Delta 100% Bonus on Purchased, Gifted, and Transferred Miles

Through September 30, Delta is offering a 100% bonus on purchased, gifted, and transferred miles.

Only accounts that have been open for at least 10 days and have earned at least a mile are eligible to receive miles this way. They want to avoid folks opening accounts just to take advantage of the offer, for instance as a conduit to ‘buying’ discounted business class award seats such as on Air France when folks aren’t otherwise ‘real’ members of the Skymiles program.

With the buy miles option, you’re purchasing miles at 1.75 cents apiece plus 7.5% tax (so about 1.9 cents apiece). That’s more expensive than miles purchased from US Airways under their similar 100% purchase offer.

The mileage transfer option is better, it’s 1 cent per mile transferred and that means at a 100% bonus you’re buying miles at 1 cent apiece (plus $30 transaction fee). The transfer option is limited to 150,000 miles out of each account, and no account can receive more than 300,000 transferred miles in a year.

So is it worth it? Depends. If you’re topping off towards a specific award level, probably. Just to buy the miles speculatively, to use later on? My guess is that for most people it won’t be. I’m not taking advantage of this offer. First, Delta brings around similar offers with some regularity, I don’t expect this is your last change to take advantage of something like this. Second, you’re giving up real dollars now for future benefits later. And you’re limiting yourself to those seats that are available as awards, of course. Delta is generally the toughest program to use to get premium cabin international awards through.

Now, if you live in DC (as I do) you have access to really good business class award space on Air France to Paris (and beyond). So $1030 to transfer 100,000 miles from one account in order to receive 200,000 miles, that gets you two business class awards to Europe and as I say availability on that route is currently pretty good (though it’s not guaranteed that it will remain so, of course). That’s a good value.

But it’s going to depend on how you plan to use the miles, buying them for their own sake to use at some point later I’m skeptical of but topping off for an award or booking an award during the offer period may make good sense.

See, I would definitely jump on the US Airways offer before the Delta one even though the US Airways offer doesn’t apply to transfers and thus is actually more expensive per mile. US Airways will let you put an award on hold without having the miles in your account, Delta only does award holds on their website and then only for 24 hours. The Delta award booking site is really quite broken and doesn’t support many partners. US Airways award holds give you access to all partners, and to better award availability generally for most routes such as Europe and Asia. [I generally say that Delta miles are actually best for Australia given their partnership with V Australia and also French Polynesia since they partner with both Air France and Air Tahiti Nui which fly from Los Angeles.]

But if you’re close to an award with Skymiles, this is probably a good opportunity to top off.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m surprised to see you state that the miles transfer option is better. Yes, it is a lower cost today, but you’re ignoring the fact that anyone who has accumulated the miles to transfer has invested time and money to accrue them in the first place. Paying an EXTRA penny/point to transfer them to someone else is a pretty awful deal unless you’ve got an orphaned amount and you just want to close out the account.

    And, given the recent changes to how they’re behaving, a move to close out the account probably isn’t such a bad idea. 😉

  2. The transfered miles also get a bonus, so you pay a penny for 1 mile and still get to “keep” the original miles.

  3. Sounds like a decent deal if you are looking to use the miles for business class partner awards. $1545 (before any cash back) for 150K miles is a good deal if you use those miles for a trip to Africa on AF, for example.

  4. Maybe you should clarify your example, as it can be a little misleading for some people. For $1030 you get 200K miles, but only 100K of those are new miles you didn’t have before. So you’re not getting two business class tickets for $1030, you’re getting one. Otherwise, nice article. Cheers.

  5. So you are NET buying DL miles at .0055 per mile with a transfer.

    I would loose 146700 miles (gain back 2x if pay with DL credit card 1650×2) and net out other end 300,000

    If, and I always do, you can get 100k seats $550+tax for biz seats to Europe is a good deal (unless you need to change those seats less than 72hrs before flight that is!)

  6. To illustrate the math, let’s say you want 150,000 miles. You could buy 75,000 at 3.5 cents each plus 7.5% tax, for a total of $2,821 for 150,000 miles.

    Or, you could find someone else with a skymiles account. Then, transfer 50,000 of your miles to their account for $530, and transfer 100,000 miles back (the miles you transferred plus the bonus miles) for $1,030. Total cost: $1,560, and you have 150,000 miles more than when you started.

  7. Kyle S… your math is off… For 1560, you end up with 150,000 miles, but you already had 50k based on what you’re saying. So you’ve spend 1560 for a net gain of 100k, which is bettter than buying them outright, but still not as good as the US Air deal.

    Oh and you can only buy 60k a year per the T&C (for a net gain of 120k.

  8. @Scott — Kyle’s math is correct because he ends up with 200,000 miles, for a net increase of 150,000 miles.

  9. The maximum amount of one transfer is 30k though. So the 50k mile transfer would actually have to be TWO transfers. No big change in math except another $30 processing fee.

  10. @Seth say my wife has 100,000 miles in her Delta account. She transfers them to me for $1030. I have 200,000 miles now and can use them for 2 business class tickets. Our cost for the second ticket was $1030, just over a penny per point for the 100,000 miles. That’s certainly better than my buying 50,000 miles and getting a bonus 50,000. It’ll save me $800ish doing it that way.

  11. Sorry… there would be multiple $30 processing fees. 2 for the first 50k transfer. Then 4 for the 100k transfer back to you. AGain, this is because of Delta’s limit to 30k limit per transfer

  12. +1 for Gene. In Kyle’s scenario you stark with 50k and end up with 200k. You can book two awards for $1560, much better than buying one award (100k) on us air for 1560. How is this not a great deal?

  13. @Jason — This is NOT a great deal because of Delta’s new policy of allowing NO changes or cancellations to awards within 72 hours of departure. As of this morning, my valuation of Delta miles has been lowered from 1.2 cpm to 0.9 cpm. It’s time to torch them all.

    @Gary — Can we set up a ratings agency, like S&P, and rate the value of miles? DL should get a rating similar to Italy’s.

  14. Am I mistaken or did Delta raise their price per mile from 2.8 cents per mile to 3.5? Is it just for this promotion?

  15. My point remains, Gary, that you’re ignoring the cost of accruing the first 50K points that you use to make the transfer to get the full bonus. I’m not disputing that the absolute costs of the transfer is cheaper than the absolute cost of buying outright. I’m just not as convinced that the total cost overall is less.

  16. I have a Delta skymiles amex card and can redeem $100 amex gift cards for 11,000 miles. What if I transfer miles from my spouse’s account to mine and redeem them for these GC’s…ex. 17k miles transfer will cost $200+$30 = $230 which can be redeemed for $300 in amex gc’s (for 33k miles) profit of $70…this can be increased if you have existing points or if you transfer more miles….am I missing something?

  17. Could you set up a new account in your name, transfer miles to your second account and then combine them in the future? You could even fly once or twice to make it seem you used both accounts and forgot your password.

    Has anyone thought of this?

  18. Which card should you use to pay for the transfer? I have Amex Gold Card, which gives 3 points/per dollar on airline charges, but do you know if this charge will be coded as the same way as Delta air fare purchase? I also have Sapphire card, and I’m pretty sure it will be coded as “Travel”, hence receiving 2 points/dollar.

    Please advise. Thanks

    I have used Amex card on hotel booking/air fare in the past, and Amex denied the 3 points/dollar claiming that charge is coded as “tour operator” instead of airline.

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