Skip to content

5 times it makes sense to transfer American Express Membership Rewards to Delta SkyMiles

Sept. 19, 2021
10 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


Delta is my favorite domestic airline, and American Express Membership Rewards are my favorite transferable points.

Coincidentally, Amex and Delta are 1:1 transfer partners. So I can transfer points from my favorite credit cards to my favorite airline. This transfer isn’t usually recommended, though — Delta SkyMiles have been continuously devalued and are worth just 1.1 cents each per TPG’s valuations. This is 0.9 cents lower than Amex’s 2-cents-per-point valuation. And in my experience, it’s hard to get a higher value from Delta SkyMiles.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

That said, there are some exceptions to this rule. I’ve personally achieved high redemption values from Delta SkyMiles that warrant transferring points from Amex. These opportunities are few and far between but are still possible if you know where to look.

So in this article, I’ll show you times that it makes sense to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles. Some of these redemptions are of niche use, while others have a wider appeal. That said, all have the potential to stretch the value you obtain from your Membership Rewards points.

Before we start, though, always compare pricing with other airlines and transfer partners. Membership Rewards has a slew of different airline partners, so you may get a better deal depending on the flight you’re booking and when you book it.

Now, let’s dive in!

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Book economy flights to Europe

Use your SkyMiles to fly to Europe on the cheap. (Photo by kps1664/Shutterstock)

One good way to use Delta SkyMiles is to book economy flights to Europe.

Generally, you can book these flights for roughly 25,000 SkyMiles one-way with minimal taxes and fees. Remember, though, SkyMiles awards are priced dynamically. So there’s no guarantee that this price will be the same when you go to book. Prices change by day and route, so some days are more expensive than others.

For example, one-way flights from New York-JFK to Paris (CDG) consistently price at 25,000 SkyMiles and just $5.60 in taxes throughout most of next year. Likewise, round-trip flights price at just 50,000 SkyMiles and $90.05 in taxes and fees.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

You can often find reasonable pricing on connecting tickets too. For example, you can book a round-trip economy ticket from Charlotte (CLT) to Amsterdam (AMS) via New York-JFK for 58,000 SkyMiles and $71.85.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

You may not always find excellent U.S.-to-Europe deals with SkyMiles, but it’s worth a look when booking a trip. You may be able to find a redemption that beats other Membership Rewards transfer partners, especially on connecting flights.

Related: The best ways to travel to Europe using points and miles

Fly to Mexico on the cheap

Book flights to Mexico with Delta and its partner Aeromexico. (Photo by Alejandro Gonzalez M/Shutterstock)

Flights to Mexico are another solid SkyMiles redemption. Delta and Aeromexico are SkyTeam partners, so you can use your SkyMiles to book flights operated by Mexico's largest airline. Between Aeromexico and Delta, you can book flights on several different routes to Mexico.

For example, you can book round-trip business-class flights from New York-JFK to Mexico City (MEX) for 89,000 miles and $114 in early February. These same flights cost $1,235, so while it’s not the best redemption value at 1.26 cents per point, you save some cash and have a comfortable nonstop flight.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

You can book economy flights to smaller Mexican cities for similar prices. This Delta itinerary from Chicago O'Hare (ORD) to Guadalajara (GDL) via Atlanta (ATL) costs 12,000 SkyMiles and $115 round-trip. The same flights cost $397, so you're getting over 2.3 cents per point in value.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

Related: 11 things you should know before visiting Mexico

Take advantage of flash deals

Delta One on a 767. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Delta often runs SkyMiles flash deals that offer limited-time discounts on award travel. In the past, we’ve seen amazing deals like round-trip economy flights to Europe for 16,000 SkyMiles. These sales are generally limited to specific city pairs and only last for a few days at a time. Keep an eye on Delta’s flash deals page for the latest sales.

Related: 9 Delta SkyMiles sweet spots worth saving up for

Low-cost domestic award tickets

Delta has a vast domestic route network and you can cover flights with your SkyMiles. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

My favorite way to redeem SkyMiles is by booking last-minute, low-cost domestic award tickets.

Booking expensive last-minute and holiday flights with SkyMiles can save you a considerable chunk of change — even if it doesn’t yield the highest cent-per-point value.

Again, Delta prices awards dynamically, so pricing varies by day and route. That said, the airline is known to discount its domestic award tickets between non-hub cities that connect in Delta hubs like Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW) and New York-JFK.

Check out these flights from Moline, Illinois (MLI), to Nashville (BNA) via Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and Atlanta (ATL). A round-trip ticket in Main Cabin economy costs just 15,000 SkyMiles and $11.20 in taxes and fees. The same ticket costs $249, so you're getting just under 1.6 cents per point in value.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

There are solid deals to be had on flights between major cities too. I fly from New York (LGA/JFK) to Chicago O'Hare (ORD) a few times a year to visit family and often book with SkyMiles. You can find tickets for as low as 5,000 SkyMiles one-way in basic economy, with the option to book standard economy for an extra 2,000 SkyMiles.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

These may not be the most exciting redemptions, but they’re worth a look if you need to take an expensive domestic flight. Plus, these redemptions can save you a nice chunk of change if you take domestic flights frequently.

Related: 6 award chart sweet spots that will save you money on domestic flights

Last-minute intra-Europe award tickets

Use your SkyMiles to book intra-Europe award tickets on your next European adventure. (Photo by hanohiki/Shutterstock)

If you're based in Europe or are taking a multistop tour of the region, you may want to use SkyMiles to book your intra-Europe flights.

Intra-Europe flights price at 10,000 SkyMiles one-way in economy or 25,000 in business class — even at the last minute. For example, this KLM flight from Amsterdam (AMS) to Paris (CDG) in less than two weeks costs 10,000 SkyMiles and roughly $45 in taxes and fees. The same last-minute ticket costs $228, giving you 1.83 cents per point in value.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

Alternatively, this one-way business-class flight from Paris (CDG) to Kyiv, Ukraine (KBP), costs 25,000 SkyMiles and $133 after currency conversion. You'll pay $796 for the same business-class flight, giving you over 2.6 cents per point in value.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

Business-class pricing on flights from Europe to Israel is reasonable too. London Heathrow (LHR) to Tel Aviv (TLV) in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class prices out at just 42,500 SkyMiles and $379. A paid ticket on this route costs $1,085 at the time of writing this article, for roughly 1.7 cents per point in value.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

Related: 8 things every traveler should do in Israel

How to earn Amex Membership Rewards points

Earn Membership Rewards points with an American Express card. (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

You can earn Membership Rewards with one of American Express’ many cards. Each has its own set of benefits, fees and bonus-earning categories. Further, each card has a welcome offer that will jump-start your earning and — depending on the card — put you within reach of many of these flights.

The information for the Amex Green card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

However, be sure to check the CardMatch tool to see if you're targeted for a better welcome offer. (Offers are subject to change at any time.)

Related: How to redeem American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value

Bottom line

Delta SkyMiles aren’t the most valuable points-and-miles currency out there. But you can get solid redemption value from the Delta SkyMiles program if you know where to look.

In this post, I showed multiple times it makes sense to transfer your Membership Rewards to SkyMiles. While it may seem like you’re devaluing your points when making this transfer, you can often get a great value — even when compared to other Amex transfer partners.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/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.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
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

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
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 Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
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

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases