Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers

Jan 31, 2020

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If you’re serious about award travel, you know you need to choose the best credit cards to keep in your wallet and create a credit card strategy that earns you extra miles through welcome bonuses and bonus spending categories.

For Delta flyers, this may not be as straightforward as you think. Because of its cobranding, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card may seem like the obvious choice. But when you break it down, The Platinum Card® from American Express is a better option for return on spending. And two other cards — the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card — both have unique perks and features that some users might find appealing.

So if you are a Delta flyer, you need to determine whether or not a Delta card is even the best option for you. On top of that, making sure you have the right Delta card to help you meet your goals is worth a fresh look, because its portfolio of cobranded credit cards has new benefits and annual fees that could make the decision a bit more complicated.

To help you make your decision, let’s first take a look at the details of the popular Delta Amex cards for both individuals and small businesses.

The best Delta credit cards for 2020

In This Post

Comparing Delta Credit Card Values and Perks

Credit Card Annual fee welcome bonus Bonus Value* Notable Perks
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card $99, waived for the first year (see rates and fees) Earn up to 70,000 miles: 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months, plus an additional 10,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of card membership (offer ends 4/1/2020) $840 First checked bag free; MQD waiver after spending $25,000 in a calendar year; 20% discount on in-flight purchases
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card $250 (see rates and fees) Up to 100,000 miles — 80,000 when you spend $3,000 in the first three months and 20,000 after your first account anniversary (offer ends 4/1/2020) $1,200 Earn 10k MQMs at $25,000 and $50,000 in calendar year spending (up to 20k per year); MQD waiver after spending $25,000 in a calendar year; TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit; priority boarding; first checked bag free
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card $550 (see rates and fees) Up to 100,000 miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) — 80,000 miles and 20,000 MQMs when you spend $5,000 in the first three months and 20,000 after your first account anniversary (offer ends 4/1/2020) $1,200 Delta Sky Club membership; Centurion Lounge access; earn 15k MQMs at $30k, $60k, $90k, $120k in calendar spend; annual companion pass; Complimentary upgrades for non-Medallions
Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card $99, waived for the first year (see rates and fees) Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles: 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months, and an additional 10,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of card membership (offer ends 4/1/2020) $840 First checked bag free; MQD waiver after spending $25,000 in a calendar year; 20% discount on in-flight purchases
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card $250 (see rates and fees) Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles: 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new card in the first three months, and an additional 20,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of card membership (offer ends 4/1/2020) $1,200 Earn 10k MQMs at $25,000 and $50,000 in calendar year spending (up to 20k per year); MQD waiver after spending $25,000 in a calendar year; TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit; priority boarding; first checked bag free; earn 1.5x miles on purchases over $5,000 (up to 50k miles)
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card $550 (see rates and fees) Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs): 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months, plus an additional 20,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of card membership (offer ends 4/1/2020) $1,200 Delta Sky Club membership; Centurion Lounge access; earn 15k MQMs at $30k, $60k, $90k, $120k in calendar spend; annual companion pass; Complimentary upgrades for non-Medallions

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.

Best Delta personal Credit Cards

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Benefits

  • First bag checked for free on Delta flights
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight purchases
  • 2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else
  • $100 Delta flight credit after $10k spend in a calendar year
  • Terms apply

Annual Fee: $99, waived the first year (see rates and fees)

Bonus: Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles: 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months, plus an additional 10,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of card membership. Offer expires 4/1/2020.

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Benefits

  • Annual companion certificate each year upon card renewal for main-cabin, round-trip travel
  • 10,000 MQMs toward status when you spend $25,000 on the card in a calendar year, plus an additional 10,000 MQMs when you spend $50,000 in a calendar year
  • Earn 3x miles on Delta purchases and at hotels, 2x at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and 1 mile per dollar on everything else
  • Get a first bag checked for free on Delta flights
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight purchases
  • Receive a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit (every 4 years for Global Entry, every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck)
  • Terms apply

Annual Fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Bonus: Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles: 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new card in the first three months, plus an additional 20,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of card membership. Offer expires 4/1/2020.

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Benefits

  • Annual companion certificate each year upon card renewal for round-trip travel in first class, Comfort+ or main cabin
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club access when you fly Delta, plus two one-time guest passes
  • 15,000 MQMs toward status when you spend $30,000, $60,000, $90,000 and $120,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Earn 3x miles on Delta purchases, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else
  • Complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges when flying Delta with a ticket purchased on the card (up to two guests may also enter for a fee of $50 each)
  • A Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit (every 4 years for Global Entry, every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck)
  • Access to complimentary upgrades (for non-Medallions)
  • Get a first bag checked for free on Delta flights
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight purchases
  • Terms apply

Annual Fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Bonus: Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs): 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months, plus an additional 20,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of card membership. Offer expires 4/1/2020.

APPLY HERE: Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card


Best Delta business credit cards

Delta flyers who own small businesses may benefit from the business versions of these cards. While these have largely the same benefits as their personal counterparts, a business credit card can be a good choice if you want to separate expenses or leverage different bonus categories. If you’re trying to stay under 5/24 (Chase’s rule that limits credit card approvals), it’s also helpful that Amex business credit cards don’t count toward your 5/24 standing.

