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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
TPG reader Chelsea sent me a message on Facebook to ask about welcome bonuses:
“What is the highest bonus you’ve seen for the Gold Delta Amex? I’ve been a cardholder for 15 years, but I want my fiancé to apply as we get ready to book our honeymoon. Every mile counts, so I’d love for him to get more than the standard offer.”
Credit card welcome bonuses fluctuate regularly, so one easy way to maximize your rewards is to apply when there’s a particularly strong offer. Of course, you need some basis of comparison to know what qualifies as a “strong” offer. Having a sense of bonuses that have been available previously can help you decide whether to jump on a current offer.
The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express have a standard bonus of 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first three months, plus a $50 statement credit when you make a Delta purchase with your card in that same period. That’s typically good for a single round-trip domestic flight — not terrible, but you can do better.
The best public offer I’ve seen on those cards is for 50,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months, including the same $50 statement credit. That higher bonus pops up from time to time, though it hasn’t made an appearance since last fall, and unfortunately there’s no telling if or when it will return.
You can occasionally find even higher targeted bonuses — in 2012, there was an offer for 70,000 miles plus a $100 statement credit. That one is long gone, but there’s currently a bonus for 60,000 miles (with various spending requirements) being offered to select SkyMiles members. You should have received notification if you were targeted, but you can try registering anyway just in case.
If you’re looking to bank SkyMiles, keep in mind that there are other credit card options. In addition to co-branded Delta Amex cards, both Amex Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest transfer to Delta at 1:1, so you could get a card affiliated with one of those programs if you find a welcome bonus that suits your needs. Unfortunately, the increased offers for the SPG Amex cards just ended, but you might have luck using the CardMatch tool to get a higher bonus on a Membership Rewards card.
It’s particularly important to maximize offers from American Express, since you can only earn a welcome bonus once per card. Amex is also more reluctant than other card issuers to match any better offers that come out after you’ve applied, so make sure you’re getting the best offer available. I generally include new and limited-time deals in my monthly roundup of the top credit card offers, so check there for bonuses that beat the norm.