Delta Award Chart [2024]: Navigating Dynamic Pricing

Learn how to navigate the unpredictable world of Delta dynamic award pricing.

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Updated May 22, 2024
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It’s easy to book Delta award flights on Delta.com or the Delta mobile app, but it’s not easy to know how many SkyMiles you’ll need for each booking. That’s because there’s no official Delta Award Chart, and there hasn’t been one for years.

Rather, Delta uses dynamic pricing largely based on demand to determine how many miles you need to book a flight. In short, award pricing can be unpredictable and confusing if you’re not used to Delta awards.

Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks, like using the Price Calendar tool, to find award flight deals quickly.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Delta Air Lines uses dynamic pricing for its paid and award flight ticket prices rather than a defined award chart.
  • Depending on the flight, Delta award pricing can vary widely, ranging from 4,500 to 375,000 miles or more.
  • One of the easiest ways to reduce the required miles for a Delta flight is to have an eligible Delta credit card with the TakeOff 15 benefit. This perk offers a 15% discount on eligible award flights booked through Delta.com and the Fly Delta app.

Why Delta doesn’t have an award chart

Delta removed its award chart in 2015 to make way for a dynamic pricing model. Dynamic pricing allows airlines to have their ticket prices automatically adjust according to certain data, which could include overall demand, seasonality, and competition.

For example, a dynamic pricing model would likely increase ticket prices to Orlando during peak periods like June, July, and August, when a lot of people are expected to visit local theme parks. But you might find lower prices in February, when there isn’t as much demand.

Dynamic pricing generally favors the airline and not the consumer because award tickets tend to cost more overall. It’s also frustrating to never know how many points or miles you would need for a flight at any given time unless you check your specific dates and route.

With a static award chart, the award prices are always the same. You typically know exactly how much you’ll pay to travel between two places, such as North America and Europe, without needing to pull up an exact itinerary.

How does Delta price award tickets?

Delta uses a dynamic pricing model rather than a defined award chart. Award ticket prices are primarily determined by demand, leading to unpredictable pricing.

For example, a one-way award flight from Seattle to Seoul could be as low as 70,000 miles in April (with one day on this calendar going as high as 120,000).

Delta award chart screenshot

But if you look at some summer months of the same year, the new lowest option is 86,000 miles (with the highest option being 120,000 again).

Delta award chart screenshot

You can get a feel for Delta award pricing as you spend more time researching flights. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind regarding Delta award tickets:

  • Short flights generally cost less than long flights
  • Lower fare classes generally cost less than premium fare classes
  • Seasonality can affect prices
  • Big events (conferences, sporting events, etc.) can increase prices
  • Competition from other airlines can affect prices

How Delta partner award tickets work

Delta automatically shows certain partner award flights on eligible itineraries on Delta.com and the Fly Delta app. You don’t have to do anything other than search for your preferred flights, as usual, if you want to use SkyMiles on a partner airline.

For example, we pulled up a flight on Delta.com from Los Angeles to Mexico City. It shows a nonstop flight operated by Aeromexico, a Delta partner that you can book for 19,000 SkyMiles.

Delta award chart screenshot

In another example, you could fly from London to Paris with Air France for 10,000 SkyMiles.

Delta award chart screenshot

You can book award travel through Delta.com with these partner airlines:

  • Aeromexico
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Air France
  • Cape Air
  • China Eastern
  • China Airlines
  • China Southern
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LATAM
  • Mandarin Airlines
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia Airlines
  • Shanghai Airlines
  • Tarom Airlines
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • WestJet
  • Xiamen Airlines

Earning Delta SkyMiles

There are some clear ways to earn miles with Delta, as well as some not-so-obvious ways. If you want to earn as many miles as possible, knowing about all the different earning strategies makes sense.

Flights

Flying with Delta is the most common way to earn SkyMiles. If you purchase an eligible fare as a member of the Delta SkyMiles program, you’ll earn miles. The higher your Delta elite status, the more miles you can earn.

