Delta 100% Transfer and 75% Buy Mile Promotions: A Good Deal?

by on December 3, 2011 · 51 comments

in Delta

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Delta is offering a 100% bonus on transferred miles until December 16, 2011 and 75% bonus on purchased miles from now until December 22, 2011. What does that mean for you? Basically, for less than $1,200 you can get enough miles for a roundtrip ticket to Europe in business class or $1,440 to Asia/Africa.

Transfer Promo Details:
Delta charges 1 cent per mile to transfer miles between SkyMiles accounts and a $30 transaction fee. The yearly maximum number of miles you can transfer out of your account is 150,000 and the maximum to receive in a year is 300,000 (both of those are excluding bonuses). You can transfer to up to four different Skymiles accounts up to 30,000 miles each per transaction. To maximize this, let’s pretend that you have 4 people in your family, you could transfer each 15,000 miles (60,000 total) and they’d each end up with 30,000 (120,000 total) thanks to the bonus. Cost: $630 since you only pay one transaction fee to transfer to up to four accounts.

100% Transfer bonus table

Then each of them would transfer 30,000 back to you (you’d receive 60,000 from each, so 240,000 total) at $330 x 4 = $1,320. In this case you’d have to pay the $30 transaction fee for each of the four transfers since there are four different SkyMiles accounts. If you don’t mind the miles being split up in different accounts, you could save on transaction fees, but for the sake of trying to maximize this promotion back into your own SkyMiles account, this is the easiest scenario (though feel free to disagree if you have different ideas).

FYI in order to transfer SkyMiles, both accounts have to be open for at least 10 days, so if you don’t have one you can create one here for free. You will also need to generate at least 1 mile in the account to make it active before your transfer, so you can do a number of things like transferring in 1,000 American Express points (which post instantly and there’s currently a 30% rebate if you transfer at least 50,000). You could also sign up for Delta dining and make a dine and get the 1,000 mile New Member bonus. Dining miles usually take about 7-10 days to post, so I’d recommend doing this sooner than later.

Essentially you would have gone from 60,000 miles to 240,000 for $1,950. So, you generated 180,000 SkyMiles at 1.1 cents apiece – pretty good!

While SkyMiles can be hard to use, if you do enough research 240,000 SkyMiles can get two people to Africa (excluding South Africa) or Asia in business class. In fact the Africa awards are my favorite to book with my SkyMiles – last year I did Paris and Seychelles and this year Madrid/Barcelona and Mauritius – each trip was 120,000 SkyMiles and about $250 in taxes/fees each for all legs in business class. You can also use 150,000 SkyMiles to fly to Australia in business class – including on partner airline V Australia. Taxes are a bit steep at $550ish, but it’s still a great value since those flights are easily $6,000+.

For tips on maximizing Delta miles, check out some of these posts:
How to Book a Delta SkyMiles Award
Maximizing Stopovers, Transfers and Open Jaw Ticketing on Delta Awards
10 Tips on Using Delta SkyMiles
(They also ran this promo in September – click here to see my original post on the deal.)

Buy Miles Promo Details:

The Buy Miles promo is much less lucrative and I don’t really recommend it (buying US Airways miles is cheaper and they are generally easier to redeem).

Delta charges 3.5 cents per mile, plus a 7.5% tax and their yearly maximum on purchased miles is 60,000 (excluding any bonuses).

Checkout screen for 60,000 mile purchase

So if you purchase 60,000 miles at $2,257.50, you’ll get a bonus of 45,000, so 105,000 total at 2.15 cents apiece. Better than normal, but still not a great deal – especially since you can create miles for half the price using the transfer method.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • POB312

    From your prose, I’m trying to imagine you in your former incarnation. Credit Analyst? Nope. New Business? Nope. C-Suite toady. Maybe.

  • Raj B

    Brian — do you know how much success people are having with getting the transfer fees credited by AMEX from the Platinum card $200 airline reimbursement? I doubt I will need to use mine for anything else over the next four weeks. Thanks!

  • Gavinmac

    Very interesting. Thanks. Are people free to create four “dummy” accounts to do this, or is there a risk that Delta would discover that and declare the transactions invalid under some rule against dummy accounts?

