Fast-track to Delta Medallion status: Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card review

Jan 31, 2020

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The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card can help travelers achieve elite status with Delta. Plus, cardholders get a domestic companion pass each year after renewing their card, can purchase Sky Club access when flying Delta on a per-visit basis and now have access to trip delay insurance. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current information and offers. It was originally published on Dec. 6, 2018.

Elite status can make flying easier and more comfortable, but it can be difficult to hit the mileage and spending requirements imposed by some airlines. You could do a mileage run, but a better method for some travelers is to simply get a credit card, such as the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card, that can boost your progress toward elite status.

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The Delta Platinum Amex has a $250 annual fee (see rates & fees), but also offers a set of attractive perks such as an annual companion certificate, a Medallion® Qualification Dollar (MQD) waiver and a Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) boost.

Let’s take a deeper dive so you can determine if the Delta Platinum is a good fit for you.

In This Post

Who is this card for?

Although it’s always a good idea to diversify your loyalty portfolio, the Delta Platinum Amex makes the most sense for those who regularly fly Delta, since the majority of its perks are specific to the carrier.

(Photo courtesy of Delta)
(Photo courtesy of Delta)

This card is an especially good fit if you’re chasing Delta Medallion elite status but usually come up short on MQMs or MQDs. This is because the card provides bonus MQMs and and an MQD waiver when you hit specific spending thresholds on the card within a calendar year. While you could earn an MQD waiver for up to Platinum Medallion status by spending just $25,000 in a calendar year, the MQD waiver for top-tier Diamond status requires you to spend $250,000 on your card within a calendar year.

If you’re only after essentials such as priority boarding and free checked bags on Delta flights, you may be better off with the Delta Platinum‘s less-expensive sibling, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card. And, if you’re looking for lounge access while flying Delta, you may want to consider the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card instead.

Further reading: Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers

Welcome bonus: As much as $480 in value

The current welcome bonus of the Delta Platinum Amex offers 40,000 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 a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. TPG’s latest valuations peg the value of Delta miles at 1.2 cents each, which means bonus is worth about $480.

However, note that you’re not eligible for this offer if you currently hold (or have held) the Delta Platinum Amex, and you also may not be eligible for a welcome bonus even if you’ve never held any cobranded Delta card before. Luckily, Amex will notify you during the application process if you aren’t eligible — so make sure not to ignore any messages or warnings that appear while applying.

Further reading: Choosing the best American Express card for you

Main benefits and perks

Delta Air Lines jet on tarmac August 2019. Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy
The Delta Platinum’s benefits are most useful for Delta flyers who are seeking status. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Cardholders who are chasing Delta elite status will benefit the most from the Delta Platinum Amex because the card offers the potential to earn MQMs as well as an MQD waiver if you hit spending thresholds on your card within a calendar year.

The MQD waiver will help if you’ve accumulated the required MQMs or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) for a particular status tier but haven’t reached the required MQD threshold. To get an MQD waiver, you’ll need to spend $25,000 on your card during the calendar year for Silver, Gold or Platinum Medallion status. And if you’re working to get Diamond Medallion status, you’ll need to spend a massive $250,000 on your card during the calendar year to get the MQD waiver.

If you’re looking to earn some extra MQMs, the Delta Platinum Amex‘s Status Boost perk may also help. Status Boost will allow you to earn 10,000 bonus MQMs after spending $25,000 in a calendar year and another 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 in the same year. If you earn both of these bonuses, you’ll be just 5,000 MQMs short of Silver Medallion status.

The other main benefit offered by this card is an annual companion certificate. You’ll receive this perk each year after your account renewal, and the certificate is good for round-trip, main cabin domestic travel booked in fare classes L, U, T, X or V — all you’ll need to pay for the companion ticket is taxes and fees. If you use this certificate for higher-priced flights, you can easily cover most (or all) of the card’s annual fee.

(Photo by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy)
Bring a companion on a domestic round-trip for almost free with your annual companion certificate. (Photo by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy.)

The Delta Platinum Amex also offers some other benefits that you may find useful:

Fortunately, the Delta-specific benefits such as the checked baggage allowance and priority boarding are tied to your Delta SkyMiles account, so you don’t even need to book your flights with the card to use them.

Further reading: Why the Amex Platinum might just be the best card for Delta flyers

How to earn miles

The Delta Platinum Amex earns three miles per dollar spent on purchases with Delta and at hotels, two miles per dollar spent at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, and one mile per dollar spent on everything else.

