In my post earlier this week ranking the top American Express travel credit cards, I included the fact that the Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card gives cardholders a $99 annual companion ticket (for L,U,T fares) benefit. However, as of January 25, 2013, this benefit will be discontinued on this particular card.
Like several other airline credit cards, the Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex comes with a companion ticket benefit for cardholders. Each year they renew the card, they get a $99 companion ticket where you could buy one ticket and get the second for $99 plus taxes and fees. It is valid on economy class fares L,U and T in the contiguous 48 United States and while the companion doesn’t earn miles, the primary ticket does- making it great for Medallions who want to bring along a less mileage-obsessed companion.
Per Amex, they found that very few cardholders were actually taking advantage of it so they’ve decided to discontinue it. The good news is that if you were interested in this card, you have until January 24, 2013 to apply and you will still get the companion certificate once when you renew your card after the first year. After that, it will truly no longer be available. I hope that they decide to reinvest in other benefits to make the card more lucrative, because many other airline products offer more value.
As a reminder, the current public bonus on the card is 30,000 miles when you spend $500 in 3 months, you get 2x points on Delta purchases, and the $95 annual fee is waived the first year. However, from now through December 24, 2013, it looks like there is a bonus of 45,000 miles on both the personal and business versions of the card when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Before you apply for the card, though, you might want to think about getting either the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card or the Delta Reserve card instead since both of those still come with companion certificates- and the Reserve card is evn good on first class A fares.
In fact, as I pointed out in my rankings, both cards are actually a lot more valuable than the Gold version since they both come with the opportunity to earn elite-qualifying MQMs on Delta and the Reserve comes with Delta Skyclub lounge access.
Though the annual fee on the Reserve card is high at $450, the Platinum’s annual fee is just $150 ($55 more than the Gold SkyMiles Amex); neither is waived the first year.
The Reserve card’s annual Reserve Companion Certificate is available for first/business (or economy) travel within the 48 contiguous United States – a potentially super-valuable perk since transcontinental first class tickets can cost thousands of dollars. The other reason this card can be very valuable is that it has unparalleled MQM-earning potential among the card offerings. It awards cardholders with 10,000 MQMs upon first purchase and up to 30,000 more MQMs a year based on spending (15,000 at $30,000 and another 15,000 at $60,000).
The Platinum card’s companion certificate is valid for one round-trip economy class companion ticket with the purchase of certain adult round-trip fares on published routings within the 48 contiguous United States. The Platinum card comes with 20,000 miles upon your first purchase with the Personal Card (5,000 of which are Medallion Qualification Miles); or 30,000 miles with the Business card – 15,000 on first purchase (5,000 of which are MQM’s) and an additional 15,000 when you spend $500 in 3 months.
If you already have the Platinum or the Reserve, you could think about getting the Gold SkyMiles Amex since the $95 annual fee is waived the first year, and you will get the companion certificate once – though essentially you’re getting a $194 companion ticket by paying the annual fee next year to get it and then paying the $99 on the certificate fare itself. Instead, I’d go for the valuable MQM bonuses on the Platinum or Reserve cards and use the companion certificates from one of those.
The bottom line is, this card benefits aren’t very compelling and it’s a shame the companion pass is going away because, when used appropriately, it easily made up for the annual fee. I can only hope that Amex has plans add new benefits to the Gold Delta SkyMiles card to bring it some more value in 2013.