Here’s an overview of the three Delta small business credit cards:

Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card

Benefits

  • First bag checked for free on Delta flights
  • $100 Delta flight credit after spending $10,000 in a calendar year
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight purchases
  • 2x miles on Delta purchases, U.S. shipping and U.S. advertising, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else
  • Terms apply

Annual Fee: $99, waived the first year (see rates and fees)

Bonus: Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles: 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months, plus an additional 10,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of card membership. Offer expires 4/1/2020.

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card

Benefits

  • Annual companion certificate each year upon card renewal for main-cabin, round-trip travel
  • 10,000 MQMs toward status when you spend $25,000 on the card in a calendar year, plus an additional 10,000 MQMs when you spend $50,000 in a calendar year
  • 3x miles on Delta purchases, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else
  • 1.5x miles on purchases over $5,000 (up to 50,000 miles)
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit
  • First bag checked for free on Delta flights
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight purchases

Annual Fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Bonus: Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles: 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new card in the first three months, plus an additional 20,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of card membership. Offer expires 4/1/2020.

Further reading:

APPLY HERE: Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card

Benefits

  • Annual companion certificate each year upon card renewal for round-trip travel in first class, Comfort+ or main cabin
  • Complimentary Delta Sky Club access when you fly Delta, plus two one-time guest passes
  • 15,000 MQMs toward status when you spend $30,000, $60,000, $90,000 and $120,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • 3x miles on Delta purchases, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else
  • Earn 1.5x miles on all purchases after spending $150,000 a year
  • Complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges when flying Delta with a ticket purchased on the card (up to two guests may also enter for a fee of $50 each)
  • A Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit (every 4 years for Global Entry, every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck)
  • Access to complimentary upgrades (including non-Medallions)
  • First bag checked for free on Delta flights
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight purchases

Annual Fee: $550 (see rates & fees)

Bonus: Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs): 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQMs after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months, plus an additional 20,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of card membership. Offer expires 4/1/2020.

APPLY HERE: Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card

One last Delta option

There’s also the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, the newest cobranded card in the Delta lineup. Despite carrying no annual fee (see rates and fees), you’ll still earn 2x miles on Delta purchases and at worldwide restaurants and enjoy 20% off eligible in-flight purchases when you travel with Delta. However, the perks end there, which is why it doesn’t officially make the list of the best credit cards for Delta travelers.

That being said, someone just getting started with Delta may want to add this card to their wallet now, since it’s currently offering a welcome bonus of 15,000 SkyMiles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months (offer expires 4/1/2020). Just be aware that, unlike the other six Delta cards, you’ll incur a 2.7% foreign transaction fee (see rates and fees) when making purchases outside the U.S.

When Delta Amex cards make sense

Overall, I think the Delta credit cards offer a fair value based on their respective annual fees. The ability to earn MQMs on the Delta Platinum and Reserve cards may make them worth the annual fees for some Delta loyalists, especially if you’re a big credit card spender and fall short on paid flights for the year.

A big plus with Platinum and Reserve cards is the offer of a companion certificate for travel on Delta each year after your account anniversary. With the Platinum, you get a domestic companion certificate good for the main cabin, but with the Reserve it’s good for first class, Delta Comfort+ or the main cabin (also with a maximum of $75 in taxes and fees). Keep the restrictions in mind: they limit travel to within the 48 contiguous United States (though those who live in Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands can originate from their home to a destination in the 48 contiguous United States).

You can also use the Delta Platinum and Reserve credit cards to waive the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) requirement for Delta elite status. If you spend $25,000 on Delta Platinum or Reserve cards in a calendar year, you’ll get an MQD waiver for status levels up to Platinum, but to get the MQD requirement waived for Diamond Medallion status, you now have to spend an outrageous $250,000 on Delta credit cards in a calendar year. Needless to say, we don’t recommend going this route, especially because you can meet the MQD requirement for Diamond status by spending a much lower amount on Delta and partner flights in a calendar year.

When it comes to the Delta Reserve, regular flyers on the carrier will likely appreciate the Delta Sky Club access, though it may not be enough to justify the $550 annual fee. Delta has been adding amenities and opening new Sky Clubs over the last few years, and it has implemented access restrictions in an effort to keep these lounges exclusive. If you fly Delta frequently and don’t have club access through another card like The Platinum Card® from American Express, this benefit could appeal to you.

Additional options for Delta flyers

If you mostly fly Delta using points and miles instead of paying cash for tickets, there are other non-Delta cards to consider. As previously mentioned, Membership Rewards transfer to Delta at a 1:1 ratio, and cards that earn Membership Rewards aren’t the only Amex options for racking up significant SkyMiles. You can actually get a much higher return on spending with some non-Delta-branded options from Amex.

Let’s take a look at other cards from Amex that can be beneficial to the Delta flyer:

The Platinum Card from American Express

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy.)