To dig deeper, that means paying for an eligible fare with cash, so award flights don’t count. You must also make the eligible booking using your SkyMiles account or attaching your SkyMiles number to the itinerary.

“Important”
An eligible fare means booking a Delta-marketed flight in Main Cabin or above. Unfortunately, Basic Economy tickets don’t earn miles.

You can also earn SkyMiles with Delta partner airlines. Any eligible flight that’s not Delta-marketed earns miles according to the partner airline’s rules. You can check partner earning rules on the Delta website.

Credit cards

An easy way to boost your SkyMiles earning potential is using credit cards for your Delta spending and everyday purchases.

Here are some of the best Delta credit cards:

Card Welcome offer Rewards rate Annual fee
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
3.8
Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 6 months 2X miles on eligible purchases made directly with Delta and at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and 1X miles on all other eligible purchases $0 (terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
4.6
Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in purchases in the first 6 months 2X miles on qualifying Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S supermarkets; and 1X miles per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $150 per year thereafter (terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
4.6
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and at hotels; 2X miles per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets; and 1X miles for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases $350 (terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
4.8
Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases in the first 6 months 3X miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and 1X miles for all other eligible purchases $650 (terms apply)

You can also earn SkyMiles via other credit-card-related activities:

  • Transfers: Certain credit cards let you transfer points or miles to your Delta SkyMiles account, converting those rewards into SkyMiles. For example, you can transfer Membership Rewards points to your Delta account from The Platinum Card® from American Express.
  • Referrals: If you already have an eligible Delta credit card, you can refer friends and colleagues to get a card. You can earn miles if they’re approved.

Shopping portal

The Delta SkyMiles Shopping portal lets you make online purchases at various retailer websites — including Apple, Nike, and Walmart — and earn miles on those purchases.

It’s free to sign up, and all you need to do is click through to the retailer website from the SkyMiles Shopping website or use the SkyMiles Shopping button browser extension (available for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge).

Dining

The SkyMiles Dining program lets you earn miles for every dollar you spend at participating restaurants. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Create a free SkyMiles Dining account linked to your SkyMiles account and add a credit or debit card as a payment option.
  2. Search for participating food establishments on the SkyMiles Dining website.
  3. Dine at a participating restaurant and pay with your linked credit or debit card.
  4. Earn miles for every dollar you spend (up to five miles per $1 spent, depending on your SkyMiles membership level).

Buying miles

You can purchase SkyMiles through the Delta website for $70 per 2,000 miles. However, unless you need a few thousand miles to complete a valuable redemption, it’s likely not worth it to buy Delta miles.

Partners

Delta partners with various companies to provide opportunities for earning SkyMiles. Here are a few examples of where you can earn extra miles (that you might not have thought about).

  • Airbnb: If you add your SkyMiles number and click through on Delta’s Airbnb page, you can earn one mile per $1 spent with Airbnb on all qualifying stays. If you were planning an Airbnb stay, that’s some extra miles for doing next to nothing.
  • Ticketmaster: Similar to the Airbnb partnership, you can earn one mile per $1 spent on eligible Ticketmaster purchases in the U.S. and Canada. Just add your information and click through on the Delta Ticketmaster page.
  • Rental cars: If you book a Hertz car rental through Delta, you can receive up to eight miles per $1 spent on qualifying rentals.
  • Lyft: You can earn one mile per $1 (excluding taxes, fees, tolls, and tip) on every Lyft ride in the U.S. if you link your Lyft and SkyMiles accounts.
  • Starbucks: You can earn one mile per $1 (excluding taxes and gratuity) spent at participating Starbucks locations if you link your Starbucks Rewards and SkyMiles accounts.

Miscellaneous

Here are a few other ways you could earn Delta SkyMiles.

