Delta changes rewards program to make it easier to gain elite status

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One travel expert says those who have a Delta credit card will really enjoy the changes

Delta Air Lines is changing its award travel program. It will now be easier to earn elite-status qualifying credits when SkyMiles members redeem their hard-earned miles for award travel. Until now, that perk was only available for flights that were purchased with money. The move is going into effect immediately and will become a permanent fixture in the SkyMiles program.

Delta is also removing the 75,000 mileage earning cap, retroactive starting Jan. 1, 2022, to give members who exceeded the cap in 2022 back their extra miles. It's a move the airline called “industry-leading” and one that is designed to give members of its rewards program unlimited earning potential. 

"Travel should always be seamless and rewarding, and we want to make sure our SkyMiles Members get the most out of every trip," said Dwight James, S.V.P. of Customer Engagement & Loyalty and CEO of Delta Vacations. "These adjustments to our program continue to set Delta apart as we focus on listening to our customers and rewarding our loyal members. As we look to the future, we're committed to ensuring a consistent travel experience at every step."

One small wrinkle, but a winner overall

There is one small stumbling block in Delta’s rewards overhaul that points-savvy travelers will have to get around, but it’s far from being a deal breaker. Only Delta-issued and Delta-operated award tickets are eligible to earn elite status points. So, if you’ve got an award ticket for a flight on any of the carrier's partner airlines -- like Aeroméxico, Air France, or Virgin Atlantic -- that ticket would not be eligible to earn elite status.

“These … changes are great news for Delta frequent flyers,” said the PointsGuy’s Andrew Kunesh. “They will make it easier to earn or re-earn status, especially if you spend on a Delta cobranded credit card and redeem your SkyMiles for flights. Likewise, those who often fly on expensive paid tickets will appreciate the ability to earn an unlimited amount of miles on flights going forward.”

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