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Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Discontinuing Companion Ticket Benefit in 2013

by on December 20, 2012 · 34 comments

in American Express, Credit Cards, Delta

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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 $1,000 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.

Both the Delta Platinum and Reserve cards will continue to offer companion tickets.

Both the Delta Platinum and Reserve cards will continue to offer companion tickets.

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Ryan

    Glad I got the Platinum Card! One note on the MQMs… If you have both the Platinum and the Reserve and spend 110K/year, you can have 50K MQMs without setting foot on a plane. I spend about 40K a year on CCs so that is out of my range, but I’m sure many people do it!

  • Forwardtosarah

    Any word on if the Platinum Delta Card will continue to have the free companion certificate? Or will that be going away too? I think this is a bad move on AMEX’s part … seems like there are no benefits to holding the Gold anymore. Annoying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=59500267 Jon Miller Time

    I was thinking about upgrading from Gold to Platinum this year.
    I’m going MSP>BKK in Feb which will get me to 20,000 MQMs early in the year.
    I also usually do Europe in the Fall and was thinking about upgrading before then so I’ll already have Silver status before the Europe trip.

    If for some reason I don’t do the Europe trip am I better off waiting to upgrade until the end of the year, doing a purchase on Dec 31st therefore hitting Sliver Status the first week of Jan 2014 instead?
    I assume they have a few buffer days and that it would make me Silver through 2015 right?

  • thepointsguy

    No plans at this time to discontinue it on either the Platinum or Reserve cards per my Amex contact.

  • Brett

    Nobody was using the benefit, so they got rid of it…sounds like AMEX is getting logic from Delta these days “No one is redeeming 25,000 mile award tickets, so we’re getting rid of those too”

  • http://twitter.com/blujkts blujkts

    Using my benefit tomorrow!

  • Stacy

    I currently have Platinum but have been debating about getting a Reserve. When I looked at the application, it looked like if you are already a AMEX Delta cardholder, you won’t get the 10,000 MQMs. Do you know if that is the case or have you heard of people still getting them?

  • JL100

    When I tried to use the companion pass it was only the equivalent of about 40% off on the second ticket. I decided to use points instead. They should make the companion tickets truly a free ticket or advertise whatever % it really is, instead of misleading people.

  • Dan

    IMO Amex has been planning this move for a while. They always used to advertise the companion ticket benefit and then stopped doing so. When my wife got this card in the summer after getting a 50k mail offer I had to call in first to verify that they were still offering the companion ticket benefit. I have the platinum and have always gotten a savings of about 80 percent savings easily making up for the annual fee. The value of points and benefits is often a ymmv situation. I think though that this guts the value of the card. Amex is getting really stingy. Loss of partners, loss of shopping mall, loss of card benefits.

  • The Montane Vole

    As far as I am concerned, this companion certificate was totally useless anyway. I have had the Amex Delta gold card for 15 years, but never once was I successful in trying to redeem this certificate. It also had an expiration date in addition to the flight category restrictions, or there were no seats available in those classes the days I needed, even six months in advance. This is just the latest subtraction of value from the Amex Skymiles gold; the earnings bonus disappeared last year, and it’s been ages since they offered any targeted bonus categories of whatever kind. The fee remains $95, though the “benefits” become less and less–even before the rumors of impending devaluation. Imho, the ONLY worthwhile travel-related additional benefits of this card are the free checked bag, the early boarding in Zone 1, and (especially) the any-seat-any-time bookable with miles, including on international flights.

  • Pricesquire

    I haven’t used it yet, but I’ve always been attracted to the $99 companion fare idea. Had the Gold for about 1 year. Thinking about switching to the Platinum. Has anyone done this? Is is just a typical balance transfer?

  • Corky Putt Putt

    I think if your goal is to get a Platinum or Reserve you might get more overall sign-up bonus by applying for the Gold and then “upgrading” in a few months when Amex offers it to you. They often throw in a sweetener to get you to upgrade.

  • Adam

    The Delta card is already way too lack-luster. I saw on WSJ that Delta also has the oldest fleet and buys old planes from Southwest. Plus the worst point value.. Absolutely no likes for Delta.

  • SWheel

    I’ve used the $99 companion certificate twice, and it’s saved us at least a couple of hundred dollars–more than the annual fee–both times. Sad to see this go. Since I’m currently a card holder, with anniversary coming due AFTER the 1/25 end date, will I still get a certificate for 2013?

  • Albanoj

    if you have a gold rewards card with amex and the delta amex card is tied in, do you get rewards points for purchases?

  • pdxfly

    You can get 5K MQMs.