  • Delta Bags on Time: Delta guarantees your checked bags will arrive at the baggage carousel in 20 minutes or less after any domestic flight. If they don’t, you’re eligible to receive 2,500 bonus miles. You just need to complete a simple online form for each eligible request.
  • Delta Vacations: You can earn up to 10,000 miles per person if you book a trip through Delta Vacations.
  • Business: Eligible businesses can join the SkyMiles for Business loyalty program and earn miles if they have enough employee travelers and annual travel spend.

Get the most value from your SkyMiles

Consider these tips to stretch the value of your SkyMiles.

Look for Delta flash sales

Delta periodically releases great deals with reduced award pricing on certain routes and dates. If your travel plans align with one of these deals, you could potentially save a lot of money or SkyMiles by booking.

For example, you could pay $966 for a roundtrip flight to Tokyo from Los Angeles.

Delta award chart screenshot

Or you could pay 80,000 SkyMiles (plus $50 taxes and fees) on a flight that can easily cost over 100,000 miles.

Delta award chart screenshot

Some recent Delta sales have seen roundtrip flights to Europe for 34,000 SkyMiles and to New Zealand for 37,000 SkyMiles.

Check out SkyMiles Award Deals.

Use Delta co-branded cards

If you’re a frequent Delta traveler, having a Delta credit card pays. Eligible Delta cardholders can take advantage of the TakeOff 15 benefit, which gives you a 15% discount on Delta award flights booked through Delta.com or the Fly Delta app.

That means an eligible roundtrip flight that costs 80,000 miles would actually only cost 68,000 miles.

These are the Delta cards with the TakeOff 15 benefit:

Be flexible with your travel dates

Since Delta uses dynamic pricing, you can expect lower ticket prices for certain destinations during low season. If you're flexible with your travel dates, that could mean saving a lot of miles on flights.

An easy way to check for flexible dates is to use Delta’s Price Calendar option when booking. This lets you see about a months’ worth of prices, so you can easily find the best deals.

For example, this itinerary for Seattle to Atlanta has one-way flight prices that range from 12,000 to 59,000 miles. Note that these are the general prices before accounting for any potential cardmember discount (TakeOff 15).

Delta award chart screenshot

Consider short flights

Short-haul flights are generally less than three hours and can provide great value for Delta SkyMiles members.

For instance, take this flight from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. It’s about two hours long and only costs 4,500 SkyMiles (or 3,800 for eligible cardmembers).

Delta award chart screenshot

It doesn’t get much cheaper than this, especially with dynamic pricing. And if you’re sitting on a stash of SkyMiles, that’s a lot of short-haul flights you could take (at least 22 of these flights if you have 100,000 SkyMiles).

FAQ

How many Delta miles do you need for a free flight?

One-way flights can be found for as low as 4,500 Delta SkyMiles. However, it's more common for a short one-way flight to start around 8,000 to 11,500 miles or more. You could easily pay 375,000 miles or more for premium fares on international flights.

How many award miles do you get for a flight on Delta?

As a SkyMiles member, you earn 5 to 11 miles for every $1 spent on Delta flights in Main Cabin or above. You can earn up to 3X miles on Delta purchases with certain Delta credit cards.

What is the value of a Delta mile?

Delta SkyMiles are generally worth around 1.18 cents each, giving you these estimated values:

Number of milesEstimated value
10,000$118
20,000$236
30,000$354
40,000$472
50,000$590
60,000$708
70,000$826
80,000$944
90,000$1,062
100,000$1,180

Bottom line

Delta hasn’t published an official award chart since 2015, when it transitioned to a dynamic pricing model. Without static award prices for different routes, it’s up to each person to research flights and prices for their preferred itineraries.

Most frequent travelers don't love dynamic pricing. It’s generally bad for award travelers because prices tend to go up.

Fortunately, there’s still plenty of opportunity to take advantage of Delta award flight deals, especially if you use travel rewards cards. Check out our list of the best travel credit cards for our top recommendations.

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Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.