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Choosing The Right Delta American Express Card For You

by on February 10, 2014 · 24 comments

in American Express, Delta Air Lines

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Update: Some of the offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Gold Delta SkyMilesPlatinum Delta SkyMilesDelta Reserve Credit Card.

Last week, American Express announced some changes to their Delta co-branded credit cards, including EMV Chip + Signature technology and that they would begin waiving foreign transaction fees starting May 1. However, they also announced an annual fee increase on the Delta Platinum card t0 $195 from the current $150. In addition, over the past couple years they’ve made tweaks to the cards, including getting rid of the Gold card companion ticket and instituting a waiver for cardholders to be exempt from the new Medallion Qualifying Dollars program if you spend $25,000 in a calendar year on your card.

Amex's Delta cards will no longer levy foreign transaction fees starting May 1.

Amex’s Delta cards will no longer levy foreign transaction fees starting May 1.

So after all of these changes, which card(s) makes the most sense for you?  You’ve got three main options: Gold, Platinum and Reserve, and each of those have a personal and business versions – so there are actually six cards out there. They are all credit (not charge cards), and Amex will allow an individual to have up to four total credit cards open with American Express per their rules (though you may be able to get more if you request it). With all that in mind, let’s look at a comparison of the three card – and be sure to check out my post for How to Get in on the Best Delta Amex Offers.

 

Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express
Type: Personal or Business
Current Bonus: 30,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in 3 months, and earn a $50 statement credit after your first Delta purchase for both cards. However you might find a higher bonus available through the Card Match Tool.
Category Spending Bonuses: 2X miles per $1 on Delta purchases, 1X miles on everything else.
Perks: Check your first bag free for you and up to 8 people on your reservation – on every Delta flight, Priority Boarding and 20% In-Flight Savings. On the Business version, save 3% to 10% automatically on business expenses from FedEx, Hertz, OfficeMax, and more with OPEN Savings.
Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95, no annual fee for additional card.

Pros: Having this card gets you basic perks like checked bags, priority boarding, Pay With Miles (meaning you have the option of redeeming Skymiles for 1 cents towards airfare – a $300 Delta flight can be purchased for 30,000 points, whereas you might have needed 60,000 Skymiles to redeem for it as a normal award), and the ability to buy discounted $25 SkyClub passes.

Cons: No elite mile benefit, Pay With Miles economy flights do not earn miles/elite status, companion ticket benefit was discontinued in 2013.

The Right Fit: This card is good for the casual traveler who flies Delta, but doesn’t have elite status and would not benefit from the Platinum companion pass. With the first checked bag costing $25, this benefit can pay for the annual fee if you check bags on 2 roundtrips a year or more. This offer is a no brainer if you can get a targeted/CardMatch tool offer of 45,000 miles or more, but otherwise the benefits of the Platinum card may justify the $100 fee difference annually.

Delta Platinum Amex

Platinum Delta SkyMiles American Express

Type: Personal or Business
Current Bonus: Get 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles and 35,000 miles when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months and a $100 statement credit when you make your first Delta purchase within 3 months.
Category Spending Bonuses: 2X miles on Delta purchases, 1X on other purchases.
Perks: First checked bag free for you and up to 8 people on your reservation. Earn up to 20,000 MQM’s a year (10,000 for $25,000 in calendar year spend, and another 10,000 MQM’s for a total of $50,000 in calendar year spending), Priority Boarding and 20% In-Flight Savings. On the business version, save 3% to 10% automatically on business expenses from FedEx, Hertz, OfficeMax, and more with OPEN Savings, annual Companion Certificate for one roundtrip economy ticket in the 48 contiguous United States.
Annual Fee: $150 before May 1, 2014, $195 after.

Pros: All Gold Card benefits, plus 10,000 MQMs when you reach $25,000 in eligible purchases during a calendar year and an additional 10,000 MQMs with $50,000 in spend within the same calendar year – this can make all the difference in achieving that next tier of elite status. The card also comes with an annual companion ticket for coach domestic travel in the cheapest fare classes – this can easily save you a couple hundred dollars and the main ticket still earns miles/upgrades (the companion does not).

Cons: Companion tickets aren’t eligible for upgrades (and only the paid ticket gets miles), high spend requirements for the MQM’s.

The Right Fit: This card is for Medallions who value MQM’s, but may already have SkyClub access through the Amex Platinum card or Diamond status.

Delta Reserve

Delta Reserve

Type: Personal or Business
Current Bonus: 10,000 Medallion qualifying miles and 10,000 bonus miles with the first purchase.
Category Spending Bonuses: 2X miles per $1 on Delta purchases, 1X miles on everything else.
Perks: Delta SkyClub access, up to 30,000 MQM’s per calendar year with spend (15,000 at $30,000 and another 15,000 at $60,000). Free checked bag for you and up to 8 people on your reservation, Priority Boarding and 20% In-Flight Savings. On the business version, save 3% to 10% automatically on business expenses from FedEx, Hertz, OfficeMax, and more with OPEN Savings, annual Reserve Companion Certificate for first/business (or economy) travel within the 48 contiguous United States.
Annual Fee: $450

Pros: Being able to earn 30,000 MQM’s per calendar year can be a huge boost to elite qualification. Delta SkyClub access is also a big value, though Delta just hacked this benefit down to just entry for the cardholder. Domestic first class companion ticket (this works for coach and discounted first class so it’s actually pretty valuable) and elevated upgrade status – you outrank someone at your same Medallion level and fare class if they don’t have the card.

