Choosing the best credit cards for Delta flyers

Sep 17, 2020

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new card details and information. We are publishing travel and credit card deals and content because we should all use this time to think about and plan what’s next. 

Even though free award travel isn’t a top priority at the moment, there are steps you can take to ensure you are ready to travel once you feel comfortable doing so. One of those steps is choosing the best credit cards to keep in your wallet and creating a credit card strategy that earns you extra miles through welcome offers and spending categories.

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Delta 767
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Delta and American Express have a solid partnership in place, which means Delta flyers have a full lineup of cobranded credit cards and Amex-branded credit cards that make a good fit. Delta and Amex revamped their cards in January 2020 to provide more value. With that relaunch came a host of new perks across every Delta credit card. And now, for a limited time, the cards are offering elevated welcome bonuses, which will come in handy when you’re ready to book that post-pandemic vacation.

To help you make your decision, let’s first look at the details of the popular Delta Amex cards. This includes both the top consumer and business credit cards.

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 & fees) For a limited time, earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months. Offer ends 10/28/20. $600 First checked bag free; Medallion® Qualification Dollar (MQDs) waiver after spending $25,000 in a calendar year; 20% discount on inflight purchases
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card $250 (see rates & fees) For a limited time, earn 60,000 miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Offer ends 10/28/20.  $720 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; a domestic main-cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon card renewal; TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit; priority boarding; first checked bag free.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card $550 (see rates & fees) Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $3,000 on your card within three months. $480 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 & fees) For a limited time, earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months. Offer ends 10/28/20. $720 First checked bag free; MQD waiver after spending $25,000 in a calendar year; 20% discount on inflight purchases
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card $250 (see rates & fees) For a limited time, earn 70,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months. Offer ends 10/28/20. $840 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 & fees) Earn 45,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months. $540 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.

Related reading: The best airline credit cards

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 free on Delta flights
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight purchases
  • 2x miles on eligible 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

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

Welcome offer: For a limited time, earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on your new card in your first three months.

Further Reading:

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 eligible 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 free on Delta flights
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight purchases
  • Receive a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit (every four years for Global Entry, every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck) (up to $100)

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Welcome offer: For a limited time, earn 60,000 miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

Further Reading:

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 eligible 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 four years for Global Entry, every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck) (up to $100)
  • Access to complimentary upgrades (for non-Medallions)
  • Get a first bag checked for free on Delta flights
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight purchases

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Welcome offer: Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $3,000 on your card in the first three months.

Related reading: The best credit cards for airport lounge access

Best Delta business credit cards

Delta flyers who own small businesses may benefit from the business versions of these cards. These have largely the same benefits as their personal counterparts, but 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

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Benefits

  • First bag checked 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 eligible Delta purchases, U.S. shipping and U.S. advertising and 1 mile per dollar on everything else

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

Welcome offer: For a limited time, earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months.

Further Reading:

Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card

(Photo by 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
  • 3x miles on eligible Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on everything else
  • 1.5x miles on purchases over $5,000 (up to 50,000 miles per calendar year)
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit (up to $100)
  • First bag checked free on Delta flights
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight purchases

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Welcome offer: For a limited time, earn 70,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months.

Further reading:

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card

(Photo by 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
  • 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 four years for Global Entry, every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck)
  • Access to complimentary upgrades (including non-Medallions)
  • First bag checked free on Delta flights
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight purchases

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Welcome offer: Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $3,000 on your card within three months.

One last Delta option

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

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

Nonetheless, 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 10,000 SkyMiles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new card in your first three months.

Related reading: We got an inside look at how Delta is cleaning planes between every flight

When Delta Amex cards make sense

a220
First class seats on Delta’s Airbus A220. (Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines)

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

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 (although 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, I don’t recommend going this route, especially since 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 (see rates and fees). Delta has been adding amenities and opening new Sky Clubs over the last few years, along with implementing 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 revenue fares, 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 those other Amex cards:

The Platinum Card from American Express

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

Benefits:

  • 5x points on all airfare booked directly with airlines or via Amex Travel. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5x points on prepaid hotels at Amex Travel
  • Transfer points to more than 20 travel partners
  • Annual air travel credit up to $200
  • Annual Uber credits up to $200
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application-fee credit up to $100
  • Now through Dec. 2020, get up to $20 per month in statement credits on select streaming and wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers

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

Welcome offer: 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Further Reading:

Check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for a 100,000-point Platinum Card welcome offer. These offers are subject to change at any time.

American Express® Gold Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Benefits:

  • 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 in purchases per calendar year (then 1x)
  • Dining credit up to $120 ($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)
  • Annual airline fee credit up to $100

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Welcome offer: 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening.

Further Reading:

Check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for a 60k-70k-point Gold Card offer. These offers are subject to change at any time.

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Benefits (terms apply):

  • 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.)

Further reading:

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

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

Benefits:

  • 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 eligible 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)

Welcome offer: Earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Earn up to $150 in statement credits within your first 6 months of Card Membership for all eligible purchases on your Card on U.S. Advertising in select Media. Plus receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for one year (February 1, 2021-January 31, 2022). Offer ends 1/13/21.

Further reading: 

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. Here are some common questions we get here at TPG about the Delta SkyMiles program:

How much are Delta miles worth?

According to The Points Guy’s point valuations, Delta SkyMiles are worth 1.2 cents each. You may get more or less value out of your SkyMiles, depending on how you redeem them.

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 costs $100 but you redeem 8,000 SkyMiles to get it for free, you’d be getting 1.25 cents per mile for that redemption.

Related: 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 on Delta’s credit cards, by transferring points from the Membership Rewards program, shopping through Delta’s SkyMiles shopping portal, the SkyMiles dining program and through various other promotions offered 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, that 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 26 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 SkyMiles.

Related: 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 takes to book 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 required can fluctuate by the day or even by the hour.

If you find a flight at a redemption rate you’re comfortable with, don’t wait to book it; it might get more expensive later. You can also score deals with Delta SkyMiles flash deals, which offer flights for as little as 2,500 miles each way.

Related: Best travel credit cards

Bottom line

With the seemingly nonstop devaluations and a lack of transparency when it comes to award travel costs, many travelers have avoided Delta’s SkyMiles program for the past few years. Still, you can find some good value in SkyMiles.

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 elevated 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.

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski

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: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

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 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 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, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 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
15.99%-22.99% 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.