Delta Airlines is the only U.S. based airline that is part of SkyTeam. SkyTeam has a great partner network in Europe with Air France, KLM and Alitalia all members of the alliance. In Asia, the alliance has a great network in China with China Airlines, China Eastern, and China Southern all part of the alliance. Moreover, Korean Air is also a member of the alliance.
When it comes to elite status, SkyTeam has two levels – SkyTeam Elite and SkyTeam Elite Plus. They share many of the same benefits such as Priority Boarding and Check-in as well as preferred seating and extra baggage allowance. SkyTeam Elite Plus, however, offers a few additional perks. These include Priority Baggage handling so that you can get out of the airport quickly and lounge access. In order to gain access to a lounge, you need to be traveling on an international ticket. However, you can still get access even if you’re traveling in coach. With Delta, it is relatively easy to get SkyTeam Elite Plus membership as all Gold elites and above are eligible. To achieve Gold status with Delta you need to fly 50,000 miles in a calendar year.
For those that don’t know, Delta SkyMiles are often called SkyPesos because they are notoriously hard to redeem at a good value. For anyone that has tried to redeem them on domestic travel, they will mostlike have run into something like this where it costs 50,000 miles for a roundtrip domestic coach ticket!
For those of us that have worked hard to earn those miles, it can be hard to find a trip that is worthwhile from a CPM point of view. However, while Delta SkyMiles can be hard to redeem domestically, they can be a great tool for international travel! For example, trips to Europe can be affordable in Business class! I used an example of flying from Boston to Paris this January.
Now normally, I’d expect to need 2,000,000 SkyMiles or something close to that, but it’s actually a great deal. For 100,000 miles, you can fly non-stop to Paris in Business class.
While the $150 taxes are a little more than I’d like, it’s certainly nothing outrageous like you’d see on British Airways across the Atlantic. When searching for dates, I find that it’s easiest to use Delta’s Award Calendar feature, which I’ve circled above. It lets you look at an entire month to find a date that has a low level award available. When comparing this award ticket to a revenue ticket, you can see that you get a great redemption value!
At over $4,900 after taking taxes into account, you get a whopping 4.9 CPM out of your Delta SkyMiles! I can’t call them SkyPesos after that! Europe is just one example. You can use SkyMiles to fly to South America or Asia as well and get great value out of them.
Each airline and alliance has its own strengths and weaknesses. The key thing to remember with alliances are the reciprocal benefits you receive and the ability to use your miles earned from one member airline on another. This is the best benefit, which is often overlooked especially as availability for all airlines within an alliance may not be listed when you search for an award online.
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49