No, Delta Isn’t Leaving The Membership Rewards Program

Loyalty Lobby showed a screen shot of a warning that Delta would be leaving American Express Membership Rewards as a transfer partner after August 31, 2021. Frequent Miler amplified this rumor while offering reasons it might be true, as well as why it might not be.

However there is no truth to the rumor that Delta SkyMiles will cease being an American Express transfer partner.

  1. American Express tells me “the Delta SkyMiles program will continue to be an airline point transfer partner for the Membership Rewards program.”

  2. There were changes to the “SkyMiles Program” terms American Express publishes saying the “benefit will end on 8/31/21.” This appears to have just been sloppy language. The Platinum Amex is losing its discount with Delta Private Jets. Delta has thrown in with WheelsUp for its private flight program, and Amex is replacing the benefit with a WheelsUp offer.

  3. I suspect the screen shot showing Delta leaving the program was a fake. I couldn’t replicate it when logging into Membership Rewards with any account, and neither could anyone I checked with.

American Express and Delta re-upped their relationship through 2029 two years ago. I strongly suspect there’s contractual language keeping SkyMiles as a transfer partner after the damage control American Express has to do in 2014 when Delta decided to unilaterally cap transfers.

United Airlines leveraged an early new card deal with Chase using Ultimate Rewards transfers, which apparently hadn’t been in the previous card contract. I strongly suspect American Express solved that vulnerability six years earlier.

While I hardly ever would recommend transferring from Membership Rewards (one of the most valuable currencies) to SkyMiles (one of the least valuable) Delta is the number one transfer partner that American Express has because it’s the most familiar to U.S. cardmembers. What is this ANA thing, exactly?

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. […] Update: Gary Leff at View from the Wing and Dave Grossman at Miles Talk both quote sources at Amex stating that this partnership is not ending. Both point to the Delta private jets program as being what the language on the application terms page is meant to cover. While that would certainly make some sense given the date, the private jets discount is referenced elsewhere in the terms and not at all in the section highlighted below. I’d love to see Amex clean up the terms to make whatever they meant clearer, but I do believe those sources that say that Amex will not lose Delta as a transfer partner. That’s the best outcome here. […]

Comments

  1. American Express needs to DUMP Delta. The sky-peso program is a complete dumpster fire.

  2. I think Loyalty Lobby did post that transfer partners differ between where the cardholder has their card issued. For example, in Canada, one can transfer to Transat,. Americans don’t have that partner.

  3. @ Gary — So glad most Americans don’t know what this ANA thing is…Maybe if ANA’s credit card offered a valuable sign up bonus, such as a Sirotan, they would be more aware.

  4. Delta is much like Marriott you know when you redeem you will be raped, screwed,burned, taken over the coals etc
    However many feel comfortable/familiar with those brands and willing to pay the ultimate price regardless of poor value. Sad

  5. dwondermeant – I dunno. I redeemed Skymiles recently for a simply coach flight at about 1.5 cents per mile, was upgraded due to status, and earned elite qualifying miles on the trip. Don’t feel taken over the coals at all.

    Nevertheless I rarely transfer MR to Delta because I earn them other ways.

  6. I frequently use SkyMiles to pay for upgrades (or even seats outright) and have found them to be quite valuable. This might be because of the pandemic but I fail to see SkyMiles as being totally without value. Especially since AmEx charge cards earn MR points at higher rates than Delta cards earn SkyMiles, I would’ve been disappointed if their transfer partnership was scrapped.

  7. Flew my family of 4 from Omaha to Anchorage for 60,000 miles roundtrip total over the 4th of July, getting about 1.6 cpp redemption. Not the highest value of all time for any airline miles, but still an amazing redemption because I had flexibility.

  8. I recently had to book a direct RT flight SAN-SEA. Was about to book Alaska at just under $200 RT in regular economy when, on a whim, I checked Delta. RT flight was a similar price but I was pleasantly surprised to see that regular economy RT could be had for 8000 skymiles (when I first saw it I was sure it was for one way but it was RT) plus $11.20 in fees. I rarely fly Delta but over the last 10 years or so, managed to accrue just over 7000 miles from a couple work trips and a few quick hops on partner airlines internationally. A quick transfer of another 1000 miles from MR and I was set. Value worked out to be right around 2 cents a mile after accounting for the fees. That’s typically my minimum target when redeeming airline rewards so I was pretty darn pleased. If I was super cheap, I could have gone with their basic economy product for 6000 miles but I am picky about my seats so I was happy to lay out 8000 miles. I probably wouldn’t use a ton of my MRs on Delta but in this case to top off my account and book an award ticket, it was great! Never thought I’d get to use that little stash of Delta miles. It was a good lesson to always collect miles (even from obscure international airlines – they almost always have bigger partners you can credit to) and keep them alive (easy to do with Delta since they don’t expire). You never know when you can use them!

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