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Delta 50% Bonus On Purchased Miles Thru June 30, 2012 - Worth It?

June 07, 2012
4 min read
Delta 50% Bonus On Purchased Miles Thru June 30, 2012 - Worth It?
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Now through June 30, 2012, Delta is offering 50% bonus on purchased miles. For every increment of 2,000 miles they purchase, they’ll get 1,000 bonus miles up to 60,000 purchased miles and 30,000 bonus miles.

Before we get started, a quick look at the Terms and Conditions says that this offer is only open to recipients of the original email from Delta, though if any readers who did not get the email were able to score the bonus, tell me about it in the comments below.

The bonus does not apply to miles purchased under the SkyMiles Gift Miles program or miles transferred under the SkyMiles Transfer Miles program, so in other words, you have to be purchasing these miles for your own account. Also, if you’re thinking about doing this, your account must have been established for at least 10 days, so be sure to get one by June 20.

Details of the Delta 50% bonus promo.

The Numbers
Ordinarily, Delta SkyMiles cost 3.5 cents each plus a 7.5% tax. With this promo, you’d be paying that same amount of $75.25 for a total of 3,000 miles, so your cost per mile would be 2.5 cents, saving you one cent per mile. That ratio holds true no matter how many miles you purchase with this bonus.

SkyMiles Scenarios
Taking a quick look at the Delta award chart, let’s see just what some of these miles could get you.

Let’s say you wanted to fly to Hawaii and managed to find low-level award availability in BusinessElite (which is no easy task), which would require 75,000 miles roundtrip. You could purchase 50,000 miles for $1,881.25 and get 25,000 bonus miles with this promo and book your ticket. Business class fares to Hawaii are actually pretty reasonable right now and I've seen some as low as $1,300-$1,500 each this summer on Delta, so you could potentially be losing around $600 by using miles purchased through this promo!

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For another example, let’s say you wanted to get from Miami to Buenos Aires in coach on Delta’s new partner, Aerolineas Argentinas, for a quick weekend this summer. Each ticket would require 60,000 SkyMiles (at low-level availability), so you’d need to purchase 40,000 miles to earn a 20,000-mile bonus and have enough for a ticket, costing $1,505 total. I priced out that flight and you are looking at about $1,100 per ticket in coach in August, so again you’d be spending about $400 more than if you just bought the ticket- not a good deal, especially since you don't earn miles on award tickets.

Business class to Europe might make more sense at 100,000 miles at the low level (like on SkyTeam partners Air France and KLM), since that would bring the total price of the ticket to about $2,500.

Comparison Shopping
Delta frequently runs bonuses, but none that has stacked up to the memorable 100% bonuses on transferred miles, which brought the price of a SkyMiles down to 1.1 cents. Especially because it comes on the heels of US Airways’ current 100% purchased miles bonus, which offers Dividend Miles at 1.8 cents a piece. US Airways are much more valuable in my opinion because they more alliance partners, and if you know how to search, you can find amazing availability across its network, so if I were buying miles, that’s the program I would concentrate on at the moment.

Of course, if you just need to top up points, I'd recommend transferring American Express points instantly, but if you don't have an Amex card, buying miles via this promotion might make sense, but in general I wouldn't recommend it because I suspect better offers will be available in the future.