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Do you have a mountain of travel miles waiting for that perfect redemption? You may have to act quickly as some frequent flyer miles expire in as little as 12 months with account inactivity. Even though each airline has its own terms and conditions, it’s not something that some travelers consider. If you’ve got Delta SkyMiles saved up, you may be wondering “do Delta SkyMiles expire?”.

The good news is that they don’t. They last as long as you are alive and your account remains in good standing. However, while you can go years between earning or redeeming any SkyMiles, you should still try to keep your account active. An active account can prevent the unlikely event that Delta accidentally expires your miles without your knowledge. Or, they may raise the number of miles needed for award travel.

The following suggestions can help safeguard your Delta miles.

Credit: Johnny Jet

When Do Delta SkyMiles Expire?

In most cases, your Delta SkyMiles don’t expire. However, there are six reasons why your balance can expire:

  • Fraudulent activity occurs
  • A Member requests an account closure
  • The Member is deceased
  • A member does not respond to repeated communication attempts regarding the status of his/her account
  • The Member resides in or relocates to a country where membership is prohibited under applicable law
  • A Member violates the terms of this Membership Guide and Program Rules.

Keeping the same email address and routinely logging into your account are the two best ways to ensure your SkyMiles account stays open. 

A third way to ensure your Delta SkyMiles account stays open is to earn or redeem SkyMiles. You may set a personal goal of earning or redeeming SkyMiles every 24 months or sooner. This target can also remind you to increase or redeem your American Airlines balance as well.

Why American Airlines? This is the only legacy airline to expire your miles after 24 months of account inactivity.

Earning Delta SkyMiles

There are several ways you can earn Delta SkyMiles without booking a Delta flight. Here are four ideas to help you maintain your miles account.

Travel with Delta Partners

You can earn Delta miles by linking your SkyMiles account to these travel partners:

  • Lyft: Earn 1 mile per $1 spent
  • Airbnb: Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all Airbnb stays worldwide
  • Hotels: Partners include Marriott Bonvoy, IHG, World of Hyatt, and Radisson
  • Rental Cars: General members earn 500 miles per rental with most agencies

Shopping and Dining

SkyMiles Shopping includes nationwide partners such as Apple, Under Armour, and Nike. Instead of going directly to the retailer’s website to place an order, open a shopping session through Delta SkyMiles. After completing the purchase, the retailer relays Delta the purchase amount, and you receive SkyMiles.

Most merchants pay up to 5 miles per $1 spent. If you shop online regularly, this is an effortless way to earn bonus miles.

SkyMiles Dining partners with local restaurants, giving you another opportunity to earn Delta miles per $1 spent. This is a fun way to discover new restaurants or stretch your dollar further at your favorite joints. Plus, you can earn dining rewards from your credit card with each meal.

Convert Partner Points

If you have credit card points, hotel points, or Hertz points at risk of expiring, you might be able to convert them into Delta SkyMiles.

The best conversion option is transferring your American Express Membership Rewards® points on a 1:1 basis to your Delta account. However, you have other travel redemption and transfer options that can be more useful if you are not flying Delta anytime soon.

Most conversion partners are not a good option. You are better off redeeming them for an award night, if possible. For instance, 10,000 IHG points are only worth 2,000 Delta Miles, and 10,000 Hilton Honors points are only worth 1,000 Delta miles. As free hotel nights can be as low as 10,000 points for either loyalty program, you can get a free weekend trip.

Get a Delta Credit Card

Another easy way to earn Delta miles on every purchase is by getting a Delta credit card. The best Delta credit cards have options for different types of travelers.

If you’re an infrequent traveler, the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card doesn’t charge an annual fee (See Rates & Fees). The other Delta credit cards come with more perks and benefits including some of the best credit card offers. However, unless you fly Delta at least once a year and can use the air travel benefits, the free card is your best option.

Redeeming Delta Miles

Because Delta SkyMiles don’t expire, you can bank them up for award flights. The only potential risk is if Delta starts charging more miles for award flights than the present. Delta doesn’t publish an award chart. Therefore, their award flight prices fluctuate as flight times, demand, and travel days influence the current cash value price.

For now, these award booking examples may give you some travel ideas.

Delta Award Flights
Domestic Delta award flights can be as low as 4,500 miles.

Domestic Award Flights from 4,500 Miles

Most domestic Delta flights inside the United States and Canada start at 10,000 miles each way. However, you can sometimes find some sweet spots for select routes and short-haul flights.

One of these routes is from San Francisco to Seattle. A one-way basic economy award flight can cost as little as 4,500 miles plus $5.60. A main cabin seat for the same route costs 5,500 miles plus $5.60. You can pick your seat and enjoy a few other in-flight amenities.

Even for cross-country routes, Delta can offer competitive pricing. A main cabin one-way flight from New York to Seattle only costs 15,000 miles plus $5.60. First-class flights may start at 68,000 miles plus $5.60, which may not be as low as other carriers’ saver rates but can be better than their standard pricing.

The United States to Europe from 35,000 Miles

You might also consider flying to Europe as award flights start at 35,000 miles plus $5.60. These award prices are competitive with the other U.S. carriers, and you won’t pay the hefty fuel surcharges that European carriers charge.

It’s also possible to scoop up deals in Delta One business class from 95,000 miles each way. But, these seats can disappear quickly. You can start booking award flights within 331 days of departure. If you can plan in advance, this can be a good reason to save your Delta miles.

Additionally, some Delta credit cards are part of the best credit cards for international travel as you can take advantage of lounge access and get perks like priority boarding and free bags.

Seat Upgrades

You can also use points to purchase seat upgrades when you don’t want to spend cash. This is a flexible option if you base your redemption on the quality of the flight instead of the maximum number of award flights possible.

Bottom Line

In very rare instances will Delta miles expire. This comes in handy if you can’t earn them quickly but want to save up for a large redemption. You also have the flexibility of flying domestically or traveling abroad. You won’t pay outsized taxes and fees in the process.

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For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, please click here.

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