However, since TPG’s valuations peg the value of Delta miles at 1.2 cents each, this means you’ll only get a return of 3.6% on purchases with Delta and at hotels, a return of 2.4% at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, and a return of 1.2% on everything else. Though a loyal Delta traveler may enjoy earning bonus SkyMiles on these purchases, none of these returns are close to the best you can do in these categories.

For starters, if you have a card that provides a better return on airfare, you’ll likely want to use it. One great option is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which earns 5x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel — and you can then transfer these points to Delta at a 1:1 ratio. Remember that the Delta-specific perks are provided to you as a cardholder regardless of the card you swipe to purchase the ticket.

Likewise, you can get a better return for the card’s other bonus categories: hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and everyday spending. That being said, you may want to put these purchases on the Delta Platinum Amex even when it doesn’t provide the best return if you’re working toward a spending threshold to earn bonus MQMs or the aforementioned MQD waiver.

Further reading: How to earn miles in the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program

How to redeem miles

Delta’s SkyMiles program doesn’t have the best reputation among points-and-miles buffs because of its many devaluations over the years and lack of transparency with award ticket costs, but there are still some great ways to get value out of the program.

For example, Delta has frequent flash sales, offering deals like domestic awards from 5,000 SkyMiles round-trip, transcontinental awards from 10,000 SkyMiles round-trip and flights to Europe from 16,000 SkyMiles round-trip. You can also use Delta miles to upgrade to the next class of service.

(Photo by Katherine Fan/The Points Guy)
You could use your Delta miles to book a Delta flash sale to Europe. (Photo by Katherine Fan/The Points Guy)

There are also great sweet spots for flying international partner airlines with SkyMiles. All SkyTeam partners, such as Air France and Korean Air, are available for award redemptions, as well as some non-alliance partners like Virgin Australia and Air Tahiti Nui.

Just note that some partner awards don’t show on Delta’s website, especially for mixed-cabin itineraries or when there are also Delta-operated options. As a result, you’ll want to use ExpertFlyer (which is owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures) or another SkyTeam website like Flying Blue to find availability and then call to book if the flights you want aren’t bookable on Delta’s website.

Further reading: How to redeem miles with the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program and The advanced guide to maximizing Delta SkyMiles award tickets

Which cards compete with the Delta Platinum?

The most direct competitor of the Delta Platinum Amex is the Delta Gold Card. It offers some of the same Delta perks and has a lower annual fee of $99 that’s waived the first year (see rates & fees). The biggest differences between the two cards are that the Delta Gold doesn’t come with a companion certificate, shortcuts to elite status or trip delay insurance.

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

If it’s a high return on Delta spend that you’re after, you’ll want to consider The Platinum Card from American Express. As previously mentioned, the card earns 5x Membership Rewards points on select airfare purchases, which can be transferred to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio. However, you also have the flexibility to transfer those points to other valuable loyalty programs, including Air Canada Aeroplan and Avianca LifeMiles.

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
The Amex Platinum provides Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying Delta, and other types of lounge access regardless of what airline you’re flying. (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

The Amex Platinum grants you free access into Delta Sky Clubs when traveling with Delta in addition to providing many other perks. It won’t help you earn elite status though, and will require you to fork over a $550 annual fee (see rates & fees). However, the effective annual fee is much less for most cardholders thanks to annual perks like the $200 airline-fee credit, $200 Uber credit and $100 Saks Fifth credit.

See our full card review for the Amex Platinum Card to learn more.

If the annual fee on the Amex Platinum is a bit much to handle but you like the idea of earning transferable American Express Membership Rewards points instead of Delta miles, the American Express® Gold Card or the American Express® Green Card may be a good fit. Both cards would earn three Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with Delta, but otherwise offer benefits and earning rates that appeal to different types of consumers. See our Amex Gold review and our Amex Green review to learn more about each card.

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.

Further reading: Amex Platinum 100k, Amex Gold 75k offers available via CardMatch

Bottom line

The Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card can be a great addition to your wallet if Delta is your carrier of choice. Its $250 annual fee may seem high when compared to the fairly similar and lower-annual-fee Delta Gold Card, but you get more benefits in return. The main question to consider is whether you’ll get enough value from these benefits to justify the higher annual fee.

The ability to fast-track Delta elite status is where the Delta Platinum Amex shines the brightest, but the annual companion certificate is also valuable and can help you more than offset the card’s annual fee. Just remember that to maximize your earning strategy, you’ll probably want to pair the Delta Platinum with some other cards that offer higher bonus spending categories.

Apply here for the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card with a 60,000-mile bonus

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

For rates and fees of the Amex Green, please click here.

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.

Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.

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.