December 2, 2011
This deal is dead.
A resurfaced SkyMall promotion provides amazing opportunities.
In one of my earliest posts as Frequent Miler, I wrote: “Buy Samsung Tablet, Get 25,000 Delta Miles Free!” The SkyMall was running a promotion at the time in which they would give 25000 Delta miles for purchasing $500 or more in the SkyMall. I had spent many hours scouring SkyMall to find the best opportunity, and I came up with that one. I didn’t take advantage of it though. I was a happy iPad owner and so I let the deal go. Fellow BoardingArea blogger Delta Points (also known as DeltaGOLDflyer), though, didn’t pass up this opportunity. Instead, by coincidentally buying the same tablet I wrote about, he found a way to use this deal to buy 250,000 Delta Miles for only $700! That’s enough for a round trip award ticket (at “medium” award pricing) from the US to Australia in international business class! If you can find low-level award availability, you can get two tickets for just a bit more (300,000 miles). So, just out of curiosity, I priced a few business class flights from Detroit to Australia and they came up at about $10,000 each. It’s amazing to think that DeltaGOLDflyer can get one or two of these tickets for a net cost to him of $700!
Now, for a short time, the SkyMall promotion is back! Use this link to get there: http://www.skymall.com/25000. This time, though, the deal is only available for the first 1000 purchases so you’ll have to act fast.
DeltaGOLDflyer’s trick is to make multiple just-over-$500 purchases from the SkyMall and then resell them on EBay. Even with a loss on the resale, the overall value you can get from the miles can be far higher than the money you “lose” in the deal. The hard part of all of this is to find products with high resale value. In September, the Samsung Tablet was a sure bet. Now, however, I’m skeptical about the resale value of $500 tablets since Amazon has come out with the $200 Kindle Fire tablet. It’s true that Amazon’s tablet is a far cry from Samsung’s, but I do think it will significantly change the market. Also, if a lot of people simply mimic DeltaGOLDflyer’s technique, there will be a glut of tablets on EBay which will significantly drive down the resale price. So, if you’re interested in this opportunity, I’d recommend that you scour the SkyMall yourself for things that you think will have a high resale value. Keep in mind that shipping costs can be significant so you’re better off with a small item than a big screen TV!
More about Australia
A trip to Australia is just one of the many ways to use Delta SkyMiles. I pointed it out because, seriously, who doesn’t want to visit Australia? But, also, some of my favorite bloggers have written that award travel to Australia is one of the best redemption options for Delta. For examples, see ThePointsGuy, View from the Wing, and Ben at TravelSort. All of those guys have written about how to get low level award availability through a Delta partner, V Australia. If you can get that to work, you can go business class for 150,000 miles round trip. Otherwise, you’ll most likely have to book the tickets at the “medium” level which will cost you 240,000 miles round trip.
Add It Up
If you don’t have plans to fly internationally, this deal is probably not for you. If you do like the idea, though, of flying internationally in style (e.g. business class), it’s worth taking a look. Let’s break down some of the numbers:
Let’s assume you want two business class round trip tickets to Australia and that you’re willing to pay up to $3000 each for the tickets (still a huge savings over paying directly). Let’s also assume, worst case, that you will be redeeming your SkyMiles at the “medium” level. In other words, it will cost you 240,000 SkyMiles for each ticket.
Now, let’s assume that you can find some items on SkyMall that individually or together add up to just over $500. Let’s say the total before taxes and shipping is $525. Now let’s assume that taxes and shipping bring the total all the way to $600 (this is hopefully worst case). Since you want two tickets at 240,000 SkyMiles each, you will need to make 20 purchases of $600 each. So, your total expense before trying to sell anything will be $12,000. In other words, before selling anything, you will have enough SkyMiles to “buy” medium level US to Australia business class awards for $6000 per ticket. This is already a substantial savings off of the rack rate, but it is probably much more than you want to spend.
So, next step is to sell your items. Remember that the retail value of your items was $525 per order. You will need to sell the items at a discount via CraigsList, EBay, or whatever. Let’s assume you go with EBay and discount the items by 25%. Let’s also assume that you pass along shipping charges to the buyer. In that case, you will sell the items for $393.75 and EBay will take about $46 of that in fees. So you will be left with about $347. Since you will sell 20 of these, you will get a total of $6,940. Remember that your initial out of pocket expenses came to $12000. Subtract the $6,940 and you find that you have paid a total of $5060. This comes to just over $2500 per ticket! Keep in mind that many of these assumptions are close to “worst case” so you could do even better by either selling your items for more or by redeeming your miles at a lower rate.
If you want to fly internationally in business class and you’re willing to do some work selling and shipping, this is clearly a great opportunity. There are risks, though. You might find that your items don’t sell or you might even get swindled by a buyer. And, it might be difficult to redeem your miles for the exact dates and times you want (although “medium” awards are very easy to come by). This is not the first time this promotion has run, so the safe thing to do is to spend just the amount you are comfortable with and, if it works out, wait until they (hopefully) run the promotion again in the future. Also note that Delta occasionally runs promotions in which you can effectively buy SkyMiles for 1.1 cents each. This, of course, would be a much simpler way to get 500,000 miles for just a bit more money ($5,500) than the worst case scenario presented above.