  • Pmathew26

    I did this and you get 5K after your first purchase. The benefit that I did not see highlighted here is that if you are a medallion member you will be prioritized higher within your medallion category for updgrades.

  • Chris

    I have the Gold card and am considering upgrading or canceling because of the lack of benefits. Rather than upgrade to the Platinum and get the 5,000 miles, I am thinking of canceling the Gold and then reapplying for the Platinum with the 20,000 mile offer. Has anyone tried this?

  • Kandacepollard

    I just upgraded from Gold Delta to Platinum and still get the promotional miles as if I opened a new card 15,000 miles for the first purchase and 5,000 MQM.

  • Marty

    So the middle class passenger takes another hit with no more companion ticket benefit. Guess I’ll be cancelling my card. Why should I pay a $99 renewal fee when there are many other cards out there without fees and better offers that can be used with any airline and not just Delta.

  • SomeoneWhoUsesTheseFreePasses

    So I have the platinum amex skymiles card. Called in to Delta because they changed the expiration date on my most recent certificate. Speaking with the woman there, she said that the free companion ticket was being done away with for new card holders, but supposedly was grandfathered in for existing platinum card holders.

    In case you were wondering, I then spoke with Amex who said the date change was due to moving the annual fee date to December, rather than the card open date … a bit odd, but as long as I still get the free companion ticket moving forward, a minor inconvenience for me.

    Re the ‘value’ of this benefit – I normally use it to fly family from Hawaii to the US mainland (allowable if travel originates from Hawaii) – it’s a huge money saver when you’re able to use it that way.

  • Doclinda

    Can you buy a ticket for a family member and their companion using this “perk”? Mine will be expiring soon and I can’t use it myself.

  • Nick

    Um…. Is it me or neither the platinum nor the Reserve “which I have” get a companion ticket any longer???? I pay $450 for what real benefit now??

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1350469531 John Buchan

    Delta was just rated the 4th best airline in the US. United was 14th, in last place. I fly United last Nov., my 1st time since 1981, I will not fly them again. Transatlantic in Economy Plus was nothing special, Delta’s regular economy includes alcoholic drinks…never again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1350469531 John Buchan

    Call American Express and request the upgrade. Better if they mailed you an offer. Amex just upgrades your card, no balance transfer.

  • jaymitchell

    Delta made a lot of moves in 2013 to lessen the amount of points you can earn outside of their Amex cards & flights. I belonged to two ‘rewards’ programs that allowed you to trade point $ for Delta Skymiles. Well, this year, Delta discontinued participation. I didn’t know they discontinued the companion ticket until tonight. I was planning to use it this year, too. Oh well. Now it sounds like it wouldn’t have worked where I live anyway.

  • hotsaucemafia

    Can you confirm whether the Delta Platinum card still has the free companion certificate? I don’t see it mentioned anywhere in the card benefits and everything I googled still talks about it having it. Did they quietly do away with that as well?

  • hotsaucemafia

    Can you confirm whether the Delta Platinum card still has the free companion certificate? I don’t see it mentioned anywhere in the card benefits and everything I googled still talks about it having it. Did they quietly do away with that as well?

  • hotsaucemafia

    Can you confirm whether the Delta Platinum card still has the free companion certificate? I don’t see it mentioned anywhere in the card benefits and everything I googled still talks about it having it. Did they quietly do away with that as well?

  • Big Boy Travel

    I just got my $99 companion ticket voucher emailed and mailed to me for having the Gold Card so this program must still be going on.

  • TacoSalad

    I’m debating cancelling the card. Without the companion ticket I just don’t get value from it; I do have a pre-approved offer for the platinum, but the $150 annual fee seems a bit too steep. There seems to be better offers elsewhere, i.e. Barclays Arrival & Citi Thank You Premier

  • Lendel

    Delta continues to disappoint. I will not be renewing my card and will just use up my accumulated 150,000 + points. In 2011 I used 250,000 points for two business class tickets to Israel. Now they took away the companion ticket on domestic flights which I never used but it was there if I wanted it. Why pay for a card that not only offers nothing it takes benefits away. I can’t get cards elsewhere for free that offer more benefits. I started flying Delta as a frequent flyer in 1986. They were great but have really gone down hill. I just read yesterday on line that the Delta name is the most dierespected name among all major brand names. Well, they earned it. The only reason to fly delta is their partner Air France. A dream airline.

  • David Simpson

    Where do I find my Companion Certificate?

    A Companion Certificate is automatically issued to your SkyMiles account each year following your Card renewal. Just log on to delta.com and go to ‘My Delta.’ Your Companion Certificate will be waiting for you in ‘My Wallet’ under ‘Credits and Certificates.’

  • Justin LeCheminant

    I had the platinum account and got the reserver, I got the full amount

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