Should you get the Gold or Platinum Delta Amex card?

Nov 10, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

When it comes to major U.S. carriers. Delta Air Lines, through its partnership with American Express, offers one of the most comprehensive credit card portfolios on the market, with entry level, mid-tier and premium cards for its customers to choose from (as well as business versions of each).

While the entry level Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is a great choice for anyone looking to earn a valuable welcome bonus with the lowest possible out-of-pocket cost, more frequent Delta fliers have to do some math to figure out whether the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express could offer the best travel benefits for the cost.

Although the welcome offers are relatively similar, the biggest difference among these two cards is the annual fee. You may be wondering if the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is worth the current $195 Annual Fee ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020) (see rates and fees) when compared to the $95 annual fee (see rates and fees), which is waived the first year, for the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. Let’s compare these two cards.

In This Post

Gold Delta Amex vs. Platinum Delta Amex

First, let’s review the key benefits on each card:

Benefit

Gold Delta Amex

Platinum Delta Amex

Welcome bonus

Earn 30,000 bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening your account and a $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase with your new card within the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.

Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 35,000 bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of opening your account. Earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.

Earning rates

2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases; 1 mile per dollar spent everywhere else

2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases; 1 mile per dollar spent everywhere else

Baggage

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

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

Delta perks

Discounted Sky Club access (but only until 1/30/2020); priority boarding; 20% off inflight purchases

Discounted Sky Club access; priority boarding; 20% off inflight purchases

Companion ticket

N/A

Free coach companion ticket every year at card renewal

Miles boost

N/A

10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 in a calendar year. An additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 in a calendar year (this benefit ends 1/30/2020)

As you can see, the two Delta cards offer a number of identical benefits: the same number of SkyMiles per dollar spent, waivers on checked-bag fees, priority boarding and 20% off inflight purchases (though all Delta travelers get free inflight entertainment).

Both can grant you a waiver on the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) threshold when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year. Note that this MQD waiver only applies up to Platinum Medallion status — waiving the MQD requirement for top-tier Diamond Medallion requires spending an outrageous $250,000 on Delta credit cards in a calendar year.

However, there are also some notable differences between the two cards, so let’s take a closer look.

Welcome bonus

With the Gold Delta Amex, you’ll earn 30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening your account and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within the first three months of account opening. The bonus is worth $360 based on TPG’s most recent valuations and $410 if you maximize the Delta statement credit.

Delta One 767-400ER_Business_MSP-HNL
The bonuses can be especially valuable when put toward international business-class flights. (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy.)

With the Platinum Delta Amex, you’ll get a welcome bonus of 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months and earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first three months. The 35,000 miles are worth $420 according to TPG’s valuations, bringing the total bonus value up to $520 if you use the full Delta statement credit.

The higher annual fee on the Platinum Delta is accompanied by a higher welcome bonus, but because the Delta Gold Amex waives its annual fee the first year, the Platinum Delta Amex costs a full $195 more to hold for that year. And note that the annual fee rises to $250 on Jan. 30, 2020.However, if you compare the welcome bonuses and max out the Delta statement credits, you still come out ahead picking the Platinum Delta Amex ($420 – $360 is worth more than the $195 annual fee.

If you aren’t able to use the statement credits, the Gold Delta Amex might be a better deal. This is important if you’re applying for these cards in order to redeem miles on international partner flights and don’t frequently fly with Delta, making the statement credits of little use. Whatever you do, choose wisely since you only get  the welcome offer on Amex cards once per product.

Platinum Delta benefits 

There are two primary long-term benefits that really set the Platinum Delta Amex apart from the Gold: the companion certificate and the mileage boost.

On the card anniversary, Platinum Delta Amex cardholders get an annual coach companion ticket that can be used on certain published round-trip economy tickets within the contiguous United States. This is automatically deposited into your SkyMiles account when you pay the annual fee and it’s typically valid for a little over a year from the date of issuance. You still need to pay the taxes and fees on the ticket.

Traveling together is much sweeter when your companion is free. (Photo by undrey/Getty Images)
Traveling together is much sweeter when your companion is free. (Photo by undrey/Getty Images.)

The other key difference between the Gold Delta SkyMiles Card and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card is the ability to earn bonus miles and bonus MQMs through spending in a calendar year with the Platinum Delta card. There are two separate thresholds:

  • Spend $25,000: Earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs.
  • Spend $50,000: Earn an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs (but only through Jan. 30, 2020)

This is a great way to boost your account balance and also help you qualify for Medallion status each year. In fact, if you open the Platinum card now and hit the $50,000 threshold by the end of the year, you’ll get an MQD waiver and you’ll only be 5,000 MQMs short of Silver Medallion status.

Which Delta credit card should you get?

The Platinum Delta is the more premium of the cards. It comes with an annual fee twice as large as the Gold Delta but has benefits to match. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always better to go with the Platinum Delta.

When you should stick with Gold

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

If you’re really only interested in the short-term benefits of the welcome bonus, you should consider applying for the Gold Delta Amex, rather than the Platinum. Opening the Gold Delta Amex is a great way to boost your SkyMiles account without any upfront investment since the $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Another reason to apply for the Gold version relates to elite status. A primary reason to consider the Platinum is the ability to earn MQMs through the miles boost by hitting spending requirements and through the welcome bonus. If you don’t fly Delta enough to qualify for Medallion status, those MQMs are worthless. In that case, you’ll get more value with the Gold, along with its lower annual fee.

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 bonus if you’ve been a previous cardholder.

When you should go Platinum

If you can take advantage of the additional perks and benefits of the Platinum Delta 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 $195, then go with the Platinum version. This will cover your annual fee and if the fare is more than $195, that is just gravy.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.)

Another reason to consider the Platinum card is if you plan to spend at least $25,000 on the card each calendar year. That will earn bonus MQMs that can help you qualify for Medallion status and an MQD waiver up to Platinum Medallion. You’ll also be earning enough SkyMiles to offset the cost of the higher annual fee.

Let’s say that you spend $25,000 in a calendar year. On the Gold version, that doesn’t come with a bonus, but the Platinum card will grant you 10,000 SkyMiles (plus 10,000 MQMs) when you reach that threshold. Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, those redeemable miles are worth $120, which more than covers the higher annual fee after the first year.

Bottom line

If you fly Delta often, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card is a great way to boost your SkyMiles account while giving you a few excellent perks. However, even infrequent Delta flyers will get value from the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit 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.

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.

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

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.