  • Suzannehendrix

    They had this promo last month as well. I opened up a SM account for my husband well within the 10 day window it had to be open and then after 13 days had passed I tried to transfer the miles into his account and the system would not let. It said that his account was not available to transfer miles into for this promotion. I will give it another shot, but just to let your readers know, it may not work if the account has not been open for some time.

  • Gavinmac

    Term #4 under the general transfer miles terms and conditions makes the dummy account gambit harder to do:

    “Transfer Miles may only be donated and received by SkyMiles accounts that have been established for at least 10 days and have earned at least one automatically posted mile since enrolling in the SkyMiles program.”

    Not sure what the quickest way is to get at least one mile posted into new accounts. Promotion is only open for 13 days; most points transactions take longer than that to post.

  • Anonymous

    Good point- I updated the post. I also added in dining as an option since they usually post after about a week.

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  • pj

    is this a double dips: the trasnfer from AMEX MR is still on right ? you can start with 50K out of amec to get 15K back ( 35K net ) to start with a account which has at least 50K to start with :)

    the cold truth is: indeed it is good for the routes TPG points out but hard to see a good redemption out of North american to Asia i just book a CO trip 65K with silk smooth connection EWR TPE PVG ( SHANGHAI ( <24 hr stayover) CTU ( chengdu 8 days stayover) – EWR delta requirement is welll welll out of my sight

    indeed i did catch a redemption last oct nov DC-HKG for 70K while AMEX was running 40 % rebate

  • PJ

    sucess at CO GC 50 one shot for 3 times so far the 4th should be in 3 business days after purchase

    wonder how soon I can change the airline of my choice ? I just designated it about 1 month ago
    and the new 200 credit is coming again on the arrival of 2012 :)

  • Mama Claire’s

    No, this gay overweight blogger was a recruiter at a bank who preyed on young meat fresh out of college who were desperate for jobs in i-banking. His name is well-known in the circle for his exploitation of young men, including my neighbor’s son.

  • Benny Hsu

    I’m new to this so let me ask a newbie question. I currently have 27,000 skymiles in my account. My wife has a few hundred from a recent trip. So I could just keep transferring back and forth like you suggested here

  • Megan

    I’m wondering if I can do this by just transferring back and forth between my and my husband’s account. Are we able to send miles back and forth to each other multiple times? Starting with 30,000 in my account (and none in his), I think I could send him: 30Kx3 and he could send me 30Kx3 for a total of 150,000 each and a cost of $1980). Is this correct, folks? Thanks! I’m loving dreaming about getting back to Kenya.

  • Anonymous

    From another newbie:
    Unfortunately, this is not a forum, so most questions asked here DON’T get answered…

  • A. S.

    @TPG: As I understand it, the 30K cap per transaction has been removed, though the 4 people per transaction cap still remains. I think the cap was there before the promo was extended to the 16th. You can read the T&C and won’t find anything there about such a cap.

  • Anonymous

    Correct. The maximum you can transfer out of your account in a calendar year is 150,000 and receive into an account is 300,000

  • Anonymous

    Yes you can just keep going back and forth- with the max you can send from your account being 150,000 and the max you can receive is 300,000.

    As for Kenya- awards start at 80,000 miles for coach and 120k for business and availability is pretty good since Delta partners with KLM (who flies to NBO from Amsterdam) and Kenya Airways who has pretty good availability to london/Paris and a couple other cities in Europe

  • Anonymous

    Delta redemptions to Asia are indeed difficult- especially from the east coast. However, if you can leave from LAX China Southern has very generous award availability almost every day of the week from LAX-CAN and from there you can get almost anywhere

  • Anonymous

    Nope, its still 30,000. When you go to transfer miles, the max you can select from the drop down is 30,000 unfortunately.

  • C Rogers

    This may have already been asked/answered, but is there a promo code I need to use?

  • Anonymous

    Nope- the bonuses are coded into the system so you’ll automatically get them as long as you transfer by the correct timeframe

  • Megan

    Thanks, TPG! KLM through AMS has been my old standby, but I’ve never booked an international award ticket before. Looking forward to giving this a try!

  • Benny Hsu

    Thanks for answering my question, even though someone doesn’t think you answer questions around here. Will be doing some transferring.

