American Express PRG And Delta Downgrades; A Possible Delta Workaround?

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Update: Delta has wisely decided that they will not implement a limit on points transfers from any program into Delta miles.

There’s no longer going to be a need to resort to the various workarounds described in this post 😀

Now if only they would do an about-face on their decision to no longer award miles for the distance of flights flown next year…


Originally posted on 10/01:

American Express is a advertiser.

1. Effective 01/01/15 the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card will no longer give a 15K point bonus for spending $30,000 in a year.  It will still give 3 points per dollar spent on airfare and 2 points per dollar spent on gas and groceries.

Annual spend threshold bonuses seem to be a dying breed.  One of the few remaining cards that have an annual spend threshold bonus is the Chase United Explorer card which gives a 10K point bonus for spending $25K in a year.

2. Effective 01/01/15 you will only be able to receive 250K Delta Skymiles per Delta account from Membership Rewards per calendar year.

Additionally you will only be able to spend out 250K points per Membership Rewards account to any number of Delta accounts.

This is a Delta imposed limitation.

In AMEX’s words,

“Beginning January 1, 2015, the maximum number of Membership Rewards® points you will be able to transfer out of a single Membership Rewards account to one or more SkyMiles accounts will be limited to 250,000 points per calendar year. Additionally, the maximum number of Membership Rewards points you will be able to transfer into a single SkyMiles account will also be limited to 250,000 points per calendar year.

You are able to transfer Membership Rewards points to a SkyMiles account without any annual limitations through December 31, 2014″
Workaround?  You are able to request that different American Express cards accumulate points in their own Membership Rewards account. It seems like that should function as a workaround to transferring out more points to Delta as AMEX clearly states that the 250K limit is just from a single Membership Rewards account.
You can also freely transfer points between each of your Membership Rewards accounts so that each of your Membership Rewards eligible cards can transfer 250K points to Delta annually.

While your personal Delta account would only be able to receive 250K points per year, you can add a spouse or child as an additional user for example and transfer points to their Delta accounts. From there you can book award travel for anyone.

Delta is the only major US airline in the Membership Rewards program, so this is definitely a downgrade.  It’s worth noting that Delta will allow one-way awards starting 01/01/15, so that will help things a bit.

Either way Delta is one of the weaker partners in the Membership Rewards program and their miles are far less valuable than American or United miles.  Plus Membership Rewards charges a fee to transfer points to domestic programs like Delta.

Other international Membership Rewards partners offer a better value. For example:

Air France can book one-way travel on Delta today and their rates are often less.  A round-trip to Israel is just 50K Air France miles and if you find Delta saver availability there are no fuel surcharges.

-A round-trip to Israel using Alitalia miles is just 80K in business class and fuel surcharges are relatively mild at about $300.

British Airways Avios offers free travel starting at just 4,500 Avios.  Flights to Europe or Hawaii start at just 12.5K Avios each way with no fuel surcharges on select airlines.

Air Canada has several award sweet spots. You need just 45K miles to fly to Europe each way in business class and many airlines have no fuel surcharges.

El Al will soon be the only good way to book travel on El Al starting 11/01.

ANA offers 38K round-trip tickets from NYC to London and 60K round-trip tickets to Israel with no fuel surcharges on United.  Or fly from NYC to the Caribbean or Central America for just 22K miles with no fuel surcharges.

Singapore offers a private suite from JFK to Europe for just 57K miles. They also offer good rates to other destinations that United flies to with no fuel surcharges.

So there are plenty of other good options.  Frankly the move is a bit surprising.  AMEX pays cold hard cash for mileage transfers to Delta. A couple of years ago when AMEX points used to transfer to Continental, Delta ran significant point transfer bonuses to get people to send their points to Delta over Continental.

