How I plan on taking advantage of Delta’s 100% mileage bonus on transfers

Delta recently announced a 100% bonus on purchased and transferred miles through September 30, 2011, as I blogged about here. This brings the cost of a purchased mile down to about 1.88 cents per mile, while it brings the cost of a transferred mile down to 1.1 cents per mile.

On one hand I had a hard time justifying taking advantage of the offer because Delta miles just aren’t all that valuable in my book. Even at 1.1 cents per mile, it’s a borderline case. But then I realized the other huge benefit of this promotion.

Late last year my family acquired several hundred thousand Delta miles thanks to the Suntrust debit card deal, offering 25,000 Delta SkyMiles per debit card (don’t expect this deal to come back, folks). After some redemptions we have 43,000 miles in one account, 25,000 miles in another account, and about 133,000 miles in another account.

While the last amount is useful, the first two amounts aren’t enough for premium cabin redemptions.

So through this promotion you pay one cent per mile to make a transfer, plus a $30 transaction fee for every chunk of up to 30,000 miles you transfer.

Therefore my plan would be to transfer 25,000 miles to the account with 43,000 miles, at a cost of $280 (one cent per mile plus the $30 transaction fee). Then there would be 93,000 miles in the account (43,000 miles that were in there, plus the 25,000 miles transferred, plus the 25,000 mile bonus). Then I would plan on transferring 90,000 of those miles at a cost of $990 to the account with 133,000 miles in it.

I would then have 313,000 miles in the account (133,000 miles that were in there, plus the 90,000 miles transferred, plus the 90,000 mile bonus).

My total out of pocket would be $1,270, and I would gain 115,000 miles. In and of itself that’s not a bad deal, though more importantly my miles would be better positioned for redemptions. Instead of having miles in three different accounts, I would have over 300,000 miles in a single account, more than enough for two business class tickets to Australia on V Australia (or to a ton of other destinations).

I’m very tempted, though haven’t actually pulled the trigger yet. Thoughts? Does anyone else have the same thinking?


  1. Look, I tell people not to buy Skypesos speculatively, but that is ‘general advice’ and I have no doubt that you can find a good way to use your 300k miles such that you get well over a penny a point in value. Probably worthwhile. Of course, you don’t also have to pay yourself a booking fee to manage the redemption…

  2. I’m doing the same thing – it’s a no brainer to pay 1k for 100k miles to redeem lax-Europe in biz, which I just did to CDG for sept

  3. This reminds me of an old game on the Apple II called ‘layer cake’…..

    (Yea, I’m old. The only Apple II Ben has seen was in a museum!)

  4. Promo goes to Sept 30th. I’m waiting until the end of next month before making a decision in case some additional/better promo materializes. (Same way I won’t dare buy US miles in their promo until September, lest I waste a potential Grand Slam hit.) But my DL account is 337K, wife’s is at 136K. Probably won’t do it.

  5. Definitely think that’s a good call.

    For the price of my ticket to Spain (which netted me 8k miles, just for comparison), you can earn 115k miles, AND have all your miles in one place so that they are ready and accessible for redemption. I’d go for it.

  6. Promos like this are why mileage junkies don’t let friends/family fly without earning miles. I have 2 family members, one with 32k DL miles and one with 37k DL miles. Neither of them know their account exists. I book their tickets for their annual vacation. Sometime in late September, those two accounts will be cleaned out and deposited to my account with the bonus.

    My brain must be working slow this weekend. I hadn’t considered the option of transferring from account #1 to account #2, then account #2 to my account. Thanks Ben!

  7. I am interested in a redemption to Asia – how is redeeming Delta miles on Korean Air? (Would prefer taking them over DL, KL or AF if possible)I think they are getting the A-380 next(would like to try biz class on that bird).

  8. As Secondo said in the movie, The Big Night–“Its Your party”… With redemption so hard on DL, I will pass on spending that amount of money and just buy US miles….

  9. If I’m reading the Delta rules correctly, you can transfer up to 30k per recipient to multiple recipients for a single transaction fee. So, you can get almost as many miles with 3 transaction fees instead of two like this:

    1. In one transaction, empty the 43k account by moving 15k to your big account and 18k to the 25k account.
    2. Due to doubling, your 25k account now has 61k miles. Use two transactions to move 60k to your big account.

    Now you have 283 miles for $1120 (if I did my math right).
    Just a suggestion

  10. I’m doing pretty much the same thing with one additional reason — I’m transferring the miles from the accounts of family members who are < PM on DL into a DM's account. It used to be a huge advantage to be able to change/redeposit award tix for free, but now that DL has taken away < 72 hour changes/cancellations it's merely a big advantage. I've been waiting since last year for this to come around again to gain some flexibility for those orphan miles.

