Delta Credit Cards
$99, waived first year
Gold: 60,000 Delta miles ($2,000 initial spend) plus 10,000 miles after your first anniversary.
Platinum: 80,000 Delta miles ($3,000 initial spend) plus 20,000 miles after your first anniversary.Reserve: 80,000 miles plus 20,000 MQMs ($5,000 initial spend) plus 20,000 miles after your first anniversary.
30,000 Delta miles, plus $50 credit for Delta purchase in first three months
$1,000 initial spend
($450 net value, .45/$)Signup Bonus Chart
2x Delta Purchases (Gold)
3x Delta Purchases (Platinum & Reserve)
2x Restaurants (except Reserve)
2x US Supermarkets (Personal Gold & Platinum)
3x Hotels (Platinum)
2x US Shipping & Advertising (Business Gold)
1.5x on purchases of $5,000+ (Business Platinum)
1x Everywhere Else
No Foreign Transaction Fee
If you fly Delta more than a couple of times per year, you probably want to get one of their credit cards, to take advantage of the free checked bag and early boarding benefits. Most people will want to get the Gold version. But if you are confident that you can take advantage of the annual companion certificate, need to earn some extra qualifying miles for Delta elite status, or are thinking about paying for a Delta Lounge membership, you might want to get the more expensive Platinum and/or Reserve version instead. Just don't use it for your everyday spending.
Because it is hard to use credit card travel benefits during the pandemic, Amex has made some temporary changes to their cards.
- Any personal card that predates the start of 2021 will receive a dining credit each month. The Delta Gold receives $5, the Delta Platinum receives $15, and the Delta Gold receives $20 of free restaurant, delivery, or takeout food every month in 2021. You'll need to activate these as Amex Offers on each card.
- Any business card that predates the start of 2021 will receive a wireless credit each month. The Delta Gold gives you $10, the Delta Platinum gives you $15, and the Delta Reserve gives you $20 per month towards your wireless bill. You can usually make a partial payment with any applicable card. As with the restaurant credits, you'll need to activate these as Amex Offers on each card.
- MQM status boosts from both the personal and business Delta Platinum and Delta Reserve cards will earn an extra 25% in MQMs during 2021. The Platinum boosts are 12,500 MQMs instead of 10,000 MQMs (for $25,000 in spend). The Reserve boots are $18,750 MQMs instead of 15,000 MQMs (for $30,000 in spend).
- Any card from before the start of 2021 is likely to have an Amex Offer to earn extra points on Delta transactions.
Delta Credit Card Options
There are seven Delta credit cards. Each of the following cards comes in both a personal and a business version. Other than constantly changing signup bonuses, the business versions and personal versions are nearly identical. All of the cards usually have valuable signup bonuses and many people will eventually wind up getting each of them (at least for the first year).
Gold. The default option for people interested in getting a Delta card for its ongoing benefits, such as checked bag privileges. $99 annual fee, waived the first year. Amex Webpage. Delta Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
The Business version offers double miles on US shipping and advertising (rather than groceries). Since you are likely to have a better card to use for groceries, this might provide marginally more value. Amex Webpage, Signup Bonus Chart.
Platinum. The $250 annual fee Platinum version has two main extra benefits. Every year, when you renew the card, you'll get a companion certificate that allows two people to fly for nearly the price of one (as long as the qualifying fare class is still available), instead of the $100 Delta flight credit. And the card provides the opportunity to earn Delta qualifying miles that can help you achieve the next level of Delta status. You can earn up to 20,000 bonus MQMs each year. If you think you can get good use of the companion certificate, it is clearly the better option. Amex Webpage, Signup Bonus Chart.
Reserve. The premium version has a whopping $550 annual fee. The higher fee lets you earns even more qualifying miles than the Platinum version and use your companion certificate for premium cabin seats. You can earn up to 60,000 MQMs per year (by spending up to $120,000) and even gift the MQMs to other members. It also provides free access to the Delta Sky Club and Amex Centurion Lounges and 2 one-time Sky Club guest passes. Since they already have lounge access, Platinum cardholders are unlikely to want to spend the extra money for the more valuable companion certificate, unless they are planning to take good advantage of ability to earn MQMs.Amex Webpage, Signup Bonus Chart.
In addition, there is a personal version of the:
Blue Delta Skymiles card. Delta's no-annual-fee card doesn't provide much in the way of benefits or a signup bonus and therefore isn't particularly interesting. Amex Webpage
Collecting the Signup Bonus
- It is worth signing up for this card just to collect the signup bonus.. Even 30,000 Delta miles and a $50 statement credit is worth $450-500. Promotional offers of up to 75,000-100,000 miles are worth much more.
- Some signup offers include statement credits. They apply to Delta purchases that you make within the first 90 days. If you don't need to buy a ticket during that period of time, you can use the credit to buy a Delta gift card online and essentially "bank" the money to use on a later flight.