However this isn’t the first chink in the AMEX-Delta relationship.  Earlier this year Delta stopped allowing people who have the Platinum Card® from American Express to bring guests into their lounges. AMEX is responding to harsher airline lounge rules by opening their own network of premium airport Centurion lounges with free access for Platinum cardholders and their family/guests. Those currently can be found domestically in Dallas, Las Vegas, and NYC/LaGuardia. International locations include Buenes Aires, Delhi, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Sao Paulo.  Centurion lounges in Miami, San Francisco, and other domestic airports will open soon. Plus you can bring in your family/guests for free into Airspace lounges which can be found in Baltimore, Cleveland, NYC/JFK, and San Diego. The card also gives a Priorty Club lounge membership, a $200 annual airline fee credit, and SPG Gold status.

Of course you can still earn unlimited amounts of Delta miles on a card like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. which is what Delta wants you to do (though I’m not sure why you would want to). However you would earn 25% more miles by spending on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and transferring points to Delta.  Unless a limit on Starwood transfers is in the cards as well?

Cards like The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express offer the ability to earn 20% or 50% more miles everywhere in addition to up to 450% more miles in selected categories. And they can also each be assigned their own Membership Rewards account number, which should work to transfer more points out to Delta.  Note that the Everyday cards are credit cards and AMEX limits you to 4 credit cards per person.  Card like the Gold and Platinum are charge cards which don’t count towards that limit.

HT: miles, via DDF and Gary.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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22 Comments On "American Express PRG And Delta Downgrades; A Possible Delta Workaround?"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


you think spg will take away 25% bonus or have limits?


The 25% bonus will stay, but perhaps limits will be put into place.
Hard to say at this point.
Can always transfer from SPG to Delta’s partner Alaska anyway. A transfer to Delta is rarely a good idea, though it has some limited excellent uses, like for travel to Bora Bora or Australia.


i know the cheapest flight is 140k from jfk-tlv on delta but if u go online and check avail. it alsways never delta and its
almost always stopovers?? if you call delta can they check better options for 140k??


I dont have an SPG cc and not in olan to aaply for one as of now, i currently have over 100k points on my premier golds cc what would be my best option?

Chili Palmer

What’s the evidence that Delta imposed this?


@dan can you clarify “El Al will soon be the only good way to book travel on El Al starting 11/01”?


so if i apply for the PRG before 1/1/2015 will i get the 15k bonus, or this is even for existing cards?

Eli O

Hi Dan, you wrote that ANA offers round-trip tickets from NYC to Israel for 60K miles. Is it cheaper for me to transfer my UR points and book through ANA rather than directly through United? Thanks.

@Eli O

You cant transfer Chase UR points to ANA


hi danjust got this email from aa- you thinkm thats worth it? isnt like buying miles for cheap?

Donate to Miles for a Cure® – Give $25 or more and you’ll earn 20 AAdvantage® miles for every dollar donated


Is the 4 Amex credit card limit only for Personal cards or Does include Bussiness cards?

mia flyer

dan , i applied and recieved one of the delta amex cards deal that was offered a few weeks back, Now that delta is changing the rules of the game. can one call them up and ask that they waive the fees since the terms changed after i signed up


@mia flyer: i think dan was only refering to the membership rewards,not delta amex.


Anywhere to see a chart comparing benefits of diff Amex cards, as a way to select new cards?
Table will be appreciated!


Will the same downgrade apply to the Delta Amex Reserve Card?


As I understand from the t&c of this card that I got last week this bonus works through a calendar yr (Jan.-Dec.) am I wrong? do I have time to meet this threshold till Sept. 2015?


I have over 700K AMEX miles on 2 different cards, should I do anything before the year ends?


Dan, which miles transfer into ANA?


Went to read your avios posting, cant find USA TO EAUROPE at 12,500 avios. not Bos to Irland either.
(and going to bos you need to add 4.5 k, not worth the connections to and from) so where in Europe can I go from NYC for less than 20,000 avios?


AMEX or Starwood.

Boston to Dublin or Shannon on Aer Lingus is 12.5K Avios.
Bookable over the phone only.

high end hobo

Singapore offers a private suite from JFK to Europe for just 57K miles. They also offer good rates to other destinations that United flies to with no fuel surcharges.

Where can you book a united flight with SQ metal and not incur YQ?


Dont know if you’ll see it this way, but I’ll try…PRG is still awarding 15k for 30k spend. Just got it in 2015.