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Delta Amex Cards To Waive Foreign Transaction Fees and Have EMV Chips Starting May 1, 2014

by on February 5, 2014 · 31 comments

in American Express, Delta

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American Express has an impressive line-up of travel credit cards including the Premier Rewards Gold, Starwood and Delta Gold, Platinum and Reserve cards. The one downside is that many of their cards – most, in fact, except the Platinum and Business Platinum – levy foreign transaction fees.

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.

These fees are one of my major bugaboos – adding 2-3% to your purchases while traveling abroad, or even just purchases from merchants outside the US, even if you’re in the US while making the purchase. That 2-3% often wipes out much of the value of any points you’d earn on such purchases, making these cards a break-even value proposition when traveling.

In my opinion, it was one way that many of Amex’s top-shelf products were lagging behind competitors like Chase and Barclaycard, whose premium travel credit cards like the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus (Chase), and the Arrival (Barclaycard) have done away with such fees.

However, my official sources at American Express have just announced that as of May 1, 2014, the foreign transaction fee is waived for American Express Consumer and Business Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards issued in the US, Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands. These cards including the personal Delta Gold, Platinum and Reserve cards as well as the Delta Business Gold, Delta Business Platinum and Delta Business Reserve cards. Card members of any of these should receive a notice of these changes with their February statements, so keep an eye out.

This is a great move on Amex’s part, and I’m glad to see them make it since it makes the Delta cards that much more competitive in an increasingly vibrant travel credit cards marketplace where competitors like the United Explorer and Citi Executive AAdvantage have waived foreign transaction fees. It’s also good news for Delta elites who might want to get one of the cards in order to meet Delta’s new elite status spending requirements by making $25,000 in calendar year purchases on one of these cards instead of spending between $2,500-$12,500 on Delta tickets depending on their status level since it means they can use these cards in a lot more places without worrying about forex fees.

While it’s true that Amex is sometimes not accepted abroad at some merchants where Visa or Mastercard are, in my experience traveling internationally, that’s actually been changing a lot and more stores, restaurants and especially hotels are happy to take American Express as well.

That should be even truer starting May 1 as well because Amex also announced that it would be adding EMV (Smart) Chips to the Delta cards starting May 1, 2014 as well. Starting that day, cardholders can call the customer service number on the back of their card and request a new version with the EMV chip embedded in it. New cards applied for later in the year should automatically be issued with EMV chips as well, though there’s no specific date set for that yet.

Just note, Amex has confirmed that the Delta Platinum cards will raise their annual fee from $150 to $195, a 30% increase, so some of you might think about switching to the Gold version with a $95 annual fee instead.

Currently the Amex Platinum and Centurion cards offer them, but this is another great move on Amex’s part since EMV chips often make it much easier to transact while abroad as some merchants like restaurants or even machines in metro stations or train stations often require credit cards to have Smart Chips in order to process payment.

All in all, I think these are two great changes to Amex’s Delta cards. If you’ve been thinking about applying for one of these cards, be sure to check the Card Match Tool first since there are often targeted higher offers on Amex products including the Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex.

For more information, check out my list of the other top travel credit cards with no foreign transaction fees, and my post on US Credit Cards With EMV Chips, which I’ll be updating soon.

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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  • Eric

    It also looks like they are increasing the annual fee on the Delta Plat card at least on that date.

  • Gary72

    Will those chips be the ones that are useful(i.e., pins) or almost worthless, (e.g., signature)?

  • Mike

    By how much?

  • Leah

    this news just made my day!

  • Matt

    Makes the delta gold all the more valuable considering the recent hike in the annual fee for the Platinum

  • Chris

    From $150 to $195. It looks like it only applies to people that apply for a card after May 1st.

  • Steve

    I currently have the Delta platinum but as my spending has changed I would like to step down to the Delta Gold. Would it be possible to still receive the bonus offer pts or am I out of luck after having one Delta card already?

