Top 5 Reasons to Buy Delta Miles for 1.1 Cents Each

Delta is currently running a special promotion in which they’ll double miles transferred to another person. Is it worth it?

Until December16th, Delta is running a promotion where they will double miles transferred from one person’s account to another. You will be charged 1 cent per mile to transfer those miles plus a $30 transaction fee. You can transfer up to 30,000 miles to a person in each transaction. Since it is possible to transfer miles back and forth between people, you can essentially buy Delta miles for 1.1 cents each with this technique. It is possible to reduce this amount very slightly by bundling transfers to multiple people in a single transaction, but to make this easy to think about, let’s just assume that the cost to buy miles is exactly 1.1 cents.

Is it a good idea to buy Delta miles? The answer depends on your situation. If you’re unlikely to use the miles, then the answer is no. If you would want to redeem the miles for gift cards, hotel stays, etc., then the answer is still no (since the value of such redemptions will typically be 1 cent per mile or less). So, when is it a good idea? Here are my top 5 reasons to buy miles before the promotion ends:

Reason #1: International Travel

If you are planning international travel, but don’t have enough frequent flyer miles for the trip, this could be a great opportunity. Suppose, for example, you are planning a trip from the US to Europe. With Delta, if you’re able to find low-level award availability, you would need 60,000 miles for coach travel or 100,000 miles for business class. To buy the miles would cost $660 or $1100, respectively. Often, the price for a flight to Europe, in coach, is more than the $1100 to buy miles for a business class ticket. In that case, and If you can find low-award availability on Delta for the times you would like to travel, buy the miles and either save a bunch of money by going in coach or live the good life in business class.

Even if you’re not planning an international trip right away, but you know that you will go on a number of such trips in the future, it is probably worth it to buy miles speculatively in the hopes that it will work out. This is a bit risky, though, since you might find no low level award availability on the dates you want to travel.

Reason #2: Holiday Travel

Suppose you failed to plan ahead and you are just now looking for flights to visit family and friends for the holidays. You are likely to see astronomical fares for the flights you want. I took a look recently at some sample fares and the corresponding Delta award availability for the same flights. While you won’t be able to get your round trip tickets for 25,000 miles (low level award), there are plenty of medium and high level awards available that can still save you hundreds of dollars per ticket. For example, suppose you have 30,000 miles to work with and all you can find are high level awards (60,000 miles within the continental US). Transfer all 30,000 miles to a friend for $330 and have them book the ticket for you. Since many such flights are running $800 or more, this can be a pretty good value for you.

Reason #3: Gift Miles

Want to give someone an incredible gift? How about transferring your miles to their account with a card saying something like “Use these miles for the trip to Paris you’ve been dreaming of”. Of course, like a gift card, they would be able to use the miles for any trips they want.

Reason #4: Last Minute Travel

Every now and then something may come up in which you need to travel right away. Two interesting things happen when you are within a day or two of travel: flight prices skyrocket and award availability opens up wide. That means that you might have the option to pay something like $1,200 for a last minute flight or use 25,000 miles for that same flight. Since 25,000 miles would only cost you $275 with this promotion, I’d highly recommend banking some miles now for that just in case situation in the future.

Reason #5: Combine Miles

Many families face the situation of having small amounts of miles in multiple accounts. Separate, the miles are fairly useless since you need a minimum of 25,000 miles to book award travel. Use this promotion to move miles all to one account and not only will your total family miles double, but you’ll also have them together where they are now usable! If anyone in the family has elite status with Delta, then make sure to have the miles end up in that person’s account because they will have better award redemption options than people without status.

I took advantage of this promotion when it ran previously in September and I’m thinking of buying a few more miles again in preparation for future travel to Australia or Asia. How about you, are you going to go for this promotion? Let us know why or why not.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. I did this for 120 K use and I have no immediate need today. Topped off two accounts to nice levels

    There is a chance I will need in summer months or parents might book a trip.

  2. reason #1 Intl Travel seems to be assuming a person will beable to get a Saver Pass award, Id never assume that but would use the more likely top amount of miles needed , so its more likely to take alot more then 100k for a Biz tkt.

    therefore before purchasing any miles for this reason Id workout what it would cost both Miles wise and $$ wise to wherever it is Im looking to go to see if it still makes sense, after all if 250k is needed and not 100k that could leave a person very short of being able to cash in and will be out the $$ w/o any place to fly to

    • Mike: Thanks for the input.

      craz: Yes, you’re right that I was assuming you would book at the lowest level. I’ve updated the paragraph slightly to try to make that more explicit. As you pointed out, topping off accounts is a very good reason to do this too. It really should have made my list!