- The normal offer for the Reserve version of the card usually much less valuable. You might get a few more miles, but the annual fee is much higher. If you were getting the card for its SkyClub access and/or MQM earning capabilities, it can make sense.
- You can only earn the signup bonus once per lifetime. With Amex cards, you are normally not entitled to earn the signup bonus, if you've ever had the card before. However, you may eventually receive a targeted offer that bypasses this limitation, allowing you to earn the bonus an additional time.
- However, you can earn signup bonuses for each one of these cards. Over a period of time, you can receive up to three significant signup bonuses from the Gold, Platinum, and Reserve cards. If you have a any kind of small business, you can sign up for the three business versions as well. By doing so, you can earn hundreds of thousands of Delta points. Unlock Extra Reward Points with Business Credit Cards.
- You may want to wait until you receive a better than normal offer. Since Amex will normally only let you receive the signup bonus once per lifetime, and frequently offers promotional signup offers, it can be worthwhile to postpone signing up, so you don't waste your bonus on a less valuable offer.
- You probably don't want to bother with the Blue version. Even though it has no annual fee, its normal signup bonus is only 10,000 miles. There is a limit to how many Amex cards you can have at any one time, as well as limitations on the total number of cards you can apply for during any time period. You are usually better off focusing on cards that have better signup bonuses, earning rates, or ongoing benefits.
- You'll receive a companion certificate each time you renew your Delta Platinum or Reserve card. Unless it is part of special signup offer, you don't receive a certificate the first year you have the card.
- The certificate is often the main reason to get the Platinum (or Reserve) version of the Delta card, rather than the Gold version. You are essentially paying an extra $100 per year for the economy-only certificate. However, some people may also be interested in the more expensive cards' ability to earn extra MQMs.
- The Delta companion certificate can only be used for round trip flights within the contiguous United States. When you book two tickets with the certificate, one passenger only needs to pay the fees and taxes. The certificate from the Platinum card can only be used for coach tickets; the certificate from the Reserve card can be used for any class of service. Guide to the Delta Airlines Companion Certificate.
- While you don’t have to pay a special higher fare on the initial ticket, the certificate only works with a limited number of fare classes. Once the plane starts to fill up, you will no longer be eligible to use the certificate on that flight. When tickets prices are higher than normal and using the certificate would be most attractive, companion fares often won’t be available. Nevertheless, many people will wind up flying on Delta flights where the certificate can be used, and when they do so, they will typically save significant amounts of money.
- It is easy to obtain multiple certificates every year. There are two different versions of the Delta Platinum card and two different versions of the Delta Reserve card. Plus, you can have more than one copy of the same Amex card. The main limitation is that Amex only allows you to get 4-5 total credit cards.
Earning MQMs with the Platinum / Reserve versions
Both the Platinum and Reserve Cards let you earn "qualifying miles" that can help you qualify for Delta elite status. This can be very helpful for frequent Delta flyers that need an assist to qualify for the next higher level of status.
- The "qualifying miles" you earn from these cards aren't added to your point balance for redeeming frequent flyer tickets. They only help you achieve status during the year you earn the points. However, the regular miles you earn from spending on the card do get added to your account.
- You can earn up to 20,000 MQMs with each version of the Delta Platinum card. You'll get 10,000 MQMs for every $25,000 you spend in a calendar year, with a maximum of 2 "boosts".
- You can earn up to 60,000 MQMs with each version of the Delta Reserve card. You'll get 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend, with a maximum of 4 boosts. This is a better ratio of MQMs to dollars. However, since the Reserve card doesn't have good bonus categories (other than Delta flights), you'll earn fewer redeemable miles with every dollar spent.
- When you sign up for a new Platinum or Reserve card, you typically get some bonus MQMs. The number of MQMs varies along with other aspects of the current signup offer.
- You can gift the MQMs you earn from the Delta Reserve to another person. For example, if you needed more MQMs than you could receive from your own cards, you could earn more from your spouse's card.
- It is possible to earn up to 6 "mileage boosts" with a single card by upgrading a Platinum card to the Reserve card during the year. Since Amex limits the number of credit cards you can have at any one time, this allows you to reduce the number of cards you need to hold onto, while maximizing the number of MQMs you earn./li>
- If you spend at least $25,000 on the Platinum and Reserve cards, you'll qualify for a MQD waiver. That eliminates the spending requirement for earning status (up to Platinum level). You only need to meet the mileage requirements. Unfortunately, you need to spend $250,000! per year to waive the requirement for Diamond status. And spending on the Gold card no longer provides the waiver.
Other Notable Benefits
- Free checked bags. The first checked bag is free for up to nine passengers, even on basic economy fares. Get Free Checked Bags with Airline Credit Cards.
- Priority boarding. Zone 1 boarding makes it easier to find space in the overhead bins.
