Delta Limiting Mileage Transfers

Delta Limits
Written by Charlie

Delta Airlines has made many changes in the past year, most of them being billed as enhancements that are good for the consumer. However, that “consumer” is not most of us – it is the flyer that is paying many times more for the same ticket than I am, thanks to their new revenue-based earning program (read about it here).

Delta Limited Mileage Transfers

So, Delta is making it more difficult to earn miles while also releasing an award chart that adds two additional levels of miles for redeeming miles. Not a very good way to reward loyal customers! But, it is a great way to reward loyal credit card users. Especially with their latest move…

As of 2015, Delta Skymiles members will be limited to transfers of 250,000 miles per year for each account. That actually works against people in two ways – you are limited to 250,000 miles from one Membership Reward account into a singe Skymiles account and you are limited to a maximum of 250,000 miles transferred into a single Skymiles account from a transfer partner. So, no transferring 150,000 points from one Amex account and another 150,000 points from another account.

Delta Limits

With Delta’s new mileage cap, they are not as valuable a partner of Amex Membership Rewards

Is That A High Limit?

Now, before you say that “no one would want to transfer that many miles to an airline” think about this – 250,000 miles is really only two business class tickets to Europe. What if you wanted to take more than one award trip on Delta in a year? Sorry, you are out of luck!

What Delta is doing is forcing you to use their own co-branded credit cards if you really want to rack up the miles. 250,000 is not a lot of miles when you consider that there were bonuses last year on just two Membership Reward cards that would have given you 150,000 points as sign-up bonuses. There were also American Express Business Platinum offers that were at 150,000 points for just one card. If you took advantage of just those three cards, you would have had 300,000 Membership Reward points (which transfer at 1:1 to Delta)! That is not counting any spend that you might do throughout the year and bonuses earned on category spend.

What To Do?

So, what to do going forward? For one thing, it is hard to say to transfer all your Membership Reward points over to Delta before 2015 because we really do not know what the availability will look like in real life for their new award chart. But, if you wanted to book some big rewards next year, you also don’t want to be limited by the 250K max.

You could transfer the max each year and just deal with it, but if you are wanting to travel with more than 3 people on 80,000 mile awards, you are stuck! The only way around it is to use the Delta co-branded credit cards (which are with Amex). But, putting too much spend on those really lock you into a program that has not been very consumer friendly lately.

One thing you could do is to have someone else in your family get a Delta account and Amex card and use two accounts for award bookings. While inconvenient, it will at least allow you the ability to transfer enough points over to book 4 tickets at the 80K price point.

Another thing you could do is to transfer to Flying Blue, the award program of Air France and KLM. You can book Delta award tickets (saver level) with those points, including one-ways. The cancellation fees are much lower than Delta’s and you won’t be subject to this cap. But, the award calendar can be a bit flaky at times (like another airline we know).

Or, you could just choose to not use Delta for international trips going forward. 🙂 While their planes are nice and the airline has some great things going for it, the loyalty side of things (Skymiles) is really not that great and this could be the chance to try other programs instead of looking to Delta for bulk award travel.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.