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Should I Give My Loyalty to American Instead of Delta?

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TPG reader Darcy asked me at a recent TPG reader meetup:

“I’m based in the Miami/ Ft. Lauderdale area and I currently have over 100,000 Delta SkyMiles. Should I go ahead and use those miles since I’m now based in Miami, or should I hold on to them and continue to earn more with my Amex Delta SkyMiles card?

Darcy, I feel like I’ve been in that exact same situation as you. I used to live in New York and was a Delta Diamond Medallion. Then I moved to Miami. Flying Delta in and out of Miami is convenient because you always land close to the terminal exit, and it’s a lot less crowded than the American Airlines terminal, but your options for mileage redemption are much more limited.

Currently you’ll need about 125,000 SkyMiles as a base level for a business class ticket to Europe. I’d suggest building up to that balance and then trying to get a partner flight out of Miami (on Virgin Atlantic for example), because by booking partners and avoiding Delta, you’ll get the saver rate.

Changing loyalty programs can be a tough decision, but moving from Delta to American makes sense if you’re based in Miami. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

I definitely recommend switching to American if you want valuable miles and lots of options from Miami. At one point, Delta was making a play for Miami with a route to London and some flights between Miami and L.A., but they’ve backed down a bit and American is still the bigger force there.

Switching over to American has its perks, especially since Amex is opening a new Centurion Lounge soon at the Miami airport. Michelle Bernstein is the chef and it’s going to have a spa; I have the feeling it’s going to be pretty swanky. I don’t have an exact opening date yet, but it’s coming soon.

You may want to consider getting an Amex Platinum card which will give you access to the new Centurion Lounge. While the Membership Rewards points earned on this card won’t transfer to American, they will transfer to British Airways, which is a Oneworld partner. Also, the sign-up bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage miles from the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard (after spending $3,000 in the first three months) is a no-brainer, as the fee is waived the first year.

The best card you can get for earning AAdvantage miles is actually the SPG Amex. You only earn one point per dollar spent, but for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred to American, you get 25,000 AAdvantage miles, meaning there’s basically a 25% bonus built in to all of your spending.

Breaking up with Delta can be hard, but when you realize how much more valuable AAdvantage miles are and get used to the AA terminal in Miami, it should be smooth sailing from there. Good luck!

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at

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