There are airline rewards programs galore, but not all of them treat their users equally. One of the bigger pet peeves many frequent flyers have is that the time frame in which you can use the accumulated rewards points is uncomfortably limited. The good news is that the Delta Skymiles program has no expiration date attached to them, so you can use them at your convenience. However, though this is a huge perk there is a catch – sort of. Delta has a history of devaluing their points at random times, which means your 3,000 bonus points may be worth 2,200 points at any random time. This makes some flyers more than a bit nervous, especially if they are not frequent flyers who are likely to use up their points before they have the possibility of being devalued.
This leaves the question of what to do with those low point balances sitting around in your Skymiles account. Most people know that having 5,000 Skymiles is really not all that much, so it helps to have some options to run your account balance to zero and still get some benefit from the Skymiles. A problem for people who currently want to cash in is that it has been more than 3 years since Delta has published a new award chart, leaving people in the dark about how to maximize their advantage. Here are some possibilities.
You might be able to book a Cheap Award ticket. Normally it requires at least 25,000 Skymiles to go anywhere meaningful, which is way out of bounds for the under 5,000 Skymiles group. But if you check around you might find that you can get a ticket (one way) using the Cheap Award option. Keep in mind 5,000 is really the very bottom you will be able to use, so it’s likely you will combine it with paying out some cash. If you subscribe to an online travel blog or website, be sure to sign up for their newsletter that may give you a heads up on what the latest offerings are.
A second option is to buy stuff with your Skymiles. Obviously this may not be your first choice, but you can do some shopping in the Skymiles Marketplace if you can manage to keep your expectations low. This is something you will want to take your time with because you may find it better to simply buy the product online at Amazon or some other e-commerce website. But shop around for everything from bath products to office supplies and see where your points can best be used. To calculate your “advantage” divide the price of the item by the number of Skymiles it costs. You will arrive at a “per mile” value, which you can then determine if it is worth it. The alternative though is to risk the devaluation of your Skymiles in the future.
OK, this is definitely not something everybody will even begin to consider, but before you reject the idea pause and think of the value of this option. Magazine subscriptions. It may sound as a last ditch effort to avoid losing your Skymiles points, but that may not be the case. We know there are people who spend all day in front of a computer screen or mobile device and much prefer print to the digital world. For those of you who are entertaining the idea, Delta has a decent selection of annual magazine subscriptions you can get for just a few thousand points. A year is a long time, and the subscription just may come in handy on your next Delta flight that will be 10 months from now. But like most magazine subscription offers there is the built in automatic renewal once the initial subscription expires, so act accordingly.
If you are one of those people who are inclined to donate to charities, you have the option to use your Skymiles points to do exactly that. Fortunately there is a solid variety of charities to choose from, so it’s likely you will find something you’ll be comfortable with. The only condition is you have to donate a minimum of 1,000 Skymiles. As far as tax considerations for the donation you will have to check with your financial advisor.
Finally, you can indulge yourself and buy a premium drink at a Delta Sky Club that actively is involved with the program. You will almost certainly have to ask the bartender for the special Skymiles rewards menu to find out your drinking options, but the general rule is you will have to have at least 1,000 Skymiles to relax with.