- 20% inflight purchase discount. Good for food, beverages, and audio headsets.
- $100 Delta flight credit if you spend $10,000 in a calendar year (Gold only).
- $100 TSA credit (Platinum only), once every five years.
- Discounted Sky Club Access (Platinum only) You can purchase Sky Club day passes for $39 each rather than the normal price of $59 (for up to three passengers).
- Cell phone protection (Platinum only). If you pay your cell phone bill with the Delta Reserve or Platinum card, you'll receive automatic coverage. The maximum claim is $800, with a $1,600 annual cap and a $50 deductible. Coverage details.
- Access to Amex Offers. Amex continuously provides discount offers to their cardholders. Most of the offers are in the form of "Spend $x, get $y back", but other offers are in the form of "x% off your entire order" or "Earn an extra Membership Reward point on your purchases". To take advantage of the offers, you need to go to the Amex website, find the ones you are interested in, and "add them" to your card. Each offer will then be automatically applied when you use your card to make the corresponding purchase. Amex Offers Website.
- Free ShopRunner membership. As with all Amex cards, you are entitled to a complimentary ShopRunner membership, which provides free two-day and return shipping from around 150 of the largest online retailers. ShopRunner Website
- Exclusive access to entertainment events. Amex sponsors cardmember-only events around the country and also provides early ticket access for some other shows.
Extra Benefits with the Reserve Card
- Free access to the Delta Sky Club, when flying on Delta-marketed flights. Only for the primary cardholder. Additional guests available for $39 each. Unlike a Delta Sky Club membership, which retails for $495, your don't get partner lounge privileges.
- Two free Sky Club lounge passes per year.
- Free access to Amex Centurion Lounges. But only if you are flying on a Delta-marketed flight. Only for the primary cardholders, up to two guests are $50 each.
- Up to 4 status boosts per year, allowing you to earn up to 60,000 points. 15,000 points for every $30,000 worth of spending. Plus you can "gift" your status boosts to another member.
- Qualify for upgrades without status. You are entitled to first class and Comfort+ upgrades, but you won't get them until after anyone with Delta status gets upgraded first. That also means that you'll need to wait until the day of departure. As with other upgrades, you might be able get an upgrade for a single companion. If you have some level of status, you'll get a boost for upgrades versus other passengers within the same Medallion Tier and fare class group.
- You are better off making your Delta Airlines purchases with a card that earns a higher reward rate for airfare spending. 2-3x Delta miles is okay but not as good as what you'd earn from one of the better cards.Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
- Bonus rewards for other categories are good, but not as good as the rewards available from the best cards for those categories. Best Credit Cards for Restaurant Spending. Best Credit Cards for Grocery Spending. Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
- You usually don't want to use these card for your everyday spending. You'll earn higher rewards from a good general-purpose reward card. That is true even for the 1.5x miles on large purchases available on the Business Platinum version. Get a Great General Purpose Reward Card and Use It for All of Your Spending.
- However, if you are planning on earning the MQM bonuses from the Platinum or Reserve cards, it can be worthwhile to use these cards for some of your spending. If so, you can try to minimize the lost opportunity cost by using the cards for their various bonus categories, such as grocery stores on the personal cards or large purchases on the Business Platinum card.
Getting Rid of the Card
- You can cancel without worrying about losing your Delta miles. Once you earn them, they are treated like any other miles in your Delta account.
- We usually don't recommend downgrading to the Delta Blue Card, unless you need to receive a pro-rated annual fee refund. While you can product change between any of the personal or any of the business Delta cards, you usually don't want to. You can only have a total of 4-5 Amex credit cards and you probably don't want to waste a spot for the meager benefits of the Blue Card. You can always re-apply for a Gold, Platinum, or Reserve Card if you decide you want one later.
- You can wait to cancel your card until after the annual fee shows up on your statement. As long as you cancel within 30 days of the statement closing date, Amex will refund the fee. After 30 days, you can receive a pro-rated refund by downgrading to a lower-priced card. The cheapest personal option is the no-annual-fee version, the cheapest business option is the Business Gold version. But if you haven't had a card before, downgrading will block your ability to earn its signup bonus in the future and you'll miss out on a potential referral bonus. So, ideally you would cancel before the deadline.
- Waiting to cancel or downgrade lets you earn an extra companion certificate with the Platinum or Reserve Card. You'll typically receive a certificate shortly after your annual fee posts and get to keep it even if you cancel or downgrade your card. If for some reason the certificate hasn't posted by the deadline, you can continue to wait and then downgrade later and receive most of the annual fee back.
- You might be able to receive a retention offer to keep your card. It could be enough to make it worthwhile to keep the card.
In addition, if you change to a card that you haven't had before, you won't be able to earn the signup bonus for that card in the future, and signing up directly for the new card would earn a referral bonus for your Amex referral partner.
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