What credit score do you need to get Delta SkyMiles cards?

Mar 31, 2020

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If you’re looking to snag one of the cobranded personal Delta credit cards, you may be wondering whether you have a high enough credit score to be approved. Of course, it’s important to remember that while your credit score is a good indicator of your approval odds, it’s not an absolute science. Credit card issuers also consider many other aspects when deciding whether to approve you for a card.

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

So let’s take a closer look at what it usually takes to get approved for the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card.

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Credit score required for Delta cards

American Express doesn’t publish a specific credit score that is needed to be accepted for its cards, and many other factors go into qualification beyond your score, including your income and the age of your credit accounts. But you can get an idea of the credit score you might need from consumers who report their credit scores and application results in online Reddit forums.

You’ll generally need a credit score of at least 690 to be approved for a travel rewards card, but a few consumers have reported that they were approved for a Delta card with a credit score as low as 640. So you may be able to snag a Delta card with a lower credit score if other aspects of your credit portfolio look appealing to Amex.

Further reading: Why the perfect credit score isn’t necessary

How many card accounts can I have open?

Officially, Amex doesn’t cap the number of credit card accounts that you can have open, but there’s a general rule of thumb that you can’t have more than five Amex credit cards open at any one time. This includes both personal and business cards but generally doesn’t apply to charge cards. With credit cards, many people have reported a similar limit of five charge cards per person, but since Amex only issues a handful of charge cards, this shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

Further reading: How many credit cards should I have?

Will I be eligible for a welcome bonus?

American Express generally restricts eligibility for a card’s welcome bonus to “one per lifetime.” The application terms and conditions for the cobranded Delta cards currently state:

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this or previous versions of this Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.

Luckily, Amex’s welcome bonus qualification tool will notify you if you are ineligible for a welcome bonus after you click to submit an application but before a hard credit inquiry is performed. If you aren’t eligible for the welcome bonus, you will be asked whether you’d like to proceed without a welcome bonus or cancel the application.

Further reading: Full guide to Amex one-bonus-per-lifetime restrictions

How to check your credit score

There are many ways to check your credit score for free. In fact, many credit cards let you check your FICO Score for free. This can make it easy to see where your score lies on the scale from good to bad and track your score’s progress over time.

You can also easily open a free account on a site like Credit Karma that can help you keep even better track of your score and its factors. Many Credit Karma users appreciate the regular, automatic updates when their score changes, as well as alerts any time a new inquiry is added to their credit report.

Further reading: 8 biggest factors that impact your credit score

Factors that affect your credit score

Before you start applying for any credit cards, it’s important to understand the factors that make up your credit score. According to myFICO, 90% of top lenders use FICO Scores to make lending decisions. The formula for calculating your credit score isn’t exact, but FICO is transparent about the different factors they assess and how much weight each is given:

Your length of credit history makes up 15% of your FICO score.
(Photo courtesy of FICO)

Payment history (35%): Whether you’ve paid past credit accounts on time.

Amounts owed (30%): The relative size of your current debt and the ratio of your current debt to your available credit.

Length of credit history (15%): How long your credit accounts have been established (including the age of your oldest account, the age of your newest account and an average age of all your accounts), how long certain credit accounts have been established and how long it has been since you used certain accounts.

New credit (10%): How many new accounts have you opened recently.

Credit mix (10%): How many different types of credit accounts you have, such credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts and mortgage loans.

Further reading: How credit scores work

What to do if you get rejected

If your application is rejected, you should receive a letter in the mail that states why Amex turned down your application. You could use this information to improve your financial situation before applying again, but you could also call Amex’s reconsideration line at 1-800-567-1083 and make your case for why Amex should rethink your application.

If you decide to call the reconsideration line, you should explain to the representative that you recently applied for a Delta Amex card, were surprised to see that your application was rejected and that you’d like to speak to someone about getting that decision reconsidered. The representative will likely ask for an application reference or your Social Security number. From there, it’s up to you to build a case as to why Amex should approve your application. You may have a better chance of success if Amex’s reason for rejection was something that you’ve been able to rectify since your application.

Further reading: How bad is it to get denied for a credit card?

How long to wait before applying again

If you were rejected, I wouldn’t recommend applying again for the same card until you’ve addressed the reasons Amex gave for rejecting you. However, it’s generally safe to apply for a different Amex card as long as you don’t apply for too many cards within 90 days.

American Express doesn’t publish requirements regarding how many applications you can have and how frequently you can submit applications. However, TPG Contributor Ethan Steinberg found data points suggesting the following:

  • You can apply for two cards in a single day — one credit and one charge card, or two charge cards. Many reports indicate that at least one application will likely be put on hold as a fraud-prevention mechanism, especially if you’re applying for two charge cards.
  • You may be able to get approved for more than two cards in 90 days. However, most of these reports were a combination of credit and charge cards, so the general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t apply for three or more Amex credit cards within three months.

Further reading: Best cards for Delta flyers

Other cards to consider

It’s difficult to suggest other cards to consider without knowing why you wanted to apply for a cobranded Delta card in the first place. So, here are some suggestions based on the main reasons travelers usually apply for cobranded Delta cards.

You want lounge access when flying Delta: The Platinum Card from American Express is a better choice for some Delta flyers than the Delta Reserve. Not only do you still get lounge access when flying Delta, but you also get access to Centurion and Priority Pass lounges, regardless of the airline you are flying. The Amex Platinum offers many other types of benefits and perks that might make this a better fit than a Delta credit card.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
The Amex Platinum may be a better choice than the Delta Reserve for some Delta flyers. (Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

You want free checked bags when flying Delta: Although no other cards specifically offer a checked baggage allowance with Delta, some cards do offer annual travel credits or an airline-fee credit that can cover checked baggage fees.

You want to earn Delta SkyMiles: You could get a card that earns American Express Membership Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy points and then transfer these points to Delta SkyMiles as needed. This option provides more flexibility, since you can choose which airline to transfer points to based on award availability.

You want a card offering an elevated welcome bonus: Check out our favorite cards currently offering limited time elevated bonuses to see if any are a good fit for you.

Further reading: The best travel credit cards for 2020

Related guides

Apply here for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express CardDelta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card

Featured image by John Gribben/The Points Guy.

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