any of your hotel points to the Delta account (for example Starwood Platinum members can transfer a single point into a single Delta mile), buying an item through the Skymiles Shopping Mall or dining at a Skymiles dining establishment. Your account needs to be at least 10 days old and most of these methods take about 10 days for the miles to post, so do your qualifying activity as soon as possible. Cost: As cheap as $2 if you buy a single iTunes song for each account through the shopping portal.
Step 3: Once the 10 days have passed and you have at least 1 point in your accounts, you’ll then buy 8,000 SkyMiles with one account, which will actually turn into 16,000 with their concurrent 100% Buy Miles promotion. Cost : $301
Step 4: Transfer 15,000 miles to account number 2. Cost: $180. Account 2 will now have 30,000 miles.
Step 5: Account #2 now transfers 30,000 miles back to Accounts 1. Cost: $330. Accounts 1 now has 61,000 miles.
Step 6: Account 1 transfers two batches of 30,000 mile back toto account #2. Cost: $330 x 2 = $660. Account number 2 will now have 120,000 SkyMiles – enough for that trip-of-a-lifetime award to Asia or Africa in business class.
Total Cost to Generate 120,000 SkyMiles: $1,471 or 1.47 cents per mile. Not bad, since most business class awards to Africa and Asia are well over $5,000! Of course you don’t actually have to use those miles for business class – I just used that as an example. 120,000 miles can also get you two coach tickets from North America to Europe and remember that Delta allows a stopover and open jaw on awards, so you can build in multiple cities on your trip to maximize the value of the award.
Scenario 2: You have a boatload of American Express points, but no SkyMiles and you want to create 120,000 SkyMiles
Step 1: If you don’t already have one, set up two Skymiles accounts. It doesn’t matter the names or addresses on the accounts, because you can book awards for whoever you want. Create accounts here. Cost: Free
Step 2: Generate at least 1 mile in one of the accounts. You can do this a ton of ways, like transferring any of your hotel points to the Delta account (for example Starwood Platinum members can transfer a single point into a single Delta mile), buying an item through the Skymiles Shopping Mall or dining at a Skymiles dining establishment. You can also transfer 1,000 Amex points which will post instantly to each account, so you only need to wait the 10 days before continuing with your transfers. Cost: $~1
Step 3: Make sure at least one of those SkyMiles accounts are linked to your Membership Rewards account. Membershiprewards.com -> Points Summary -> Expand Linked Travel Programs (bottom right) -> Scroll to the bottom and click “Link additional programs,” not Enroll.
Step 4: Register the SkyMiles account that is linked to your Membership Rewards to this 50% Amex transfer bonus. To read more about that promo you can check out the original post.
Step 5: Transfer 10,000 Amex points to your linked Delta account. The miles and bonus should post almost instantaneously, so you will end up with 15,000 SkyMiles in Account #1. Cost: $6 in excise fees.
Step 6: Transfer 15,000 miles to account number 2. Cost: $180. Account 2 will now have 30,000 miles.
Step 7: Account #2 now transfers 30,000 miles back to Accounts 1. Cost: $330. Account 1 ends up with 60,000 miles. .
Step 8: Accounts 1 makes two 30,000 mile transfers back to account #2. Cost: $330 x 2 = $660. Account number 2 will now have 120,000 SkyMiles.
Total cost: $1,179 plus the value you place on 10,000 Amex points.
Scenario 3: We have 30,000 SkyMiles, but want to get to 120,000 so you have enough for that dream award.
Step 1: Create a second account or use a friend/family members that you have access to. Cost: Free
Step 2: Transfer 30,000 miles to account 2. Account 2 ends up with 60,000 miles. Cost: $330.
Step 3: Transfer 30,000 miles to account 1. Account 1 receives 60,000 miles. Cost $330
Step 4: Conduct another 30,000 mile transfer from account 2 to account 1. Account 1 receives 60,000 miles. Cost $330
Total cost: $990. We went from 30,000 original miles to 120,000 miles – a 90,000 mile increase for only $990.
Scenario 4: You have a boatload of SkyMiles, but want to take advantage of this promotion because you know you’ll be able to use even more in the future and redeem them for more than the 1.1 cents you buy them for. The opportunities here are endless because you can create multiple new accounts and keep transferring back and forth. The only limit is that any single account can only transfer up to 150,000 miles in a year and receive up to 300,000 miles via intra-Delta transfers per year (this rule does not apply to American Express transfers which only have a transfer limit of 999,000 to any given transfer partner per day). I can imagine an enterprising individual easily manufacturing millions of points for $11,000 per million. Of course, Delta makes the rules and can change them at any time, so any extreme behavior can and will most likely be met with an account freeze or mileage loss so don’t get greedy!
Terms & Conditions:
¹Transaction must be completed between now and 11:59pm EST on September 30, 2011 to receive the 100 percent mileage bonus. The 100 percent bonus mile offer expires at 11:59 pm on September 30, 2011. Bonus miles for Buy Miles transactions will be awarded to the purchaser’s SkyMiles account. Bonus miles for Gift and Transfer Miles transactions will be awarded to the recipient’s SkyMiles account. The 100 percent mileage bonus will post within 24 hours of purchase. This program may not be available in all markets or geographic areas. Buy, Gift, and Transfer Miles may only be received into SkyMiles accounts that have been established for at least 10 days and have earned at least one mile since enrolling in the SkyMiles program. Please refer Delta customer service representative to 970631.
Miles may be purchased for $0.035 USD per mile (minimum 2,000 miles) plus a 7.5 percent Federal Excise Tax. An additional 5 percent GST and/or other applicable taxes apply to purchases by Canadian residents. Purchased miles are not refundable and are applicable toward all SkyMiles awards. Purchased miles do not count toward Medallion or Million Miler status.
For Transfer Miles transactions, you will be charged $0.01 USD per mile, plus a $30 USD processing fee per transaction or as otherwise set forth on the order form. All amounts paid by the member for the transfer of miles pursuant to this Agreement are exclusive of any applicable taxes. A 5 percent GST and/or other applicable taxes apply to residents of Canada on the $30 USD processing fee. Miles can be transferred in increments of 1,000 miles, with a minimum transfer of 1,000 miles. Transferred miles are applicable for all SkyMiles program awards. Transferred miles do not count toward Medallion or Million Miler status. Each member is limited to transferring no more than 150,000 miles from his or her account and no recipient may receive more than 300,000 transferred miles from any other SkyMiles program account or combination of accounts in any calendar year. Any miles beyond this limit will not be transferred from member’s account or posted to any recipient’s account.
²Taxes and fees for Award Travel are the responsibility of the passenger and must be paid at the time the ticket is booked. Award Travel seats are limited and may not be available on all flights or in all markets.
All Delta SkyMiles program rules apply. To review the rules, please visit delta.com/memberguide. Offers, prices and rules are subject to change without notice. Offers void where prohibited by law. Additional restrictions may apply.