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How I upgraded my flight, saved $40 and earned 2,500 bonus miles

March 04, 2021
6 min read
Delta Comfort+ seating on an Embraer 175 regional jet
How I upgraded my flight, saved $40 and earned 2,500 bonus miles
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Jumping on bonus and discount opportunities is a great way to make the most of your travel rewards. And while an individual offer may not move the needle by itself, the ability to stack certain promotions can be enough to influence your behavior — like the change I just made to a mid-summer flight itinerary.

Here's how I was able to upgrade a Delta flight while saving $40 and earning 2,500 bonus SkyMiles.

In the hopes of a significant return-to-travel this summer, I had planned a trip out west with my family — including nonstop Delta flights from Orlando (MCO) to Salt Lake City (SLC) and an Airbnb stay in Southern Idaho. The goal was to explore the natural beauty of that part of the U.S. while checking off a new state for my wife and daughter.

Our outbound flight was booked into Delta first class using some leftover Virgin Atlantic miles from a canceled Europe trip, and our return was a paid economy ticket. Since Delta now waives change fees on most tickets, I periodically check to see if the price we paid drops — but I wasn't expecting it at $196 per person.

However, yesterday I received an email with a targeted offer for earning 2,500 bonus SkyMiles if I changed my flight — either online or through the Delta app.

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The promotion appears to be an attempt to ease the burden on the carrier's phone lines — as the text included the following (emphasis mine):

"You may have called us in the past to adjust your travel plans. Because we know plans can change, we now have an easier way for you to take control of your travel. If you need to change your flight, you can quickly make changes at delta.com or with the Fly Delta App. Then, as a one-time offer, we’ll gift you 2,500 bonus miles. Rest assured, the value of your ticket will not be lost. Offer ends June 30, 2021."

2,500 SkyMiles are worth $27.50 based on TPG's most recent valuations, so this (by itself) isn't earth-shattering. However, I then remembered that there's currently a targeted Amex Offer for Delta, awarding a $40 statement credit by spending $200 or more before March 31, 2021.

Screenshot courtesy of American Express

This was available on my Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, which allows me to earn 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 in spending in a calendar year (then 1x).

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That got me thinking: Could I change my flight from economy to Delta Comfort+ to trigger both of these offers? It turns out that I could — and just a few minutes later, my entire family was rebooked for the flight home.

Related: Your ultimate guide to Amex Offers

Here's a breakdown of the purchase and associated rewards I'll earn:

  • Additional purchase price: $270
  • Amex Offer statement credit: $40
  • Bonus miles for changing the flight: 2,500, since only I was targeted (worth $27.50)
  • Base earnings on the purchase: 660 Amex points (worth $13.20)
  • Additional SkyMiles on the more expensive ticket: 420 per person, or 1,260 in total (worth $13.86)

That means my $270 purchase was effectively $175.44 out of pocket — or less than $60 per person. Not a bad purchase for extra legroom and complimentary beer & wine on a flight that's blocked at over four hours.

Read more: Your complete guide to earning and redeeming Delta SkyMiles

How to use this offer yourself

If you were targeted for this Amex Offer, have added it to your card, and have an upcoming Delta flight, here's how to check and see if a similar option is available to you.

Start by logging into your SkyMiles account, then navigate to your trips. Open the one that you want to change, then click the Modify Flight icon.

Review the change and cancellation options, then click Start Flight Change.

Keep the search criteria if you plan to remain on the same flight (or adjust it if you want to change the trip), then click Find New Flight.

Select the flight and class of service you want from the results page.

Review the new itinerary — making sure that the total new price is at least $200 (to trigger the Amex Offer).

Enter your American Express card details, then click Complete Change at the bottom.

You should then receive a copy of the ticket in your email.

There was one other interesting aspect of this process to point out. The above screenshot shows the ticket prices for my flight when I went to change them. However, this was a lower price than what was displayed for purchasing a brand-new ticket on the flight.

Before I even went to modify my existing flight, this higher price appeared, so it's not like the system had already pulled those remaining seats from inventory. Just flagging that there's a small chance you could see a better price if going through the process of changing a flight rather than booking a new itinerary.

Overall, I'm very happy with the new flight — but I probably wouldn't have pulled the trigger without the combination of the Amex Offer and bonus miles. This just goes to show that you should always pay close attention to these types of offers, as you never know when they can save you some money or earn you extra rewards for your next trip.

All screenshots courtesy of Delta Air Lines (unless otherwise noted)

Featured image by Delta Comfort+ seating on an Embraer 175 regional jet (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023