  3. Craz – the big consideration to keep in mind is your schedule flexibility. If you have flight dates set in stone at a busy time of year, you’re probably not going to be able to redeem cheaply (depending on where you are originating from – some cities have great availability TATL for example). If you can go plus/minus a few days, or have flexibility in destinations, it can become much easier to find space.

  4. I don’t fly Delta too often, but have 16542 orphan miles, my two kids have 18,114 each and my husband has 5416. Any advice on how best to combine these points into one accout (and the cheapest!)?

    • worldtraveller2: Here is one way to go:
      (the goal for each transaction is to do as many miles as possible in order to minimize transaction fees relative to transfer costs)
      in one transaction, transfer 6000 miles from kid 1 to kid 2 and 12000 miles from kid 1 to husband. Kid1 now has 0, kid2 has 30,000 and husband has 29000
      Next transfer all 30,000 from kid 2 to you. Kid 2 now has 0 and you have 76000.
      Next transfer all 29,000 from husband to you. Now he has 0 and you have 134,000

      If you want to increase your family total even higher, you can keep going:
      In one transaction, transfer 30,000 from you to each family member. Now you have 44000 and they each have 60,000. etc.

  5. @Matt

    a friend who is either a DL Plat or Dia flew in FC on LH uisng CO miles for 1/3 of what DL wanted for Biz, and LH was @ Saver

    my pt is that when saying its a good deal yea it can be but DL is known not to offer Saver to anywhere too often. Most people I know who flew DL using their Miles to LA paid a min of 32,500. So when figuring if its worth purchasing a person shouldnt use 25k but the more normally 32,500 that can be found, and the same for Intl.

    DL can say its 30k in Biz to Europe but if its next to impossible to get it for that but its avaialble at say 150k then 150k is the # that should be used

    I didnt say ist Not worth buying the miles only that a person needs to use teh Real Miles DL is usually asking rather than what they say they want for Saver

  6. Thanks!
    at a cost of: $90 (6000) + $150 (12,000) + $30 (transaction 1) + $330 (30,000) + $30 (transaction 2) + $320 (29,000) + $30 (transaction 3) = $980 for my account to have 134,000 points and all three other acounts to have $zero. Is it worth it? that’s what I have to decide, as right now I am points heavy and cash flow low (because of Christmas)!

    • worldtraveller2: If you’re cash flow low, then no, don’t do it. The deal will probably come around again in the future. Getting good value from Delta points is not always easy, but it can be done. One real example is that my family used 60K miles each to fly round trip to London on a flight that would have cost $1200 each. So, if you did the transfers listed here, you would have enough for two (maybe your husband and you?) to go to Europe if you can find award space. Note that low level award space can be hard to find unless you go at an off time or plan way ahead.

  7. Did you see Lucky’s post today?:

    “So I’m about to make a bold statement. A really bold statement. You guys ready? I recommend speculatively buying SkyMiles at this rate. Are you in shock? Yeah, I can’t believe I said it either.”

    I mean, my cash flow it not that low! maybe I should swing it?
    I am a point junkie though! And I have too many as it is now! My problem is spending them at the best value!

  8. @Craz

    The last time I looked in response to skepticism of someone’s result to go TATL *with fixed dates in spring/summer* there were multiple seats, from multiple gateway options, available for every day +/- 3 days from their departure (all I checked). Coincidentally, I had also booked similar dates a few months back, for a trip with my wife to reunion and mauritius, with a stop in paris on the way back. That award took me maybe an hour or so to find and book online.

    Skyteam availability TATL from the east coast, particularly from AF gateways, actually seems to be pretty good right now. Where some creativity may be required is in getting to a gateway if you do not have one convenient, as domestic availability is not great.

    Honestly, it’s not nearly as bad as people make it out to be. Sure, you can pick some random date where another airline will be at saver and delta will be at high, but to some extent (albeit likely a lesser extent with others) you can do that with all carriers.

  9. Ronald: This is an old post and the deal for getting a bonus for transferring miles is no longer around. So, now, transferring miles is a bad deal. I don’t recommend it.

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