  • Amimed

    Is this a targeted offer or open for all member. Please reply

  • Anonymous

    Open to all

  • A. S.

    Thanks for the confirmation. I had originally seen the promo on the “Deals We Like” blog and over there they claimed explicitly that the cap was removed. That, and the fact that I didn’t see anything in the T&C, made me think that it had. Obviously this changes the math a bit…

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  • Wes

    Just bought/transferred 140K delta miles; both transfer and purchase included 100% bonus.
    Purchase screen shot from my delta account:

    Yearly Maximums:

    Maximum mileage deposited to a SkyMiles account per year: 60,000

    Special Offers:

    Exclusive 100% Bonus

  • David

    Maybe there was a limit because you were transferring the miles you bought (I’m assuming here that you bought 140k then tried to transfer them)? The T&C say that the promo doesn’t apply to miles bought or gifted.

  • SJ

    Do you know if AMEX transfer counts toward the 300k Delta transfer limit per year?

  • Anonymous

    It does not

  • freddieroach

    Anyone know the name of those pay for companies that will book an award travel for you? Am having a hell of a time finding delta award tix to west Africa.

  • Wes

    Brian, The Points Guy (blog author) can help sure he will reply shortly.

  • Andy

    just a data point here, AMEX point transfer would not count as an eligible transaction to “activate” the account. had to call it to verify it..

  • Megan

    I can’t for the life of me (and despite following your great instructions!) get any AMS-NBO flights to show up under the award ticket search. Any last ditch tips or should I just give them a call? Suggestions from others with the same problem are welcome :)

  • Sri

    Do these transferred miles count towards MQM for the beneficiary Delta skymiles member?
    Thank you

  • Anonymous


  • Ray C

    Brian – I would like your expert advice…planning a trip the following year…sometime in early 2013 to either Barcelona/Madrid/France for our anniversary. We have about 170K Delta miles combined…not enough for business class, should I participate in transfer deal now or wait it out and hope for another one next year?

  • Marv

    So here’s what I ended up completing today. In 11 transactions between 3 family skymiles accounts, starting out with a 60,000 mile transfer, I accumulated 450,000 miles in bonus’. When you add in the skymiles points I get for the charges on my DELTA AMEX card, my cost is 1.045 cents per mile. I just snagged two award tickets for 25,000 miles each (my cost $261.25) that have economy fare at $1029 each and one award ticket for 32,5000 miles (my cost $339.63) that has a fare of $565. This is a value of 3.18 cents per mile redeemed, pretty good. So basically I saved $1761 on those 3 tickets alone. This also allows me to leave my 110,000 BUSINESS PLATINUM AMEX membership reward points in AMEX until a really good transfer bonus comes along, hopefully one with MQM’s! We live in a remote town, in a remote state and frequently travel through MSP to another remote town to visit kids, the fare for this route is always really high because of lack of competition on the route. My wife and I are self-employed and have flexible schedules, so I hope we can get a lot of last minute 25,000 mile awards and parlay our purchased 1 cent miles into 3 cents redemptions – saving 1/3 on our airfares! The ONLY downside I see to this is the 450,000 miles do not count towards lifetime million miler, oh, and it took several hours of spread sheet work to figure out the least expensive way to accomplish these transfers and end up with the majority of the bonus points in my GOLD MEDALLION account.

  • Hesslers

    It looks to me like you can change in December for next year.


    Last month Delta ran a similar offer were if you transferred miles the bonus miles would go to person initiating the transfer instead of the person who was received the miles. I’ve done a bit of thinking on this and it appears to me this is better promotion if you don’t want to go thru the hoops of opening up dummy accounts/merging as the bonus points always move with the transferred miles so never get “stranded” in a different account than the primary account. Thoughts on this??

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  • Storminorm

    I received 2 emails from Delta, one 100% bonus transfer, expires Dec 16 and 100% bonus purchase
    miles expires Dec 31. It looks like the bonus transfer is a better deal…….

  • Tim

    Gotta love Delta; their December 16 ends hours before 11:59 PM EST. In fact, the web support group rep I talked to said the day showed expired as early at 7 PM EST when she arrived at work.

  • Meg

    Missed the transfer offer…how often does Delta run this promotion?

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