Some love the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program while others despise it for doing away with award charts and making changes whenever they want without notice. I fall somewhere in the middle. While I hate that they can charge an unbelievable amount of miles for some flights, I’ve also found awards for reasonable prices on Delta aircraft and with some of their partners, like Virgin Atlantic.
That means I’m in a constant cycle of earning Delta Skymiles and using them for redemptions. Fortunately, American Express partners with Delta and you can transfer Membership Rewards to Delta Skymiles, albeit for a price. American Express and Delta also offer many co-brand cards like the Gold Delta Skymiles American Express card so it’s pretty easy to add to your Skymiles balance.
But what if you’ve exhausted all other options and are still just a few hundred or thousand Skymiles short when booking an award ticket?
Back in the olden days, American Express would offer to loan you Membership Rewards points which you could “pay back” by earning points on your card. This program is long gone for the Membership Rewards cards, but there’s a similar offer for cardholders of the Delta AMEX co-brand credit cards.
The Miles Headstart program lets you “borrow” a certain number of points you’ll pay back by earning points on your Delta American Express card. The number of miles they’re willing to lend can depend on several factors.
Eligible Delta SkyMiles Card Members must be in good standing to access Miles Headstart. Eligibility factors include but are not limited to how long you have been a Delta SkyMiles American Express Card Member and Card activity. If you are eligible to access Miles Headstart, the maximum number of miles you can be advanced is based on several factors including Card activity. You may have only one (1) Miles Headstart Balance outstanding at any time.
If you choose to borrow points, you have six months to repay them by earning SkyMiles on your AMEX card. The remaining balance will be purchased at 2.5 cents per mile if you don’t earn back enough points.
I decided to check out how many miles American Express would be willing to lend me. I have a Gold Delta SkyMiles Business card that I don’t use very often. To check if you’re eligible for the offer, you can look at the AMEX website:
or you can use the AMEX mobile app under Membership>Benefits>Miles Headstart
I logged into my account and was shown my offer:
That’s not a huge offer but if I just needed a few miles to have enough for an award, I’d take the points. Of course, putting spending on a Delta co-brand card isn’t the best value and you’d have to earn back the number of points you borrow or be on the hook to pay them back at 2.5 cents per mile, which is an even worse value to buy Delta miles.
This offer is only open to Delta Skymiles co-brand credit card holders so it makes having at least one of those cards in your wallet slightly more valuable. If you regularly use your Delta Skymiles Amex card, I imagine they’d be willing to lend more miles.
It’s nice to see this return as an option. I’ve read too many posts from people who were less than 1,000 points short of an award ticket and scrambling to see how they could quickly earn miles before it disappeared.
Calling American Express to see if they would provide some points as a courtesy was an option but you were at the mercy of the agent you were talking to at the time. Making lending points a benefit of being a cardholder, slightly increases the value of having a Delta AMEX card.
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