Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Should You Get the Gold or Platinum Delta Amex Card?

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American ExpressGold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American ExpressPlatinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American ExpressPlatinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express

With Delta currently offering increased sign-up bonuses, TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen compares the elevated options with the goal of determining which make the most sense for you.

Earlier this month, we wrote about increased sign-up bonuses on the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express (note that the business versions come with similarly increased bonuses). These bonuses are valid through July 6, 2016 and can open up some great redemption options, especially on partner airlines. However, you may be wondering if the Platinum Delta Amex is worth the higher annual fee when compared to the Gold version, so today I’ll compare the two cards and identify which offers the better value proposition both in the first year and subsequent years.

First, let’s quickly review the key benefits on each card:

Benefit

Gold Delta Amex

Platinum Delta Amex

Sign-up Bonus (Miles)

50,000 bonus miles after you make $2,000 in purchases on your new card within your first three months

60,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you make $2,000 in purchases on your new card within your first three months

Sign-up Bonus (Credit)

$50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first three months

$100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first three months

Earning Rates

2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases; 1 mile per dollar spent everywhere else

2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases; 1 mile per dollar spent everywhere else

Baggage

Free checked bag on Delta flights (including up to 8 companions)

Free checked bag on Delta flights (including up to 8 companions)

Delta Perks

Discounted Sky Club access; priority boarding; 20% off in-flight purchases

Discounted Sky Club access; priority boarding; 20% off in-flight purchases

Companion Ticket

N/A

Free coach companion ticket every year at card renewal

Miles Boost

N/A

10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 in a calendar year; additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 in a calendar year

Annual Fee

$95 (waived for the first year)

$195

As you can see, there are a number of identical benefits. You’ll earn the same number of SkyMiles per dollar spent on the two cards, and the checked bag fee waiver is also the same. There’s also no difference when it comes to traveling on Delta; you’ll still enjoy Zone 1 boarding and 20% off in-flight purchases (though all Delta travelers now get free in-flight entertainment). Neither card imposes foreign transaction fees, and both can grant you a waiver on the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) threshold when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year.

However, there are some notable differences between the two cards, so let’s take a closer look:

Sign-Up Bonus

delta brian featured
The sign-up bonus can be especially valuable when put toward international business-class flights.

The first major difference between the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express involves the increased sign-up bonus. With the Gold card, you’ll earn 50,000 SkyMiles after you make $2,000 in purchases on your new card within your first three months, worth $600 based on TPG’s most recent valuations. You’ll also be eligible for a $50 statement credit when you make a Delta purchase in the first three months, so the total value of the sign-up bonus is $650.

On the Platinum card, you’ll get a sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs after you make $2,000 in purchases on your new card within your first three months. You can also snag a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first three months. The 60,000 miles are worth $720, so with the statement credit you’d be looking at a total value of $820 with the sign-up bonus.

Of course, this calculation ignores the 10,000 bonus MQMs that are currently included on the card, as they are a bit more challenging to quantify. Based on the assumptions I made in my Delta elite status valuation post from earlier this year related to number of MQMs flown at each Medallion level, 10,000 MQMs can be worth anywhere from $263.33 to $454.67, depending on the Medallion level for which you qualify. However, they can also be worth nothing if you aren’t interested in qualifying (or aren’t able to qualify) for Medallion status. As a result, I’ll hold off on pegging any type of value to this portion of the sign-up bonus.

Still, the Platinum Amex comes out ahead of the Gold Amex in terms of the sign-up bonus alone: $820 to $650, a difference of $170. However, that doesn’t take into account another key distinction between the cards.

Annual Fee

The Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express carries an annual fee of $95, though this is waived for the first year. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, on the other hand, incurs an annual fee of $195, more than double that of the Gold version. In addition, this fee isn’t waived for the first year. When you factor in these fees in the calculations above, the sign-up bonus on the Platinum card suddenly drops to $625, $25 lower than that of the Gold card.

Of course, there are two other key benefits on the Platinum version that may lead you in that direction.

