Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex card review: Perfect for casual Delta travelers
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the current card information.
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card overview
The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card provides valuable elite-like benefits at an affordable price point for casual Delta flyers. These benefits, which include a first checked bag free and priority boarding for you and up to eight travel companions on your reservation when flying Delta, can easily justify opening and keeping this card, especially for infrequent flyers who are looking to cash in this busy summer travel season. Card rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
*Card rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
Although Delta and American Express field more-premium cobranded credit cards — including the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card — the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card is still probably the best option for the occasional Delta flyer.
With a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99 after that (see rates and fees), it still packs in a lot of perks. Currently, the card’s welcome bonus is a solid 70,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. This bonus is worth nearly $1,000 based on TPG’s most recent valuations, and it can be a great way to offset some (or all) of the flight costs for your next trip.
Official application link: Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card
Here’s everything you need to know about the card and why it might be worth getting.
Who is this card for?
As with any travel credit card, the main question you need to ask yourself is: Will I get more value from the card’s benefits than the cost of its annual fee?
In terms of the Delta Gold Amex, specifically, you’ll want to ensure that you are maximizing perks such as first checked bag free and inflight purchase discounts to add up to $99 or more in value each year. Even if you only fly the airline a few times a year, that shouldn’t be hard to do, though — and the annual fee is even waived for the first year for new cardmembers.
Assuming you typically fly coach and don’t have Medallion elite status with the airline, Delta charges $30 for the first checked bag on domestic flights each way. If you take two round-trips per year, your work is done. However, this card’s checked bag benefit extends to as many as eight companions on your reservation. So, this perk works well whether you travel solo, travel as a couple or travel with your extended family.
Even if you always travel with only a carry-on, you may still benefit from having the Delta Gold Amex’s priority boarding perk so you can secure some overhead space for your bag. That holds true when traveling on a basic economy ticket, too.
That said, if you tend to travel alone or with a partner and already have Delta Medallion elite status that provides your first checked bag free and priority boarding, you likely won’t get much from the Delta Gold Amex. Otherwise, if you want Delta Sky Club access or need a slight elite status boost, you should probably focus on one of the higher-end Delta cards instead.
Welcome bonus: $987 in value
The Delta Gold Amex currently offers new cardmembers 70,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. TPG’s valuations peg the worth of Delta SkyMiles at 1.41 cents each, making this welcome bonus worth roughly $987.
Due to Amex’s once-per-lifetime restriction on welcome bonuses, you won’t be eligible for this offer if you already have this card or had a previous version in the past. Amex may also consider other factors, including the number of American Express cards you have opened and closed, when determining your welcome offer eligibility.
Luckily, Amex will notify you if you aren’t eligible for the welcome offer and will give you the option to withdraw your application before doing a hard pull on your credit. So, don’t ignore any messages that appear after you submit your application.
Main benefits and perks
The Delta Gold Amex offers two exemplary benefits: a first checked bag free and Main Cabin 1 priority boarding.
In particular, you’ll get a first checked bag free when you check in with Delta for flights that are both Delta-marketed and Delta-operated.
As for boarding, Main Cabin 1 is actually the seventh out of 10 boarding groups, behind premium flyers and most elite-status tiers, but it’s still ahead of the pack at the back of the plane.
What you might not realize, though, is that both of these perks are available for you and up to eight other passengers traveling on the same reservation as you — that’s a total of nine possible baggage fee waivers and priority boarding places.
What’s more, unlike some other airline credit cards, Delta ties these benefits to your Delta SkyMiles account rather than your card. So, you don’t need to pay for your Delta flights with your Delta Gold Amex to access these perks. Instead, you can use one of the top cards for airfare purchases, which may allow you to earn more rewards on your flights or secure more comprehensive credit card travel protections for your trip.
On top of bags and boarding privileges, Delta Gold Amex cardholders also get the following benefits:
- 20% back in the form of a statement credit when you use your card to buy eligible pre-purchased meals and inflight purchases of food, alcoholic beverages and audio headsets on Delta-operated flights.
- $100 Delta flight credit after you spend $10,000 or more on your card in a calendar year.
- Secondary collision damage waiver* when you pay for rental cars with your card (Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.).
- Baggage insurance plan* when you book flights entirely with your card (Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company).
- Extended warranty protection* and purchase protection* for purchases made with your card (Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company).
- Complimentary ShopRunner membership.
- No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
* Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
How to earn miles
With the Delta Gold Amex, you’ll earn Delta SkyMiles on purchases charged to your card as follows:
- 2 miles per dollar on purchases made with Delta.
- 2 miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.
- 2 miles per dollar at U.S. supermarkets.
- 1 mile per dollar on other eligible purchases.
Based on TPG’s valuation of Delta miles at 1.41 cents each, this means you’ll get an effective return of about 3% on eligible Delta, restaurant and supermarket purchases, and you’ll get about 1.5% in value on other purchases. That’s not bad, but not great, either.
You might do much better with another Amex card. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express® Gold Card and American Express® Green Card all are better options for booking Delta flights in terms of earning rewards, since they rack up points at the following rates:
- Amex Platinum: Earns 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year).
