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TPG named Delta Air Lines the best U.S. airline of 2020. So, if you’re looking to fly with Delta more once the pandemic ends, you may want to boost your Delta SkyMiles balance. One easy way to do so is through the SkyMiles Dining program.
This guide will take a closer look at how to earn Delta miles with the SkyMiles Dining program. In doing so, we’ll consider the best dining credit cards to use. And, we’ll help you decide whether the SkyMiles Dining program is the right dining rewards program for you.
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How to join the SkyMiles Dining program
Once you join the program, you’ll need to enroll at least one credit or debit card. When you use your card at participating restaurants, bars and clubs, you’ll earn bonus miles through the SkyMiles Dining program.
New member bonus
The best part about SkyMiles dining is that you can snag a new member bonus if you join by March 31, 2021 and begin using the program. Specifically, you can earn the following bonuses for activity within your first 30 days:
- Earn 500 bonus miles (worth $6 based on TPG’s valuations) after spending $30 or more at any participating restaurant
- Earn 1,000 bonus miles (worth $12) after spending $30 or more on your second qualifying visit
- Earn 1,500 bonus miles (worth $18) after spending $30 or more on your third qualifying visit
However, to earn these new member bonus miles, you must complete an online review within 30 days of each restaurant visit. You must also pay the check with a credit or debit card linked to your SkyMiles Dining account. Finally, you must remain opted in to receive emails from the SkyMiles Dining program.
How to earn miles with the SkyMiles Dining program
To earn miles with the SkyMiles Dining program, you need to dine at an eligible restaurant, bar or club. You can search for an eligible location using the SkyMiles Dining website. Specifically, enter your city or zip code to see what nearby restaurants participate.
Once you’ve found an eligible restaurant, ensure that the day of the week you plan to dine is eligible. Pay with an enrolled card and you’ll see your miles post to your dining account within five days. Meanwhile, your miles should appear in your SkyMiles account within six to eight weeks.
Keep in mind that how much you earn depends on your level within the SkyMiles Dining program. These levels are completely independent of Delta Medallion elite status tiers. Specifically, here are the levels within the SkyMiles Dining program:
|Level||How to reach this level||Earning rate at this level (return based on TPG’s valuations)|
|Member||Join the SkyMiles Dining program but don’t elect to receive email communication||1 mile per $2 spent (0.6%)|
|Select||Elect to receive email communication from SkyMiles Dining||3 miles per $1 spent (3.6%)|
|VIP||Elect to receive email communication from SkyMiles Dining
Complete 11 qualified transactions in a calendar year
|5 miles per $1 spent (6%)|
Earned VIP status is valid for both the year you earn it and the subsequent year, as long as you remain opted in for email communication.
Earn miles for online orders
You can order pick-up and delivery from select restaurants through the SkyMiles Dining site. On these orders, you’ll earn miles at your current earning rate. However, you won’t earn miles on tax, tip or delivery-related fees when ordering online.
Which cards to use with the SkyMiles Dining program
You can enroll almost any card in the SkyMiles Dining program, except for Diner’s Club and JBL cards. To maximize your earnings, you’ll likely want to enroll and use one of the best credit cards for dining. Specifically, here are some of the best cards to consider:
The information for the Citi Prestige and Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
If you’re looking to earn even more Delta miles, you may want to enroll and use a cobranded Delta credit card. Specifically, the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card each earn 2x miles at restaurants. But this only equates to a 2.4% return based on TPG’s valuations. So, you’ll usually be better off enrolling and using one of the top cards for dining instead.
Remember that the returns mentioned in this section only consider the value you’ll earn from your credit card. Specifically, you’ll also earn a return of 1.2% to 6% from the SkyMiles Dining program at participating restaurants.
Is the SkyMiles Dining program worth it?
It’s certainly worth enrolling the cards you use when dining at restaurants in a dining rewards program. After all, it’s easy to enroll. And, you might as well earn bonus rewards when dining at select restaurants.
Many other loyalty programs have programs that allow you to earn rewards when dining at select restaurants, bars and clubs. For example, American Airlines AAdvantage, Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy and IHG Rewards Club all have dining rewards programs.
And, some of these programs may provide a greater return than the SkyMiles Dining program. This is especially true if you don’t plan to opt-in to email communications or dine frequently enough to earn VIP status.
It’s worth noting that you can only enroll each card in one Rewards Network-operated dining rewards program. So, it’s worth considering whether the SkyMiles Dining program is the best dining rewards program for you. For example, you may choose to use the SkyMiles Dining program if you need more SkyMiles for an upcoming redemption or tend to get outsized value from your Delta SkyMiles.
Related: Best sweet spots with Delta SkyMiles
The SkyMiles Dining program is just one of many dining rewards programs. But, if you’re looking for more ways to earn Delta SkyMiles, this program can help. Specifically, you may want to enroll some of the credit cards you use at restaurants in the SkyMiles Dining program. After all, enrolling is quick and free. And, you may discover a new favorite restaurant among the program’s participants.
Featured image by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy.
SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.
And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.
These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.