Cons: $450 annual fee isn’t bad if you value the SkyClub access, but it’s hefty if you already have it as a Diamond Medallion or Amex Platinum cardholder- plus Delta will soon make you pay for guests as well.

The Right Fit: If you’re a road warrior in a Delta hub city, the Reserve upgrade priority may give you the edge you need to win upgrade battles. This is also a good fit for people who value the lounge access and fly exclusively with Delta and need the MQMs to hit elite status yearly. In general, this card is for the more advanced Delta flyer who doesn’t mind shelling out $450 a year for key perks. The companion pass and lounge access can easily justify the annual fee if you value those perks.

How To Get In on the Best Delta Credit and Debit Card Offers
Delta Amex Pay With Miles Program Now Gives Miles in First/Business Class

Why I Got A Delta Platinum SkyMiles Amex
Delta Reserve and Platinum American Express Companion Benefit Details
Amex OPEN Basics

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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  • lycidas1

    Just a question for clarification . . . do both the personal and business Delta Plat Amex cards get the companion ticket benefit, or just the business version?

  • CMH322

    Personal Platinum/Reserve get it.

    (I have a personal Platinum DL AMEX and get the companion ticket)

  • LennyG

    I’ve been debating whether or not to get rid of my Platinum Amex and get the Reserve. There used to be some confusion about whether or not the Reserve had access to the Delta lounge. The other main reasons I never made the switch was because of the waived Foreign Transaction Fees and the $200 annual airline incidental.

    Now that Sky Club access is confirmed, and Amex are doing away with the FTF on the Reserve, I think the Reserve is the way to go. The First Class companion ticket outweighs the $200 incidental, especially since I’m PM and most of those fees are waived (for now!). I’ve also taken advantage of Global Entry so there’s not much else I can squeeze out of the Platinum.

    Thoughts?

  • shane

    If you are a big spender can you combine the MQM benefit of different cards? For example if you had a business and personal Delta reserve cards and you spent 60k on each could you get 60 MQMs?

  • Mary

    My Gold Personal renewed in November and I called to upgrade at that time and was told I would get the BOGO Companion ticket. They didn’t bill me the difference until January. My Delta shows the BOGO for $99. Do you think I need to call and see if they can change it to a BOGO?

  • Wakik

    I’m all about the Delta Options card. Useful if Amex won’t let you downgrade to a Blue or something and you want to keep the relationship.

  • thepointsguy

    Yes you can have multiple cards and get the spend thresholds for each

  • thepointsguy

    The big thing is that you earn transferable, flexible points with Amex Plat and you don’t on Reserve- you double down on Delta and are at Delta’s mercy when it comes time to redeem (unless you have a bunch of other cards and diversify with Chase, for example)

  • LennyG

    I currently have a Delta Amex Gold, Amex Platinum, and a Chase Freedom Card.

    I travel Delta 95% of the time, and I fly about 4-5 times a month.

    I see what you mean though – I’m really trying to consolidate, and find myself only ever transferring Amex Rewards points to Delta, (Although I literally just booked a babymoon to Punta Cana using Amex Travel and redeemed 50k Amex Rewards points).

  • mrsnarbonne

    I just upgraded to the pla I as a leisure traveler because with my second turning two this year and at least one trans-Pacific and one domestic round trip a year, I don’t fly enough to get the lowest status and the bag benefit ($150 rt for this mom & her two kids) plus the companion ticket makes it worthwhile.

  • mrsnarbonne

    Oh, and thanks for all your info! While I’d love to travel in style, points and miles at least makes taking our kids back home annually affordable. (We live abroad)

  • Shane Jensen

    So its theoretically possible to get 100 MQM’s per year strictly by spending (no BIS) if you had personal and business Platinum and reserve cards and hit the spending requirements on all four?

  • AMANDA M.

    from my research, i thought that Delta Amex is excluded from the four card limit for Amex due to it being co-branded. Is it not?

  • Geoff

    I dont think Delta will let you have both the Platinum & Reserve cards in a biz or personal acct. Looks like an either or.

  • Lana

    I have just upgraded from Delta Gold to Platinum, asked about the companion ticket and was told by representative that it is not only for domestic, but international flights also ( economy class only), I guess I will see for myself when I get it in “my wallet” and try to use it:) Would be nice if it is true:)

  • David

    I already have a Delta Platinum card (got 60K miles), but just received a Delta Gold card application (offering another 50K miles). Can I qualify for the Gold card if I already have the Platinum card?

  • Bret Landauer

    Can you have both the Skymiles Reserve and Platinum cards and get the MQM bonus for each if you reach the spend levels?

  • thepointsguy

    Yes

  • thepointsguy

    Correct- just domestic

  • thepointsguy

    The four card limit is for co-branded cards, so they are included

  • Bret Landauer

    Great, thanks for the quick response!

  • brett mayfield

    as a sole proprietor, is there any difference between the platinum business and platinum personal? mainly this card would be used for business expenses, but are there any discernible differences in the function or benefits of the cards? i have read that the business card interacts with quickbooks, but thats all I can find.

  • combs1945

    So I have the Sun Trust Delta card and pay 500k a year in taxes with that, I then have a 2 Delta Amex Plat and 2 Delta Amex Reserver (biz and personal). My plan to to hit 1 million mqm’s within 4 years with spend and paid flights.

  • SJR

    I booked an award travel that I’ll need to change, and rather than paying the $150 change fee for two tickets, I am considering getting the Delta Platinum card. However, I don’t do much travelling, so will I automatically get Platinum status with the card? Thanks!

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