Maximizing SkyMiles: Adapting to Delta’s New Starbucks Earning Rules

by joeheg

Delta Air Lines and Starbucks formed a partnership in 2022, allowing members to earn extra points in both programs by linking their accounts. Members can earn 1 SkyMile for every dollar spent at Starbucks every day. Additionally, members receive double stars in Starbucks Rewards for purchases on days when they fly with Delta. Overall, it’s a great benefit; there’s no cost to participate, and since you likely visit Starbucks anyway, why not earn extra miles and stars for your purchases?

I’ve taken advantage of this offer, and while I’m not sure exactly how many SkyMiles I’ve earned since October 2022, it’s probably somewhere in the thousands.

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Delta Changing How You Earn With Starbucks

Delta Air Lines notified members that starting on June 12, 2024, the way you earn SkyMiles with Starbucks will change. Instead of earning miles with every purchase, you’ll earn points when reloading your Starbucks account. The number of miles earned depends on the amount you reload.

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  • Reloading $25-49.99 will earn 25 bonus Delta miles
  • $50-74.99 will earn 75 bonus Delta miles
  • $75-99.99 will earn 125 bonus Delta miles
  • A $100 reload will earn 200 bonus Delta miles

Does this make a difference?

How much this change affects you depends on how often you visit Starbucks and if you keep a balance on your Starbucks account. I like this change because I’ll earn 200 miles per $100 reload instead of 1 mile per dollar spent. As you can see from my transaction history, I visit Starbucks several times a week. I usually reload my account in $100 increments, often waiting until the Bilt Rent Day when I earn 6X points on dining expenses.

The only downside is that the new system prevents me from earning SkyMiles for purchases not linked to reloads. If transferring funds from a gift card to your account, you used to earn Delta miles when you spent that money. Now you won’t because the miles earned are only based on the reload amount.

Finally, it makes sense to keep your reload amount at the bottom of each band since you’ll earn the same amount of miles for reloading $50 or $74.99.

Final Thought

The jury is still out when it comes to the changes to the Delta SkyMiles and Starbucks partnership. For those who are like me and visit on a regular basis, the only change I have to make is making sure to reload in $100 increments. If you only go to Starbucks every once in a while and reload $25 at a time, you’re still going to earn 25 miles. The people this change hurts the most are the ones who purchase Starbucks gift cards at other locations (like Amazon, office supply stores, or supermarkets) and then transfer funds to their accounts. Those people will no longer receive any SkyMiles for their purchases.

If you haven’t already linked your Delta SkyMiles and Starbucks Rewards accounts, you can do it here.

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