- Amex Gold: Earns 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amex Travel.
- Amex Green: Earns 3 points per dollar on travel, including airfare.
The information for the Amex Green 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.
Other top travel rewards cards also earn bonus points on airfare. However, the American Express Membership Rewards cards are particularly compelling. They compare more directly to the Delta Gold Amex, since you can transfer Membership Rewards points to Delta at a 1:1 ratio. You can also transfer Membership Rewards points to various other valuable programs like Air Canada Aeroplan and Avianca LifeMiles.
Unless you are looking to earn more Delta SkyMiles specifically for an upcoming redemption, you may not want to spend much on the Delta Gold Amex, since other cards offer a much better return.
However, if you’re based in a Delta hub like Atlanta (ATL) and frequently want a stash of SkyMiles to use for your flights, it’s nice that the card offers some solid bonus categories for popular merchants.
How to redeem miles
The most obvious way to redeem Delta SkyMiles is to book award flights on Delta and its partners. Since Delta uses a dynamic award pricing system, though, redemption rates fluctuate widely. This means you can’t really aim for a set amount of miles to book a specific award.
That said, there are still some sweet spots in the Delta SkyMiles program.
You can also redeem SkyMiles for many things other than flights — including premium drinks in Delta Sky Clubs. Most of these redemptions yield a lower return than when redeeming for flights.
Which cards compete with the Delta Gold Amex?
If getting your first checked bag free and priority boarding when flying Delta are your main concerns, the Delta Gold Amex is probably going to be your best bet.
If you want a Delta card, there are two significant reasons you may want to choose a different consumer card than the Delta Gold Amex.
First, if you’re looking for a boost toward earning Delta Medallion elite status, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card with a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees) may be a solid choice. Spend $25,000 or more on purchases in a calendar year, and you get a Medallion Qualification Dollar waiver toward tiers up to Platinum Medallion (a Diamond MQD waiver requires a whopping $250,000 in calendar-year spending). Cardholders earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after spending $25,000 in purchases on their card in a calendar year, up to $50,000 and 20,000 MQMs.
The Delta Platinum Amex card also comes with a main cabin companion ticket benefit each year upon account renewal — along with similar inflight perks to those offered on the Delta Gold Amex. And it has a higher welcome offer right now, awarding 90,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of cardmembership.
For more information, check out our Delta Platinum Amex review.
On the other hand, if you want a Delta card that confers complimentary Delta Sky Club access when traveling on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card may be a better choice for you. It too comes with an annual companion ticket, but the Reserve’s version includes select fare classes in Comfort+ and first class. And the Delta Reserve Amex includes the same MQD waiver along with the ability to earn 15,000 bonus MQMs for spending $30,000, $60,000, $90,000 and $120,000 in a calendar year (up to 60,000 MQMs in all).
In addition, it’s currently available with a limited-time card design made of 25% metal from a retired Delta Boeing 747 aircraft, including a welcome bonus of 100,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership.
Just remember, it does charge a substantial $550 annual fee (see rates and fees). But that may be worth it if you frequently travel with Delta, enjoy Sky Club access and want a significant boost toward Medallion status.
See our Delta Reserve Amex review for more details.
American Express Membership Rewards cards
Don’t forget, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Delta at a 1:1 ratio. So if earning Delta miles is your first intention rather than day-of-travel perks, the Delta Gold Amex has some competition beyond just the carrier’s other cobranded cards.
Benefits such as Sky Club access when flying Delta, access to a wide variety of lounges when flying any carrier and an unbeatable return on airfare purchases make The Platinum Card from American Express a compelling option for Delta flyers. However, the Amex Platinum carries a significantly higher $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).
Check out our review of the Amex Platinum Card for more information.
A much closer comparison is the non-Delta-branded American Express Gold Card. Although the Amex Gold Card’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees) is much higher than the Delta Gold Amex, some consumers find it easier to recoup the Amex Gold Card’s annual fee thanks to dining and Uber statement credits (enrollment required, terms apply). In addition, the Amex Gold Card has some valuable bonus categories:
- 4 points per dollar on dining purchases at restaurants.
- 4 points per dollar on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 spent each year, then 1 point per dollar).
- 3 points per dollar on all flights purchased directly from the airline or Amex Travel.
See our review of the Amex Gold for more details.
Finally, another option for earning Membership Rewards points on travel (including flights) is the American Express Green Card. This card accrues 3 points per dollar on travel purchases and purchases at restaurants in exchange for a $150 annual fee (see rates and fees). The Amex Green offers two up-to-$100 statement credits each year — one for lounge access purchased through LoungeBuddy and the other for a Clear membership — that may provide enough value to more than justify the $150 annual fee on their own.
Although it might not have the most lucrative earning rates, the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card can still be worth picking up for summer travelers thanks to its welcome bonus and Delta-specific perks. In particular, as long as you would otherwise pay a first checked bag fee to Delta at least four times each year, you’re going to come out ahead with this card.
For rates and fees of the Delta Gold Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Platinum Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green Card, please click here.
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Chris Dong, Benét J. Wilson, Benji Stawski, Eric Rosen and Christina Ly.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
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