Companion Ticket

Companion flying kids featured shutterstock 184331537
Traveling together is much sweeter when your companion is free. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

While this doesn’t apply right off the bat, cardholders of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express do get an annual coach companion ticket at the renewal of the card that can be used on certain published round-trip economy tickets within the contiguous United States. This is automatically deposited into your SkyMiles account when you pay the annual fee, and it’s typically valid for a little over a year from the date of issuance. Unfortunately, you do still need to pay the taxes and fees on the ticket, and it isn’t valid for complimentary upgrades. Nevertheless, it can be a fantastic value for those of you who travel on paid domestic Delta tickets with a companion at least once a year.

Miles Boost

The final key difference between the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express is the ability to earn bonus miles and bonus MQMs through spending in a calendar year on the latter of the two. There are two separate thresholds:

  • Spend $25,000: Earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs
  • Spend $50,000: Earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs

This can be a great way to boost your account balance and also help you qualify for Medallion status each year. In fact, if you open the Platinum card now and can hit the $50,000 threshold by the end of 2016, you’ll earn enough MQMs for Silver Medallion status.

So Which Should You Get?

Delta Platinum Medallion Bag Tag featured
If elite status is within reach, go for the Platinum Delta Amex.

Given these key differences, it may not be immediately apparent which card offers the better value proposition. Just like any decision involving travel rewards credit cards, there are trade-offs to going with one over the other. Here are some scenarios where one card likely makes more sense than the other:

1. If you’re solely interested in the sign-up bonus, go with the Gold version.

As we saw above, the sign-up bonus by itself appears to favor the Platinum Delta Amex. However, in the first year, the $195 annual fee actually makes the Gold Delta Amex a better option. Opening the Gold version is a great way to boost your SkyMiles account without any upfront investment, since the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. When it comes due, you can decide whether or not the perks like Zone 1 boarding and a free checked bag on Delta flights make the card worth keeping.

2. If you don’t (or can’t) qualify for Delta elite status, go with the Gold version.

Another key reason to apply for the Gold version relates to elite status. Placing a value on MQMs is exceedingly difficult, unless (that is) you don’t qualify for Medallion status. In this case, the calculations are easy: The MQMs are worth nothing. I have several friends based in Atlanta who travel on Delta just a few times a year and don’t come close to earning elite status. For them, the higher annual fee of the Platinum version simply isn’t worth it, as the 10,000 MQMs with the sign-up bonus simply don’t have any tangible benefit.

3. If you fly with a companion on a paid Delta economy ticket with a base fare of over $195 every year, go with the Platinum version.

This category really considers the long-term value proposition of the two cards and ignores the sign-up bonus and the first year of cardmembership (since the companion ticket perk of the Platinum version doesn’t kick in until you renew the card). If you take at least one round-trip domestic flight in coach on Delta with a friend or family member every year, and if the base fare of that ticket is over $195, then go with the Platinum version. This will cover your annual fee in its entirety, and any additional fare above and beyond $195 is just gravy.

4. If you plan to spend at least $25,000 on the card each calendar year, go with the Platinum version.

Another reason to consider the Platinum version is if you plan to spend at least $25,000 on the card each calendar year. Sure, that’ll get you some bonus MQMs that can help you qualify for Medallion status, but it’s the regular redeemable miles that come into play here, especially in comparison to the Gold version. This is another scenario that really plays out after year one.

Let’s say that you spend exactly $25,000 in a calendar year. On the Gold version, that doesn’t come with any type of bonus, but the Platinum card will grant you 10,000 SkyMiles (plus 10,000 MQMs) when you reach that threshold. Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, those redeemable miles alone are worth $120, which more than covers the higher annual fee.

5. If you’ve had one in the past, apply for the other.

This final aspect to consider is the result of American Express tightening its application restrictions back in 2014. In the past, you could cancel a card and then reapply for it 12 months later and earn another sign-up bonus. However, the Terms & Conditions page for both the Gold and Platinum Delta Amex cards now includes the following language:

“Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”

As a result, if you’ve had one of these cards before, you are not eligible for the increased sign-up bonus on that card. Your best bet is to apply for the other one.

Bottom Line

delta - featured
Either one of these Delta Amex cards is a great option with the increased sign-up bonus through July 6.

These increased sign-up bonuses on the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express represent a great way to boost your SkyMiles account. Even though the program has seen its fair share of devaluations over the last few years (and doesn’t even publish an award chart anymore!), there are still some great ways to get value out of the program. Just be sure to submit your applications by July 6, 2016, since these limited-time offers are set to expire on that date.

Are you more interested in the Gold or Platinum Delta Amex card?

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express