  • Eric

    Up to $195 according to the application page

  • Scott Lerner

    I have the AMEX Delta Reserve and of course pay $450 a year. I wonder if this is their way to “offset” Delta’s new policy of not allowing guests for free in the Sky Club with the AMEX Res. If so I Don’t think it a fair trade

  • John Beeler

    Good: I’m currently living in Rome, Italy until May. Been here 1 month and haven’t had an issue once with Chip & Sig on AMEX Plat and Chase Sapphire Preferred

    Bad: no FT fees on DL cards is another blow to the eroding benefits ( and “prestige”) of the Platinum card…

  • Justin

    TPG – I was just approved for a targeted Enhanced Biz Gold Rewards with a 75k MR bonus after a 5k spend in the first 3 months. I wonder if that’s a decent offer (I hold personal Plat, SPG, Clear & Blue with them but this is a first for biz.) Thanks!

    I should add that I carried the Delta Plat for awhile but it sounds like they’re bringing back some viable reasons to carry it again vs the personal Plat.

  • lili

    Excellent question, and a very important one.

  • thepointsguy

    Signature

  • thepointsguy

    Correct-
    Just confirmed that with Amex

  • Jeff

    Cancel, wait 90+ days then reapply for the gold. should be eligible for the bonus as per amex terms.

  • thepointsguy

    That’s an awesome offer!

  • Justin

    They’re also waving the annual fee for the first year. Had to have the application approved by 3/14/14 and got it via postal mail. Just something to keep an eye out for I’d guess. I’m still patiently waiting for award space back from Dublin to NY/NJ/PHL in September but this hopefully opens up some transfer options.

  • Steve

    Thank you! Would this work? Close the card, apply for SPG and shift the line. 90 days later apply for gold and new credit?

  • http://www.doctorofcredit.com/ doctorofcredit

    I wish some cards with no foreign currency fees would also have no annual fee, not holding my breathe though.

  • LAKnight

    Keep my fingers crossed and hope there will be no foreign transaction fee for the Sheraton and Hilton Card.

  • Ven

    Capital One Venture Gold and I think Chase Freedom fit that bill

  • Jennifer

    This is really great news! We are in the process of planning a trip to Lake Como later in the year and I had begrudgingly decided we’d have to use our Capital One Venture Card. Now I won’t have to and can get more Delta miles by using my Sky Miles Amex with no forex fees. Yay!

  • http://www.doctorofcredit.com/ doctorofcredit

    It was tongue in cheek ;).

  • Will

    Rrrrrright… Because this affects the Platinum card at all.

  • Jeremy

    The gold amex doesn’t have have a companion fare though – so for $100 more than the gold card, you get a free ticket. I hope that doesn’t go away.

  • FlyingJoey

    Finally they’re making the card a bit more attractive. Cards that carry an anual fee should not come with additional penalties such as forex fees.

  • Andy Roberts

    My card expires in March. I wonder if I will get a new EMV card, or if they’ll send me a non-EMV and swap out later.

  • Larry

    How often do better sign up bonuses come along on the Platinum card? I’m seeing nothing out there right now — through cardmatch or elsewhere. I wonder if they are waiting until the annual fee goes up to come out with better offers. If anyone knows any link or other way to find a better offer on the personal or biz plat with more than 5k MQM as the sign up, please mention it!

  • budugu

    chase freedom still charges 3%

  • Carter29072

    I have been paying $95 for my annual fee for my Delta Platinum, I have had it for years. I have even had it waived just by having it waived. I have enjoyed using it and the yearly annual companion certificates. Just got the letter today that the annual fee is going to $195. Ouch! To be honest, our travel is almost always domestic and if we decide to travel out of the country we have other card we could use. Not happy about my annual fee going up this much.

  • Sam

    If anyone is still reading this, just upgraded my card. It’s chip and signature and not chip and pin. So not as useful.

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