Should I Get the Delta Platinum Amex or the Starwood Amex?
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TPG reader Mike sent me a message on Facebook to ask:
"I currently have the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, and have been offered an upgrade to the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express. I'm a bit apprehensive due to the lack of transparency Delta now has regarding its award travel structure. I'm also a Platinum member with SPG, but don't have their co-branded credit card. My question is: Should I upgrade my Delta Amex to the Platinum version, or get a Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express?"
Good points Mike, I understand your dilemma. Delta just pulled its award charts, because why would anyone want to know how many miles it might cost to go somewhere?
This is a classic example of points vs. perks. The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is going to give you much more valuable points. Delta no longer wants you to know how many miles you'll need for award travel, so most likely you'll need fewer Starpoints (which you can transfer to any of the 32 SPG airline partners, most with a 25% bonus) than Delta SkyMiles to get somewhere.
With the Delta Platinum Amex, you're banking all your miles to Delta. Over time, Delta has shown that it will continue to increase the number of SkyMiles needed for awards. There are now five unknown tiers per award, and Delta won't even tell us how many miles are needed for each!
Why would you ever want to put all of your miles in one program that won't even tell you how you can redeem them? The only reason I would recommend getting the Platinum Delta Amex would be for the MQMs. If you spend $25,000 you can get 10,000 MQMs, and another $25,000 in spending will earn you 10,000 more MQMs for 20,000 total. Plus, you'll get the MQD requirement waived, and some perks like the annual companion ticket that can easily pay for the $195 annual fee.
That being said, there's a huge opportunity cost of banking only Delta SkyMiles, since you''ll lose the flexibility that Starpoints offer. I actually used to have both of those cards, but have long since canceled my Delta Platinum Amex, since I no longer fly Delta and don't care about the perks.
Of course, you could always get both. You could use the SPG Amex for most of your spending, and maximize the perks as needed for the Delta Amex. That's probably the best advice I could give you without knowing how much spending you put on credit cards annually.
The answer also depends a bit on the upgrade bonus you were offered. At one point last year the sign-up bonus for the Delta Platinum Amex was 50,000 miles, so don't settle for much less than that if you decide to upgrade. Check for targeted offers and use the card match tool, but if the offer is sub-par, skip it.
The sense I'm getting from your question is that your gut is telling you not to trust Delta, and probably for a good reason.