Home Airlines Are You Short Delta Skymiles For An Award? American Express May Lend You The Miles

Are You Short Delta Skymiles For An Award? American Express May Lend You The Miles

by joeheg

Delta SkyMiles. I’m sure some people love the program while others despise them for doing away with award charts and generally making changes whenever they want with no notice to members. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. While I hate that they sometimes charge an unbelievable amount of miles for some flights, I’ve also been able to find awards for decent prices on both Delta aircraft and with their partners, like Virgin Atlantic.

That means I’m in a constant cycle of earning Delta Skymiles and using them for redemptions. Fortunately, American Express partners with Delta and you can transfer Membership Rewards to Delta Skymiles, albeit for a price. American Express and Delta also offer a number of co-brand cards like the Gold Delta Skymiles American Express card so it’s pretty easy to add to your Skymiles balance.

But what if you’ve exhausted all other options and are still just a few hundred or thousand Skymiles short for a redemption?

Back in the olden days, American Express would offer to loan you Membership Rewards points which you could “pay back” by earning points on your card. This program is long gone for the Membership Rewards cards but I just received an email about a similar program for the Delta Skymiles co-brand AMEX cards.

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The Fly Now, Earn Later program lets you “borrow” a certain number of points which you’ll pay back by earning points on your Delta American Express card. The number of miles they’re willing to lend can depend on several factors.

Eligible Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Members must be in good standing to access Fly Now, Earn Later. Eligibility factors include but are not limited to how long you have been a Delta SkyMiles Card Member and Card activity. If you are eligible to access Fly Now, Earn Later, the maximum number of miles you can be advanced is based on several factors including Card activity.

If you choose to borrow points, you have six months to repay them through earning SkyMiles on your AMEX card. If you don’t earn back enough points, the remaining balance will be purchased at a cost of 2.5 cents per mile.

I decided to check out how many miles American Express would be willing to lend me. I have a Gold Delta Skymiles card that I do not put very much spending on. To check if you’re eligible for the offer, you need to go to the AMEX website:


I logged into my account and was shown my offer:

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That’s not a huge offer but if I just needed a few miles to have enough for an award, I’d take the points. Now, putting spending on a Delta co-brand card isn’t a great return for your spending value and you’d have to earn back the number of points you borrow at the rate of 1 SkyMiles per dollar or be on the hook to pay them back at 2.5 cents per mile, which is an even worse value to buy Delta miles.

This offer is only open to Delta Skymiles co-brand credit card holders so it makes having at least one of those cards in you your wallet slightly more valuable. I’d imagine if you regularly use your Delta Skymiles Amex card, they’d be willing to lend more miles.

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It’s nice to see an offer like this return as an option. I’ve read too many messages on Facebook groups with people who were less than 100 points short for an award ticket and scrambling to see how they could quickly earn miles before it disappeared.

Calling American Express to see if they would provide some points as a courtesy was an option but you were at the mercy of the agent you were talking to at the time. This makes an offer of lending points a benefit of being a cardholder. Since United and American often follow Delta’s lead, I wonder if either of them will start offering a similar program with their co-brand cards.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

Christian October 7, 2019 - 4:41 pm

I really like your posts as a whole, but have to disagree with you on something here. You say that you’re sure that some people love Skymiles. As a once-fervent Delta fan, I have to disagree. Ten years ago, when Delta cared about frequent fliers? You bet. Finding long haul award seats at reasonable prices these days is next to impossible, and worse in business class. Lounge access is more difficult to access than ever. Upgrades, never plentiful without Diamond status, are much rarer than before. The award chart was removed specifically to be able to raise prices with impunity. Credit card spending becoming continually less valuable has been ongoing as well. These points, and lots more, are why Skymiles is an absolute dumpster fire. Delta runs an on time airline with pleasant people, but Skymiles is not why people fly with them.


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