Benefits (terms apply):

  • 5x points on all airfare booked directly with airlines
  • Transfer points to more than 20 travel partners
  • Up to a $200 annual air travel credit
  • Up to $200 in annual Uber credits
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application-fee credit

Annual Fee: $550 annual fee (see rates and fees)

Bonus: 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: Platinum Card from American Express

American Express® Gold Card

Benefits (terms apply):

  • 3x points on all airfare purchased directly from the airline
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide
  • 4x points at U.S. supermarkets up to $25,000 per year
  • $120 dining credit ($10 monthly when you pay with the Gold card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shacks)
  • Up to $100 annual airline fee credit

Annual Fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Bonus: 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months

Further Reading:

APPLY HERE: American Express Gold Card

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express

Benefits:

  • For every billing period in which you use the card for 30 or more transactions, you’ll earn 50% extra Membership Rewards on your purchases.
  • 3x points on the first $6,000 of annual spending at supermarkets
  • 2x points on gas

Annual Fee: $95

Bonus: 15,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening

(The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.)

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.)

Benefits (terms apply):

  • 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer to any of its airline partners. (Marriott points transfer to Delta at a 3:1 ratio)
  • 6x points on Marriott stays
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping
  • 2x points on all other purchases
  • Free-night award every year for properties that cost up to 35,000 points starting with your first account anniversary
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status

Annual Fee: $125 (see rates and fees)

Bonus: 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months.

APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express

FAQs about the Delta SkyMiles program

Of course, earning miles on Delta American Express credit cards (and the others above) is just one part of the equation. There are many things to know about the Delta SkyMiles program, so here are some common questions we get here at TPG:

How much are Delta miles worth?

Delta miles, which are called SkyMiles, are issued by Delta Air Lines and are the primary currency of the airline’s loyalty program. According to The Points Guy’s point valuations, Delta SkyMiles are worth 1.2 cents each, though you might get more or less value, depending on what type of award redemption you choose to make with your miles.

To calculate how much value you’re getting for your miles, find the cash price of the ticket you’re redeeming for and divide it by the number of miles that ticket costs. For instance, if a flight from New York to Chicago costs $100 in cash, but you can redeem 8,000 SkyMiles to get it for free, you’d be getting 1.25 cents per mile for that redemption. That’s because $100 divided by 8,000 equals 1.25 cents.

For more information, read The Points Guy’s guide on How to Decide Whether to Use Cash or Miles for Airline Tickets.

How do I earn Delta miles?

Delta SkyMiles can be earned in several ways, only one of which is from flying on Delta. You can also earn Delta miles by spending money on Delta’s credit cards, by transferring points from American Express’ separate Membership Rewards program, by shopping through Delta’s SkyMiles shopping portal, by attaching any credit card to Delta’s SkyMiles dining program and through various other promotions offered from time to time by the airline.

How do I redeem Delta miles?

Although Delta SkyMiles can be redeemed in various ways, you’ll generally get the most value for your miles by redeeming them for flights. However, just because you have Delta miles doesn’t mean you have to use them to fly on Delta. That’s because the airline is a member of the SkyTeam alliance, made up of 19 international airlines, all of which you can book by using each partner’s miles. You can’t transfer miles between the different airlines, but you can use Delta’s website or another SkyTeam carrier to find flights on partner airlines that can be booked using Delta miles.

Check out The Points Guy’s guide on How to redeem miles with the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Program.

How many Delta miles does it take to get a free flight?

Delta no longer has an award chart, so the only way to know how many miles it will take to get a particular flight is to look up that flight on Delta’s website or by calling Delta and asking an agent. Keep in mind that the number of miles it takes to get a flight with Delta miles can fluctuate by the day, or sometimes by the hour.

If you find a flight at a price in miles that you’re comfortable with, don’t wait to redeem for it because it might get more expensive later. You can also score deals with Delta SkyMiles flash deals.

Bottom line

With the seemingly nonstop devaluations and a lack of transparency when it comes to award travel costs, many award travelers have avoided Delta’s SkyMiles program for the past several years. Still, you can find some good value in SkyMiles, such as short-haul flights for just 10,000 miles per ticket and other steals with the flash award sales the airline regularly offers, including flights to Europe for 22,000 miles round-trip or flights to Tokyo for 30,000 miles round-trip.

Unless you’re a loyal Delta flyer and typically avoid flying other airlines, you may not get enough value from the cobranded Delta credit cards, though the current welcome offers make them very attractive. Many travelers may prefer the flexibility offered by the other American Express cards along with the bonus categories that earn you more rewards.

If you are considering a Delta Amex card, be sure to crunch the numbers to see if the ancillary benefits and perks make the most sense for your travel patterns.

Related guides

Featured photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy.


This is The Points Guy’s permanent page with the best current cards for Delta flyers, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for updates. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older offers below.

For rates and fees of the Delta Gold Amex please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Platinum Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Gold Business Amex, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta Platinum Business Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Business Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Blue Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex Card, please click here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.