Credit card showdown: Delta Gold Amex vs. Delta Platinum Amex

May 1, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the current card offers and benefits. 


With travel back on the planning radar for many, now is a great time to earn some airline miles so you can book some trips while conserving your cash.

Delta Air Lines, through its partnership with American Express, offers one of the most comprehensive airline card portfolios on the market, with entry-level, mid-tier and premium cards (as well as business card versions of each except for the entry level).

If you decide now is the time to apply while the welcome bonuses are increased for a few more days (until May 5) — how do you pick which Delt card is right for you?

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is a great choice for anyone looking to earn a valuable welcome bonus with a low out-of-pocket cost, but more frequent Delta fliers should do some math to figure out whether the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card could offer the best travel benefits for the cost.

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You’ll find differences between these two cards in the annual fee, intro bonus and benefits. You may be wondering if the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card is worth the current $250 annual fee (see rates and fees) when compared to the $99 annual fee; waived for the first year (see rates and fees) for the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, which is waived the first year.

Let’s do a deep dive and compare these two Delta cards.

Related: Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers

In This Post

Delta Gold Amex versus Delta Platinum Amex

Benefit

Delta Gold Amex

Delta Platinum Amex

Welcome bonus

Earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on and up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within your first 3 months of account opening. Terms Apply.

Earn 50,000 bonus miles, plus 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases and up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.

Earning rates

2x miles on eligible purchases with Delta and at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets; 1x mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases

3x miles on eligible purchases with Delta and hotels (made directly with the hotels); 2x miles on purchases made at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets; 1x mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Baggage

Free checked bag on Delta flights (including up to eight companions)

Free checked bag on Delta flights (including up to eight companions)

Key perks

Medallion® Qualification Dollar (MQDs) waiver after spending $25,000 in a calendar year; 20% discount on inflight purchases

Discounted Sky Club access ($39 per person per visit); priority boarding; 20% off inflight purchases; Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit (up to $100)

Companion ticket

N/A

Domestic coach companion ticket every year at card renewal

Status Boost

N/A

Earn 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $25,000 in a calendar year. Earn an additional 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 in a calendar year.

As you can see, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card offers better benefits and you can earn more SkyMiles per dollar spent than with the Gold version of the card.

Also, of these two cards, only the Delta SkyMiles Platinum gets you a waiver on the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) threshold when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year. For 2021, the Delta Platinum can earn even more MQMs with an elevated Status Boost benefit in 2021: a full 25% increase in MQM earn at existing Status Boost milestones

Note that this MQD waiver only applies up to Platinum Medallion status — waiving the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) requirement for top-tier Diamond Medallion requires spending an exorbitant $250,000 on Delta credit cards in a calendar year.

Let’s take a look at the differences in the welcome bonus and perks for the two cards and see if they outweigh the higher annual fee.

Welcome offer

The Delta Gold Amex offers 40,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on and up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within your first 3 months of account opening. The full bonus is worth $490, based on TPG’s most recent valuations.

Use your bonus miles to book a seat in Delta One. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

With the Delta Platinum Amex, you’ll get a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus miles, plus 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases and up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first three months of account opening. This bonus is worth $650, according to TPG’s valuations.

The higher annual fee on the Delta Platinum is accompanied by a higher welcome bonus, while the Delta Gold Amex waives its annual fee the first year; then $99 (see rates and fees).

Delta Platinum benefits

The primary long-term benefits that really set the Delta Platinum Amex apart from the Gold are the companion certificate you can use to fly someone with you on an eligible domestic flight each year, MQD waiver and Status Boost. The Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credit is available once every 4-4.5 years and is somewhat offset by the potential to earn a $100 flight credit with the Delta Gold card after you spend $10,000 or more on eligible purchases each calendar year.

(Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

On the card anniversary, Delta Platinum Amex cardholders get an annual coach companion ticket that can be used on certain published round-trip main-cabin tickets within the contiguous United States. This is automatically deposited into your SkyMiles account when you pay the annual fee. Also, you still need to pay the taxes and fees on the ticket and this companion ticket isn’t valid on Basic Economy fares.

The other key difference between the Delta Gold SkyMiles Card and the Delta Platinum SkyMiles Card is the ability to get a jump start on earning Delta elite status. You earn MQMs by hitting spending thresholds in a calendar year with the Delta Platinum card. This is a great way to boost your account balance and also help you qualify for Medallion status each year.

Which Delta credit card should you get?

The Delta Platinum card is the more premium of the cards. Its annual fee is more than twice that of the Delta Gold card — but has benefits to match. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always better to go with the Delta Platinum.

When you should stick with Gold

If you’re really only interested in the short-term benefits of the welcome bonus, you should consider applying for the Delta Gold Amex, rather than the Platinum. Opening the Delta Gold Amex is a great way to boost your SkyMiles account without any upfront investment since the $99 annual fee is waived the first year.

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Another reason to apply for the Gold version relates to elite status. A big reason to consider the Platinum is the ability to earn MQMs through the Status Boost by hitting spending requirements and by earning an MQD waiver. If you don’t fly Delta enough to qualify for Medallion status, those MQMs are worthless. In that case, the Delta Gold is a better card to keep long term.

Finally, if you have had the Platinum in the past, you should go with Gold. Amex only allows you to earn one bonus per card in a lifetime, so you won’t be eligible for the Platinum Delta bonus if you’ve been a previous cardholder.

Read our Delta Amex Gold review.

When you should go Platinum

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

If you can take advantage of the additional perks and benefits of the Delta Platinum Amex, you should go with that card. For example, if you take at least one round-trip domestic flight in coach on Delta with a friend or family member every year and if the base fare of that ticket is more than $250, go with the Platinum version.

This will cover your annual fee and if the fare is more than $250, that’s gravy.

Another reason to consider the Delta Platinum card is if you plan to spend at least $25,000 on the card each calendar year. That will earn you 10,000 (12,500 MQMs in 2021) bonus MQMs that can help you qualify for Medallion status and an MQD waiver up to Platinum Medallion.

Read our Delta Platinum Amex review.

Bottom line

If you fly Delta often, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card is a great way to boost your SkyMiles account while giving you a few excellent perks such as the annual companion voucher at each renewal. However, even infrequent Delta flyers will get value from the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card with a solid bonus and basic benefits.

Delta has been criticized for its devaluations over the past few years and the fact that it doesn’t publish an award chart anymore, but the airline offers regular award flash sales and reasonable redemptions in domestic economy, so there are still some great ways to get value out of the program.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Gold card, please click here.

Featured photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy.

Additional reporting by Chris Dong and Jason Stauffer.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.

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