  11. In your situation, I would do as you stated to consolidate the miles into one acct. If you pass on this opportunity, you’ll have the 25k and 43k accounts just sitting.

    With the 300k plus miles, I would love to read a trip report on V Australia and Korean Air.

  12. Ben – you might want to call Delta to confirm there are 2 business class seats on V Australia on/around the dates you’re looking to fly to Sydney.

  13. I have 151000 Delta miles mostly from flying in the 90s that have been sitting in my account for a decade. To date they have been fairly useless to me because I generally fly with Mrs. B and would need 2 international business class tix to maximize the value. So like you I find this offer appealing but…. keeping Gary’s Rule in mind, I am not sure if it make sense to bank 300k DL miles when I won’t have opportunity to use them in the foreseeable future, i.e. at least 2 years. And we all know a lot can change in that time. So I’m hesitant…

  14. Can u buy miles and get the 100% bonus and then transfer them and get another 100% bonus? So, in effect buy 50,000 miles and walk away with 200,000 miles? Thank you. John.

  15. this is a great offer. no problem in getting over 1.1cpm redemption value. i plan to transfer 100k amex to my sons account to get 150k and make him silver (useful for upcoming domestic travel upgrades) then transfer the resulting 150k to my platinum account giving me the max 300k. just got back from seychelles and mauritius on af, hm and mk biz class for 480k sm for family of four, as good if not better than anything you can do for that many people with us miles. oh and btw you cannot change us reward bokings *at all* after travel has started let alone within 72 hours. in fact i may do another 100k amex thr same route to my daughter and then on to my wife. this will all help take care of our future trips to south africa, australia, europe etc. sky pesos indeed!!!!

  16. I did the same thing. I had two accounts:

    Acct 1) 136,000
    Acct 2) 169,000

    I paid $1,320 to transfer 120,000 (plus 120,000 bonus) from Acct 1 to Acct 2 and now I have the following:

    Acct 1) 16,000
    Acct 2) 409,000

    I will use this for 4 business class tickets from NYC to Europe for the family next summer. The starting price for any business class tickets on expedia was around $5,000 per ticket.

  17. lucky or gleff-

    Is it possible to fly V Australia from Perth (west coast of Australia) to the US Round trip using Delta miles or must the flights originate in the US. I’d be interested in knowing if Delta miles could be used this way if either of you could help. Thanks.

  18. @ Mike Smith — Korean Air actually has really good award space. The only issue is that they have some blackout dates, but outside of those they have plenty of North American gateways with great award space. The other challenge is finding saver Delta award space to those gateways, but if you live at one or can make your own way to them, you should be good to go. I’ve even found space to be pretty good on the A380 out of New York.

  19. @ Simon — I don’t have any immediate plans to use them, though award space is quite good with them.

    @ john — You sure can!

    @ Cody — You absolutely can start from any V Australia gateway abroad, though there are fuel surhcarges when originating outside of the US.

  20. Lucky, I’d do the same if I were you. While SkyMiles is the pits, AF premium awards are a decent value and have pretty good availability.

  21. Here is what I’m thinking of doing with my family’s Skymiles accounts
    1. Account 1: 6K
    2. Account 2: 26K
    3. Account 3: 94k
    4. Account 4: 236

    Plan 1:
    1. Move 26K to 6K account for $290 for total of 58k (26+26+6)
    2. Split 58K account to have 21k added 94k account for $240 and 37k added 236k account for $400

    Result 1:
    Account 3: 136k
    Account 4: 310k

    Now I’d have 3 Biz class tickets to India (135k each) plus 40k leftover in Account 4 for a total of $930 for 446k miles.

    Plan 2:
    1. Move 26K to 6K account for $290 for total of 58k (26+26+6)
    2. Move 58K to 236K account for $610 for total of 352k (58+58+236)
    3. Move 94K to 352K account for $970 for total of 540k (94+94+352)

    Result 2:
    Account 4: 540k

    Now I’d have 4 Biz class tickets to India (135k each) in my account for a total of $1870 for 540k miles.

    Thoughts? Is it worth to spend the $940 more for 94k miles extra?

    Also, do these miles post instantly do I need to wait sometime for the bonus to post so I can carry out the 2nd transfers?

  22. what about turning the mileas in to gift cards, You get $100.00 for 10000 miles also you can pay with mileas 10000 = $100.00

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