I recently stumbled upon a way to use Delta SkyMiles for booking hotels at Walt Disney World and I had to share! You can currently earn a 40,000 miles sign-up bonus (plus a $50 statement credit) when you open a Delta Gold SkyMiles Card. In this post I’ll show you how to use these miles to book a four-night stay at a Disney resort (such as Pop Century Resort, one of my favorites) totally for free!
I’ve been holding on to a bunch of SkyMiles for a while now and have been struggling to find a good way to use them. I earned a bunch of miles from opening the Delta Gold SkyMiles American Express card a while back (this is my referral link), but the flight redemption just hasn’t worked out for me.
The award flights I am interested in usually cost 30,000 miles round-trip for both my daughter (my frequent travel companion) and myself. But I can get the same route with my Southwest points for less than 10,000 miles for both of us (thank you, Southwest Companion Pass!). So I’ve been holding onto the Delta miles in the hopes of finding a good way to put them to use!
While searching for creative ways to use my SkyMiles I eventually found the SkyMiles Travel Marketplace. It is pretty hidden on the Delta site so bookmark this link if you are interested! Here you can use SkyMiles to book hotel stays and car rentals.
I was looking to add two nights to our Disney trip this November and Disney resorts are totally booked up. I was pleased to discover tons of availability at off-property hotels around Disney in the SkyMiles Marketplace. I also searched for availability for next February and found lots of availability at Disney resorts (more on those later).
I checked out a few Marriot properties close to Disney World and I was pleasantly surprised at how few Delta SkyMiles I needed to book them!
First I considered the Courtyard by Marriott Lake Buena Vista at Vista Centre. It is a mile from Disney and gets excellent reviews. Though the main page said that rooms were available from 12K points per night, when I selected a room and logged in with my SkyMiles account info, the points dropped to 10,338 points per night for a standard room.
Important Note: This pattern happened every time I put a room in my cart and started the check out – the price in points would drop by about 20%. So don’t be discouraged if the points needed seems too high at first! The price will likely drop in your cart (unless this was just some fluke of my browser or something). I’d also suggest booking in a new browser or going incognito in Chrome, since the prices will rise if you visit this site more than once due to cookies.
Even better, I found I could book a 2-room suite at this Courtyard with a separate bedroom for only a few thousand more points! This is a HUGE perk for families traveling with little ones who want some privacy. Plus this resort has no resort fees OR parking fees, which can add easily add hundreds of dollars to your stay.
As a comparison, this hotel requires 40,000 Marriott points to book. The sign-on bonus for the Chase Marriott Rewards Visa is 80,000 points, so you could get two free nights at this hotel with that sign-on bonus. With the 40,000+ Delta miles you’d receive from the sign-on bonus for the Delta card, you could get five free nights at the same hotel! That’s a big difference in value from one sign-on bonus – I’d much rather have five nights free than two!
After looking at this and other properties, I ended up booking the Courtyard Marriott Lake Buena Vista in Marriott Village. It also gets great reviews, has an elaborate pool complex (this is #1 priority for my daughter), and is a bit closer to where we want to go in Disney. It cost a few thousand more points per night (13K compared to 10K) but I think we will spend a lot of time at the pool which will make it worth it.
Here’s another important note: If you change or cancel a reservation made through the SkyMiles Marketplace, you will be charged a $35 fee. As long as you cancel before the hotel’s cancellation period (usually 72 hours), you will get all of your SkyMiles points deposited back into your account. So be sure of your plans before you book so you don’t get hit with a fee!
Resorts owned and operated by Walt Disney World have gotten harder to book recently. Disney resorts are currently unavailable for dates in 2017 through online travel consolidators (such as Orbitz), but I discovered that you CAN book Disney resorts for 2017 through the SkyMiles Marketplace. Even better, the prices in points reflected the current Disney room-only discount.
As an example, a standard room at Pop Century in mid-February will set you back 13K points. This is during Value season at Disney, so rooms at other times of year will be more (check out all the Disney resort seasons and rates here). This time of year you could book four nights at Pop Century with the sign-on bonus you’d receive from opening a Delta SkyMiles card and meeting the minimum spending requirement (which is $2,000 in the first 90 days).
Here’s one more feature of booking on the SkyMiles Marketplace that I really liked. If you are short on points, you can pay cash for the remaining amount. Each 1,000 points you are short costs $8, which isn’t bad at all!
Overall, I think using Delta SkyMiles to book a hotel stay in and around Disney World is a great option for those wanting to travel to Disney with points and miles. A four-night stay at Pop Century in Value season would set you back $472 in cash, so that is roughly the value I place on the 50,000 SkyMiles when they are redeemed for Disney resort stays in the SkyMiles Marketplace.
Now if you booked Delta flights with those same points, you could easily get double the value from them. That is, a flight that costs $200 on the Delta site would require roughly 10,000 SkyMiles. However, like I mentioned early on, if you can get a comparable flight for far less using another carrier, then it might not make sense to use your SkyMiles in this way!
If you are interested, I suggest signing up for the Delta Gold SkyMiles card before the end of the year. My guess is that this increased sign-on bonus won’t last much longer than that. Note that this card has a $95 annual fee which IS waived for the first year. You also get the benefit of a free checked bag for you and companions if you do end up flying on Delta.
Please leave a comment below if you have any questions about using the SkyMiles Travel Marketplace!