SkyMiles 101: What is a SkyMile, and How Do I Earn Them?

Welcome to the first post in my SkyMiles 101 series! We are going to start with the basics: exploring what a SkyMile is and how to earn them.

In this post:

What is a SkyMile?

Delta’s SkyMiles program is centered around earning points with the same name – SkyMiles. These miles are earned via a variety of methods, and can be redeemed for a bunch of different things, including free flights, flight upgrades, and even champagne!

A major benefit of SkyMiles over other airline currencies is that they never expire. This removes a whole layer of complexity with not having to worry about expiration dates or feeling rushed to use them. That being said, the general consensus is that its better to ‘earn and burn’ SkyMiles versus saving millions of them for a rainy day.

This is because Delta can easily and without notice change how many miles are needed for a particular redemption. Wouldn’t it be awful if you were saving your miles for that first class trip to Hawaii, only for Delta to decide it will cost twice as much? Well, unfortunately it’s happened before and will probably happen again. As a result, I recommend using your miles as soon as you have enough for your redemption.

I’m New to Delta SkyMiles, What do I need to Do?

The first step is to create an account with Delta. You can do this by visiting and clicking ‘Sign Up’ in the top right.

a screenshot of showing the sign up button.
Signing up at is your first step to SkyMiles mastery!

Once you’re signed up, you’ll be able to access your account dashboard, which will look something like this:

I’ve blocked out some of the more sensitive info, but most notably highlighted in yellow is where your SkyMiles number will be. Enter this number any time you book a flight or complete an activity that can earn miles!

How Do I Earn SkyMiles?

There are several ways to earn miles, and in subsequent posts I am going to unpack several methods. As a taster, here’s the top three ways to earn SkyMiles:


Flying is probably the most obvious way to earn miles, and typically is based on how much the ticket you purchased cost. In my next post, I am going to explore the different rates you earn miles at when flying as well as some tips for earning more miles when up in the air!

Credit Cards!

Delta has partnered with American Express to offer several credit cards that can earn you tons of miles. Some cards offer large sign up bonuses that can help get your account going quickly! Look out for an upcoming post exploring the differences between these cards, as well as suggestions on which ones to pick depending on your lifestyle.

Miscellaneous Activities

There are several lesser-known ways to earn SkyMiles, including linking your Lyft rideshare account, dining at restaurants that are part of the SkyMiles Dining website, and staying at Airbnbs. I will have a post shortly outlining these options to boost your account.

I hope you found this first post useful. Be sure to leave a comment below with any questions, and subscribe to my email newsletter for the latest updates. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram!